|Mata Hari performing in 1905.
On February 13, 1917, the French arrested Mata Hari for espionage.
She was interrogated many times by Captain Pierre Bouchardon, a thin, beady-eyed
military prosecutor She categorically denied being a double agent. "I am innocent," she
She was held in Saint-Lazare prison while awaiting trial and interrogated no less than
seventeen times before facing an actual military jury. The prison had no baths so the
only way she could clean herself was in a small bowl that was sometimes brought to
her cell. The institution itself was generally filthy, something that greatly distressed the
repercussions throughout the world for she was pivotal in
elevating the striptease to an art form. The fabulous
dancer was courted by many European venues and
triumphantly took her act to Spain, Monte Carlo, and
Although the claims made by her about her origins were
fictitious, the act was spectacularly successful because it
elevated exotic dance to a more respectable status, and so
broke new ground in a style of entertainment for which
Paris was later to become world famous. Her style and
her free-willed attitude made her a very popular woman,
as did her eagerness to perform in exotic and revealing
clothing. She posed for provocative photos and mingled in
wealthy circles. At the time, as most Europeans were
unfamiliar with the Dutch East Indies and thus thought of
Mata Hari as exotic, it was assumed her claims were
By about 1910, myriad imitators had arisen. Critics began
to opine that the success and dazzling features of the
popular Mata Hari was due to cheap exhibitionism and
lacked artistic merit. Although she continued to schedule
important social events throughout Europe, she was held
in disdain by serious cultural institutions as a dancer who
did not know how to dance.
Mata Hari was also a successful courtesan, her
relationships and liaisons with powerful men frequently
taking her across international borders. Prior to World
War I, she was generally viewed as an artist and a
free-spirited bohemian, but as war approached, she began
to be seen by some as a wanton and promiscuous woman,
and perhaps a dangerous seductress.
During World War I, the Netherlands remained neutral. As
a Dutch subject, Margaretha Zelle was thus able to cross
national borders freely. To avoid the battlefields, she
travelled between France and the Netherlands via Spain
and Britain, and her movements inevitably attracted
attention. She was a courtesan to many high-ranking allied
military officers during this time. On one occasion, when
interviewed by British intelligence officers, she admitted to
working as an agent for French military intelligence,
although the latter would not confirm her story. It is
unclear if she lied on this occasion, believing the story
because he was going to be stationed in Java. Far
from being upset by this news, M’greet was
delighted at the prospect of a change of scenery. It is
also possible that she especially looked forward to
seeing Java since so many people had speculated that
the dusky-skinned Dutchwoman might have Javanese
The family moved into Abawara, a city in the heart of
the island. M’greet found Java enchanting. However,
the old problems of their marriage followed them to
their new home and Rudolph was often jealous as
other men tried to flirt with his wife. M’greet wrote
in despair, "My husband won’t get me any dresses
because he’s afraid that I will be too beautiful. It’s
intolerable. Meanwhile the young lieutenants pursue
me and are in love with me. It is difficult for me to
behave in a way which will give my husband no
cause for reproaches."
M’greet delivered the couple’s second baby May 2,
1898. If she hoped that another child would revitalize
their marriage, but Rudolph was disappointed at its
being a girl. He named his daughter Jeanne Louise
after his sister but the child was usually called by the
Malay name Non.
After a year passed, Rudolph was called to Medan,
Sumatra. He could not immediately take his family
with him but would send for them after he arrived.
Despite their many marital woes, M’greet was
delighted when she got Rudolph’s missive
summoning her and the children to their new home.
His residence was a spacious and well-built home for
Rudolph was now a garrison commander.
suggestion she moved to Leyden to attend a school for future teachers run by Heer
Wybrandus Haanstra. This was a disaster, as the proprietor of the school Heer Haanstra
created a scandal by his infatuation for her, forcing Margaretha to leave the school in
The bewildered M’greet sought refuge with her uncle, Heer Taconis, in The Hague.
When she was eighteen she answered an ad in the personal section of the local
newspaper by a man looking for a wife. It read: "Officer on home leave from Dutch
East Indies would like to meet girl of pleasant character – object matrimony." That ad
and another like it had been put in by a friend of Rudolph MacLeod without his
knowledge. MacLeod was a 38-year-old career man in the Dutch military that had
courageously fought in combat and received an officer’s cross. A heavy drinker, he
was troubled by both diabetes and rheumatism.
