Born into a fairly affluent family, Mata Hari lived a comfortable life until her father went bankrupt. She was originally studying to be a teacher, but when she came across an advertisement from an Army Captain seeking a wife, she saw it as her opportunity to move up. This gave her access to the upper class world that she enjoyed living in, but after putting up with an alcoholic, abusive husband for so many years, she finally left for Paris.
In Paris, Mata Hari started her foray into the entertainment world as a circus horse rider. She also
She became very successful at her trade and ended up as courtesan to several important people. High-ranking military and political players were among those in her company. Mata Hari’s success helped to elevate the status of exotic dancers to a more respectable and accepted form of performance, paving the way for future generations. Her success also placed her in the company of some of the most powerful people in Europe at the time and gave her
Mata Hari’s Dutch origins gave her a freedom that most did not enjoy during this time of war. The Netherlands had remained neutral in the conflict, which meant she could cross national borders as she saw fit, delivering information to the Germans from Paris.
It was the year of 1917 that would prove to be fatal for Mata Hari. French intelligence intercepted a message from the Germans and managed to deduce that Mata Hari was indeed spying for them. She was arrested and then executed by firing squad on September 15th, though her name lives on in legend.