W. (William) Harding.

Dreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age online

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the witness did not believe him. Esterhazy complained bitterly of the
generals, who, he said, had thrown him overboard, adding that there was
nothing left for him but to blow out his brains. The witness advised
against suicide, and urged Esterhazy to the utmost endeavor to reveal the
truth and the part he had played. Finally, while walking in Piccadilly,
Major Esterhazy said to the witness point blank :

" Well, Eibon [the witness's pseudonym] , I am going to tell you what
nobody knows. It is I who am the author of the bordereau. I wrote it
in 1894 at the request of my friend Sandherr. There was a traitor at
Headquarters, Dreyfus, whom Sandherr told me they wanted to catch. I
did not hesitate to do what I was asked."

Mr. Basset added that, with Esterhazy's consent, he had each of
Esterhazy's statements verified, Esterhazy saying he had decided to make
the avowals because he was disgusted with his abandonment by the gener-
als. In conclusion, the witness referred to offers of money to Esterhazy.

Lieutenant-Colonel Brongniart, a member of the court-martial, asked :

"Did Esterhazy tell you Dreyfus was guilty?"

M. Basset — Yes.

Colonel Jouaust — The two statements of Esterhazy are incompatible.

M. Basset — It is not for me to reconcile them.

Major Carriere here made an extraordinary protest against Major
Esterhazy's insinuations against Colonel Sandherr.

"I protest," he cried, "in the name and memory of Colonel Sandherr
against the insinuations introduced against him. I have made it a rule
not to enter into discussion with witnesses, but, as M. Basset states that
Major Esterhazy asserted that Colonel Sandherr told him to write the bor-
dereau, I, on behalf of Colonel Sandherr's memory, protest against such
insinuations. He was incapable of such an order."


M. Labori — I hope this protest is not addressed to the defence.

Major Carriere — It is not addressed to counsel for the defence; it is
addressed to the man who was capable of launching such a statement.

M. Labori — Does M. Basset know that Major Esterhazy addressed let-
ters to General Koget?

M. Basset — I do not.

M. Labori — General Koget, perhaps, will tell us.

Counsel then called upon General Roget to testify regarding letters he
had received from Major Esterhazy since the opening of the trial.

General Roget looked the ghost of his former assertive self. His face
was careworn, and showed little of that fighting spirit which first charac-
terized his appearance upon the stage.

General Roget said : " I did receive a letter from Major Esterhazy in
August, and informed the president of the court-martial of the fact, ask-
ing him to make what use he liked of it. I refused to open further let-
ters as soon as I recognized Esterhazy 's handwriting."

On M. Labori asking to see the letter, Colonel Jouaust said he would
not put the letter in evidence, because it contained only abuse and recrim-

As M. Labori protested. General Roget said he had handed all the let-
ters to the president of the court-martial, because he did not wish to be
compromised by Esterhazy, which was evidently the latter's intention.

Colonel Jouaust said he had not included Esterhazy 's letters in the
evidence, because he did not wish the proceedings to be unduly protracted,
but, as the defence insisted, the letters would be produced.

General Roget read the one Esterhazy letter which he admitted hav-
ing opened. In this letter Major Esterhazy said he could not prove the
existence of the alleged syndicate organized in the interest of Dreyfus, and
complained that the General Staff had refused to give him a fair hearing.

M. Labori put a series of questions intended to bring out the fact that
the General Staff had made use of Major Esterhazy, even after he was
known to be unreliable. General Roget said he had not considered Major
Esterhazy's avowal to be of any value.

Counsel sought to question General Roget more closely on his state-
ment that none of the generals of the General Staff had any relations with
Major Esterhazy, but Colonel Jouaust declined to allow further discussion.


This led to another scene between the president of the court and coun-
sel for the defence, M. Labori declaring that General Eoget, who came
more as a public prosecutor than as a witness, refused to reply to probing

M. Labori — Does General Eoget consider the confessions of Esterhazy
valid ?

General Eoget — No; all versions given by Esterhazy are quite incor-
rect. He is an impostor concerning whom I prefer to express no opinion.

M. Labori — Does General Eoget consider Esterhazy a man-of-straw?

General Eoget — I have no proof of the fact, but I am inclined to be-
lieve he is.

