solidarity. The closed ranks are our own. This wretch is not French. We have all
understood as much from his act, his demeanor, his physiognomy.”
At first Dreyfus’s family and friends fought the conviction on their own. In time,
others joined the struggle. Their efforts divided the nation. For some, the issue was
clearly antisemitism. They argued, “Because he was a Jew he was arrested, because he was a Jew he was convicted, because he was a Jew the voices of justice and of truth could not be heard in his favor.” For others, the honor of the army and the nation was more important than any individual Jew’s rights. They believed that it would weaken the army – and ultimately the nation – to reconsider the case or suggest a mistake had been made. When an officer found proof that Dreyfus was innocent, the army transferred the man to North Africa to keep him
quiet. Others interpreted French honor differently. They believed that it required a retrial.
As more and more evidence of Dreyfus’s innocence came to light, tempers flared. Debates often ended in fights, duels, and even riots. Finally, in 1899, Dreyfus was retried and once again convicted. But the day after his second conviction, he was pardoned. The courts
did not vindicate him until 1906 – twelve years after the case began.