Secret Details of Mata Hari's Final Days Released

MI5 files posted online this month
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2014 8:18 AM CDT
Secret Details of Mata Hari's Final Days Released
Mata Hari.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Details of infamous spy Mata Hari's final interview before her execution have been released by MI5, and the once-secret files show a woman unruffled by questions about her list of lovers. And according to those files, that list was a lengthy one, encompassing Germans, French, Russians, Swiss, and Spaniards of all ages. When asked about those men in advance of her Oct. 15, 1917, death by firing squad in France, "she replied that she loved all officers, and would rather have as her lover a poor officer than a rich banker," per the files released earlier this month. And while a file from May 22 of that year notes she "today confessed that she has been engaged ... for the German Secret Service," the MI5 files state that "she never made a full confession nor can I find … that she ever gave away anyone as her (accomplice)."

The Toronto Star spoke with two academics who maintain Mata Hari actually passed along no secret info to the Germans (nothing "you couldn’t find in the local newspapers in Spain," says one), though she has been credited for having a hand in the demise of 50,000 Allied troops. Among the documents, per the Times of India, was a fanciful inventory of items taken from her when she was detained: among them, a hat box containing six hats, a feather boa, and an imitation peach. Her files were part of more than 150 files on WWI spies posted online as part of Britain's National Achieves' commemoration of the centenary of the war; the poet Ezra Pound and the Boy Scout Association also make appearances in the release, reports the BBC. (The FBI is warning college kids not to spy—by way of a movie.)

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