M. Labori — Was he a straw-man in 1894?

General Eoget — No, I do not think so.

M. Labori — When, do you think, did he first contemplate playing the

General Eoget — I have made no investigation on that point. Contra-
ry to Esterhazy's assertions, the generals of the Headquarters Staff had no
relations with him.

M. Labori — Why was Major Esterhazy's role of straw-man not men-
tioned in the trial of 1898?

General Eoget — I was not present, and do not know.

Considerable discussion ensued between Colonel Jouaust and M. La-
bori, the former attempting to protect General Eoget from too close ques-
tioning. M. Labori insisted, however, and gained his point. The exam-
ination proceeded :

M. Labori — Since General Eoget expresses an opinion on this case,
upon what does he base it?

General Eoget — On the part generally played by Esterhazy.

M. Labori — How do you explain the fact that Esterhazy made no con-
fession during the Zola trial?

General Eoget — I do not know.

M. Labori then expressed surprise that there was no mention of a man-
of-straw until so late a day, while all the acts of which Esterhazy is ac-
cused were long known.

At the request of M. Labori the report of the Court of Inquiry, which
decided whether or not Esterhazy should be cashiered, was read. Accord-


ing to this report, the court was not permitted to go outside of specitic
questions submitted to it by the Minister of War. One of the questions,
referring to Major Esterhazy's letter to President Faure, caused Du Paty
de Clam to admit that he inspired those letters. This made a great im-
pression upon the Court of Inquiry, which finally concluded that there
was ground for clemenc)'.

When the reading of the report was concluded M. Labori vainly tried
to question General Billot concerning the " document liberateur " which
secured Esterhazy's acquittal. Colonel Jouaust declaring he would not per-
mit General Billot to be re-examined.

General Zurlinden, at that stage of the proceedings, ascended the plat-
form, dressed in the uniform of his rank, and with his inseparable eye-
glass. He spoke a few words respecting the General Staff's belief in
Major Esterhazy. M. Demange said he could not understand why it was
alleged that the defence desired to compromise the Headquarters Staff, and
asked whence arose the suggestion that Major Esterhazy was a mere

General Eoget replied that one reason which induced the belief that
Esterhazy was a man-of -straw was that his confession that he had written
the bordereau was absolutely inadmissible. General Eoget was perfectly
convinced that Esterhazy was entirely innocent of treason. [Murmurs of
asset and dissent.]

General Eoget next attempted, but without success, to refute the evi-
dence given on September 2d, by M. des Fonds-Lamothe relative to the
sentence, "I am going to the manoeuvres," saying the circular issued may
have been indefinite.

Dreyfus arose and in a clear voice emphatically insisted that the cir-
cular of May 17, 1894, announcing that the probationers would not go to
the manoeuvres, was written in the clearest language, which the court
would see if it were read ; that the court possessed the circular and conse-
quently could judge whether it contained definite instructions. The pris-
oner recalled the fact that in August the probationers were asked which
regiments they desired to join. The situation was very clear. All the
probationers at the Staff Headquarters had participated in the June jour-
ney made by the General Staff. He did not know whether or not certain
officers retained doubts, but he was absolutely certain he had never asked


for leave to attend the manoeuvres. The sentence in the bordereau, " I am
going to the manoeuvres," expressed a positive idea. He not only never
went to the manoeuvres, but never could have attended them. He reiter-
ated that he had never asked to go to the manoeuvres, for he was absolutely
convinced that such a request would not be granted.

M. Deffres, a reporter for the Temps, of Paris, then testified that he
saw Esterhazy in London, and that the latter confessed that he was the
author of the bordereau. The witness added that he raised the question
of the letters to Mme. Boulancy, and brought away the impression that
Esterhazy wrote the " Uhlan " letter.

Senator Trarieux, formerly Minister of Justice, was the next witness.
He made a long deposition in favor of Dreyfus, reviewing the history of
the case and his own part in connection therewith. M. Traireux showed
himself to be an excellent speaker, with a good presence. He had iron-
gray hair and mustache, and spoke with a clear, resonant voice, which was
heard outside the court-room.

