This is a photograph of Madeleine Lévy, Alfred Dreyfus’ granddaughter. Her story is typical of a French-Jewish woman in the years following the Dreyfus Affair.
Lucie Dreyfus, her two adult children, and eight grandchildren fled Paris in 1940 upon the German invasion. The family split up as they took refuge in different towns in the unoccupied south of France. Most of the family members escaped to the United States, but Lucie remained, as did her granddaughter Madeleine Dreyfus Lévy, a social worker for the Red Cross, who stayed in Toulouse in order to continue her work with in the special combat division of the Resistance. She was 25 years old when, in November 1943, she was arrested and taken to the Drancy internment camp. A week later, she was deported to Auschwitz.
Seventy-three-year-old Lucie went into hiding under the pseudonym of Madame Duteil (her sister’s married name) and found shelter among the retired nuns of Valence. She returned to Paris in 1944, where she died the following year.
Would You Like to Know More?
The Dreyfus Affair – Alfred Dreyfus was born in 1859 to a Jewish family in Alsace in the east of France. Dreyfus joined the French Army and was promoted to the rank of captain in the artillery corps in 1889. In 1894, the French Army’s counter intelligence section became aware of classified information being passed on to the German Army. Suspicion quickly fell on Dreyfus, and he was arrested in October 1894 and convicted of treason in a secret court martial. Dreyfus was stripped of his rank and military decorations before a large crowd of cheering onlookers in a “degradation ceremony” and was deported to Devil’s Island, a penal colony off the coast of South America. Throughout his trial Dreyfus claimed his innocence, and in the degradation ceremony he cried out: “I swear that I am innocent. I remain worthy of serving in the army. Long live France! Long live the army!” The many activists and intellectuals who supported Dreyfus were known as Dreyfusards. The famous French writer Émile Zola published an open letter titled “J’accuse” in a Paris newspaper, accusing the president and government of France of anti-Semitism and of the wrongful imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus. The anti-Dreyfusards, on the other hand, saw the affair as an example of the unpatriotic views held by the Jews. They saw Dreyfus’ roots in Alsace (a territory still being disputed by France and Germany) as proof of his affiliation to Germany. The protests finally succeeded, and in 1896 Alfred Dreyfus was returned to France and given a second trial. Despite the evidence brought before the court, Dreyfus was again found guilty of treason. Public opinion, however, forced President Émile Loubet to grant a pardon, and in 1899 Dreyfus was released from prison. He, nonetheless, officially remained a traitor until his full acquittal in 1906.