Monday, March 14, 2011
Mata Hari: the Making of a Spy
Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, alias “Mata Hari,” was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland in the Netherlands on August 7th, 1876. The eldest of four children (having three younger brothers) to Adam Zelle and Antje van der Meulen, Margaretha’s father was a socially affluent haberdasher who’d made successful investments in the burgeoning oil industry, allowing him to provide his family with a lavish lifestyle, with Margaretha attending only exclusive schools until the age of thirteen. The proverbial apple of her father’s eye, he is said to have referred to her as "an orchid among buttercups." When her father went bankrupt in 1889, however, Margaretha’s parents divorced, and her mother died a short time later. Although her father remarried soon after, the family had already begun to disintegrate, with Margaretha moving to Sneek to live with her godfather. At Leiden, Margaretha studied to be a kindergarten teacher, but when the headmaster began to make overt sexual advances toward her, her godfather removed from the institution, after which Margaretha fled to her uncle’s home in The Hague where she lived until she was nineteen. Read more . . .