Mata Hari

In 1904 Mata Hari left her husband (a Dutch military officer), changed her name, and moved to Paris. She soon became internationally famed as an exotic "Indian" dancer because, she once admitted, "I could never dance well. People came to see me because I was the first who dared to show myself naked to the public."

In February, 1917, Mata Hari was arrested and accused of spying by French intelligence. She had many German admirers, among them Germany's chief of intelligence in Spain. At her trial, Mata Hari claimed that she was in fact trying to spy for France (though no one had ever enlisted her aid).

At 5:00 am on October 15, 1917, after exhausting multiple appeals, Mata Hari donned a gray dress and straw hat and faced the firing squad. She refused to be tied or blindfolded.

Asked whether she had any final words, she replied, "It is unbelievable!" Then, as the commands were given, Mata Hari smiled he last smile -- and winked at the firing squad!

["Death is nothing, nor life either, for that matter," Mata Hari told a nun before her execution. "To die, to sleep, to pass into nothingness, what does it matter? Everything is an illusion."]

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