10 Scapegoats Still in the Crosshairs

Alfred Dreyfus
A stoic Dreyfus faces the camera at the time of his dishonorable discharge. Dreyfus, of course, would later be pardoned and proclaimed innocent, but not before his case bitterly divided France for years. Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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.