Mata Hari

According to the BBC News website, a musician named Frank Turner has released an album dedicated to: “… female spies, nuns and musicians that time has forgotten.” The “forgotten” female spy turns out to be Mata Hari. As for Turner, the article says: “I don’t see anyone else telling these stories” he tells the BBC”.

Seeing as there are at least a dozen biographies of Mata Hari, more than ten movies and TV series, hundreds of website entries, at least one video game, an entire museum and a worldwide fan club dedicated to preserving her memory (The Mata Hari Organisation), how the hell can she be described as “forgotten”? If Frank Turner truly believes that no-one else is telling her story, then he needs to actually do some research. And while he is looking into the facts he should take along Mark Savage, the BBC journalist who wrote this piece and doesn’t appear to now anything about the subject either.

This is typical of the kind of claptrap that is written about espionage (and women’s history). Mata Hari barely qualifies for the term “spy” in any case. Her life represents many of the myths about espionage rather than the reality, but facts like that rarely bother some people. We could name at least a dozen women who were far more deserving of the term “spy” than Margarethe Zelle, women who really have been forgotten and deserve to have their stories told.

But those stories won’t be told as long as there is lazy journalism like this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *