Friday, October 15, 2010

This Day in History - October 15

On this date in 1917, one of the most famous spies in history was executed.
Mata Hari was the stage name of a Dutch woman named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She became famous for, well to put it impolitely, kinda being a ho. She was a dancer known for performing "exotic" dances that seemed to consist of her wearing some kind of vaguely eastern costume and taking it off. She had a whole back story that she was born in an Indian temple and was taught sacred dances by the priestesses. However, it was all a pack of lies and what she knew of Indian and Javanese dances she learned while in Malaysia with her husband who was in the Dutch Colonial Army. But nobody knew or cared, because Internet porn was like, 70 years away. She was known as a famous courtesan, which is nice way of saying she was a gold digger. She was widely rumored to be banging( to use the parlance of our times) a bunch of high-ranking military officers both in the French and German armies. So, in 1917, the French authorities arrested her on suspicion of treason and espionage and sent her to the St. Lazare Prison in Paris. During her military trial, she was accused of revealing details of the new weapon, the tank, resulting in the deaths of thousands of soldiers. She was convicted and sentenced to death.

For 1917, this was wicked hot

Today, opinions are divided about the truth of the matter. Some say that she was a spy for the Germans and even worked as a double agent for the French, but that the Germans had written her off as pretty much useless. (except all the looking hot and dancing like a ho) Her trial was said to pretty much be a farce and no real evidence was brought against her. It has been suggested that the French High Command played her story up to distract the nation from the appalling losses that they French Army was suffering on the Western Front. No one will ever know the truth, I suspect. But the legacy is that Mata Hari became the archtype of the femme fatale spy, and we would probably not have any James Bond movies without her. In one of those incidents that is more like a movie than real life, she refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to her firing squad before she was shot.

Also in 1860 an eleven-year-old girl named Grace Bedell, wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.


  1. cool post shame she got shot.

  2. Umm dude. You tagged it correct but you mistyped her name each time in the post. It's Mata Hari, not Mati Hari. I know for sure because 'matahari' means 'sun' in Indonesian/Malay, and 'mati hari' would mean 'the end of days'. I think her name had double entendre, because 'mata hari' (separated) could also mean 'the eye of the day'. Awesome, eh? She's smarter (and deeper) than she seemed.

  3. So I did. I shall fix it. Thanks.