“The spies in history who can say from their graves, the infomation I supplied to my masters, for better or worse, altered the history of our planet, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Richard Sorge was in that group.”
Born Margaret Gertrude Zelle on August 7, 1876 in Leeuwarden, Holland.
Father Adam Zelle, a Dutch hatter and his Javanese wife Antje van der Meulen. The family was very wealthy and well to do and raised her in a very happy home with a comfortable lifestyle. After her mother's death in 1890, she was sent by her father to live in a convent. Briefly attending a teaching school but was expelled after allegedly having sex with the school's headmaster.
In 1894, answered a "lonely hearts club" advertisement placed by John Rudolph MacLeod, a Dutch colonial officer in the Dutch East Indies, who was 20 years her senior.
The couple married in 1895 and moved to Java where they lived until 1901. The couple's early years were anything but ideal as she engaged in scandalous affairs and he often slept with other women in their house while she was in the next room.
The couple had a son named Norman in January 1896, but the child died, believed to have been poisoned by a former house servant with a vendetta against John. They also had another child, a daughter named Jeanne. At this time, it is rumored, the couple engaged in a blackmail scheme by which Margaret would entice a wealthy landowner into her bed, whereupon John would storm angrily into the room, threatening the man with scandal and then blackmailing him for a lucrative sum (some of the details were reveal during the couple's divorce proceedings). Despite their money schemes, the marriage was filled with quarrels and John physically abused her. The couple divorced sometime between 1902 and 1904.
With custody of her daughter, Margaret struggled financially, especially after her husband stopped ceased sending support payments. What money she did have she used on dancing lessons, learning the Oriental dances she had seen in Java. After sending her daughter to live with relatives, she embarked upon her new career, performing the mysterious dances of the god Siva. Her early efforts were unsuccessful, as she was unable to secure bookings and was alleged to have worked as a prostitute for a period of time.
When World War I broke out, Mata Hari had decided to engage in another exciting profession - espionage. Having already engaged in numerous affairs with numerous wealthy men and counted many of the most important people in the military and intelligence community as her paramours.
MATA HARI THE SPY
The Chief of the Berlin Police Department, Traugott von Jagow was one of them and he suggested to her that she include pillow talk in her meeting with her important clients, obtaining secrets as well as money from them. She was given the German code number H.21, which would prove significant years later.
Traveled throughout Europe, attending embassy functions and social occasions meetings military and political contacts. Having seduced the men, she would pry information about troops and weaponry as well as political alliances and military tactics. She reported this information back to Jagow and was positioning herself neatly when the War began.
Having been granted German citizenship, she was ordered to make her way into France where she began passing secrets to the Germans. Although French agents kept her under surveillance, they were unable to collect sufficient evidence against her to arrest her. Much of her information, at this point, was vital, helping to prepare the Germans develop their strategy to overpower the French troops.