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“Yesterday, in the courtyard at Caponiere, in the Vincennes forest, the former dancer, Mata Hari was executed.” ~ Bruno Filippi

From the Autumn issue… Bruno Filippi..

The short, cruel words of the telegram filled my heart with sadness. Oh, Mata Hari. Oh, Mata Hari, surely you never imagined such a sad end. Surely, in spite of your skepticism, you still did not believe that the men who were crazy for you could be so vile.

Nobody tried to defend you, nobody wanted to risk a thing for you. These gentlemen who fell at your feet like rotten fruit, who revealed all the most secret documents to your eyes, who did not hesitate to ruin family and fatherland in order to possess you, these gentle men were afraid to try anything for you. And so they let a squad of common soldiers kill you like a rabid dog in a damp courtyard, by discharging red-hot lead into your divine body. And probably some of those high-toned Catos will publicly rejoice in the severity of the judges. Phew! A spy! Cowards!

Those who wouldn’t hesitate to make thousands of workers die of hunger, solely for profit; those who would risk the prosperity of entire provinces at the stock exchange simply to sate themselves with gold; those who would betray that which they call fatherland in an instant for their selfish ends; they feigned a feeling of horror when the preliminary investigation revealed what they already knew.

Phew! A spy! In order to possess you, they revealed the most delicate secrets of the nation; in order to possess you, they delivered the plans for the strongest fortress to you; in order to possess you, they gave you the lives of thousands of men as a gift. Now that you are dead, they trample you with disgust, insult you and wash their hands in your blood. Mata Hari has been executed! Poor Mata!

Who would have thought that you would meet such a savage end? When the luxurious automobile took you through the magnificent boulevards of Paris, charming in your costly gowns, who would have ever thought that a lowly prison cell would one day be your home. When your nude, throbbing, willowy body, the body of an enchantress, roused the whispers and lust of a thousand gentlemen in swallow-tailed coats and monocles in the golden salons of the high aristocracy, who would have thought that you would fall in the mud of a filthy fortress courtyard, your body riddled with bullets on a sad, rainy day?

Poor Mata!

I don’t pity the soldiers who die because of you. The brute mass that lets itself be dragged to the slaughterhouse without any impulse toward rebellion, that lets itself be butchered in such a way with no reason, that abandons everything that is most dear at mere orders from a leaflet affixed to a wall, is too vile: it deserves death, it deserves the executioner’s blade. But you, poor Mata, you were beautiful! And supreme beauty is beyond good and evil. Dying because of a marvelous woman is always the best death.

Rest in peace, poor Mata! Someone who never knew you has sworn to avenge you. And the memory of your blood-drenched eyes will drive his dagger; the vision of your mutilated body will render his bomb more effective.

 

Bruno Filippi, The Rebel’s Dark Laughter, 1916-18