From Dreyfus to Petain: The Struggle of a Republic

By Wilhelm Herzog; Walter Sorell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

THE GENERALS OF THE REPUBLIC

THE majority of the Dreyfusards and of all writers fighting for
the revision saw the high officers of the French General Staff as
mere villains, prejudiced anti-Semites, or incapable idiots. This
opinion, which leads like a thread through the entire pro-Dreyfus
literature, is incorrect, foolish, and misleading. It is a very bad
mistake to characterize opponents with catch-words that are usually
not only inadequate but also inconclusive.

Naturally, the French Army was not headed only by idiots, villains, and narrow-minded Jew-haters. The accusations against the General Staff lacked differentiation and critical sifting. It is convenient but dangerous to underestimate one's antagonist, whether in a war, in a class struggle, or in court trials. With few exceptions, almost all the lawyers and apologists for Dreyfus -- among whom were Zola and Clemenceau -- who accused the General Staff oversimplified the problem when they visualized the fighters in the other camp as too primitive. They had to pay for it. A great many of those who had not yet sided pro or con, knowing too little about the case, and those educated and uneducated people who were not acquainted with all the details of the Affair, felt repulsed by the unrestrained propaganda of the Dreyfusards. Their campaign proved unappealing not only to those who, because of their traditional and national leanings, had more faith in the General Staff than in seemingly questionable journalists and writers, but also to an overwhelming majority of calmly and deliberately thinking Frenchmen who were not inclined to follow blindly the slogans of the Dreyfusards or even to accept all officers of the General Staff as criminals. Therefore many attacks were harmful to the case because they went far beyond the goal to which, for example, Zola aspired.

Among the generals and officers who considered Dreyfus guilty, many were honestly convinced of their belief. Nevertheless, they were very intelligent people. The Dreyfus case was certainly not as simple as it may appear today. Long before Dreyfus' arrest, a great

-65-

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From Dreyfus to Petain: The Struggle of a Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I - A Struggle of Dauntless Courage 1
  • Chapter 2 - Six Phases of the Dreyfus Affair 4
  • Chapter 3 - French Nationalism and the Catholic Church 18
  • Chapter 4 - French Anti-Semitism at the Turn of the Century 25
  • Chapter - Captain Alfred Dreyfus 59
  • Chapter 6 - The Generals of the Republic 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Alarmed Bourgeoisie 79
  • Chapter 8 - Clemenceau 85
  • Chapter 9 - Zola: His Background 111
  • Chapter 10 - Zola as a Fighter 120
  • Chapter 11 - Zola on Trial 137
  • Chapter 12 - Zola in Exile 151
  • Chapter 13 - Jaures 160
  • Chapter 14 - Picquart 176
  • Chapter 15 - Esterhazy 197
  • Chapter 16 - Von Schwartzkoppen 220
  • Chapter 17 - The German Side of the Affair 227
  • Chapter 18 - The Struggle Never Ends 254
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index 307
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