Known by her stage name Mata Hari, real Margaretha Geertruida “M’greet” Zelle McLeod, was a very seductive Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan.
But Mata Hari is better known by being a spy during World War I, reason for which she was executed by firing squad in Paris, charged of espionage for Germany.
Photo Source: wikimedia commons
Daughter of a very prosperous businessman, Margaretha went to exclusive schools, where she stood out being brilliant. At only 18 years old, she married Dutch officer McLeod, but soon she found out love doesn’t last forever. Soon after divorcing, she figured out that her charm, beauty and intelligence could not bring her only boney, but fame alike.
She began studying Indonesian traditions, by joining a dance company. In 1897, she adopted the stage name Mata Hari, literally meaning “eye of the day”.
Photo Source: wikipedia.org
She chose the way of decadence, performing as an exotic dancer. Mata Hari, along with Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis were leaders of the early modern dance movement, inspired by Asian and Egyptian traditions. Some even say that Mata Hari is the initiator of striptease.
Photo Source: efemeride.ro
In 1912, her career began to decay, and in 1915 she performed in her final show. This last show proved to be the end of her dancing career. Because WWI started, the dancer chose to work for the German espionage service and was paid huge amounts of money.
Photo source: my.opera.com
In 1915 she returned to Paris, was arrested for espionage and found guilty. But, using her charm and relationships with many officers, Mata Hari engaged in espionage for France as well.
It is a mistery how she managed to be such a good spy, but apparently, she ended out spying for both sides and, of course, being paid by both.
During all this time, Mata Hari was also seeing a German consul, to whom she was offering precious information in exchange of certain amounts of money. The British services found out about her game and informed the French. It was a fatal error of the famous spy that would cost her life.
Mata Hari was arrested on 13th February 1917 by the French. While being in prison, she was tried by a military law court and found guilty of being a German spy. She was to be executed by a firing squad, but, before being shot, Mata Hari, as a fine psychologist, went totally naked before the squad. The soldiers weren’t impressed and executed her as a war criminal.
Photo Source: greatwar.nl
Her body was never claimed by her family, so it was used for medical study.
Mata Hari faced her end, but also the entrance to history books. The story of this famous spy is a life lesson that maybe Mata Hari herself did not understand well.
About such a cosmopolitan person, a true pioneer of the dance movement, brilliantly skilled spy and charming woman, we can truly say: Mata Hari was a Femme Fatale. How do you find her story?
Photo Source: natemaas.com
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