"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

On August 7, 1876, Mata Hari was born — a spy and a courtesan, surrounded by a halo of mystery. This woman became a legend during her lifetime: there is no consensus among historians about whether her activity as an agent was the result of moral weakness and cynicism or the height of the skill of an actress who is able to use the situation for her own purposes. 

A talentless dancer, but a talented spy had an outstanding appearance and an easy disposition, but this did not bring her happiness: she invented a myth about herself, and in the end it played a cruel joke on her. "I don't regret anything. My life is covered with the most incredible legends, and often even I myself do not know how to distinguish truth from fiction. I have had enough of tears, pain, and misfortune. But I have learned what a woman's power is over men — over those who decide the fate of entire peoples."

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

More than a hundred years have passed since the death of Mata Hari, but her personality still excites the consciousness of millions. In the eyes of the public, she became the personification of a charming female spy who had absolute fearlessness and courage. Whether she was really like this is still a mystery, nevertheless, the biography of an exotic dancer and a "femme fatale" ensured her popularity for centuries: her image formed the basis of films, books, games. 

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

Mata Hari invented her life from the beginning to the end. To begin with, her real name was Margaret Gertrude Zelle. The girl was born on August 7, 1876 in the family of a Dutch hatter. At the age of 17, Margaret moved to her uncle, but life with him does not suit her for long — the girl dreams of a beautiful life, but with a strict uncle it was impossible, and soon she leaves his house.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

For a girl of that era, the only way out was marriage. Having picked up a suitable groom in the newspaper, Margaret immediately writes a letter to her future husband, an officer who was on vacation at home, Rudolf Macleid.

He was almost 20 years older than her, but he came from an old Scottish family and, of course, was quite rich. A year and a half later, Margaret was born a son, and soon the family moved to Dutch India. Either out of boredom, or from all the troubles that have fallen on the girl's head, Margaret does not like the marriage with Macleod, and they divorce.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

After the divorce, Margaret goes to Paris — the city of "runaway wives", where she tries to work as a model. But artists do not really like her, citing the fact that she has too small breasts.

In desperation, Margaret has to return to Holland, but not for long, and soon she decides to return. This time she manages to find a job in Paris — she finds a job at the riding school at the famous circus Molieux. But all this does not suit Margaret, and then she remembers that when she lived in India, oriental dancing caused an unprecedented delight to anyone who saw it.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

Margaret's debut took place in 1905 in the salon of Mrs. Kireevskaya. Everyone liked the exotic movements, and the men remembered her because of the final dance-the girl threw off her outfit with a light movement of her hand.

Her success grew, she charmed the audience, even remaining motionless. And here is another lie invented by the girl — she liked to talk about the death of her Indian mother and learning skills in Buddhist temples. This added to her image of mystery.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

Of course, Margaret was applauded by many, the number of her fans was endless, among whom there were very noble and rich people. One of them invited the diva to perform at the Museum of Oriental Art and named her after Mata Hari. From now on, Margaret is dead. She was invited to the best theaters in Europe, one rich lover was replaced by another, she was bathed in luxury and love.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

Mata Hari was promiscuous, and this played a cruel joke on her: the girl contacted a German police official, and they decided to involve her in espionage — now her name was H-21.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

This continued until 1916. But when a radio message with secret data surfaced, in which the name of Mata Hari sounded, she was offered to work for France. The girl was not confused and decided to spy on both of them. But everything secret becomes clear, and this was no exception.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

Mata Hari is one of the mysterious women of the last century. How did she manage not just to seduce men, but also to extract information from them.

The recipe for her "success" consisted of 3 rules. Rule one-it is necessary to take the initiative: since childhood, Mata understood that she was divinely beautiful and could control men. The second rule is to use any chance given by fate: Mata never knew how to dance, but the audience did not need it, they admired the almost complete nakedness of the girl. The third rule is to keep the intrigue: among her lovers there were more than a hundred successful men who were attracted to her by the mystery — she called herself either an oriental princess, or a pupil of priestesses in a Hindu temple.

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

On February 13, 1917, at the Elise Palace Hotel, she was arrested and accused of espionage — it is rumored that she met the police naked. She denied everything except her affairs: "I may have been a prostitute, but I was never a traitor."

"I have learned what a woman's power over men is": the mysterious life of Mata Hari

During the trial, her former lovers sympathized with her, and her lawyer and lover even knelt before the judge. But Mata could not be saved, and on October 15 she was shot. 12 soldiers simultaneously shot at a spy who was looking them straight in the eye.

Keywords: History | Celebrities | Spies | Legend | Courtesan

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