BULL STREET - The art of the Con

Mata Hari

When speaking about spies, no one seems to hold a candle to the most famous of them all, Mata Hari who in real life always seemed to be more interested in bedding down her next sexual slave than learning anything more than the merest “bare” essentials about them. The Infamous spy was born Margaretha Zelle on August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden, Holland. In spite of the fact that most of her friends were fair-skinned and blond, Margaretha was oil skinned with dark and came equipped with dark features. She was born into a rather wealth Dutch family and had a father that literally doted over her every whim early in her life. Whoever, when still a youngster, her father suffered serious financial reversals and declared bankruptcy. While this dramatically changed dad’s outlook on life it did far worse to Ms. Zelle’s mother, who could literally not stand the embarrassment and the responsibility of the poor house and died only two years later.

Margaretha began what was to be a nomadic life and was raised by relatives. She became a stunning woman with exotic features and eventually grew to be five-feet-ten inches in height, literally towering over the boys of that generation. However, she was endowed with tiny breasts, but this was a feature that she enhanced whenever the opportunity presented itself. She had trained to become a schoolteacher but could not bring herself to the discipline required at that time by Dutch Schools. Adding insult to injury, she carried on a romance during that period with a fat headmaster at the teaching school causing no end of gossip at the conservative institution. While it seemed to be ok at the time for a man to have as many mistresses as he could afford, the same did not hold true of women, especially those teaching youngsters. The word quickly spread that Margaretha was highly oversexed and could well cause damage if she was left in place. She left the school in disgrace and moved in with her uncle in The Hague. She was now only eighteen years-of-age.

While in The Hague, she met Rudolph MacLeod, a career soldier twenty-years older than she was stemming from a lonely hearts ad that had been placed in the local newspaper. He was not what you would call a great catch as his features where to say the least, rather gruesome. Besides, the problem that he was just plain ugly, he was also a substantive drinker and full-time carouser, but the highly oversexed Margaretha dearly loved his medals and his biceps so to her he looked like a gigantic phallic symbol. He proposed, she accepted and her father gave his consent in a country where at that time it was required that until the girl reached 30-years of age she was not allowed to unilaterally reach any decisions of consequence.

However, by this time, her father was in such bad financial straits that he really just wanted to get his one-time favorite out of his hair. MacLeod continued to booze it up after their marriage and his affairs with numerous other women were embarrassing and demeaning to Margaretha but there was hardly anything she could do about it. Moreover, whenever she complained, MacLeod would whale the tar out of her, so eventually she learned that instead of a cheating, drunken husband and a beating she was far better off with just a cheating drunken husband. Nevertheless, MacLeod was a good soldier and even as their marriage sunk in the west, his career continued on the assent and he was offered a command in Java, both he and she jumped at the opportunity.

As MacLeod’s career improved so it seems did his desire for outside sexual exploits and felt that it was important in his new station to take on a full time concubine In her spare time, which seemed to be all of it, she learned the Malay tongue on the sly because her husband subscribed to the theory that wives should be dumb, barefoot and pregnant.. However, she had an insatiable drive to make something of herself and soon she found that she had an uncanny ability to learn languages. In the meantime, in spite of her husband’s now constant state of drunkenness and meandering, MacLeod unbelievably continued rising in the military and had now become a garrison commander in Medan. For the loving couple, this meant an elegant mansion and numerous servants along with a lot of entertaining.

By this time, Margaretha had learned to speak German, English and French along with her native Dutch and the Malay that she had secretly picked up. Moreover, in his new duties has commander, it was important that his wife became his hostess and as such she did a miraculous job. She had finally found a modicum of happiness but it was about this time that one of her son was poisoned by an ex-servant and died. It seems that in a drunken rage, MacLeod had beaten the servant for some obscure miscue and the man had vowed revenge. Because she had no marriage and no much of a life Margaretha had doted on her two children her son’s death caused both of them to become reclusive, each was constantly laying blame on the other for what had happened. In addition, this did not help MacLeod’s drinking problem and he was now in a drunken stupor whenever he was not at his military base.

He was reassigned back to Europe and she accompanied Macleod who soon after their return beat her within an inch of her life after a prolonged argument and he then took their remaining child, their daughter and left town. They would never live together again. She somehow managed to have her marriage annulled but he was able to cut her off all of her funds and she was forced to give him back his daughter because she could no longer care for her. Margaretha was now totally alone, her family had never recovered and her relatives wanted no part of her. With no where to turn, she decided to give Paris a try.

