Mata Hari - The Beautiful Spy
She is charged with high treason. She was a female pay. Her name was Mata Hari. She was an exotic dancer who moved around high society. Then World War I happened and she was charged with treason because of her contacts with the upper echelons of society. What is the truth about Mata Hari? Who was she really? Will she finally reveal her secrets after one hundred years? The run time for this documentary is 52:14.
Paris, 1917, and World War I have been ravaging Europe for three years. A woman is brought before a magistrate in Paris. She is surprised to have been arrested and thought she could wriggle away from her situation. France and Germany were fighting hard but neither side could win. Public opinion was tired of the fighting. With thousands of deaths per day and no end in sight, the public thought there were spies in their midst.
In enters Mata Hari, who enjoyed life in Paris, as well as the company of high-ranking officials. She obscures her past, so no one really knew where she came from. She is an exotic dancer. Was she a woman capable of treason? Did she really commit treason?
Phillippe Collins, the great-grandson of the prosecutor, talks about meeting her and his grandfather. Mata Hari was born in the Netherlands as Margaretha Zelle and was the daughter of a shop owner. Her father grew rich, but he was also a born liar. He exaggerated his origins. There was one thing he did: he completely spoiled his daughter. He made sure that she was dressed in silks. Suddenly her father lost his money and her mother passed away. She is left with an uncle and an aunt. She was a beauty and eventually, she married. He was an officer from the Dutch East Indies and twenty years older.
They traveled to the Dutch East Indies and had two children. She tried to become the traditional wife and mother. In the Dutch East Indies, she discovered a different sort of life. She was a young wife and had to deal with a harsh husband. He was a jealous husband and often abusive to her. He loved the women as well and ended up infecting Mata Hari with syphilis. There is some suggestion that this syphilis killed her young son. Mata Hari retreats to the Netherlands with her daughter to separate from her husband. Her husband wanted his daughter back and challenged the custody. Eventually, Mata Hari lost custody of her daughter. She would never see her daughter again.
Mata Hari then fled to Paris to reinvent herself. She would take elements from her own life and weave them into a new persona. She wanted to live out some other life. Eventually, she became an exotic dancer. She played on the interest in the Orient. She lived the life of a wealthy woman due to her patrons from high society. She allowed herself to be a kept woman. She adored men in uniform and openly met her lovers in society.
Eventually, she grew older and it became harder and harder to maintain her extravagant lifestyle. Things started going wrong for her. In 1914, she traveled to Berlin where she would put on a show. She had written her own ballet and so it was going to be her big comeback. However, World War I broke out. So, her show was canceled. Mata Hari was trapped in Germany; her money was frozen by the German government. She eventually makes her way back to Holland with the help of a benefactor in Berlin where she worked as a fashion model.
What she did not know was that she was under surveillance by the British Government. She was in Germany when the war broke out, so was she a spy for the German government? There were rumors that various governments were using female spies. Mata Hari with her contacts would have been an ideal candidate to be a spy. Was she really a spy? Was she a spy for the Germans or was she spy for the French? What would happen to her when she was arrested? Tune into the rest of this episode to find the rest of Mata Hari’s story.
This is an interesting look at Mata Hari, there was a movie about her but I never really looked into her life. Then this documentary popped up and I decided to learn more. This documentary would be good for research purposes and not for a classroom setting.
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