M. Trarieux looked straight at the judges while testifying. He pre-
ceded his evidence by saying he wished to throw light upon his conduct
in this case. When Dreyfus was convicted, the witness said, he was con-
vinced, like everybody else, of the prisoner's guilt; but violent diatribes
on the fact that Dreyfus was a Jew awakened his suspicions. He there-
fore consulted M. Hanotaux, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the
latter informed the witness of the existence of the "Cette canaille de

D " document, though M. Hanotaux failed to inform him that it had

been imparted to the judges of the first court-martial, unknown to the pris-
oner. This fact the witness learned later.

Continuing, M. Trarieux, whose statement was practically an impas-
sioned speech for the defence, denounced the secret communication of the
documents to the court-martial as a monstrous illegality and a violation
of the most sacred rights of the defence. The witness described as im-
possible the hypothesis advanced by M. Teyssonieres, the handwriting ex-
pert, to convince the witness that Dreyfus was guilty. The witness said
his doubts were confirmed when he heard that M. Scheurer-Kestner had
secured proofs of the innocence of Dreyfus and the guilt of another.

M. Trarieux dwelt upon the noble ideal of M. Scheurer-Kestner, who
had passed sleepless nights, tormented with the thought that an innocent


man was shedding tears of blood. When M. Scheurer-Kestner revealed
what he knew, the witness was greatly surprised, especially when he
learned that Colonel Picquart had not succeeded in obtaining the support
of the chiefs of the army. The witness said he was amazed that the latter
had not eagerly grasped the opportunity to work together for the rehabili-
tation of an innocent man.

During the course of his deposition M. Trarieux said he could not
agree to a single conclusion reached by General Gonse in his correspon-
dence with Picquart, and said the latter's removal from the Secret Intelli-
gence Department was the result of underhand plotting by some one op-
posed to revision. The witness enumerated in support of this statement
various forged documents which, he asserted, had emanated from the Se-
cret Intelligence Department, namely, the " Cette canaille de D "

document, in which the name of Dreyfus had been substituted for the hy-
pothetical "de D ," the Weyler forgery, and the publication of a fac-
simile of the bordereau.

"Lastly," said M. Trarieux, "there appeared the cynical Henry forgery.
All these facts created a great impression regarding the Headquarter Staff.
I accuse no one, but assume that the chiefs were deceived."

The witness pointed out that if any proof of the guilt of Dreyfus ex-
isted in 1896, General Gonse would have given Picquart an order to stop
the investigation.

After an interview with M. Scheurer-Kestner, M. Trarieux added, he
became convinced of the guilt of Esterhazy, and saw his duty as a consci-
entious citizen and senator, and perhaps as an ex-Minister, and that to
fulfil his duty he must devote himself to a work of justice.

In describing the steps taken in support of revision, M. Trarieux men-
tioned an interview he had with a foreign ambassador, who, in tones of
the most profound and affecting sincerity, declared that Dreyfus never had
relations with him or with any military attach^ or officer of the army of
his country. M. Trarieux asserted the importance of this statement to
the ambassador, who energetically reaffirmed the absolute innocence of
Dreyfus. The ambassador added that he had investigated and found noth-
ing to implicate Dreyfus. Further, the ambassador said he had seen in
the hands of Colonel Panizzardi a letter from Colonel Schwartzkoppen
proving the guilt of Esterhazy, who, his excellency added, generally com-


municated information of minor value. Moreover, at the time of M.
Scheurer-Kestner's revelations Major Esterhazy called upon Colonel
Schwartzkoppen, and it was then that a dramatic scene of violent recrim-
inations and threats occurred. The ambassador also showed the witness
that the " Cette canaille de D " phrase did not apply to Dreyfus.

As he proceeded M. Trarieux became more and more impassioned, and
walked back and forth upon the platform. He explained that, notwith-
standing the confidential nature of his revelations, the ambassador had
accorded him permission to communicate it to the judicial authorities. In
a subsequent interview which the witness had with the same ambassador
the latter had informed him that the Henry forgery, which had just been
discovered, had been long known to his Government, and that the French
Government had been aware of it for a year.

