Greetje Zelle
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Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876 - 1917)

Margaretha Geertruida (Greetje) "Mata Hari, Marguerite Gertrude" Zelle aka MacLeod
Born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, Nederlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 11 Jul 1895 (to 10 Jun 1907) in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Nederlandmap
Died at age 41 in Vincennes, Val-de-Marne, Francemap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Aug 2013
This page has been accessed 8,362 times.
Nederlanders na 1811
Greetje Zelle is geboren in Friesland na 1811
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Margaretha Geertruida "M'greet" (Zelle) MacLeod was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland the Netherlands on August 7, 1876. [1] Her parents were Adam Zelle and Antje van der Meulen. She married in Amsterdam on July 11, 1895 with Rudolph Macleod, an officer in the KNIL (Royal Dutch Army in Nederlands Indië) [now=Indonesia]. [2] This marriage, from which one son and one daughter were born, was dissolved on 10-6-1907. [3] Margaretha was better known by the stage name Mata Hari. She was a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and accused spy who was executed October 15, 1917 by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.


  1. Norman-John MacLeod, 30 January 1897 in Amsterdam, Nederland.
  2. Louise Jeane Macleod, 2 May 1898 in Malang, Java, Indonesië

Circus Rider, Model, Dancer, Spy

After her divorce, Margaretha, motivated by the need to earn a living, turned to several careers, a circus horse rider, a painter's model and exotic dancing, which led to her becoming a successful courtesan. The Deuxième Bureau offered her money to seduce the Crown Prince Wilhelm, which she was never able to accomplish. Then after supplying her with information that confirmed their belief that she was acting as a double agent, she was arrested, tried, and found guilty of espionage.[4]

"Woman Dancer Shot by French As Spy"

"Mlle. Mata-Hari Suffers Penalty for Betraying Secret of 'Tanks' to Germans."[5]

"PARIS, Oct. 15. -- Mata-Hari, the Dutch dancer and adventuress, who, two months ago, was found guilty by a court-martial on the charge of espionage, was shot at dawn this morning.

"The condemned woman, otherwise known as Marguerite Gertrude Zelle, was taken in an automobile from St. Lazare prison to the parade ground at Vincennes, where the execution took place at 6:15 am..[6] Two sisters of Charity and a priest accompanied her."[7]

Execution of Mata Hari, movie clip from the film


May 1986, Russell Howe wrote an article, after reading a secret dossier on Mata Hari.

"After reviewing the files, this writer has come to his own conclusions: Mata Hari made only one effort at espionage and this took place in Madrid--for the French. She spent three afternoons with a German military officer who fed her inaccurate information and to whom she passed along gossip items from newspapers. She did receive money from the Germans but there is no evidence that she gave them any information in return. None of her actions provided evidence for eight counts of espionage. She was deliberately framed by the Germans, who used a cipher that they knew the French had already broken. All the German spymasters' memoirs and the official histories of German espionage in World War I seem to be in agreement: Mata Hari never was "one of ours.'"[8]

In 2001, the town of Leeuwarden, birthplace of Margaretha, and the Mata Hari Foundation lodged an official plea at the French Ministry of Justice, in Paris, to review the 1917 trial.

"We can show that the elements that led to her condemnation do not hold together," said lawyer Thibault de Montbrial, stating that they had new evidence that showed she was found guilty with trumped-up evidence.[9]

2017 marked the 100th anniversary of her death. Court files were opened. Perhaps we will know by locating and studying them.


Birth Certificate
  1. 1.0 1.1 Geboorteakte/Birthcertificate Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, Leeuwarden, 8 augustus 1876
    Leeuwarden, Geboorten 1875-1876 Familysearch image 374 of 468; Nederlands Rijksarchiefdienst, Friesland (Netherlands National Archives, Friesland).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Huwelijksadvertentie/ Wedding announcement, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle en Rudolph MacLeod, Amsterdam, 11 Juli 1895., Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie. Plaats instelling: Den Haag Collectiegebied: Nederland. Registratienummer: VFADNL089025-1, Registratiedatum: 11 juli 1895.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Scheiding/Devorce Margaretha Geertruida Zelle en Rudolph MacLeod, 10-06-1907. Rheden, 0207 Burgerlijke stand Gelderland.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Mata Hari," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (accessed November 19, 2016).
  5. "The NY Times," newspaper, 16 Oct 1917, pg. 1, Headline
  6. Image of death certificate at Archive of Val-de-Marne
  7. The New York Times (New York, New York) 16 Oct 1917, Tuesday. Pg 13 Col 4. Download .pdf
  8. Howe, Russell Warren. "Mournful fate of Mata Hari, the spy who wasn't guilty: new evidence indicates that the World War I siren was executed because her death was convenient to German and French intelligence." Smithsonian, May 1986, p. 132+. Student Resources in Context, Gale group Accessed 29 Nov. 2016.
  9. Schofield, Hugh. "Mata Hari 'was framed.' BBC News Tues 16 Oct 2001.

See also:


Thanks to Martyn Grifhorst for starting this profile. Click the Changes tab for the details of contributions by Martyn and others.

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Comments: 11

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Greetings. Just a note regarding the a final statement in the biography being in the present tense ("2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of her death. Court files will be opened. Perhaps then we will know.").

Perhaps that should be updated to past tense, and maybe the results of the review added (if known).

posted by Melanie Paul
Hi Melanie,

Changed tense, but no idea what court files are meant or where to find them... Did locate and cite her death certificate though.

posted by Jan Terink
Thanks for fixing the tense issue.

Small steps, I guess.  :) Better a death record than nothing at all! I have to admit I am slightly intrigued by the hint of those "court files", but fear I would be unable to read them even if I knew where to find them!

posted by Melanie Paul
Hoi Martyn,

Zou je : [email address removed] als co-manager kunnen toevoegen om deze (926 PPP With unpaired Project Account and ProjectBox) DB suggestie te corrigeren ? Project box (template) gaan samen en die van het black sheep project mist nog)

Bedankt alvast en groetjes,

Bea x

posted by Bea (Timmerman) Wijma
edited by Bea (Timmerman) Wijma
Really nice work you have done on this profile!
posted by Scott Lee
This entry in the population register of Leeuwarden, 1876-1904, shows that the news of her execution reached Friesland :D
posted by B. W. J. Molier
I changed relationship with father from Confirmed with DNA to Confident.
posted by Peter Roberts
Please state why or how her relationship with her father is confirmed with DNA? Thank you.
posted by Peter Roberts
This profile is beautiful!
posted by Cathleen Bachman
Just wanted to point this out, since it's driving me bonkers. My citations are frequently edited so that the url is obscured but this is improper. To cite a website with proper citation:

(Ignore the brackets part of the Wikipage, that obscures the url even further and they aren't needed for the link to be active).

posted by Carrie Quackenbush
Mata Hari was showcased as Collaborative Profile of the Week by The Black Sheep Project on 28 November 2016.