Welcome to the University of Georgia school of Law Alfred Dreyfus information page. Here you will find history, images, and cross references pertaining to Alfred Dreyfus.
The Affair, "one of the great commotions of history," in the words of historian Barbara W. Tuchman, arose out of the 1894 arrest and conviction for treason of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. Dreyfus, who was completely innocent, received an unfair trial at his court martial; the prosecution's case had no substance, and the conviction was based on false, supposedly incriminating documents, not introduced into evidence or disclosed to Dreyfus, which were secretly delivered to the trial judges after they had retired to consider their verdict. Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment and expelled from the army. He was incarcerated off the coast of South America on Devil's Island from 1895 until 1899.
At the time of the arrest and trial the army officers responsible for the prosecution truly believed Dreyfus was guilty of the crime charged. By 1896, however, they knew they had made a catastrophic mistake. Nevertheless, high-ranking officers on the army's General Staff and officers in military intelligence, fearful that public exposure of the injustice done Dreyfus would embarrass the army, engaged in a gigantic coverup which featured perjury, forgery, and obstruction of justice. The conspirators, including at least eight generals, even protected and assisted Commandant Ferdinand Esterhazy, the army infantry officer who, as they knew by 1896, had actually committed the crime for which Dreyfus had been wrongfully convicted.