M. Trarieux continued :

"Exception may be taken to certain passages of what I have asserted,
but among men of honor who listen there is not one who doubts the sin-
cerity of my language or the truth of what I have said. It may be said
that I should not adduce here the evidence of a foreigner. That is M.
Cavaignac's opinion, and I do not oppose it, but it has no foundation
either in fact or in law. The testimony of foreigners is not disallowed by
law, which does not restrict the field of investigation of a judge, to whom
it merely says: ' See, investigate, enlighten yourself.' Moreover, Major
Panizzardi was cited to appear in a case of swindling at Versailles. This
country should be bold and proud enough to seek the truth everywhere.

" Besides, was there not yesterday somewhat unexpected evidence of a
foreigner who related remarks of a foreign sovereign? Why should the
testimony of foreign representatives be opposed here? Even'the supreme
head of the army, the gallant soldier, General the Marquis de Gallifet,
has not shrunk from adducing before the Court of Cassation the testimony
of General Talbot."

M. Trarieux said he suspected neither the sincerity nor the probity of
the judges of the court-martial of 1894, but only the nature of the docu-
ments submitted to that tribunal.

Criticising General Mercier's role as a witness, M. Trarieux said he
was surprised that the ex-Minister of War had not included in the dossier
the official version of the Panizzardi cipher telegram.


With regard to General Eoget and Captain Cuignet, the witness de-
clared that their allegations that Major Panizzardi had informed his am-
bassador that Colonel Schwartzkoppen had relations with Dreyfus were
absolutely imfounded. On the contrary, the witness asserted, Panizzardi
expressly stated that Dreyfus had no relations with any foreign attach^.
General Eoget and Captain Cuignet had therefore mis-read — he would not
say misinterpreted — the report upon which it was alleged they had based
their statements.

General Roget attempted to intervene, but M. Trarieux continued, re-
asserting the truth of all he had stated. The ambassador already referred
to, M. Trarieux declared, said, "Esterhazy is the traitor."

Continuing, M. Trarieux said : " The Supreme Court has given its de-
cision, and our eyes confirm its judgment." He then proceeded to show
that Esterhazy 's confession must be genuine. "If," said he, "an ideal of
the type of traitor is sought, he is the man. He is overwhelmed with
debts, and is a man of loose habits. He wrote the ' Uhlan ' letter to
Mme. Boulancy. He had not even the soul of a Frenchman. And yet
he is placed on a level with a young captain of irreproachable conduct,
against whom nothing but secret documents has been brought. Doubt is
no longer possible."

After demonstrating, in this way, why question of the innocence of
Dreyfus was impossible, M. Trarieux concluded :

" This is no longer the time for pleading falsehoods ; it is the hour for
pacification. It is also the hour for justice, which has declared that small
as well as great, without distinction of sex or person, shall have their rights. "

The deposition of M. Trarieux closed the public session. At its con-
clusion the court-martial went behind closed doors and examined the
secret espionage dossier. The court also deliberated upon the application
of M. Labori for a order upon the Government Commissary to request the
French Government to invite foreign governments to supply the documents
enumerated in the bordereau. After a brief interval it was unanimously
decided to reject the application of M. Labori, on the ground that the court
did not consider itself competent to pronounce a judgment which might
entail diplomatic action by the Government. It was also decided unani-
mously to examine M. de Cemuschi on September 6th, behind closed doors.

The court then adjourned.


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Chapter XLIX.


It was said on September 6th, that the salvation of Dreyfus was then
hanging on a word from Emperor William. If the Kaiser consented to
allow Colonel Schwartzkoppen, the German military attach^, to testify
before the court-martial, or to send a deposition, or, what was considered
still more probable, to allow his deposition to be accompanied by the
actual documents mentioned in the bordereau, then Dreyfus was saved.

If the Emperor, however, should decide that it was not in the interests
of Germany for Colonel Schwartzkoppen to intervene, then Dreyfus' s case
was pronounced hopeless and his condemnation certain.

Maitre Labori insisted that the appearance of Cemuschi on the witness
stand was quite without precedent, but the anti-Dreyfusards pointed out,
and with a certain amount of reason, that the counsel for the defence were
really the first to introduce foreign testimony, as they summoned the Eng-
lish journalist, Rowland Strong, on the question of Esterhazy's confession
that he wrote the bordereau.

