Mata Hari wearing a Javanese-inspired costume. A reporter in Vienna described Mata Hari as "slender and tall with the flexible grace of a wild animal, and with blue-black hair." As war swept the continent, she had some freedom of movement as a citizen of neutral Holland and took full advantage of it, country-hopping with trunks of clothing in tow. “This is perhaps the greatest woman spy of the century.” In the end, it took a military tribunal less than an hour to find her guilty and sentence her to death.

Today in History: Mata Hari executed by the French | Warscapes August 7, 1876 — Mata Hari born was born on this day August 7, 1876 as Margaretha “Gretha” Geertruida Zelle in the Netherlands. By then, Mata Hari had begun a passionate romance with Vladimir de Masloff, a 21-year-old Russian army captain.
Paris in 1905 was the perfect time for Mata Hari's exotic looks and the "temple dance" she created by drawing on cultural and religious symbolism and that she had picked up in the Indies. After 10 years, Zelle’s act was no longer fashionable though she was still able to support herself as a courtesan, though naively, she slept with both French and German soldiers in a Europe at war. Upon learning that Masloff was recuperating in a military hospital near the spa town of Vittel, Mata Hari moved heaven and earth to see him. The truth, it turns out, is more complex. France thought her courtesan contacts would be of use to its intelligence operation. In December 1916, she began to ply her seductive skills on a German attaché, Major Arnold Kalle, with the express purpose of pumping him for any useful information that she could pass on to Paris. By 1905 she was dancing under the name of Mata Hari and had invented a new identity for herself; that of a Javanese princess performing a Hindi priestly dance.

With dreams of getting her celebrated hooks into somebody much more important than a lowly major like Kalle, she waited in vain for another chance to prove herself and pull off the grand intelligence coup that would put her and Masloff on Easy Street. However, MacLeod refused to provide any financial support for Zelle to support her daughter, forcing her to move to Paris alone to earn money.
Shocked by Masloff’s condition, the courtesan, who had lived off rich men most of her adult life, decided that she would provide for his care.

“I wanted to live like a colorful butterfly in the sun,” she later said. Other officials believe that she was actually a double agent, simultaneously spying for the Germans. Concerned with insulating himself from any future fallout, Ladoux disavowed any knowledge of Mata Hari. To order

Whatever the case, the 39-year-old was assigned a German codename: “H 21.”, Over the next several months, Mata Hari continued traveling through Europe and carrying out flings with military officers and politicians. The equally infatuated Masloff was a member of an elite Russian unit, the 1st Special Imperial Regiment, which the Tsar, in a display of wartime solidarity, had sent to France to fight shoulder to shoulder with Russia’s allies on the Western Front. Sources suggest the children might have been suffering the effects from over-treatment for syphilis. He writes from Pasadena, California.

Why Mata Hari Was Not the Spy You Thought ... - On This Day Mata Hari was a professional dancer and mistress who became a spy for France during World War I.

Some accounts say she blew her executors a kiss yet other accounts say she merely raised her hand in farewell to the nuns who had looked after her in prison.

‘Mata Hari’ by Isaac Israels. Ignoring the slights, Mata Hari put forward the deal-maker: If she failed, she would expect to receive nothing. She then turned to face the firing squad, waved away her blindfold and blew the soldiers a kiss. “Big Wisky” – 12 Amazing Facts About the Battleship USS Wisconsin, Bloodletting – The Deadliest One-Day Battles in Military History. The cash-strapped dancer accepted the money—she later claimed she considered it payback for the assets seized from her a year earlier—but whether she actually took part in espionage is unclear. Worse still, the effects of the gas left him permanently blind in his left eye and in serious danger of losing the sight in his other eye as well. “Marttila used her pencil to record the grim spectacle of a starving city in hopes of preserving the memory the dead.” ELENA MARTTILA WAS an art student living in Leningrad in September of 1941 when the German army surrounded the city.…Read …. “She never made a full confession nor can I find … that she ever gave away anyone as her (accomplice),” the report states. Married at 18 to Captain Rudolf Macleod, a colonial officer 21 years her senior, she survived a decade of abuse in the Dutch East Indies at the hands of her drunken, belligerent husband by the time she returned to the Netherlands in 1902. Dressed in a blue coat accented by a tri-corner hat, she had arrived at the Paris execution site with a minister and two nuns and, after bidding them farewell, walked briskly to the designated spot.

Mata Hari appearing before the War Council. "It's impossible, it's impossible," Mata Hari exclaimed, upon hearing the decision.

Still craving the old excitement, she would return to Paris like a moth to a flame several times over the next two years, no small feat in a Europe convulsed by war. At the time of her execution on Oct. 15, 1917, in a muddy field outside Paris, she was accused of feeding Germany information that cost some 50,000 Allied troops their lives.

She blew a kiss to the firing squad before they executed her on October 15, 1917. The information contained in the messages caused little concern to the French. She seems to have died bravely, she refused a blindfold and stood silently until the gunshots rang out. Mata Hari took the Paris saloons by storm, then moved on to the bright lights of other cities.

After refusing a blindfold, she was placed against a wooden stake and executed by a firing squad of twelve French soldiers. Hired by army captain Georges Ladoux, agreeing to pass military information gleaned from her conquests to the French government. She began to meet with German contacts. Having succeeded in captivating high-ranking German officers a decade earlier, she was sure that once in her clutches, von Bissing wouldn’t have a chance. She is widely known as a resourceful double spy.

Mata Hari was one of the most famous and desirable women in history. "A courtesan, I admit it.

Her frequent travels across borders put her under the surveillance of French officials.

The fact that Mata Hari was both a woman and a dancer was enough to convince the British that she fit the profile.

They, too, were standing at attention, waiting. (The couple's son died in 1899 after a household worker in the Indies poisoned him for reasons that remain a mystery.). Mata Hari was a professional dancer and mistress who became a spy for France during World War I.

Mata Hari used her contacts to gain intelligence and seduce German officers and commanders, hoping they would be careless around her or hope to impress her by providing her with gossip and “dangerous” information. She was paid 20,000 (francs) in advance and her number was H.21.”.

rights reserved. He was 21; she was 40.

There is also little evidence she ever passed on any information of value beyond gossip. Today most view her, certainly as a spy, just not a very good one, more as a woman naively trying to pay her way during a time of war and providing an easy scapegoat for a nation during desperate times. Her attendance as an observer at the German military maneuvers in Silesia in 1906 created something of a minor sensation.

A dramatization of the execution of Mata Hari from the 1964 film Mata Hari Agent H21. That file also notes her German spymasters gave her vials of invisible ink. Kalle’s messages may have been a calculated ploy to expose her—he allegedly sent the telegrams in an old code that the Germans knew the Allies had cracked—but they were all the evidence Ladoux needed. All Rights Reserved. “Tonight I dine with Count A and tomorrow with Duke B,” she once quipped.

Clara Benedix, if that was even her name, was a German spy. Mata Hari's trial came at a time when the Allies were failing to beat back German advances.

Although it has not been proven, many say that the Germans were onto Mata Hari and they sold her out to the French. It was even suggested, without the slightest shred of evidence, that she might be one of several enemy spies recruited, trained, and operating out of Antwerp, in occupied Belgium, as part of the espionage network run by the infamous “Fraulein Doktor” Elsbeth Schragmuller, one of the more shadowy figures in German intelligence. His words would become a part of the legend. Mata Hari became a spy for France in her late thirties after her dancing career neared to an end and she took on being a full-time lover: a financial decision. Rosanoff is taken by imperial Russian general Serge Shubin (Lionel Barrymore) to see the celebrated Mata Hari dance.


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