Although MacLeod had known nothing about the ad in the newspaper, he agreed to
meet Margaretha. Despite the vast difference in both age and experience, the captain
soon proposed marriage and M’greet eagerly accepted. They were wed on July 11,
1895 and M’greet gave birth to their first child, Norman John, over a year later on
January 30, 1897.
|Award for the Most Accurate Submission goes to Stan Read
|Everyone's a Comedian These Days
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
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|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|Answer to Quiz #278
October 24, 2010
1. What country was the picture taken in?
2. Who is the woman in the center of the picture?
3. What is the date and why is she there?
TinEye spoiler alert.
This image is findable through TinEye.
You will have a lot more fun if you try to solve the quiz on your own.
Click here for hint.
|Congratulations to Our Winners
Mr. Rick and the Quiz Kids do it again!!!
Sharon Cleveland Jim Bullock
Bill Utterback Diane Burkett
Arthur Hartwell Wayne Douglas
Jocelyn Thayer Robert W.Steinmann, Jr.
Daniel E. Jolley Joyce Veness
Collier Smith Alex Sissoev
Teresa Yu Debbie Sterbinsky
Jillian Dart Donna Jolley
Milene Rawlinson Richard Wakeham
Jim Baker Sharon Martin
Debbie Ciccarelli Becky Wagenblast
Terry Hollenstain Stephen Jolley
Mike Dalton Janice M. Sellers
Margaret Paxton Rick Roof
Dave Town Dennis Brann
Elaine C. Hebert Mary Osmar
Molly Collins Sharon Taber
Margaret Waterman Jessica Jolley
JoLynn Pfeiffer Stan Read
Jim Kiser Peter Norton
Timmy Fitzpatrick Nicole Blank
|Comments from Our Readers
|All those men with guns, either a posse or a firing squad. My first thought was Ma
Barker but given the spy theme of the past couple of weeks did a search on famous
female spies- Mata Hari popped up and so did the picture. Sharon Cleveland
Interesting how our female names appear in the Dutch, and also other, language. Her
case caught the public's attention. She influenced many newspaper articles, spy books,
spy movies, and more than this one Mata Hari movie. MGM produced one in 1931 with
Greta Garbo. The spy thriller hunger continues to this day. Arthur Hartwell
When I found the picture, it said "from 1920 move" underneath it. The only 1920 movie
was from Germany. It definitely wasn't taken in front of the 8 foot high mound the
French executed her at. Arthur Hartwell
Fascinating story and she might have been innocent. Jocelyn Thayer
I knew that in light of your current theme after visiting the Int'l Spy Museum that it
was only a matter of time before she came up....... Also interestingly, Greta Garbo
from Quiz # 277, played Mata Hari in MGM's production of 1931. Interesting quiz, not
much of a challenge though, even without TinEye. I did not know that her head was
missing though. Have a a great week! Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Once again the KIDS ace one...they seem to enjoy the quizzes better and answer them
faster if they contain illegal content and somebody headed to the hereafter.
Mr. Rick and the Quiz Kids
I knew even before I checked Wikipedia - the give-aways were the French poilus to the
left of the picture in World War I uniforms. Richard Wakeham
Didn't have to use TinEye, just typed in "woman executed by firing squad" and Mati
Hari came up. Not sure why I thought the woman was being executed except I couldn't
think of why there would be all those soldiers facing a woman in a field.
Photo: high hill in background, soldiers with rifles, woman in uniform - likely WW1
judging by vehicle and uniforms. Not long to live - probably shot by firing squad.
In view of famous WWI spy Mata Hari potrayed by Greta Garbo and dubbed by Juan
I first thought it was her. An account of her execution, was that she shot before a three
foot embankment and wearing a fur coat.
So I googled women spies who were shot in WWI and came up with Edith Cavell who
was shot by a firing squad at the Tir Nationale Rifle Range at Schaerbeek, Brussels,
Belgium on Octboewr 12, 1915. She had been shot for hiding some 200 Allied soldiers
and aiding in their safe return. During her interrogation she naively told everything she
knew about those she helped.
Though I could not find an exact image of contest photo through googling: I did find a
photo of site which shows a high hill in background and a graveyard before it. Rifle
ranges generally have a high hill behind the targets (25 to 250 yards) to protect public
from stray shots. Though taken at different distances, the contest photo and Tir
Nationale photo have a high hill as a backdrop.
