Mata Hari (1876 - 1917) was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan. In her heyday in Paris, she was famous and desired throughout Europe. But her life ended tragically, because the French accused her of spying and executed her during World War I.
The Life of Mata Hari
Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (Mata Hari’s real name) was born in Leeuwarden. After a failed marriage, she decided to move to Paris. Within the shortest time she became one of the most sought after dancers. She performed in every major city in Europe.
As a courtesan, she had relationships with high-ranking officers, politicians and other influential people. These contacts and the fact that she was Dutch and could thus cross borders freely during the First World War led to suspicions. Mata Hari was arrested and accused for spying by the French in 1917. Though there was no real evidence, she was found guilty and executed by a firing squad.
Fries Museum Leeuwarden
If you want to know more about the life story of Mata Hari, you should visit the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. The museum has one room fully dedicated to the world famous Mata Hari. Her story has inspired many filmmakers and her life was symbolic for the decline of Europe at that time.