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Mata Hari by Leopold-Emile Reutlinger

Mata Hari’s strong character was evident in her words. She was a good writer with a beautiful hand, composing her own advertising copy. Mata Hari was also well spoken, and excelled at charming and deceiving interviewers and reporters. Much of what she said and wrote was done with the tongue in the cheek. She had a sharp wit and a gift for making memorable phrases, as the following quotes show:

  • On her life: “Remember that all my life as a woman, I have lived as Mata Hari, that I think and act as such, that I have lost all notion of travel, distances, dangers, nothing exists for me...I lose--I win--I defend myself when someone attacks me--I take when someone has taken from me.”
  • On her career: “I took the train to Paris without money and without clothes. There, as a last resort and thanks to my female charms, I was able to survive. That I slept with other men is true; that I posed for sculptures is true; that I danced in the opera at Monte Carlo is true. It would be too far beneath me and too cowardly to defend myself against such actions I have taken.”
  • On herself: “I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.”
  • On her taste in men: “I love officers. I have loved them all my life. I prefer to be the mistress of a poor officer than of a rich banker. It is my greatest pleasure to sleep with them without having to think of money. And, moreover, I like to make comparisons between the different nationalities.”
  • On dance: “The dance is a poem, of which each movement is a word.”
  • On her own nude dancing: “In my dancing one forgets the woman in me, so that when I offer everything and finally myself to the god--which is symbolized by the loosening of my loincloth, the last piece of clothing I have on--and stand there, albeit for only a second entirely naked, I have never yet evoked any feeling but the interest in the mood that is expressed by my dancing.”
  • On what she would have done if her act had failed and she had not become a star: “I had a gun ready and my decision was taken.”
  • On being accused of prostitution and espionage: “Harlot? Yes. Traitoress? Never!”
  • Mata Hari’s dialogue with Captain Ladoux, when she asked for money to spy for France:
Ladoux: “You must be very expensive.”
Mata Hari: “That--definitely!”
Ladoux: “What do you think you are worth?”
Mata Hari: “All or nothing!”
  • On one occasion, Mata Hari danced nude at a women-only lesbian party (see below). During the performance, she discovered that one of the party guests was actually a man dressed as a woman. She chased him from the room with a spear, yelling: “There is an intruder in the house!”
  • A poem written by the young Margaretha Zelle for a school friend:
”If your eyes in reader’s quest,
Seeking joy among these pages
Upon this sheet have come to rest,
Remember that the writer’s best
Wishes are yours throughout the ages.”

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