Mata Hari

Posted: June 24, 2008 in Blame a Dame, Espionage, Skirts Who are a Problem, Treason, WWI
Tags: , ,

You’ve heard it, admit it, you have. Any dame involved in anything the least bit manipulative in nature or related to espionage and she instantly and incorrectly merits the name a “Mata Hari”.

Double Agent or naive floozy? The world may never know the true story of Margarethe Zelle (1876-1917), a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan, that has captured popular imagination as an international woman of mystery during WWI.

Not a great dancer nor a great beauty, divorcee “Mata Hari”, took great advantage of being a first: an Asian Exotic Dancer. This was something new and novel to taunt the European public. All fine and good when the world is at peace and you are viewed as “seductive” and “erotic”, not so good when war comes to town and people get religion because then you become “promiscuous” and a “trollop”.

Mata Hari’s legion of high ranking, military lovers took her back and forth across country lines and kept in her the lavish lifestyle to which she was accustomed. It also garnered some unfortunate attention when Mata Hari claimed she was working for the French government, a claim that could not be verified. Was she the real deal or just reinventing her image ala Madonna?

Mata Hari’s shenanigans eventually caught up to her when French authorities intercepted a German radio massage regarding the activities of spy H-21. The French decoded the message, attributed it to Mata Hari, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The rumors fly that she was a spy, not a spy, a scapegoat, and/or a victim of a set-up and/or unfortunate circumstance. If she was duped, then who did it? It could have been the French or it could have been the Germans, no one really knows, but the general thought amongst scholars leans towards her being a pawn and nothing more.

Margarethe Zelle was tried, convicted and executed in 1917 for treason. And in the grand tradition of outrageous executioner tales, Mata Hari may, or may not, have blown a kiss to the firing squad, flashed her naked bod and claimed “Harlot, yes, but traitor, never!”

I guess we’ll know in another 9 years when the 100 seal on French records is finally broken.

  1. […] many reports on the story, and has gone so far as to label Siddiqui (incorrectly of course) as a “Mata Hari”. Someone at ABC News needs to brush up on their […]

  2. […] when I think of war and femme fatales, the infamous Dutch courtesan, exotic dancer and spy, Mata Hari of WWI comes to mind. Later to be immortalised in the eponymous 1931 film starring Greta Garbo, she […]

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