October 15 - 1917 - The Execution of Mata Hari
Mata Hari was a spy during World War I, which is why she was executed by a firing squad. The problem was that she wasn't much of a spy, but more someone engaged by both sides' intelligence offices who talked alot. Mata Hari was a dancer, one of the most famous entertainers in Paris in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Saying she was a Javanese princess trained in the art of Hindu dance, she was a sensation for her burlesque shows that ended with her in a bejewled bra. In reality, Mata Hari was a Dutchwoman named Margarethe Zelle who was divorced from a Dutch officer she lived with in Java. After her fame as a dancer waned, Mata Hari became a significant member of Paris' social elite, consorting with a number of men. During World War I, she fell in love with a Russian pilot. His injury was the impetus for her to travel between France and Germany, something she could do as a Dutch citizen. She would continue bouncing between the nations, by going through other neutral countries, and sharing secrets with both sides. When a double agent Mata Hari knew about was executed, the French grew suspicious. They arrested her, she was found guilty of espionage, and executed by firing squad.