Mata Hari: The Prosecution: ‘Eye Of The Dawn’: By Renee Dallow

Mata Hari in colour

Zelle is led into the courtroom by two prison guards. Mornet, the court prosecutor ,waits patiently as Zelle takes the stand.The court cleric reads the charges. Clunet enters but is escorted out leaving Zelle to defend herself.  The defence attourney present has been appointed by the state and gives the appearance of being completely disinterested . He fidgets throughout the proceedings and laughs at the antics of Mornet.

Cleric: The charges that have been brought against Margarethe Gertrude Zelle are as follows:Obtaining large amounts of money from the chief of German espionage in return for spying on the French.Relaying said informationwritten in invisible ink so as to avoid detection.Accepting the sum of one million francs to spy for the French while at the same time handing over documents outlaying plans for the French landing in Verdun.Maintaining military intelligence with Germany whilst in Madrid where documents dealing with interior politics,the spring offensive and the names of agents working in the service of Great Britain and France all became the property of the German army.

Verdun Battlefield


Mornet:  The woman you see before you is responsible for the slaughter of 700,000 men.  Your sons, husbands and fathers now lying out there charred and blistered in shallow graves shall never return. Their bodies, or what’s left of them, so disfigured they cannot be identified. I urge you not to forget this fact throughout the proceedings. Single handed this woman has practically deprived a whole nation of it’s manhood. She is literally drenched in the blood of all who died for France. You recognise me do you not madame.


Zelle:  Certainly. You and your cohort have been following me for the past month. I have complained about you many times to various hotel proprietors. I now have the pleasure of putting a name to your face.

Mornet:  Let me congratulate you madame on your extraordinary memory for faces. How is this possible? You have no doubt stored so many in your mind that it must be difficult to distinguish one from the other. So many officers madame with whom you have had intimate relations would surely regard your memory of their faces and their …. er …particulars a little disconcerting …. but not I madame. I am pleased to be recognised and noted as your adversary.

Zelle:  Officers have always attracted me. There’s something about a uniform that makes a man so handsome. My officers were always so gallant ….

French magazine cover armees2

Mornet:  And so foreign with the exception of the few who were unwittingly lured by your excellent knowledge of the French language. You are not in actual fact French are you madame. You were born in Holland were you not?

Zelle:  I don’t see the relevance of my birthplace monsieur. I am an international woman. Yes I have had relations with foreign officers. It was the uniform. If a man is gallant it makes no difference whther he be French, Russian, English or ….

romano-windmil Dutch post

Mornet:  German?

Zelle:  So long as he knows how to treat a lady …

Mornet:  You dare to refer to yourself as a lady!  You with the morals of a peasant.  Let it be noted by the court that the  accused, using her so called international status was able to comouflage herself on many occasions… to feel at home anywhere in Europe. Isn’t that so madame?

l'infanterie Francaise

Zelle:  I have made no secret of it.

Mornet: Let it also be noted that madame was in need of funds and thought it France’s duty to keep her in the manner to which she had become accustomed. Of your own accord you sought out Monsieur Ladoux and told him that you could procure important information from the Germans at a price. Would you name that price for the court madame?

Zelle:  I asked for a million francs.

Mornet:  And what made you think you deserved such a sum?

MataHari  bureau drawing

Zelle:  I once had an affair with the crown prince and had spent three years living in Berlin with Baron Capellan who has been my friend and mentor for many years. I had access to very high officials.

Mornet:  Including the chief of espionage Major Von Kalle.

Zelle:  Yes in a purely professional capacity.

Mornet: …. and it was in this ‘professional capacity’ that you spent the night.

romancing the soldier

Zelle:  My relations with Von Kalle were for the purpose of extracting information for France.

Mornet: For which you were paid handsomely.

Zelle:  The Major paid me for my carresses. Better to use government money for such a service.

Mornet:  And what of the ink Madame?

Zelle:  I have no idea wat you are talking about.

WWI_Postcard german soldier

Mornet:  ( Produces the empty ink bottles. ) How do you explain the invisible ink found in your room Madame?  (Addresses the jury. ) The bottles are quite empty …

Zelle:  Naturally the bottles are empty. They were used Monsieur as a douche. Ah I see you are a little confused. For the purpose of contraception.  A contraceptive is ….

aa pinup Mata Hari

Mornet:  Ahem …. Let it be known to the court that the purpose of this invisible ink was to erase information sold to the enemy before detection. Let me explain the process. The accused was given three bottles of this ink by her lover , German press attache, Karl Von Kramer. The first was to dampen the paper, the second to write the message and the third to erase the message. Any message relayed by the Germans in invisible ink could therefore be deciphered by the enemy. The third bottle …. this bottle I have in my hand … was an added precaution. Very clever indeed.

Zelle: It’s a douche I tell you!  Alright … alright so I was given the ink but I threw the contents out of the window. Well I won’t be your scapegoat. I’ve done nothing wrong. I am not a spy. I am an artiste that’s all. Why are you persecuting me like this? I’m loyal to France. You are trying to discredit me to this court. You are not gallant Monsieur.

ink bottles

Mornet: ( Sarcastically. ) Oh do forgive us Madame. We are only trying to defend this country. You Madame are nothing but a female war profiteer. You feed like a parasite on French society with no regard for the suffering and depravation of the people of this country. Wy would you who are not even French offer your services to help us? You seduced our officers Madame for information to relate back to the enemy. You then had the audacity to make us pay for it.   ( To the court. ) I think we are done for the day. I believe we have more than enough to prove our case against Mata Hari agent  provocateur …H21.

( Lights Fade as guards take Zelle back to her cell and courtroom empties. )

court sketch

© Renee Dallow (Hybiscus Bloom ) 15/6/2003

white hibiscus


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