Sunday, 15 October 2017

Seventy Seventh Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Mata Hari 

Monday 15th October 1917

Today has been foggy and overcast. Once again there has been nothing in the way of overt aggression by either side at Ypres. We have heard an odd story from Paris, however.

The town of Vincennes lies a little way east of the French capital of which it is, effectively a suburb. There has been an execution there today. This, in itself, is not unusual, sadly, in this war but this victim was different in a number of ways. She went by the name of Mata Hari and was a spy for the Germans. We understand she came originally from the Orient, possibly the island of Java, and had been living in Paris for about fifteen years, making a living as a dancer. Her dancing has been described as “exotic” and, we believe, it was of a less than wholesome character. We also understand that she was mistress to a number of rich and influential men. She was arrested in February and put on trial for treason in July, being duly found guilty.

We understand that she went to her death very bravely, even gaily, refusing a blindfold and blowing a kiss to her firing squad(1)

(1) Mata Hari was, in fact a Dutch woman, called Margaretha Zelle, who had been born in 1876, her supposed Javanese antecedents being just a part of her act as an exotic dancer and courtesan. Modern interpretation of her case is that she was mostly a low-level spy for the French who may, or may not, have acted as a German double-agent. She became a notorious femme-fatale in later mythology though today she is regarded by some as a dupe and a victim. 

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