The public proceedings of September 6th were marked by three im-
portant episodes.

The first was General Zurlinden's admission that the erasure and res-
titution of Esterhazy's name in the petit bleu could not have been perpe-
trated by Colonel Picquart, and consequently must be attributed to some
one inside the General Staff.

The second was the declaration by M. Paleologue that the secret dos-
sier contained a document which showed that Colonel Schwartzkoppen
admitted his relations with Esterhazy, and that Schwartzkoppen, in the
opinion of Paleologue, sent to Esterhazy the identical petit bleu for which
Colonel Picquart was detained ten months on a charge of forgery.

The third was General Billot's insinuation that Esterhazy and Dreyfus

were accomplices, which led to an impassioned protestation on the part


of the accused, and to a thrilling scene between M. Labori and Colonel
Jouaust, resvJting in the lawyer's excited denunciation, tantamount to an
accusation of open partiality.

From a spectacular point of view, however, the great event of the sit-
ting was the battle royal between Maitre Labori and Colonel Jouaust over
certain questions which counsel wished to put to General Billot. M.
Labori here lost control of himself under the influence of his deep feeling
of indignation, and his belief that Colonel Jouaust was deliberately gag-
ging him in the interest of the military clique. His voice, which at first
resounded through the court-room, became choked with emotion. The
spectators held their breath as he retorted defiantly to Colonel Jouaust's
refusal to put the questions, his words drowning Jouaust's voice in an ir-
resistible torrent, whose force was heightened by his passionate gestures.

When he finally fell back in his seat with a look of hopeless indigna-
tion, his face was blanched and his fingers twitched spasmodically — a
speaking testimony to the high tension to which his nerves had been
wrought by fruitless combat with the iron ruling of the bench.

Dreyfus too, in his vehement protest against General Billot's insinua-
tions of his complicity with Esterhazy, recalled his anguished outbreak
early in the trial.

It was a strange contrast to hear him a little later, when he had ap-
parently mastered his feelings, deliver an argumentative reply to Major
Gallopin, of the artillery, in a calm, moderate tone. Indeed, one was
almost tempted to imagine that his emotional outcry in reply to General
Billot was a piece of theatricality.

Gallopin's evidence left a decidedly unfavorable impression, despite the
plausibility of the explanation given by Dreyfus.

Two hours of the opening of the sitting of September 6th were spent
behind closed doors. The length of time occupied in the examination of
Eugene de Cemuschi, the Austrian refugee and witness for the prosecution,
was the subject of much remark, as being indicative of the fact that the
court found this witness to be worthy of more consideration than it had
been supposed he deserved.

Senator Trarieux, former Minister of Justice, resumed his deposition,
which was interrupted by the adjournment of the court on September 5th.
He took up the testimony of Savignaud, the former orderly in Tunis of


Colonel Picquart, and witness for the prosecution, who had claimed to
have seen letters addressed to M. Scheurer-Kestner, formerly Vice-Presi-
dent of the Senate, by Picquart, while in Tunis. M. Trarieux declared
that Savignaud was a perjurer, and that two officers visited Savignaud be-
fore the court-martial opened. M. Trarieux hinted that the officers drilled
Savignaud on the testimony he was to give.

Savignaud replied, reiterating the truth of his previous testimony.

Colonel Picquart then repeated his denial of Savignaud's story.

M. Trarieux reviewed the question of the petit hleti, which, he said,
he was convinced was authentic. He proceeded to comment upon the
questionable role played by Major Lauth in the affair.

Major Lauth interrupted the witness, asking that he be allowed a
hearing, and on the conclusion of M. Trarieux's deposition Major Lauth
confronted him. The major declared that he had acted honestly through-
out, and that he had not the least doubt of Picquart's falsification of the
petit bleu, in order to incriminate Esterhazy.

A striking incident occurred when Lauth, a moment later, asserted
that Picquart had always shown the greatest contempt for the officers of
his bureau, asserting that on one occasion Picquart had brought to the
General Staff, in the presence of Mesdames Henry and Lauth, a woman,

Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 24 of 35)