Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was the wife of an officer in the Dutch colonial army. She studied eastern dances in Indonesia. Once back in Europe she became a celebrated performer of Javanese and Indian dances under the name of Mata Hari. Accused of espionage on behalf of Germany during World War I, she was executed by a firing squad in 1917 outside Paris. This "dangerous spy" was in fact no more than a pathetic mythomaniac, shot for having struck a chord in the public imagination.