Margaretha changed her name to Mata Hari which in Javanese means “eye of dawn” and began a dancing career with the company “Musee Guimet” on March 13, 1905. This apparently was her calling but she was coming into it somewhat late in life. Mata Hari, choreographed what was probably the most sensual dance ever put on in the civilized world and she soon the toast of Paris. She was in demand everywhere and frequently toured all over Europe and became the toast of the Continent. However, Mata Hari felt that it was critical to create a new identity to go along with her outstanding success. She had to make up a new story to go along with her role and determined to tell people that she was born in India and her mother had been a temple dancer. She was raised within a Hindu Temple and her life was consecrated to the service of the god Siva. This along with her sensual movements created an aura among her fans and they almost felt that they were in the company of a sexual divinity.

The time quickly passed and although she was almost 40, she retained most of her exotic look although she had gained a few pounds. As she aged, she became quite the romantic and had numerous affairs with much younger men who would pay substantial sums to be in her company. In spite of now being able to enjoy the best of everything, Mata Hari was not a saver and spent every penny she earned or was given for her favors. Needing a repast from her sexual Olympics, Mata Hari once again tired her hand at dancing and appeared in a German Music Hall. It would appear that she was still on top of her game and her show apparently so lewd that some in the audience called in the police. However, in typical Mata Hari fashion, the arresting officer thought she was the cats meow and soon became a sexual convert.

The police were taken by her charms and the ability that Mata Hari had shown to be able to separate men from their money and even their senses. They determined that she would indeed make a wonderful spy for Germany which was seriously talking about going to war with France and others. For some inexplicable reason Mata Hari who was still on top of her game agreed to be sent to German Spy school and was an academic wiz in espionage. However, once she graduated she had some second thoughts about the life of espionage and took off for Pairs and the good life.

No sooner had she arrived in town Mata met a Russian Officer named Vladmir Masloof, who at twenty-one was some 20 years younger then she was. They became inseparable and spent the next several months together in his bedroom sometimes going weeks without leaving the apartment. However just as things were starting to heat up, Vladmir was ordered to the front where he promptly lost one eye in a gas attack. . Mata Hari felt an almost motherly need to help out her young lover who by this time was losing sight in his other eye. She had to go back to earning money the only way she knew how.

Fortuitously she though, Georges Ladoux, an army captain crossed her path and he had recently been put in charge of French espionage. Ladoux was able to do Mata Hari a few favors such as getting her a pass to visit Vladmir and in exchange she agreed to spy for France for a price in order to help out her young lover. She immediately set her sights on bedding down General Moritz Ferdinand von Bissing who was in charge of all German troops in occupied Belgium. She had devised a plan that would include bedding the general and then learning his secrets while he was blind with ardor. However, it wasn’t any walk in the park to get from Paris to Brussels in those days in spite of her espionage connections. Her circuitous route was planned to take her through Spain, Britain, Holland and then Belgium. However, in Britain they thought she was a German spy and she was promptly arrested. When British authorities checked with French officials, they confirmed her story and she was released, however by this time she had no money and no way to get anywhere no the less, Brussels or even back to Paris. She was an unproven commodity as far as the French were concerned and the British didn’t trust her further than they could throw the now plumpish wannabe spy.

The British had unceremoniously dropped her off in Spain where she immediately went about seducing a low ranking German Major by the name of Arnold Kalle. However, Kalle was way ahead of the spy in training and made up a ridiculous story about German commandoes and submarines landing in Morocco along with other inconceivable visions, and the nave spy fell for it. She had lied to him and he in turn told her nothing that even resembled the truth, with both of them reporting their mutual lies back to German and French intelligence services. After getting a whiff of Mata Hari’s incredible stories, the French espionage service relegated her information to the water closet and considered her efforts at best those of a blundering clod.

It was at that time a cruel twist of fate crunched her for good. Her old code name from the time that she had gone to German espionage school had resurfaced in secret messages, sent by the Germans that had been intercepted by the French. It appears that Kalle had determined that her value as a disinformation disseminator had also ended and by letting the French assume that she was working two-sides of the street, she would be dispatch in the usual French style. She was duly arrested on February 13, 1917 by the French Government and charged with espionage.

The lawyer she was assigned to by the court turned out to be one of her former lovers, an expert in International Corporate Law, hardly any assistance in a matter of this consequence where her life was at stack. When it was announced that the great dancer, Mata Hari was a German Spy, all of Paris was anxious became enervated and it seemed as though every person in the city wanted to see the trial. However, it was determined by a military court that she be tried in private and the thousands of Parisians that were attempting to watch the spectacle were barred from the court. It didn’t much matter because the end result was never really in doubt; France needed to find a German spy and Mata Hari more than fit the bill. She was not only found guilty and sentenced to death but to add insult to injury was obliged to pay court costs as well. She was executed on October 15, 1917. She was shot by a firing squad and in a twist of fate, nobody came to claim her body and she became the foil of a medical student’s dissecting table. The greatest spy in the history of espionage was probably the most hopeless person ever to practice that profession and as a result some of her parts are now residing in formaldehyde filled bell jars in Paris.

 

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