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This Happened

This Happened — October 15: Mata Hari Execution

The execution of Dutch exotic dancer Mara Hari, a World War I spy, happened on this day in 1917.

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Who was Mata Hari?

Mata Hari, whose real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was a Dutch dancer and courtesan born on August 7, 1876, in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. She became famous for her exotic and sensual dance performances in Paris during the early 20th century.

Was Mata Hari really a spy?

The extent of Mata Hari's espionage activities remains a subject of debate among historians. She was accused of being a spy for both the French and German sides during World War I. While she admitted to passing information to the French, the evidence against her was circumstantial, and some believe she may have been a scapegoat or a pawn in a larger intelligence game.

Did Mata Hari work for the French or the Germans during the war?

Mata Hari was accused of working as a double agent. She initially worked for the Germans, but she later claimed to be working for the French as well. The exact nature of her activities and her loyalty remain unclear.

How was Mata Hari captured and what happened to her?

Mata Hari was arrested in Paris in February 1917. She was accused of espionage and passing information to the Germans. After a trial, she was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.

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Photo of a drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

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