In that review I spoke of Picquart as a genuine man of honour who refused to countenance injustice.
Going back over 100 years,Florence Earle Coates in a poem, Picquart, written in 1902 gave her perspective on his actions:
Aye, 't was for these, for these he put aside
Place and preferment, fortune and the pride
Of fair renown; the friends he prized, in sooth,
All the rewards of an illustrious youth,
And set his strength against a swollen tide,
And gave his spirit to be crucified—
For love of justice and for love of truth.
Keeper of the abiding scroll of fame,
Lo! we intrust to thee a hero's name!
Life, like a restless river, hurrying by,
Bears us so swiftly on, we may forget
The name to which we owe so deep a debt;
But guard it thou, nor suffer it to die!
An Officer and a Spy further made clear that Picquart valued the security of his nation above the "honour" of the army.
Yet it was his personal sense of integrity that drove him to resist the hierarchy of the army though the personal consequences were extreme. He was wrongfully convicted, dismissed from the Army and ostracized by his former comrades. Fortunately, when Dreyfus was cleared Picquart was also restored. In one of the more startling developments he was actually made Minister of War.
I do not know the source of his integrity. He never wrote a memoir.
Many people profess integrity but fail when tested. Picquart met the challenge.
He told the Dreyfus family that they need not thank him as he had obeyed his conscience.
It happens that Picquart died 100 years ago on January 19, 1914. Many at that time thought his memory would be immortal. In Pierre Stutin's review of the book on the affairedreyfus.com
he quotes Paul Desachy:
"When events will have receded into the distant past, when, one
by one, all the major players will have been laid down in their
graves, poets and novelists will keep them alive in the memory
of men. The glory of France will be reflected in these evocations
of a tragic page. Heroes are revealed by crises of conscience.
Our generation will have provided a mutitude of them, and, first
among them, the greatest of them all, because he was a soldier –
o military servitude ! – Georges Picquart.”
Were it not for An Officer and a Spy few would have remembered, let alone honoured, the 100th anniversary of Picquart's death.
His example should remain an inspiration to never let the "honour" of an institution and its leadership take precedence over truth. There is no honour in protecting and perpetuating a lie.