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Mata Hari #OnThisDay

On 15th of October 1917 exotic dancer Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad having been found guilty of spying for the Germans.

Mata Hari dancing in the Musée Guimet (1905) L’Histoire par l’image, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born 7th August 1876 in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. In 1895 she married Capt. Rudolph MacLeod, an officer in the Dutch colonial army who was said to have been an abusive husband.

Tragedy stalked this woman. Her son died and the nanny was suspected of poisoning him, but it is also surmised that he succumbed to the mercury treatment used to treat him from syphilis contracted from his parents. After a bitter divorce the daughter went to live with her father who had left Margaretha with no financial means of support.

To earn money she took a job exotic dancing in Paris in 1905 using the name Lady Macleod quickly changing this to Mata Hari.

She had many men, and during the First World War these were military officers. Her story is obscured by myth and misinformation because although accused of relaying information from French officers to the Germans , she was also doing the same with the other side.

 On July 24–25, 1917, she was tried by a military court and sentenced to death. Some three months later she was shot by a firing squad. She is said to have refused a blindfold at her execution.

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