DREYFUS, ALFRED. Autograph Letter SIGNED about the "Dreyfus Affair". The Dreyfus Affair symbolized military corruption and anti-semitism in France before World War 1 and raised fundamental questions about freedom of the press. Captain Dreyfus was convicted of treason in 1894 then exonerated in 1906, when evidence showed he had been framed by fellow officers who targeted him because of his Jewish heritage. His trial, army corruption and French anti-semitism turned the Dreyfus Affair into an international cause. Emile Zola wrote his famous, "J'Accuse" open letter to the French President on behalf of Dreyfus.
Letters of Dreyfus referring to his famous legal case rarely become available. Two years after he was exonerated, Alfred Dreyfus sought a lawsuit against the anti-semitic newspaper, "La Libre Parole" because the newspaper refused to correct statements regarding his innocence. In this letter, Dreyfus references his trial lawyers, Henri Mornard and Edgar Demange as well as Henri Ditte, President of the Tribunal of First Instance of the Seine, a civil court. Dreyfus writes, "I am sending herewith a draft request [not included] for a trial to do with la Libre parole before the Civil Court...I have made up my mind to take the direction that I had thought of two years ago and on which we had decided on. - M. Demange, of course, M. Mornard agree with me. Would you please be kind enough by asking of President [Henri] Ditte an expiation, the closest possible. Please note that it will be necessary to notify within at least three months, about the actes d'interruptifs de prescription. This precaution is absolutely necessary even though we are going before the Civil Court and not before the Court of Assizes...." He signs, "A. Dreyfus."
The letter is written in French, two pages on one 8vo sheet (pages 1 and 3), October 1, 1908, Paris. With copy of "La Revision du Proces Dreyfus/Debats de la cour de cassation/deuxieme partie/Conclusion de M. le procurer general Manau, 30-31 Mai, 1899, Paris, P.-V, Stock, editeur, 1899," paper cover, 135 pages. The booklet also contains copies of much of Dreyfus' correspondence regarding his innocence. Brittle and sunned, overall poor condition.
"La Libre Parole," was a virulently anti-Semitic publication founded in 1892. The day following Dreyfus's conviction, "La Libre Parole" headlined a call for Jews to leave France, "Out of France, Jews. France for the French!" Dreyfus was ultimately found innocent in 1906, having been framed by fellow officers of the army. "La Libre Parole" refused to correct false statements regarding the Court of Cessation decision of July 12, 1906, fully exonerating Dreyfus. Between Dreyfus's initial conviction in 1894 and full exoneration in 1906, the officer who actually committed treason by spying for the German government, Major Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy, was put on trial twice. Esterhazy's first trial in 1898 resulted in an acquittal. Emile Zola's famous, "J'Accuse" open letter to the French President. Zola's letter, published in the newspaper "L'Aurore," accused the French government of anti-Semitism , judicial errors and lack of serious evidence in the case against Dreyfus. Zola, himself, was accused of libel and to avoid imprisonment, fled to England. He returned home in June 1899. On June 3, 1899, the Court of Appeals overturned the guilty verdict against Dreyfus, however, despite overwhelming evidence of innocence, a military court again found Dreyfus guilty of the same charge of treason. French president Emile Loubert pardoned Dreyfus on Sept. 19, 1899. Seven years later, in 1906, a military commission finally fully absolved Alfred Dreyfus. "La Libre Parole," ceased publication in June 1924.