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March 6, 2011
To protect its deep infiltration into French intelligence during World War I, German intelligence conned the British and French into believing that Mata Hari was its superspy.
by Robert Walsh
Dawn, Vincennes Barracks, October 15 1917.
Brought from her cell at the Saint-Lazare Prison less than an hour after hearing that her final appeal had been denied by the President of France, alleged superspy Mata Hari faced her firing squad seemingly calm and unafraid. She may well have led a somewhat ethically questionable life, but in death she seems to have shown considerably greater courage, fortitude and integrity than those who had conspired to place her there.
Mata Hari has long been the stuff of legend and myth, the glamorous, sexy superspy effortlessly using her feminine wiles and her physical charms to extract the highest level secrets from foolish, lecherous and indiscreet Allied officers through pillow talk before daringly passing the stolen secrets on to her German handlers. But how much spying did she actually do? What level of secrets, if any at all, did she manage to extract? Was she really the stuff of legend, a female James Bond with an equal talent for high-level espionage and flagrant promiscuity? Did she really cause the deaths of 50,000 Allied soldiers as her prosecutors claimed? Was she really, as has long been believed by so many, deserving of a place in the Pantheon of espionage legends?