Mata Hari

November 9, 2023

(internet image)

~ 1876-1917
~ born or given name: Margaretha Zelle
~ Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan and spy
~ name has become a synonym for the seductive female spy
~ she was shot by the French on charges of spying for Germany during World War 1
~ her guilt is widely contested
~ in 1895 she married Capt. Rudolph MacLeod, an officer in the Dutch colonial army
~ they had two children, their son died young – supposedly poisoned by the nanny
~ in 1906 the couple divorced, Rudolph refused to pay child support so she ended up leaving her daughter with him
~ hoping to earn enough money to reunite with her daughter, Margaretha began to dance professionally in Paris in 1905 under the name of Lady MacLeod
~ shortly thereafter, she soon renamed herself Mata Hari, a Malay expression for the Sun, literally, “eye of the day”
~ being tall, extremely attractive, superficially acquainted with East Indian dances, and willing to appear virtually nude in public, Mata Hari was an instant success in Paris and other large cities

(internet image)

~ supposedly, in late 1915, while she was living in The Hague, an honorary German consul offered to pay her for whatever information she could obtain on her next trip to France
~ after her arrest by the French, she acknowledged that, while she had accepted money from Germany, she had given only outdated information to a German intelligence officer
~ according to statements that she supposedly made, she had agreed to act as a French spy in German-occupied Belgium and did not bother to tell French intelligence of her prior arrangement with the Germans
~ it was her intention to secure for the Allies the assistance of Ernest Augustus, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Germany and heir to the dukedom of Cumberland in the British peerage
~ on February 13, 1917, she was arrested and imprisoned in Paris – suspected of duplicity (the quality or state of being double or twofold)
~ although there was no evidence to support the allegation, she was blamed for the death of up to50,000 French soldiers
~ on July 24–25, 1917, she was tried by a military court and sentenced to death
~ three months later she was shot by a firing squad
~ although the claim that she blew kisses to her executioners was later discredited, the assertion that she refused to wear a blindfold is probably true

source: Britannica

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