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Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy
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Spy
    (December 16, 1847-May 21, 1923)
    Born in Paris, France
    Birth name was Charles Marie Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy
    Major in the French Army
    Spied for Germany
    Actual author of the document used to convict Alfred Dreyfus
    Retired from the military and went into exile in England (1898)
    He applied unsuccessfully for an appointment to the French military academy of Saint-Cyr.
    Despite this rejection, his uncle was able to use his influence to get him an officer’s commission in the French Foreign Legion.
    While serving in Tunisia, he wrote up a bogus account of his exploits in war that he got inserted into the official record (1882).
    He referred to himself as a Count, but did not actually have a title.
    He lost all his money through gambling and reckless speculation in stocks.
    He wrote articles for anti-Semitic newspapers.
    His former mistress gave the newspaper ‘Le Figaro’ letters in which he expressed hatred for France and contempt for the army (1898).
    He demanded a military trial to clear his name and, thanks to the French General Staff’s unwillingness to admit to having made a mistake, was acquitted (January 11, 1898).
    He was orphaned at a young age.
    His acquittal prompted Emile Zola to write his ‘J’Accuse’ letter.
    The information he provided Germany was mostly of little value.
    For example, he offered to sell to Germany information about France’s 120-mm howitzer, which the army had already rejected as impractical, instead deciding to develop a 75-mm field gun.
    As a result, some revisionist historians have suggested that Esterhazy may have been a double agent who was really working for the French all along.

Credit: C. Fishel


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