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.
World War I - World War I Episode 2
Good morning, we are continuing with our World War I and World War II documentaries for November with another episode from the series World War I. The Timeline YouTube channel has split this episode up into smaller sections for easy viewing and that is a really nice feature of this episode.
Germany looked to spread the war into the Middle East and Africa and allied with the Ottoman Empire. The vast British Empire was hard to defend and hard to lose. The war was going to become global with Germany’s effort. Germany wanted to take the pressure off its armies in Europe by invading other places. This meant men and supplies would be sent elsewhere as well as others could do their fighting.
Britain wanted to stop this from happening and would use the navy to stop it. The German Navy was a scattered fleet and they all were connected to Berlin by wireless. The biggest German fleet was stationed in China. The British could not attack this fleet and so turned to Japan. The Japanese navy seized the chance to expand and attacked the German fleet in China. Japanese and British soldiers fought together to take this fleet.
Germany did not want to lose this fleet or the town it was based. Japanese took the town, however, the German fleet escaped. This turned the German fleet on the world. The naval officers had free reign to damage the enemy as much as they could. The fleet would meet the British fleet in the Falklands. They engaged and the British lost two ships. Another naval captain was wreaking havoc on British shipping in the Indian Ocean. This was having an impact on the British war effort.
Things turned around for the British in the Falklands when they defeated the German navy. The British then turned their attention to Africa. In the meantime, the Germans were making overtures to the Ottomans to expand the war in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire had lost its territories in failed wars and was trying to modernize the country. The Minister of War had seen Germany as a potential ally. Germany was not a danger to the Ottoman Empire.
The Kaiser was trying to court the Ottoman Empire. There were rumors that he became a Muslim and went on a Pilgrimage to Mecca. He saw the Ottomans as someone who could be told what to do. In 1914, they formatted an alliance. The Ottomans declared a holy war against the Russians. They started the war in the middle of Winter. This was an error because the soldiers who were facing the cold were ill-equipped for the cold weather. Many died due to the cold. The soldiers would go to sleep and never wake up again. The guns froze up due to the cold as well. The Ottoman’s first grand offensive ended in catastrophe
The Ottomans blamed the Armenian population for their defeat. The Armenians would pay a heavy price for this belief. The Armenians would be massacred and expelled from their country. Severe measures were taken against the Armenians. It was a disaster for the Armenian people. Many died from starvation.
Would the Ottoman involvement in the war turn the tide towards Germany? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out more about how the Ottomans got involved in World War I.
This episode was a fascinating look at a front that does not get explored too much when the unit on World War I comes around. I have never heard of how the Ottomans got involved in World War I, only that they were involved. So if I was a teacher this would be one episode I would consider showing to the class.
We will be throwing the clock back and will be reviewing a documentary on the start of World War I.
World War I started with a wrong turn. It was the most destructive war that had ever been. It was the first genuine global war. It was fought in the mountains, the sky, and the deserts. America was launched as a world power. The roots of World War II and the Cold War are found in this war. The Balkans took center stage in the war. It was fought over by the Austrian Empire, Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. So how did this region spark the first world war?
The Ottoman Empire had its roots deep into the Balkans, but the Serbians had tossed off their Turkish masters and established independence. However, there was an enemy to the north that wanted to challenge Serbian independence: the Austrian Hungarian Empire. Emperor Franz Joseph ruled the joint Austrian-Hungarian Empire and had been in charge of the Empire for sixty-six years. He had resisted a lot of change.
The Serbians believed the Austrian-Hungarian Empire to be a repressive state. However, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire kept the peace in Europe. They were a multinational empire. Despite this, they were in a state of crisis. This would give her enemies opportunities to break away from the Empire. The Serbians were happy with this internal crisis because they could incorporate the Slavs into one superstate in the South: Yugoslavia.
A secret military society the Black Hand was formed. They would use assassination and terrorism as their tools to bring about Yugoslavia. Gavril Princip was in Belgrade talking revolution with his friends. He had heard that Franz Ferdinand was going to visit Bosnia and observe the troop movements in the mountains of Sarajevo. Princip wanted to take action against Franz Ferdinand. For the Black Hand, the Austrian troops were just a smokescreen for an invasion of Serbia. The Black Hand okayed the assassination attempt.
In 1914, Franz Ferdinand was Emperor in Waiting. In fact, his portrait was painted wearing the stars of an Emperor. He was a man who made his own way. He married a woman who was not of royal blood. He also had radical ideas for reform and it was a way to protect the empire and his own future as emperor. He toasted peace and wanted to avoid war. He did not see what was coming.
Franz Ferdinand chooses to make his appearance in Sarajevo on their national day. The Serbian Ambassador warned them against making the trip. The Austrians laughed off the warning. Even with the warning, security was light. A bomb was thrown at Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The bomb missed and Franz Ferdinand made his way to the Town Hall. Franz Ferdinand left after visiting7 the town hall he made his way to the car. A driver made a wrong turn and was assassinated. Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie died on their way to the hospital.
The Governor of Bosnia called for Austria to revenge for the assassination. Serbia must learn to fear the Austrians again. In a twist, a man who wanted peace was quickly becoming a rallying point for the war. War with Serbia was going to be unavoidable. What would happen if was declared? Who would fight in this war, after all it was just a local fight? Surely nobody else would declare war on Serbia, would they? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out more about the start of World War I.
This is an excellent documentary to show for a history class.
November we will feature blogs about World War I and World War II. We are kicking off November with the docu-drama Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea. This docu-drama was produced in 2007. It kicks off with the narration of Professor Ian Holbourn, one of the survivors of the Lusitania sinking. He was a second-class passenger and made friends with a young lady Avis Dolphin.
Germany unleashed the U-boat onto the world during World War I and it proved to be a deadly weapon. They were an underwater weapon. The British attempted to starve Germany into surrender, an illegal action at the time. The rules were being re-written. The British Admiralty did not take these weapons too seriously. However, they too report on U-Boat activity around the British Isles.
The First Lord of the Admiralty was Winston Churchill, he did not take it too seriously. He wanted to encourage neutral shipping into British waters. If one of these ships were sunk, especially if an American ship or American casualties were involved it could draw the United States into the War. Holbourn speculates that passenger liners could be targeted. He had been on a lecture tour of America and was coming home.
Lusitania was about to set sail in May 1915 when a notice appeared in the newspaper: “Notice! Travelers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travelers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk. Imperial German Embassy Washington, D.C., 22 April 1915.”
The Lusitania was the British Flagship liner. The Germans would not sink a ship full of innocent people. Alfred Vanderbilt is being interviewed by journalists. He dismisses the warning as scaremongering by the Germans. A family is also about to board the ship. The mother is worried about boarding the ship. However, they would not get money their money back if they did not board it.
Captain Turner signs off on a shipment of munitions and assures the passengers that the Admiralty will look after them. They cite the size and speed of the ship. The Admiralty also receives the warning Lusitania got. The Admiralty dismisses the warning. The Lusitania sets sail with 2,000 souls on board.
At the same time, U-20 was making its way to the Irish Sea. Their travels are interrupted when they get a destroyer in their sights. They dive to avoid the destroyer. There is one young sailor who seems reluctant to be a part of the war effort. After avoiding the destroyer, they make their way to the Irish Sea.
The British Admiralty is listening in on the messages between U-20 and Germany. They know that the U-20 is heading to the Irish Sea. The Admiralty advises not to tell the Lusitania about U-20 since the ship is 100’s of miles away.
During the voyage, the passengers get used to life onboard the ship. It is here Professor Holbourn meets up with Avis Dolphin. They would become lifelong friends.
Continue to watch to see what happens. The Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea is a fascinating docu-drama. It is nice to finally see something involving the Lusitania. Titanic has been overdone. Both Germany and England produced this documentary. Show clips of this documentary or show the whole thing in a class. It is a good docu-drama to show in class.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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