She was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands on August 7, 1876. Her father left their family, so when her mother died, a little girl, named Margaretha Gertruida Zelle had become an orphan. She hadn’t where to live, and her future was depressing. But her fate had other plans.
At the age of 15, the girl was alone in the world. Margaretha decided to pursue an education; she worked hard to become a teacher. From her early age, the girl was desperate for affection, so she was involved in an affair with the director of the school. When their relationship was discovered, the woman was fired.
When Margaretha was 19, she met a marine officer. They married a short time later. She was happy to start a new life in Indonesia, where her husband worked. The girl adapted very quickly; she even learned the traditional dances there. Her marriage was unhappy; her husband was always drunk, then it turned out that he was syphilis-infected. The couple had two children, but they both were unhealthy and died in their youth.
That time Margaretha changed her name to “Mata Hari,” which means “eye of the day.” This trick helped her to find her new identity.
In 1902 she left her husband and moved to Paris. The woman worked as an exotic dancer to earn a living.
In 1905 Mata became very popular, she was touring throughout Europe. Her dancing was amazing; people described her “feline grace” and the “moves of her curves.”
Her show was incredibly erotic for that time. She danced almost naked, dressing in thin veils and a few jewels on her breasts. It was shocking!
Her fame was so great that she began to attract very influential men. Mata became the most famous courtesan in Europe.
In 1915 the woman was too old to continue her dancing career. She retired to the Netherlands with a man she had met. But their happiness was too short, her husband was called into military service. One day Mata Hari discovered that he was wounded and she decided to help him. Mata found her loved man in the hospital in France, but the authorities didn’t allow her to visit him. They offered her a deal; she could get a visa in exchange for spying on the Germans. She had to accept the offer.
Unfortunately, she was unable to get any useful information, but the Germans found out that she was trying to spy on them very soon. Then they forced her into their service. Mata became a double-agent. It was very dangerous.
On February 13, 1917, she was arrested by French authorities.
Mata was sentenced to death. She refused to wear the blindfold. Instead, she did something amazing: she blew a kiss to the crowded square.
Her story is fascinating and shocking at the same time! There are a lot of mysteries in her story, but we know was a very strong woman trying to change her life for the better.