“Orchid among the butter tubs”, was the phrase used by her father to describe the famed exotic dancer Mata Hari, executed this day in 1917.
By the outbreak of the First World War, Mata Hari had a considerable number of international relationships; that is why both the French and the German secret services became interested in her. As a Dutch subject (the Netherlands remained neutral) Mata Hari was allowed to cross international borders freely. Soon the British, then the French secret service, became suspicious of her. Finally, she was arrested by the French authorities in Paris on 13 February 1917.
Mata Hari was tried by a military court that excluded the public. Her defense was conducted by her former 74-year-old lover. In spite of inadequate evidence, she was sentenced to death for spying for Germany.
On the 15th of October 1917, she was executed by firing squad in Vincennes near Paris. On the day of her execution, she was elegantly dressed, wearing white clothes. By her request, she was not blindfolded. Since her body was not requested by any family members, it was used for medical study.
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