Alfred Dreyfus, a captain in the French army, was the perfect scapegoat for those who hated Jews in the late 19th century. In 1894, the French discovered that a secret military document had found its way into the hands of Germany's military attaché in Paris. Although the evidence showed that French Maj. Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy had purloined the secret document and given it to the Germans, the leaders of the French army instead charged Dreyfus with treason.
At the time, France was a bastion of anti-Semitism. A secret court-martial found Dreyfus guilty, even though the evidence against him was scant. The government exiled Dreyfus to Devil's Island. However, bad publicity forced the army to grant Dreyfus a second trial, in which he was once again found guilty of treason. Dreyfus was sentenced to 10 years but was eventually pardoned. In 1906, a new French government proclaimed him innocent [source: Jewish Agency for Israel]. He even wound up serving the French army again during World War I.