Alfred Dreyfus is born in Mulhouse
on October 9th, the youngest child
of a Jewish family that has lived in
Alsace for several centuries. The
family is well regarded and had
become prosperous through
cottage crafts and the textile trade.
Prussia invades and annexes
Alsace. The humiliation suffered by
the French troops acts as a
catalyst and spawns young Alfred’s
desire to enlist in the military.
The Dreyfus family take refuge
_1872 - 1878
Alfred Dreyfus attends the collège
Sainte-Barbe and the collège
Chaptal in Paris.
He receives his Baccalaureate and
enters the École Polytechnique.
_1882 - 1894
He begins a career as an artillery
officer in Le Mans, Paris and
Bourges. He is transferred to the
French War Academy, the École
de guerre, where he shines as
a General Staff officer.
The beginning of a press campaign
against the presence of Jewish
officers in the Army.
September 26th: discovery of a
“bordereau” or note indicating that
documents concerning French
Army weapons have been passed
to the German Embassy; the spy
in question has to be a specialist
in artillery and an officer on the
General Staff. October 15th:
Captain Dreyfus is arrested on
the flimsy grounds that his own
handwriting has similarities.
December 22nd: a military court
finds him guilty of treason and
deports him to a penal colony.
January 5th: Dreyfus is
dishonourably discharged in the
courtyard of the École militaire.
April 13th: he arrives on Devil’s
Lieutenant colonel Georges Picquart
discovers that the true author of
the bordereau is a certain
Esterhazy. “I was horrified”, he
writes. He alerts his superiors who
refuse to review a case that has
“already been tried”.
June 3rd: France’s highest appeals
court, the Cour de Cassation,
finally overturns the 1894 conviction
and sends the case back to the
Military Court in Rennes.
Their verdict : guilty with mitigating
circumstances. Dreyfus is
sentenced to ten years in jail.
September 19th: Dreyfus is offered
a Presidential pardon and accepts.
July 12th: the Appeals Court
definitively overturns the Rennes
conviction. Dreyfus is rehabilitated
and reintegrated into the Army
with the rank of battalion Chief.
He is made a Chevalier of the
As a major in the French Army,
he participates in the terrible
combats of the First World War.
July 12th: Dreyfus dies in Paris.