I see in a Wikipedia article that the photo is suspected as being a
reenactment for a 1920 movie. It states that "No known photos were taken at
the actual execution."
An article by Henry Wales, a British reporter who covered the execution,
states that where she stood "a little hummock of earth reared itself seven
or eight feet high". That doesn't match the hill behind her in the photo.
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/matahari.htm Jim Bullock
There seems to be much uncertainty about this woman, including the authenticity of
This was a quick one: The firing-squad nature of the scene is very strong, and the
"another_spy_quiz" tag rather iced it. I only had to look up the details.
I was delighted to discover that we have here another Greta Garbo connection. Any
chance that we can link Theremin to Garbo? Peter Norton
|How Collier and Bekcy Solved thePuzzle
|At first, I thought there were no clues, but then the photo's filename
/another_spy_quiz.jpg/ plus your saying the figure in the center is a
woman, and the setting is fairly obviously a firing squad, all led me to
google: female spy woman executed firing squad. The first item
returned was: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mata_Hari and that page
has your photo on it.
Clicking on that photo shows that the event might actually be a
reconstruction of the execution for a film, and not the execution itself.
At first look, I could tell it was a photograph taken during World War
I, due to the shape of the soldiers' helmets, and the length of the
coats told me these same men were probably French. I thought the
woman in the center might be a "flying" nun attending a military
funeral, a thought supported when I next noticed the nun in the
"regular" habit on the right. But I then saw the men posted on the hill
on the left, who did not look like they were attending a funeral, but
rather guarding one, which lead me to reassess the scene as that of
an execution. I thought, surely, they would not be executing a
nun!--so I asked myself what kind of woman would they execute,
and the name that popped up in my brain was Mata Hari. I researched
this premise and turned out to be right.
And YOU'RE so right--it is so much more fun--and satisfying--to
figure things out logically, step by step, rather than just type them
into some search engine. Forcing yourself to learn through the
Socratic method undoubtedly leads to greater actual learning and
understanding--and memory--than just slap-dash plug-in--or at least
that's what I tell my students!
Thanks for putting together such an interesting puzzle for us again! I
can't tell you how much I enjoy participating in these quizzes--if you
ever need an assistant, please let me know!
|Hello Colleen: I took a peek at tineye photo after I sent in contest
answer [about Edith Cavell]. It appears that it was a movie photo
about Mata Hari and that would change my answer.
At any rate Mata Hari and Edith Cavell sacrificed their lives for a
worthy cause, in different ways: Edith aided and abetted; Mata aided
|1. This frame from the 1920 German silent movie "Mata Hari" was
probably made in Germany of the 1917 execution of Margaretha Zelle
MacLeod "Mata Hari" in Vincennes, France.
2. Movie Actress Asta Nielsen who portrayed Mata Hari in the movie.
3. The 1920 movie was made of the execution on 10/15/1917. Mrs.
MacLeod aka Mata Hari was accused by France of spying for
Germany in WWI.
N.B. I discovered that the quiz photo was the still of the movie
from 1920, but only after I had posted the quiz. I learn something
new every quiz and hope everyone else does too!
|Top: Rudolph with Norman
John; Bottom: Louis
Jeanne, Mata Hari's children
name Mata Hari. It was under this name that a bold,
exotic dancer debuted in the Musée Guimet on
March 13, 1905. The scene is detailed in Russell
Warren Howe’s book, Mata Hari: The True Story:
"…a half life-size carving of Siva, with four arms,
was placed on the improvised stage with a bowl of
burning oil at his feet. Mata Hari was dressed from
the museum collection, as were four supporting
dancers who, in the course of the rite, would vie for
Siva’s attentions but retire in humility as the god
directed his invitation to Margaretha Zelle alone.
Bracelets from the collection embellished her wrists,
biceps, and calves. A belt from India, encrusted with
previous stones, held a translucent Indian sarong in
place. She attempted to maximize what nature had
given her a minimum of by stuffing with cotton wool
the bejeweled metal breast cups she sported for the
1906 - 1907
"The diaphanous shawls she wore as the dance began
were cast away to tempt the god until finally, as the
candelabras were capped and only the flickering oil light
gleamed on Siva’s features, the sarong was abandoned
and her silhouette, with her back to the audience, writhed
with desire toward her supernatural lover. The four
dancing girls chanted their jealousy as Mata Hari groaned
and worked her loins deliriously. All passion spent, she
touched her brow to Siva’s feet; one of the attendant
dancers tiptoed delicately forward and threw a gold lamé
cloth across the kneeling figure, enabling her to rise and
take the applause."
