Georges Picquart (1854-1914).

  • Profession: Politician, Minister of War.
  • Residences: Paris.
  • Relation to Mahler:
  • Correspondence with Mahler:
  • Born: 06-09-1854 Strasbourg, France.
  • Died: 19-01-1914 Amiens, France. Fell from a horse.
  • Buried: Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris, France.

Marie-Georges Picquart was a French army officer and Minister of War. He is best known for his role in the Dreyfus Affair. Picquart began his military career in 1872, graduating from the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr as fifth in his year. Picquart served as an infantry officer in France before seeing service in Indochina. He subsequently studied at the General Staff Academy (l’école d’État-major) where he was second in his class, before becoming a lecturer at the War Academy (l’École supérieure de guerre). One of his students at the latter institute was Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935).

Picquart was then appointed to the General Staff in Paris. As a staff officer he acted as reporter of the debates in the first Dreyfus court martial for the then Minister of War and the Chief of the General Staff. Picquart was subsequently promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel on 6 April 1896. He was appointed chief of the army’s intelligence section (Deuxième Bureau, service de renseignement militaire) in 1895. The following year Picquart discovered that the memorandum (bordereau) used to convict Captain Alfred Dreyfus, had actually been the work of Major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. Several high-ranking generals warned Colonel Picquart to conceal his discovery but Picquart persisted and continued his investigation. In this he was hindered and sabotaged by subordinate officers, notably Major Henry. As a consequence Picquart was relieved of duty with the Deuxième Bureau and sent (December 1896) to regimental duty, commanding the 4th Regiment of Tirailleurs (native infantry) in French Tunisia.

After the trial of Émile Zola, Picquart was himself accused of forging the note that had convinced him of Esterhazy’s guilt. He was then arrested for forgery and was waiting for a court martial during the period that the French Court of Cassation was reviewing the Dreyfus case. After the second court-martial, held as a consequence of the conclusions of the court, Picquart resigned from the army. However, the exoneration of Dreyfus in 1906 also absolved Picquart, who was, by an act of the Chamber of Deputies, promoted to brigadier-general. That was the rank that an officer of his seniority and experience could normally have expected to reach if his career had not been interrupted by involvement in the Dreyfus affair.

A keen amateur pianist, Picquart was a regular visitor to the Chaigneau family, whose daughters formed the Trio Chaigneau. He later helped arrange concerts for them.

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