Mata Hari

Mata Hari was an exuberant woman trying to have the life she wanted at a time when alpha males were mad with hatred against each other in the First World War.Unfortunately she got caught up in it, fell victim to the alpha male’s innate fear of women and was destroyed by firing squad in Paris at age 41.

Mata Hari’s Early Years

Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in northern Holland in 1876.  Her shopkeeper father lavished affection on his “little princess”.  She was an attractive woman with a high sex drive who learned to use her attributes to live the quality of life she had come to expect.

In a world which pushed women into the background, Zelle at first tried the only acceptable way for a woman to achieve a good lifestyle – marriage.  At age 16 she met and married Rudof MacLeod, a hard living officer on leave from Holland’s vicious colonial wars in the East Indies.  He was 22 years her senior.

The marriage did not go well since both husband and wife enjoyed extra-marital affairs.  Predictably the husband thought it ok for him but not for her.

Of her marriage Mata Hari proclaimed later  “I was not content at home, I wanted to live like a colourful butterfly in the sun.”  This way of looking at life goes against alpha male thinking since they enjoy only struggle against each other.

Marriage Breakup

When Mata Hari and her husband returned to Holland in 1903 the marriage finally broke up.   It had deteriorated into sharp quarrels, too much drinking, rows about money and accusations of infidelity for which he flogged her with a cat-o’-nine tails (though he continued his own infidelities) .

His final weapon against her was an advertisement in the local papers warning shops not to give her credit because he would not make good her debts.  He left her penniless.

Mata Hari Makes Her Own Living

Zelle was forced to fall back on her only assets – her style and sexual favours.  In 1903 she used the little money she had to go to Paris, the chic cosmopolitan city of the time, to recreate herself using her sexuality.

It was there that a circus gave her a job and the owner advised her that her talents lay in dancing. Dancers at the Moulin Rouge were flashing knickers and breasts but Mata Hari pushed the boundaries of nudity further, wrapping sex up with religion and art to make it more socially acceptable. Starting in private homes she soon graduated to the salons of Parisian high society.  The critics were enthusiastic.

She adopted the name Mata Hari, meaning sunrise or “eye of the day” in the language of the Dutch East Indies.  She invented stories that she was the daughter of an Indian temple dancer who died giving birth to her and grew up in the jungles of Java.

Her life became an unending performance and her success seemed unstoppable.  The money rolled in but she still managed to spend more than she earned as she travelled to Europe, always picking up lovers on her travels.

The Men Who Caused Her Execution

A string of alpha male men, each pushing their own agendas, were to cause Mata Hari’s cruel execution.  Along the way these men also had to humiliate her so that they could get revenge on her for her womanliness.

Given Mata Hari’s notoriety it is difficult to imagine a woman less able to engage in clandestine activities but still alpha male wannabees, keen to capitalise on the opportunities for rapid advancement which the war was creating, endeavoured to use her fame to further their own careers.

Karl Kroemer

Firstly there was Karl Kroemer, the German consul in Holland, who in 1914, told her he was recruiting spies and gave her 20,000 francs and the code name H21.  Kroemer no doubt thought he could get brownie points if the famous Mata Hari used her feminine wiles to advance the cause of the war for the Germans.

Mata Hari had had some jewels and furs taken by the Germans in Berlin at the start of the war so she saw it as compensation for that and never took Kroemer seriously. She had always taken money from men because she needed it and they had it and she always felt she deserved it.  She threw away the invisible ink he had given her.

British Counter-Intelligence

Caught up in the madness of alpha male suspicions of each other in a war situation, British counter-intelligence stopped her while she was travelling from Holland to France via Britain to avoid the front line.  Though they found nothing incriminating they recorded that she was “not above suspicion”.  This was based on the fact that she spoke French, English, Italian, Dutch and probably German and was a “handsome, bold type of woman”.  Worse still she admitted to having a lover and was thus “immoral and not to be trusted”.

A British intelligence officer stationed in Holland added to the dossier gathering on her with rumours about payments to her from the German embassy adding that he suspected her trip to France was an important mission for the Germans.

