Mata Hari

Mata Hari


Mata Hari was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I. She was executed by a firing squad. According to an eyewitness, she defiantly blew a kiss to the firing squad.


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Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod (née Zelle), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I. Despite her having admitted under interrogation to taking money to work as a German spy, many people still believe she was innocent because the French Army needed a scapegoat. She was executed by firing squad in France.

Zelle was executed by a firing squad of 12 French soldiers just before dawn on 15 October 1917. She was 41. According to an eyewitness account by British reporter Henry Wales, she was not bound and refused a blindfold. She defiantly blew a kiss to the firing squad.

A 1934 New Yorker article reported that at her execution she wore "a neat Amazonian tailored suit, specially made for the occasion, and a pair of new white gloves", though another account indicates she wore the same suit, low-cut blouse, and tricorn hat ensemble which had been picked out by her accusers for her to wear at trial, and which was still the only full, clean outfit which she had in prison. Neither description matches photographic evidence. Wales recorded her death, saying that after the volley of shots rang out, "Slowly, inertly, she settled to her knees, her head up always, and without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second, it seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life. Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her." A non-commissioned officer then walked up to her body, pulled out his revolver, and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.


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