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June 10, 1966 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-06-10

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Betty Schechter's New Account of Dreyfus Affair
Views Infamous French Case as 'National Scandal'

Much has been written about
L'Affaire Dreyfus. In recent
months, several volumes dealing
with European history referred to
the infamous case. Nevertheless,
every new volume reviewing the
events of the last decade of the last
century proves exciting, and the
history of the trumped-up charge
against a Jewish officer of the
French army is always certain of
revived interest.
This is the case also with "The
Dreyfus Affair—A National Scan-
dal," by Betty Schechter, published
by Houghton Mifflin Co.

ter makes this important com-
ment: "The Dreyfus A f f air
brought France to grips with un-
resolved conflicts that had
plagued her for more than a

The new version of the Dreyfus
affair commences properly by
introducing the cleaning woman
who had handed crumpled letters
and memoranda to Major Hubert
Henry who found among them a
note from the German military
attache in Paris, Colonel Max
von Schwartzkoppen. It referred
to a mysterious "Scoundrel D."
who left 12 detailed maps of
Nice as part of an espionage
deal with the Germans. That's
how it all started, that's how the
mysterious "D" was linked to
Dreyfus, and how a handwriting
expert's false testimony was
used to convict an innocent Jew-
ish military man.

The special value in Mrs. Schech-
ter's story is her brief yet thorough
presentation of facts which include
the role of the Germans in the his-
toric case — the Germans having
known all along that Dreyfus was
innocent. Mrs. Schechter, who
worked with the UN information
office for three years after her
graduation from Smith College,
previously authored "The Peace-
able Revolution," a story of non-
violent resistance in which she ac-
counted for civil rights and anti-
liberty campaigns by Thoreau,
Gandhi and others. It is in the
spirit of libertarianism that she
pursued her task to show how an
innocent person was railroaded to
the horrible Devil's Island.
All of the details, involving the
French military and prejudiced
churchmen, the anti-Semitic angle,
the heroic efforts of the defense—
these are presented so well in this
volume that it emerges as a most
acceptable version of the great

The special value of Mrs.
Schechter's book is its popular
style, its readability. Accurate
in every respect, it proves that
even so vastly documented a
case can be told briefly and
made exciting.

Statuette of Captain Alfred
Dreyfus by Caccia, with in-
scription of Dreyfus' famous
"je suis innocent — I am in-

hundred years. Democratic or
authoritarian government—
which was best for France? The
rights of the individual or those
of society — which were to be
paramount? Church or State —
to which did the French citizen
owe his political allegiance?
Forced by the Affair to choose,
Frenchmen opted finally for de-
mocracy and the supremacy of
the individual and consented to
a definite separation of Church
and State. During the years be-
tween Dreyfus' arrest and vindi-
cation, France came through a
trial of fire to commit herself
finally to principles of her Revo-
lution that she had previously
embraced only in theory. Vindi-
cating Alfred Dreyfus, France
proclaimed to the world that she
was, after all, jealous of her
fame as a nation of "just judges
and humane philosophers;" clear.
ing Dreyfus' name, Fr a n c e
cleared her own."

DeGaulle's Failures, Successes,
`Arrogant Superiority' Described
in Biography by Davul. Schoenbrun.

In an authoritative biography,
"The Three Lives of Charles de
Gaulle," published by Atheneum
(162 E. 38th, NY16), David Schoen-
brun, a famous army combatant
correspondent during World War
II, who was given
the Croix de
Guerre decora-
tion, thus de-
scribed the steps
in t h e famous
French - leader's
He saw three
republics rise
and fall during
his lifetime. In
the first he
De Gaulle
served as a sol-
dier of the Third Republic. hen
a senile marshall took over a de-
featist government in 1940, de
Gaulle chose conscience, his nation
and exile as honorable means of
serving his country. At 49 he em-
barked on an adventure to lead
the Fighting French. He retired
from politics, defeated, in 1955,
and three years later, in 1958, his
people turned to him again. His
third life was given a new lease on
Dec. 19 when he was re-elected
president for a second seven-year

The author has many interesting
things to say about the Dreyfus
family, the devotion with which
the battle for justice and his free-
dom was conducted, the earnest-
ness with which the defense—
especially Emile Zola, the attor-
neys, Georges Clemenceau and
their associates— pursued the
battle for truth.
At the same time, the role of
the anti-Semitic elements, the anti-
The remarkable facts about
Dreyfusards, the prejudiced in the
army who knew of Dreyfus' in- this book are that the author,
nocence but sought to protect the himself a major participant in
the dramatic cast of characters
army's hCmor, is not ignored.
who played the vital roles in this
Mrs. Schechter renders a great significant story of Israel's first
service also with her description line of defense, now tells for the
of the policies that were pursued first time how the defenders
by the press—the anti-Semitism of evaded British military searches,
many newspapers and the courage how they disguised to get into
of a few that defended justice. And
ships to be demolished when
she does an excellent job describ-
immigrants were being kept
ing not only the anti-Dreyfusards- from the then-Palestine, how
Major Henry and others—and the they entered military installa-
guilty one who finally was ex- tions to offer resistance by ac-
posed, Count Esterhazy—but also (inking arms and by mobilizing
the very courageous Major Georges
Jewish forces for the protection
Picquart who risked his own ca- of the Jewish community.
reer in the interest of truth and
For the first time, the story of
whose determination to expose the
Patria, its sinking, the rejec-
falsifiers and the whitewashers led
of British orders to prevent
to the exoneration of Captain Al- tion
Jews from getting into Palestine,
fred Dreyfus.
is told by Mardor who planted the
While viewing the case as mine, threatening destruction un-
France's "scandal," Mrs. Schech- less the immigrants were admitted
to Palestine. Leon Uris used the
Patria incident as the plot for his
40—Friday, June 10, 1966
best-selling novel "Exodus."

Stubbornness and inconsist-
ency frequently are in evidence
in de Gaulle's actions. He is
described by Schoenbrun, who
is unheSitant to indicate his
faults, as being, thus: "What-
ever else his faults, Charles de
Gaulle is the antith,zsis of mid-
getism. He is a giant in every
sense of the word: in his huge,
ungainly body and in his great
spirit; in his historic achieve-
ments and in his dismal fail-
ures; in his service to his coun-
try and in his disservices to his
countrymen. Charles de Gaulle
loves only France and cares
little about Frenchmen. In fact,
he cares little about any men,
regardless of race, color or
creed. With a kind of inverse
tolerance, Charles de Gaulle
never discriminated against any-
one; he simply opposed every-
one. He is not particularly
anti-American, or anti-British;
he is just pro-French."

