Careless pillow talk. And to see the treason from the forest…
To explain the impact of Col. Sandherr’s “discovery” on his superiors, it may be useful to recall certain aspects of the military and the social history of the period. Spy fever was endemic at the time, as it was in the Cold War 1950′s, and for several of the same reasons. International tensions were already increasing nearly a quarter of a century before the outbreak of World War I, and the leading military powers were constantly making advances in weaponry that might prove decisive if they could be kept secret.
During the previous few years several sensational spy cases had agitated French public opinion and had made the army command jittery. In 1892, for example, the American military attache had been caught buying secret information from a civilian employee of the Naval Ministry and passing it to his German colleague, presumably on an exchange basis.
Money or blackmail- rather than ideological sympathy- is usually the most frequent motivating force behind such espionage-treason cases, but a steamy haze of sexuality often overhangs them as well. One thing that made the Dreyfus case so hard to unravel, for instance, was the fact that the messages between Schwartzkoppen and his Italian colleague, Col. A. Panizzardi, which the French regularly intercepted, were signed “Alexandrine” by both parties and were sprinkled with apparently homosexual endearments. Also, Schwartzkoppen used his mistress- the wife of a Dutch diplomat- to pen some of his spy correspondence.
A similar haze overhung the whole political and social life of the epoch, especially in Paris and Vienna. Though sexual freedom was less unbridled than it is today, at least for women, the gap between official morality and common practice in the dominant social classes was undoubtedly greater. Hence, probably, the obsession with the theme of sexual treason that runs through all French literature of the period.
Whether or not the prevalent concern with sexual betrayal and subversion unconsciously predisposed the guardians of France’s national security to see treason in or under every bed, they did have some grounds for feeling that corrupt, mysterious influences were threatening the nation and the army. Col. Sandherr, for example, had built up a disturbing file on a former captain attached to the personal staff of Gen. Felix Gustave Saussier, the military governor of Paris.
This suspect, a shady character named Maurice Weil, had earlier been cashiered from the army because of a financial scan
He was currently involved in a typically unsavory bedroom imbroglio of the period. One the one hand, he was sharing his beautiful Viennese wife with Gen. Saussier, then in his randy sixties. On the other hand, Sandherr believed he was somehow in touch with german intelligence and was selling secret information…( to be continued)…
(see link at end) about Kafka’s The Trial…..Paradoxically, the most (in)famous anti-semitic affair of his time, the Dreyfus trial, is hardly mentioned in his writings. In fact, we do not know what he thought of it, even if one can be sure that, as all Jewish or even European citizen from this generation, he knew the main episodes of this traumatic event. According to Frederick Karl, the Dreyfus trial is “the archetypal court case in the background of The Trial,” but there is little evidence to substantiate this assessment. There is even less for Sander Gilman’s
statement that “the Dreyfus Affair haunted Kafka all his adult life” as well as his attempt to identify Kafka’s Penal Colony with the Devil’s Island were Alfred Dreyfus was interned after his condemnation.
One of the few mentions to Dreyfus appears, rather in an indirect way, in a letter from 1922 to Max Brod. Kafka refers to the cultural struggle around a controversial Czech sculptor, Frantisek Bilek, which he then compares to a similar controversy around the Cezch composer Leos Janacek….Read More:http://www.okcir.com/Articles%20VII%202/Lowy-FM.pdf