“Ovation au commandant Esterhazy après l’acquittement,” (Ovation of the Major Esterhazy after his Acquittal)

Item Description

In 1898, the Affair took a new turn. As early as 1896, Colonel Georges Picquart established that Estherhazy had authored the letter known as the ‘bordereau’—the piece of evidence that sealed Dreyfus’s conviction. From 1896 on, Estherhazy faced a series of trials, court-martials, and covert operations but confirm his guilt, culminating in his acquittal before a closed military court in January 1898. The military repeatedly defended Esterhazy until his 1899 confession that he had in fact written the bordereau. Even then, any dissenting word against him was considered a conspiracy to discredit the army. For the high-ranking military officials, it was better to leave Dreyfus to languish on Devil’s Island than to admit their mistake.

Le Petit Journal here depicts the public’s devotion to Estherhazy and, by implication, to the military. Crowds of well-wishers have waited outside the courtroom to cheer his acquittal as he silently tips his képi in thanks for their support.