Born 137 years ago this week, Dutch beauty Margaretha Geertruida Zelle saw sexuality as her only option to a fulfilled life. From answering a newspaper ad to become a Dutch Colonial Army Captain’s bride to taking the stage as an exotic dancer and becoming Mata Hari, the “eye of the day,” little did she know the path that life had in store for her.
After falling out of her exotic days and falling in love with a 21-year-old Russian captain who became blind in one eye during World War I, Mata Hari was presented with an opportunity to support her lover: make her way into German high command as a spy for the French. Like a plot out of a movie, Mata Hari agreed, yet she never made it to her intended final act. It’s unknown whether she was truly a double agent for the Germans or if they set her up as retribution for discovering her espionage. The truth made no difference since the outcome was all the same.
Right up until the end, Mata Hari stayed true to her words, “I have always lived for love and pleasure.” As the Parisian firing squad readied their weapons to execute their former spy turned accused German double agent, Mata Hari walked directly to her spot and stood face forward. She dismissed her blindfold and looked the gunmen in the eye and blew them a kiss. They sent it back with bullets.