- Category : 1876-births
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 3
Dutch prostitute and exotic dancer who also served as a spy. The daughter of a merchant, in her younger years Margaretha was expelled from convent school for sleeping with a priest and, at the age of 18, moved to Java with MacLeod, her 40-year-old husband. They married on 11 July 1895. The couple had a violent marriage and one of their two kids died. She left her husband and returned to Europe in 1905 where, as an exotic dancer, a nude belly dancer, she went to Paris to work in a brothel.
She also attended German espionage school, but was arrested as a double agent when she delivered a message on German submarine activity to the French embassy. She was arrested on 13 February 1917 and placed on trial on 25 August 1917 for treason. Convicted, she was executed by firing squad on 15 October 1917, 5:00 AM*, Vincennes, France. On the morning of her execution, she put on her stockings, dressed in a pearl-gray frock, slung a coat over her shoulders, buttoned her boots, put on a dark tricorned hat with a veil and glove. "This lady knows how to die," said the sergeant major who helped her. "After the shots were fired, she crumpled in a heap of petticoats."
The famed figure returned to the news 84 years after her death when historian Leon Schirmann, who has spent a decade researching the case, put out his second book about Mata Hari in late October 2001. He finds that documents show French falsification of the records and that instead of a major spy for the Germans, Gertrude Zelle was an elegant but naive adventuress, essentially the first strip-tease dancer. At the outbreak of WW I, she was offered cash up-front for a German mission but turned out to be neither a very good dancer or spy. With the codename of H21 she returned to Paris, spent the money and did precious little else, Schirmann writes.