Photograph of Alfred Dreyfus’ Rehabilitation Ceremony, July 21, 1906
This photograph portrays Alfred Dreyfus and Commandant Targe at the rehabilitation ceremony that took place on July 21, 1906.
“It was the end of my torment which had lasted for twelve years, the end of my anguish over the future of my children.”
With these words Dreyfus recalled the afternoon of July 21, 1906, when his family gathered in the small courtyard of the École Militaire for his rehabilitation ceremony.
Reinstated in the army and promoted to major, he received the cross of the Legion of Honour, the highest decoration for service to the nation.
Following his wrongful conviction of treason, Alfred Dreyfus served a prison sentence on Devil’s Island from 1895 to 1899. Due to the protest led by famous figures, including Émile Zola, Dreyfus was brought back to France for a second trial. In this trial he was, once again, found guilty but was granted a pardon by the French President in 1899 and released from prison. Dreyfus remained, officially, a traitor until July 12, 1906, when he was exonerated by a military commission and promoted to the rank of major.
Despite the suffering they endured at the hands of the French army, Alfred, Lucie, and their two children continued to show staunch loyalty to France: "When I am finally leading my brave soldiers again, I will forget everything, the suffering, the torture, the outrageous insults!" said Alfred, on August 2, 1914, anxious to enlist as artillery officer in World War I. Lucie, a trained nurse, and her daughter, Jeanne, volunteered in the Saint-Louis hospital, and Pierre served in the war as an artillery officer, receiving the Croix de Guerre for his service.
After the war, Dreyfus gradually retired from public life, revisiting the affair by cataloguing his diaries, scrapbooks, and letters. On July 12, 1935, he died at his home in Paris, exactly 29 years after his exoneration. He was buried in a small religious service at the Montparnasse cemetery.
Teachers could show this photograph when discussing the end of the Dreyfus Affair and why Dreyfus’ acquittal took such a long time in Jewish Studies or History lessons. It could also be used to discuss Dreyfus’ patriotism and loyalty to France even after his terrible ordeal, possibly as part of a lesson on the Jewish and national identity of Jews in the diaspora.
Describe the photograph.
Who are the men in the photograph?
What is the occasion?
Describe the expressions on the men’s faces.
Why do they look like that?
The photograph depicts the exoneration ceremony for Alfred Dreyfus in 1906.
Write an imaginary diary entry written by Dreyfus on the evening after the exoneration ceremony.