Page:Lettres d'un innocent; the letters of Captain Dreyfus to his wife ; (IA lettresduninnoce00drey).pdf/19

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Regiment of Artillery, in the 4th Mounted Battery, and in the 21st Regiment of Artillery, shows that he deserved the distinction. The words of praise that his chiefs then wrote of him are in strange contrast with their later reflections.

For years the Dreyfus family had been identified with large manufacturing interests in Mulhouse, in Alsace. Alfred was one of four brothers. When Germany took possession of the province as one of the results of the Franco-Prussian War, the three younger brothers declared for France, and were obliged to quit German territory; the eldest, who had passed the age of military service, remained behind to look after the business from which the brothers derived their income. It was natural that they should have wished to remain Frenchmen. Had not France emancipated the Jews forty years before they had the privileges of Gentiles under the English law? Since disgrace has fallen upon their family their enduring and emphasized patriotism is somewhat remarkable.

It must not be supposed, on the one hand, that a long period of suspicion was attached to Dreyfus before his melodramatic arrest in the office of du Paty de Clam, or, on the other, that the unfortunate man was the victim of an anti-Semitic plot created for the purpose of ruining him. He was the victim of mistake before he became the martyr of crime. The facts are simply these:

In August, 1894, Commandant Comte Walsin-Esterhazy, who was carrying on treasonable negotiations with the German Embassy in Paris, sent to Lieutenant-Colonel von Schwarzkoppen some notes of information together with a memorandum. This memorandum, or bordereau, fell into the hands of a French spy. It was taken to the