10 Apr 2014

Secrets of Mata Hari to be revealed as MI5 files on wartime spies go online

Top secret MI5 files on spies from the First World War – including the notorious exotic dancer Mata Hari – will go online today. The database will feature for the first time some of history’s most famous spies and the secrets in which they traded.

mata hari

Among the names detailed in more than 150 digitised dossiers is Dutch-born Hari, tried for causing the deaths of 50,000 soldiers by spying for German intelligence. She was arrested in February 1917 in Paris before being executed in France aged 41. The files contain a detailed account of her interrogation by British police in the same year – in which she gives away nothing. Another MI5 memo, referring to the spy by her real name of Margreet Zelle MacLeod, says their contact in Paris warned the agency of his suspicions.


“He informs us that he has suspected her for some time and pretended to employ her in order, if possible, to obtain definite proof.” Evidence emerged decades later that she did compile reports for the Germans.

The files can be accessed at nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war

Daily Express