Biography of Famous Sexual Figure and Spy Mata Hari Part 4

About the famous sexual figure Mata Hari, German spy and lady of intrigue, her biography, history, and lovers.


Mata Hari's end came when she was betrayed by the Germans themselves. Their highest paid spy, she had become a financial liability and increased French surveillance had hampered her effectiveness, so a plan to frame her was engineered by agent Capt. Walter Wilhelm Canaris, later head of the German secret service during W.W.II. She was advised to pick up a large check for her services at a neutral legation in Paris, but the Germans relayed the message with a code they knew the French had broken and she was arrested before she could cash the check.

On July 24, 1917, Mata Hari was brought before a court-martial on charges of espionage, thus becoming the most famous of the many spies tried in the hysteria of wartime France. But there is no reason to doubt that the French prosecutor was being conservative when he claimed that her activities had cost France at least 50,000 lives, the evidence indicating that at least twice that number would be a more realistic figure. The court-martial unanimously sentenced her to death. . . .

It was 4 A.M. on October 15, 1917, when Mata Hari was awakened in cell # 12 at St. Lazare and prepared for the firing squad. As all the fantastic plans for her escape failed one by one, her confidence in her invincibility was shaken. Old Maitre Clunet tried his maternity ploy, but when the doctor came to examine her, Mata Hari realized the futility of the scheme and refused an examination. As for the fur coat plan, its absurdity was so apparent that even Mata Hari had never considered it more than a morale-building joke. She asked permission to write 3 last letters. One was to her daughter Banda, from whom she asked forgiveness. Ironically, the beautiful Banda would become a spy herself years later, a 2nd Mata Hari who warned an apathetic U.S. that a Communist invasion was coming in Korea and she eventually met the same fate as her mother.

But hope still prevailed as Mata Hari drank the traditional last glass of rum prescribed by law for all prisoners sentenced to death. Even as she was taken out into the chill morning to the rifle range at Vincennes, her supreme ego must have asserted itself. Mata Hari was tied to a young tree stripped of its leaves and branches. She faced her firing squad as the death warrant was read, refused a blindfold, and no witness saw any sign of fear on her face. Then this woman who had rarely been known to show any outward emotion, neither laughter nor tears, smiled toward the rifles gleaming in the early light. One likes to believe that she was sure they contained nothing but blanks, that Pierre de Mortissac's bribery had worked and all she'd have to do was play dead. It would be in character. In any case, Mata Hari stood straight up and did not flinch as Major Massard barked his terse final command. She didn't cry out when the rifles cracked and smoked. Her several lovers, watching among the witnesses--perhaps some in the firing squad itself--knew that she had died only by the crimson ropes that held her slumped body. Her playboy lover's plane did buzz the compound, but it was a futile gesture and too late by several seconds. At 5:47 the body of Mata Hari, the Eye of the Dawn, whose naked dance of death had lured so many innocents to their graves, had moved for the last time.

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