In Paris Mata Hari resumed her glamorous life, living at the Grand Hotel, with plenty of men in uniform to keep her occupied and did not realise that two secret policemen were tailing her.  They steamed open her letters, questioned porters, waitresses and hairdressers and collected abundant evidence of her love-life, but not of espionage.

She spent a day and night with the Marquis de Beaufort, had a flirtatious dinner with a purveyor of fine liquors and then met another lover, who embarrassingly for the secret policemen was a senior colleague from their own Bureau.

Captain Georges Ladoux

The next male to have her in the gun was Captain Georges Ladoux, head of French intelligence and an ambitious man who had staked his reputation on France being riddled with foreign spies whom he would destroy.  He needed an attention-grabbing case to prove his worth.

Mata Hari had no option but to deal with him to get a permit to go to Vittel to be with a man she had fallen deeply in love with, a Russian captain 18 years her junior named Vadime.

Ladoux, an arrogant man, regarded her as a prostitute, while she thought him coarse and small-minded.  He would only give her the pass to Vittel if she agreed to spy for France.

Since Ladoux already believed Mata Hari to be a German spy it was bizarre that he should ask her to be a French one.  As she was such a high profile person, she was the worst person to recruit as a spy in any case, since she could hardly perform her duties unnoticed.

Mata Hari accepted – she wanted her pass and she needed money to settle her debts.  She would perform a “mission” or two at his bidding to get the million francs he promised her.

But Ladoux, wanting his high profile case, turned her “intelligence” against her.  Mata Hari had charmed a German captain named Kalle and got secrets about German manoeuvres in North Africa.  When she passed the information on to Ladoux, he used it to prove she was a dangerous spy, turning French secrets over to the Germans, whom his Bureau had captured and interrogated.

On February 10, 1917, a warrant for her arrest was signed by the French war minister.

Pierre Bouchardon

Next to take advantage of the situation was the alpha male wannabe Pierre Bouchardon, investigating magistrate.  Seeing the opportunity for fame for himself he commented “From the very first interview, I had the intuition that she was a person in the pay of our enemies. I had but one thought – to unmask her.”

It did not seem to matter that no one had the least bit of evidence against her. Nor could anyone point to a single document, plan or secret that she passed to the Germans. Suspicion, envy and the prejudices of small-minded men eager for career advancement sealed her fate.

This investigating magistrate ensured she was kept in dirty and unsanitary conditions in prison for nine months during her trial, wanting her to look unkempt so she did not have the advantage of her beauty in the trial situation.

Only 30 years after her death would one of her prosecutors concede the truth – “there wasn’t enough evidence to flog a cat”.

Moral of the Tale

This is why alpha males should never be trusted with governance roles.  They operate as one-sided machines with no heart.  They will twist every fact to their own interpretation to advance their careers or wealth.  They have no interest in truth.  They have no heart at all about other human beings and see them as mere pawns in their world domination game.  They feel no empathy or kindness when their own narcissistic aims are at stake.

Mata Hari’s Execution

As for her execution, Mata Hari departed this life the same way she lived it, with flair, courage and aplomb.At 5 am, they woke her in her filthy cell in the Prison de Saint-Lazare to tell her this was the day she would die. She dressed in her best – stockings, a low-cut blouse under a dove-grey, two-piece suit.

She perched a three-cornered hat at a jaunty angle, hiding her greying hair, unkempt and unwashed through nine months of incarceration. Over her shoulders she slung a vivid blue coat to keep out the cold October air.

She politely refused to be tied to the stake or to be blindfolded.  She faced the firing squad without flinching.

The 12 soldiers in their khaki uniforms and red fezzes raised their rifles. She waved to the two weeping nuns who had been her comfort in prison and on her last journey. She blew a kiss to the priest and another to her lawyer, an ex-lover.

The sun was coming up when the shots rang out. Mata Hari slumped to the ground. The officer in charge marched forward and fired a single bullet into her brain, the coup de grace.  Thus alpha male evil triumphed over feminine love of life, another sad sign, if one was needed.