New picture emerges of Mata Hari, who faced firing squad 100 years ago

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A hundred years after the execution of Mata Hari, the Dutch double agent who was one of the most famous spies of the 20th century, historians are debunking many of the myths about her that have endured for decades.

Mata Hari has long been revered as the ultimate femme fatale — the seductive, glamorous, exotic dancer who spied for the Germans during World War I and caused the deaths of thousands of Allied soldiers.

She has captured the imaginations of people around the world long after she met her fate. This influence on popular culture was fueled by Greta Garbo’s portrayal of her in the 1931 film ‘‘Mata Hari,’’ which was repeatedly censored for its risqué scenes.

But earlier this year, trial archives kept confidential by the French were released to the public. And a cache of Mata Hari’s personal and family letters was recently published.

Taken together, the documents recast the Great War’s most notorious spy as a mother who left an abusive marriage and as a scapegoat for war-torn France looking to distract from heavy casualties on the front lines.

Read entire article at The Boston Globe

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