And the applause was deafening for the audience went
wild over Mata Hari’s extraordinary performance. She
was an overnight success and a success that would have
2. Margaretha Geertruida Zelle aka Mata Hari.
3. October 15, 1917. She is being executed by a firing squad.
N.B. The quiz picture is actually a re-enactment staged for the 1920 German
movie Mata Hari. The questions referred to the actual event.
|The last photograph of
Margaretha Geertruida Zelle
aka Mata Hari (1917)
Margaretha Zelle was born on August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden,
the Netherlands. She was the second child of Adam Zelle and
his wife Antje van der Meulen and was the only girl in a
family of four children. Adam Zelle had a successful hat
business and kept his family in comfortable circumstances.
Her father owned a hat store, made successful investments in
the oil industry, and became affluent enough to give
Margaretha a lavish early childhood.
Disaster struck the family when M’greet was thirteen years
old. Adam Zelle went bankrupt as a result of a series of
misguided speculations on the stock market. Her parents
divorced soon after.
When her mother died in 1891, Margaretha went to live with
her godfather Heer Visser in the small town of Sneek. At his
as a young girl.
The marriage was a disappointment. MacLeod was a
violent alcoholic who would take out his frustrations
on his wife, who was half his age, and whom he
blamed for his lack of promotion. He also openly kept
both a native wife and a concubine. He took to
slapping his wife around and continued to abuse her
even when she was several months pregnant. The
disenchanted Margaretha abandoned him temporarily,
but returned to him although his aggressive demeanour
The couple's second child on May 2, 1898, after
Rudoph had moved his family to Abawara on the
island of Java where he had been re-stationed . But
Rudolph was disappointed at its being a girl. He named
his daughter Jeanne Louise after his sister but the child
was usually called by the Malay name Non.
|Mr. and Mrs.
A year later, Rudolph was transferred to Medan, Sumatra, where he served as the
garrison commander. The couple's fortunes seemed to have improved. As the
commander’s wife, it was M’greet’s duty to give lavish parties and this was a
responsibility she undertook with aplomb. The marriage of Rudolph and M’greet
benefited enormously for Rudolph was finally proud of his wife and grateful to her for
the assistance she gave him in being a social success.
Things changed on the night of June 27, 1899 when Margaretha heard terrible screams
of agony from the children’s nursery. Both youngsters were soaked in vomit of a
bizarre black color, and convulsing in pain. Norman was dead by the time the
physician arrived. The daughter was saved and eventually made a full recovery.
Although it is believed that Norman could have died from complications from being
treated for syphillis contracted from his parents, both children had apparently been
poisoned. No one was ever blamed for the children's deaths, but it was widely rumored
that they had been poisoned by a servant Rudolph MacLeod had wronged.
As the commander’s wife, it was M’greet’s duty to give lavish parties and this was a
responsibility she undertook with aplomb. As Erika Ostrovsky in Eye of Dawn writes,
M’greet "could reign like a queen. Dressed in the latest fashions imported from
Amsterdam, a paragon of beauty and elegance, she conversed with visitors in their
native language – whether Dutch, German, English, or French – gave instructions to
the servants in Malay, played the piano most musically, danced with unusual grace."
The marriage of Rudolph and M’greet benefited enormously for Rudolph was finally
proud of his wife and grateful to her for the assistance she gave him in being a social
Then their world came crashing down in a single night of horror. On June 27, 1899,
M'greet heard terrible screams of agony from the children’s nursery. The room stank
and both youngsters were soaked in vomit of a bizarre black color. The children
convulsed in pain, their bodies twisting grotesquely as they cried and shrieked.Little
Norman was dead by the time the physician arrived. The daughter was saved and
eventually made a full recovery. Both children had apparently been poisoned. No one
ever proved who had done the dreadful deed but it
was widely rumored that it was a a servant
Rudolph MacLeod had wronged.
Unlike some couples, Rudolph and M’greet were
not pulled together by their shared trauma. After
moving back to the Netherlands, the couple
separated in 1902 and divorced in 1906, with
Rudolf forcibly retaining the custody of his
daughter. Rudolph was married twice more.
