Major symposium on Dutch double spy Mata Hari to take place in London

Mata HariA symposium about the life, activities and legacy of World War I-era double spy Mata Hari is to take place in London this month, on the 100th anniversary of her death by execution. Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Holland in 1876. In 1895 she married Rudolf MacLeod, a Dutch Army Captain of Scottish descent serving the Dutch colonial administration of what is now Indonesia. She eventually divorced the alcoholic and abusive MacLeod, who was 20 years her senior, and joined the circus in Paris. Eventually she became wildly popular as an exotic dancer, a position that placed her in direct and close contact with several influential men in France, including the millionaire industrialist Émile Étienne Guimet, who became her longtime lover. Several of her male devotees came from military backgrounds from various European countries. Most historians agree that by 1916 Mata Hari was working for French intelligence, gathering information from her German lovers. However, in February of the following year she was arrested by French counterintelligence officers in Paris and accused of spying on behalf of the German Empire. French prosecutors accused her of having provided Germany with tactical intelligence that cost the Triple Entente the lives of over 50,000 soldiers.

On October 28, an international symposium will take place at City University, one of 28 colleges and research centers that make up the University of London. Entitled “The Legacy of Mata Hari: Women and Transgression”, the symposium will bring together historians, museum curators, as well as intelligence and military experts who have spent decades studying the story of Mata Hari. They include her biographers from Holland, historians from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, German and French military intelligence historians, as well as a representative from the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. The symposium’s host and keynote speaker is Dr Julie Wheelwright, Lecturer in Creative Writing (non-fiction) and director of the Master’s program in Creative Writing at City University. Dr Wheelwright is considered one of the world’s foremost specialists on Mata Hari and is author of the 1992 book The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage.

The organizers of the symposium say that recently unearthed personal letters by leading figures in Mata Hari’s life, as well as newly declassified government documents, present researchers with a unique opportunity to reassess the Dutch double spy’s character, motives and legacy. Another purpose of the symposium will be to explore the reality and stereotypes of the use of female sexuality in espionage, the role of women in war and intelligence, as well as the historical contribution of women spies in World War I. Several other events are planned on the occasion of the centenary of Mata Hari’s death across Europe, including a major new exhibition about her in her home down of Leeuwarden in Holland’s Fries Museum, which is scheduled to open later this month.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 October 2017 | Permalink

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MI5 releases documents on Dutch double spy Mata Hari

Mata HariBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The British government has released a set of documents relating to the capture and eventual execution of Mata Hari, modern history’s most legendary female spy. Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in northern Holland in 1876. In 1895 she married Rudolf MacLeod, a Dutch Army Captain of Scottish descent serving the Dutch colonial administration of what is now Indonesia. She eventually divorced the alcoholic and abusive MacLeod, who was 20 years her senior, and joined the circus in Paris. Eventually she became wildly popular as an exotic dancer, a position that placed her in close contact with several influential men in France, including the millionaire industrialist Émile Étienne Guimet, who became her longtime lover. Several of her male devotees came from military backgrounds from various European countries. Most historians agree that by 1916 Zelle was working for French intelligence, gathering information from a host of German lovers. However, in February of the following year she was arrested by French counterintelligence officers in Paris and accused of spying on behalf of the German Empire. French prosecutors accused Zelle of having provided Berlin with tactical intelligence that cost the Triple Entente the lives of over 50,000 soldiers. A set of documents released this month by Britain’s Security Service, commonly known as MI5, reveal that allied intelligence operatives trailed the exotic dancer across several European countries before she was apprehended in Paris. They also allege that, while under French custody, the Dutch spy admitted that she had conducted espionage on behalf of the German Secret Service and that her codename was H21. She is also alleged to have admitted that she received payments of approximately 20,000 French francs for her servicse. The papers also suggest that Zelle admitted that several vials of invisible ink fond in her hotel suite had been given to her by her German handlers. However, the MI5 reports claim that the accused spy “never made a full confession” and “never gave away anyone” as her accomplice, leading the British author of the report to conclude that she must have been “working alone”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #870

