France's Troisième République, founded in 1870, feels threatened by the Germans who annexed the Alsace-Lorraine, and also by the anarchists. Clericalism and anti-Semitism are on the rise. The discovery of the leak of a military information triggers the Affaire Dreyfus in 1894.
The army considers being obliged to assign a culprit. On exclusively graphological considerations, Dreyfus is accused of treason and sentenced to imprisonment. This officer is Alsatian and Jew. Despite the pressure from the army, Dreyfus refuses to confess any guilt.
The first letter in the lot is sent by Dreyfus in February 1895 to the Minister of Colonies. The fallen officer is on the island of Ré awaiting his deportation to Guyana. In the name of justice and freedom, he repeats his innocence and his horror of treason and insists that the investigation be reopened and that the real culprit is identified.
His military trial was secret and arbitrary. What followed is inconceivable in the modern world : the army considers that the first trial has closed the case. When presumptions are to converge on him as the real spy, Esterhazy has the ability to request to be tried in his turn by the military court : he was acquitted in January 1898 but nevertheless went into exile in London.
The second letter in the lot is written by Esterhazy in August 1899 to his lawyer. He explains how he is involved and continues to maintain his innocence.
Republicans were offended by the lack of involvement of the government on the search for truth in the Affaire Dreyfus. From November 1897, Emile Zola decides to intervene in the forefront. His literary prestige is huge and his position will weight. Beyond the Affaire of which he is gradually informed of all details, he expresses that the real threats are corruption, secrecy and blinding.
The third document is the manuscript of Zola's Lettre à la France published on January 6, 1898. The author expresses the demand for transparency. This text is one of the key elements preparing to J'Accuse published by L'Aurore a week later.
Zola is aware that his position is morally right and legally unacceptable. A new trial begins that will not be easy but the conclusion in the long term is that arbitrary decisions will become politically unacceptable.