Mata Hari was born in Leeuwarden as a daughter to a Dutch businessman, while her mother was of Javanesenese descent. Around the turn of the twentieth century, after a failed attempt to become a teacher, a failed marriage, and two children, she moved to Paris. She posed as a princess from Java and became an exotic dancer, performing "Oriental-style" dances. Her stage name Mata Hari means "sun" or "eye of the dawn" in Malayan. She was also a courtesan who may have had affairs with many military officers and politicians.
In 1917 she was put on trial in France, accused of spying, as a double agent, for Germany and France and causing the deaths of thousands of soldiers in World War I. She was found guilty and executed by firing squad on October 15, 1917. Rumor has it that during the execution, the squad members had to be blindfolded so as not to succumb to her charms. Another rumor claims she blew a kiss to her killers before the firing began.
Harlot, yes, but traitoress? Never! - attributed to Mata Hari, on trial