Carl LodyBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Documents show NZ spies taught ‘honey trap’ tricks. Members of New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau were briefed by counterparts from the ultra-secret Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, a unit of the British Signals intelligence agency GCHQ, on setting honey traps and Internet “dirty tricks” to “control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp” online discourse, documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal. According to the slides, JTRIG conducted “honey traps”, sent computer viruses, deleted the online presence of targets and engaged in cyber-attacks on the “hacktivist” collective Anonymous.
►►Ex-CIA analyst tells how data helped catch bin Laden. A central figure in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, Linda Bakos spoke this week as the keynote speaker at a conference in California, on how data, big and small, led to the capture of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. “You don’t want to lead the information, you want the information to lead you”, she said, and credited the agency’s innovative gathering process that institutionalized various types of intelligence analysis —opposed to solely relying on general guidelines and best practices.
►►The story of WWI German spy Carl Lody. Towards the end of August 1914 a man checked into what is now the Balmoral Hotel in the centre of Edinburgh claiming to be an American tourist. In reality he was a German spy who had been sent to gather intelligence from the British. Carl Lody was a junior naval officer who had been forced to retire for health reasons but was looking for other ways to serve the fatherland. He was especially attractive to German naval intelligence because he had lived for years in the United States and spoke English fluently, although with an American accent.

News you may have missed #855

Jean-Claude JunckerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Russian spy agency seeks to expand internet surveillance. Under an order drafted by Russia’s Communications Ministry, communications service providers would have to install equipment that would record and save all internet traffic for at least 12 hours and grant the security services exclusive access to the data. The draft order, made public on Monday, has been drafted with the help of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB spy agency. It would take effect in July if it receives final government approval.
►►World War I spy Mata Hari’s birthplace gutted by fire. A fire in the Netherlands has gutted the birthplace of exotic dancer and World War I spy Mata Hari, Dutch media said on Sunday. Mata Hari was born as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle on August 7, 1876, the daughter of a local shopkeeper. She was arrested and executed by firing squad in October 1917, aged 41, after being accused of being a German spy during the First World War. The fire consumed the hair salon that now occupies the place of Mata Hari’s birth, the only remainder untouched by the flames was a small statuette of her dancing, erected outside the shop.
►►Luxembourg PM survives spy scandal in elections. Luxembourg’s Christian Democrat party of long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker easily remained the biggest party and the first choice to form a new coalition government following yesterday’s elections. Luxembourg was shocked into snap elections this summer after Juncker failed to contain a spying scandal centering on allegations of eavesdropping and wiretapping on politicians, and the keeping of files on ordinary citizens and leading figures dating back to the Cold War.

News you may have missed #398

  • Britain’s first spy chief ordered Rasputin’s murder. Mansfield Cumming, or ‘C’ as he became known, was the first chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). In December 1916, he sent three agents in Russia to eliminate Grigori Rasputin, an influential Orthodox Russian priest who had a positive view of Germany.
  • Russian spy network moved money to Zimbabwe. A Zimbabwean company called Southern Union is alleged to have been used by exposed Russian spy Anna Chapman in a money smuggling operation involving a syndicate linked to the Robert Mugabe regime.
  • Iran says nuclear scientist gave valuable info on CIA. Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency says that Iranian nuclear scientist Dr. Shahram Amiri, who resurfaced and returned home last week from the United States, after having disappeared during a 2009 religious pilgrimage to Mecca, has provided Iran with “valuable information” on the CIA.

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French spies saw Hitler danger in 1924, document shows

Hitler in 1924

Hitler in 1924

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
At the same time when British intelligence was employing Benito Mussolini, and US diplomats were describing segments of the German Nazi party as “moderate [with] appeal to all civilized and reasonable people”, French intelligence reports were identifying Adolf Hitler as a “fascist […] demagogue” and “the German Mussolini”. This emerges from a 1924 report by an anonymous French intelligence operative, which is due to be declassified along with thousands of similar documents currently stored in the French National Archives, according to French newspaper Le Monde. Read more of this post

Mussolini was paid by Britain’s MI5, archives reveal

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Cambridge professor has unearthed archived documents showing that money from MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence and security agency, helped Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini lunch his political career. Dr. Peter Martland, Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, said MI5’s Rome station, which at the time was staffed by 100 British intelligence officers, paid Mussolini £100 a week (around £6,000 or $9,600 a week in today’s money) starting “from the autumn of 1917 [and] for at least a year”. The payments, which were authorized by MI5’s director in Rome, Sir Samuel Hoare (later Lord Templewood), were aimed to assist Mussolini’ newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia, propagandize in favor of Italy’s continued fighting in World War I on the side of the Allied Powers, of which Britain was also a member. Read more of this post