Margarita Zelle – Mata Hari.
Dutchborn Zelle was married to an abusive and alcoholic military man, lost first one child and then a second older one (from treatment related to the syphilis they’d contracted from their parents…nice…) and went onstage in Paris to make a living after her divorce and became a courtesan. She had numerous affairs with high ranking officials, travelled Europe widely and, under examination by French allies, confessed to working for French Intelligence (though there is some belief that she said that to make herself appear more intriguing). Later Britain intercepted a coded German message which they believed indicated Mata Hari was in fact spying for Germany. This was borne out in 1970 when records were released. Interestingly, the messages that led to Mata Hari’s arrest were in a code that the Germans knew Britain had already broken, suggesting that they wanted her to be caught.
Perhaps they’d realised she was a double-agent after all.
In 1917 she was sentenced to be executed in a closed trial on what some have claimed was fabricated evidence (those trial records will be opened in 2017). Her execution was witnessed and she was reportedly both brave, dignified and defiant in her final moments..
For all her sexually wild ways, Mata Hari never removed her jewelled bra because she was self-conscious about her small breasts. I find that such an extraordinary shame in a woman who appears to have been, in all other ways, totally shameless.
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