“Mata Hari (1876-1917) was the stage name of the Dutch exotic dancer and prostitute Gertrud Margarete Zelle, who was shot by the French as a spy on 15 October 1917. Born on 7 August
The daughter of a well-to-do hatter, Mata Hari attended a teachers' college in Leiden before, in 1895, marrying Captain Campbell MacLeod (of Scottish antecedents but serving in the Dutch army). They lived together from 1897-
Highly successful in Paris (among other cities), Mata Hari's attractiveness, as well as her apparent willingness to appear almost nude on the stage, made her a huge hit. She cultivated numerous lovers, including many military officers. Still unclear today are the circumstances around her alleged spying activities. It was said that while in The Hague in 1916 she was offered cash by a German consul for information obtained on her next visit to France. Indeed, Mata Hari admitted she had passed old, outdated information to a German intelligence officer when later interrogated by the French intelligence service.
Mata Hari herself claimed she had been paid to act as a French spy in
She was consequently arrested by the French on 13 February