In 1903 Margaretha moved to Paris, where she
performed as a circus horse rider, using the name
Lady MacLeod. Struggling to earn a living, she also
posed as an artist's model.
By 1905, she began to win fame as an exotic
dancer. It was then that she adopted the stage
her sound more intriguing, or if French authorities were
using her in such a way, but would not acknowledge
her due to the embarrassment and international backlash
it could cause.
In January 1917, the German military attaché in Madrid
transmitted radio messages to Berlin describing the
helpful activities of a German spy, code-named H-21.
French intelligence agents intercepted the messages
and, from the information they contained, identified
H-21 as Mata Hari. Unusually, the messages were in a
code that German intelligence knew had already been
broken by the French, leaving some historians to
suspect that the messages were contrived.
fastidious Mata Hari. She was isolated
from other prisoners. She was permitted
no clean changes of clothing and allowed
only 15 minutes a day for solitary
exercise outside of her cell.
It is not that surprising that the military
court ended up finding her guilty. Their
sentence was harsh but not unexpected
to one convicted of spying for an enemy
nation: "The Council unanimously
condemns the named person, Zelle,
Marguérite, Gertrude, as mentioned
above, to the punishment of death." She was also required to pay court costs.
Mata Hari appeared to be in shock when she heard the sentence.
During the remaining months of her incarceration, Mata Hari was alternately hopeful of
a last-minute reprieve and utterly depressed. She continued to gain weight from the
starchy prison food and the enforced lack of exercise.
The end came for Mata Hari early in the morning of October 15, 1917. She had not
been informed in advance of the date of her execution because, when France had the
death penalty, it was considered more humane for the condemned to not know the
It was also customary for the party of officers to make as much noise as possible
when coming to get the condemned, so the sleeping prisoner will have woken before
they got to his or her cell and be a tiny bit easier to deal with.
Captain Bouchardon had the task of leading the grim group to Mata Hari’s cell. Even
after the deliberately violent stomping of their feet down the corridor, they found the
convicted spy sound asleep because a doctor had given her an extra dose of the
sedative she needed to sleep on the previous night.
As Mata Hari stirred and blinked at the group that had intruded into her cell,
Bouchardon firmly announced, "Have courage! Your request for clemency has been
rejected by the President of the Republic. The time for expiation has come."
"It’s not possible!" Mata Hari shouted. "It’s not possible!"
Two kindly nuns who had come to be fond of the prisoner in her months of
incarceration attempted to comfort the distraught woman. She composed herself and
told a nun, "Don’t be afraid, sister. I shall know how to die."
According to an eyewitness account by British reporter Henry Wales, she was not
bound and refused a blindfold. Wales records her death, saying that after the volley of
shots rang out "...Slowly, inertly, she settled to her knees, her head up always, and
without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second it
seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life.
Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her..."
Although it was unnecessary, custom demanded that a French officer administer the
final coup de grace so one did, emptying his gun into her ear.
Mata Hari's body was not claimed by any family members and was accordingly used
for medical study. Her head was embalmed and kept in the Museum of Anatomy in
Paris, but in 2000, archivists discovered that the head had disappeared, possibly as early
as 1954, when the museum had been relocated. Records dated from 1918 show that
the museum also received the rest of the body, but none of the remains could later be
possession, she spends a night with her. But the secret police is on to her,
only waiting to get enough evidence to arrest her.
Commercially, this was Garbo's most successful film and MGM's biggest
|Mata Hari is a 1931 pre-code film loosely
based on the life of Mata Hari (the stage
name of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), an
exotic dancer/courtesan executed for
espionage during World War I. The film
stars Greta Garbo in the title role. The film
is credited with popularizing the legend of
Plot: Mata Hari is a German spy, working
in Paris. She has already seduced the
Russian general Shubin, and has now set
her eyes on lieutenant Rosanov, a a young
up-and-coming officer. In order to get her
hand on secret documents in his
hit of the year, netting a profit of nearly
one million dollars. It was a sensation in
the US, and overseas rentals, especially in
Continental Europe, matched those in the
US. These combined grosses amounted to
$2,227,000 or $31,601,862, adjusted for
inflation. As with many pre-code
Hollywood films, this film was censored
upon its reissue in May 1939 after the
enforcement of the Hays Code. At least
one known cut was made in the seduction
scene of Lt. Rosanoff by Mata Hari; the
ending of the scene was moved up with a