Friday, November 07, 2008

Mata Hari

Are we related ??? It is reported through the family grapevine that Mata Hari is in our family tree. It certainly provides a new twist in my geneology as my research continues.

Born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands by the name of Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle 7-Aug-1876, she led a life that was far ahead of her time. Unfortunately her colorful life ended by execution on 5-Oct-1917 in Vincennes, France during WWI. Accused of being a German spy and espionage "Mata Hari" fell victim to her own creation.

After a winding road of a privileged childhood, family disruption, and displacement her adventures started by marrying a Dutch Colonial officer by the name of McLeod. Shortly thereafter they transferred to Java, Dutch East Indies. He turned out to be not such a nice guy and they divorced. She escaped the woes of her miserable marriage by studying the local culture and joined a local dance troupe. Thus, the theatrical persona of "Mata Hari" was created. In Malay it means "eye of the day". Because of her looks (un-Dutch like) she convinced a lot of her audience that she was a mysterious Hindu princess or something like that.

Her "career" really took off in France as a type of courtesan, moving in circles of very powerful men of that era. After her execution her body was not claimed by any family members and was offered to medical research. Her head was preserved in a museum but got lost after the museum moved !!! So many mysteries.... If we are indeed related, it would be quite a story to pass down !

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I've wondered the same, if perhaps she knew my family when they all lived in Malang at the same time or if her daughter could have slipped into the family tree. As a belly dancer I've felt connection to her since modern belly dance has much influence from the dance of her time.