French town commemorates Alfred Dreyfus

Persecuted Jewish officer honored with a statue. Dutch town honors Holocaust survivor and writer Jules Schelvis with a street sign.

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Alfred Dreyfus by Jean Baptiste Guth
Alfred Dreyfus by Jean Baptiste Guth
Vanity Fair, 1899

A French municipality has honored the persecuted Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus with a statue, and a Dutch town honored Holocaust survivor and writer Jules Schelvis with a street sign.

Dreyfus, a French army captain who was wrongfully convicted of spying for Germany in 1894, humiliated and stripped of his rank in public, was commemorated earlier this month in his native city of Mulhouse in eastern France. On Oct. 9, the day Dreyfus was born in 1859, one of his grandsons unveiled a statue of him at a local park during a ceremony attended by the mayor, France 3 reported.

Paris, the city where his show trial was held and where he was eventually exonerated in 1906, has no street named after Dreyfus, who was exiled to a French colony in South America where he suffered greatly for the false and anti-Semitic charges brought against him.

Theodore Herzl was moved to try to establish a Jewish homeland by the trial, while author Emil Zola penned the famous J'Accuse criticizing the Dreyfus Case travesty that shook Europe..

Survived seven Nazi camps

On Wednesday, the municipality of Amstelveen, south of Amsterdam, where several thousand Jews live, inaugurated a street sign bearing the name of Schelvis, who survived seven Nazi concentration and death camps. He died earlier this year in Amstelveen.

The sign will be installed in 2018 in a neighborhood that is still being constructed, according to the municipality’s official blog.

The University of Amsterdam gave Schelvis an honorary doctorate in 2008 for his research of the Sobibor death camp in Poland, which he survived. His 1993 book “Extermination Camp Sobibor” is considered one of the most detailed documents ever written on the death site, which fewer than 50 people are believed to have escaped and which the Nazis largely obliterated to cover up their atrocities.

Spelling warning

An amateur historian who has researched the near annihilation of Dutch Jewry during the Holocaust warned last week that lacking documentation about the victims could lead to spelling errors and other mistakes in commemorative projects, including a memorial wall planned to be unveiled in Amsterdam in 2018 with 102,000 victims’ names.

Jim Terlingen said the Netherlands, which lost approximately 75 percent of its Jews during the Holocaust — the highest percentage in Nazi-occupied Western Europe, many of them reported to the Nazis by native Dutch — has only kept partial lists of Holocaust victims. His op-ed published Oct. 15 in the Volkskrant daily was titled “Check war victims’ names before they are set in stone.”