MATA HARI - Story of kisses and bullets
For most of human history, people serving in combat were overwhelmingly male. It is only recently that women are getting a more prominent role in armed forces.
But there is a long history of female involvement in espionage, even in ancient times. Espionage knows no gender and in fact being female could provide less suspicion and a better cover. There is extensive documentation of the role of women undercover and otherwise involved in intelligence work in the two world wars and some very interesting characters emerge from those two conflicts. Of them, Mata Hari is surely the most prominent. The very name of Mata Hari has become synonymous with spying, espionage, intrigue, and sensuality.
Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, on August 7, 1876, to father Adam Zelle, a hat merchant who went bankrupt due to bad investments, and mother Antje Zelle, who fell ill and died when Mata Hari was 15. Following her mother's death, Mata Hari and her three brothers were split up and sent to live with various relatives.
At an early age, Mata Hari decided that sexuality was her ticket in life. In the mid-1890s, she boldly answered a newspaper ad seeking a bride for Rudolf MacLeod, a bald, moustachioed military captain based in the Dutch East Indies. She sent a striking photo of herself, raven-haired and olive-skinned, to entice him. Despite a 21-year age difference, they wed on July 11, 1895, when Mata Hari was just shy of 19.
She quickly bore him two children and followed him when he was assigned to Java in 1897. The marriage proved rocky. The couple returned to the Netherlands in 1902 with their daughter (their other child, a son, had died mysteriously in Java). Margaretha's husband obtained a divorce and retained custody of his daughter.
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