Mrs. Schechter likens the Drey-
fus case to MacCarthyism in this
country and in her admiration for
Zola and Clemenceau and their la-
bors in Dreyfus' defense she de-
"In the 1960s native apostles of
an outmoded past rose to claim
that the right of some white Amer-
The involvements in the ad-
icans to maintain the way of life
venture-laden life of de Gaulle
they prefer takes precedence over fill
the pages of this immense
the basic citizenship rights of
Schoenbrun biogra-
their Negro countrymen. American phy is The
Zolas and Clemenceaus warn that tion of a a masterful
great leader's career,
America's own Revolution is not an evaluation
of a soldier's aims,
yet fully won . . . "
filled with delusions and illu-
"History's plays are never quite sions, with errors and- contro-
over," she warns. The battles for versies, some of which continue
justice go on, and the Dreyfus Af- to this day.
De Gaulle is challenged on
fair, as presented by Mrs. Schech-
De Gaulle's conflicts with erst-
ter, is a warning for continued while allies, with the British and many issues in his biography. Its
now with the United States, his author asks: "What balance, what
orderly relationship did he ever
propose for India and Pakistan,
between the Arabs and Israelis,
the North Africans and the South
Africans, between the South
Americans and Southeast Asians?"
Referring to the Suez crisis of
Mardor's "Haganah" first was Pom. Phosh abbreviates plugoth 1956, Schoenbrun declares t hat
published in a Hebrew edition in Sadeh and means field units. "the Israelis, surrounded by over-
1957 and received high commenda- Pom stands for P'ulot meyuha- whelming numbers of ho stile
tion from David Ben-Gurion, who doth, the special operation units. Arabs, whom Nasser was trying
has written the foreword to the Throughout 1VIardor's book there to unite for a holy war against
English edition. The English trans- are accounts of these two units' the Jewish state, were worked up
lation is by H. A. G. Schmukler.
efforts to attain the goal of se- by their fears to believe that Is-
curity and ultimate freedom. rael would be able to live only if
The Mardor story of Haga-
there are other forces that Nasser's ambitions were crushed."
nah's activities is so moving that
their roles in the struggle He adds that it is impossible to
Ben-Gurion wrote: "From your
for liberty—including the Mahal, say what would have happened if
narrative our young people of
Eden had not yielded to American
the volunteers from overseas.
this and future generations can
Non-Jewish names of men who pressure to call of the expedition,
learn of the astounding courage
and states:
and strength of soul which come joined in the battle for freedom
"The French k and Israelis
to men who are privileged to
discover the true mission of their known Jewish heroes — Yigal wanted to fight 'on despite
American and Soviet threats to
own life and generation, and Yadin, General Yaakov Dori,
David Marcus, Moshe Dayan, Is- intervene. Nasser certainly was
utterly to identify themselves
as good as dead. His troops had
with it. From this book, more rael Carmi and many others.
Moshe Dayan's name appears been badly beaten by the Is-
perhaps than from orthodox his-
very early in the story. His heroic raelis alone — in fact, no one
tories, the youth of today and to-
career as a Haganah leader com- seriously doubts that the Is-
morrow should become aware
raelis would have swept away
of the scource of our strength menced in the late 1930s when he his last defenses and marched
and be made to realize that we
on to Cairo without the British
did not find the state lying about Arab terror at Sa'sa.
Out of the Haganah tale also de- and the French. The war with
unclaimed, but had prepared the
velops the emergence of El Al and the Arabs would certainly not
way for it at the risk of our lives,
have ended there, but Nasser
by foresight and by perilous the creation of Israel's aviation would have been through as the
deeds performed anonymously
Haganah marked the beginning great man of the Arabs . . ."
and without conventional reward
And later on, describing Nasser
of self defense during the trying
of rank or praise, but solely out
of boundless love, faith and years of Arab and British threats. again, Schoenbrun states: "(He)
It remained a force as the core of is an Egyptian hero. But his vain
posturing, his absurd schemes of
Mardor, now director-general of Israel's army. Its organizers were pan-Arabism in Africa, his failure
the Israel Weapons Research and heroic men. Their heroism is aptly to make peace and his inability
Development Authority, devotes delineated in a very significant to make war with Israel, all these
his book to descriptions of the book—"Haganah" by IVIunya M. are the marks of a villain. He is,
special operations during 1939-40, Mardor.
therefore, the prototype_ of the
the resistance during the years of
unheroic hero—that is, the anti-
"illegal immigration," the acqui-
sition of arms during the Arab Says Ministry Wanted
The implication is clear: de
rioting, the defense processes War With Israel in 1953 Gaulle failed to provide solution
during and after the years of the
LONDON (ZINS) — Five years to this as to many other issues.
proclamation of independence.
after the establishment of Israel,
Nevertheless, • Schoenbrun con-
The heroes, often unsung and on Nov. 18, 1953, Winston Church- cludes, "his great achievements
appearing anonymously, as Ben- ill told his private physician, Lord are many," and he declares: "Fu-
Gurion indicates in his introduc- Moran: "The f o r e i g n ministry ture historians may perhaps judge
tory statement, risked their lives wishes to declare war against that de Gaulle's failure to inspire
when they joined in resisting ob- Israel. Ernest Bevin (foreign min- and guide the youth of his day
structions. They were the army of ister of the Labor government in was his most grevious failure .. .
defense against Arab attacks, they 1945-51) had signed an ageement Much of the angry criticism pro-
were the libertarian force when with Jordan, but I do not desire voked by the bruised feelings and
Israel's independence was pro- any war with Israel." ThiS is one frustrated plans of his contempo-
of the most sensational revelations raries may not seem so important
In a glossary of Hebrew and published in the controversial to our unborn grandchildren, who
Arabic expressions used by Mar- diaries of Lord Moran, which re- will never have suffered from his
dor appear the words Phosh and cently appeared in London.
arrogant superiority."

Haganah's Role as Defense Army Splendidly
Delineated in Historic Analysis by Mardor

For generations to come, the
heroic exploits of groups of cou-
rageous men and women who play-
ed important roles in the estab-
lishment of Israel, in the resist-
ance to British obstructionism, in
the defense of the Israel Yishuv,
will be told and retold.
Haganah, the Jewish defense
force, was the chief factor in pro-
tecting settlements, in assuring the
bringing into the Holy Land of
escapees from persecutions, survi-
vors from Nazism and others who
insisted upon finding permanent
homes in Israel but who were
branded as "illegal immigrants"
by the British mandatory power. It
is this Jewish "underground
army" that acted promptly in de-
fense efforts and that formed the
basis for Israel's present army,
and under the title "Haganah",
one of the chief operators of this
army, Munya Mardor, tells the
story of the Israeli defense force.
The exciting book has been pub-
lished by New American Library
(1301 Avenue of Americas, NY 19).

position on the Common Market,
his attitude towards Russia, Red
China and earlier on the German
question, are elements of great
importance in this book.
"What bothers me most about
de Gaulle's policy," his biographer
states, "is that he does not give
enough weight to the vital im-
portance of the whole Southeast
Asia struggle and what would' --
happen if we let the thing go . .
de Gaulle is pretty good and clear
in saying what we do that's wrong
and how Vietnam is in a mess,
but we don't get much from him
on how to clean it up, or any offer
to help on it."

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