Charles Rammelkamp

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Andrée Messimy Comments on Mata Hari’s Trial

I’m sure the hussy had nothing
to do with the Germans.
Ridiculous to think such a womanPainting of lingerie by Gene McCormick
could traffic in international political intrigue.
She only cared for luxury and license.

But when my husband Alfred received
the summons to testify on her behalf,
I’d have died before I let him describe
the idyllic nights he’d spent in her company.

Yes, as Minister of War when the war began,
his testimony might have carried weight,
but I refused to allow our name
and his career to suffer for such a woman.

I sent a letter to Alfred-Ernest Semprou,
president of the tribunal, claiming
my husband too ill with rheumatism
to appear in court, and besides, I avowed,
he had never met Mata Hari in his life,
and as a finishing touch, I signed my name
with a flourish:  Andrée Messimy, née Bonaparte.

After this categorical denial
of an affair with Mata Hari,
suspicion turned to Louis Malvy,
Minister of the Interior,
as the lover in question.
His political career was ruined as a result.

I didn’t even have to say to my Alfred,
“I told you so.”  He was grateful to me,
even though I heard his heartfelt sighing.

André Mornet, Prosecutor

Between you and me, there wasn’t enough evidence
to flog a cat.
Still, she was just a whore, nobody to get upset about,
and she had taken scores of German lovers in Berlin
before the war broke out.

Still, Bouchardon, the investigative magistrate
hadn’t been able to prove a connection
between Mata Hari’s actions and the torpedoing
of the ship in the Mediterranean,
the death of fifty thousand children,
as had  been charged.

I called five witnesses.
The bumbling Paris inspector, Monier, 
could only testify to her extravagant lifestyle,
But Ladoux and his boss, Goubet, the French spymasters,
explained their plan to unmask Mata Hari as a German agent
by enrolling her as a spy for France.
Of course, Ladoux was arrested
as a German spy himself
four days after Mata Hari’s execution.

Vladimir de Masloff, her Russian lover boy,
and Lieutenant Hallaure, her other summer lover,
could not attend the tribunal, but we read their depositions aloud.
Massloff maintained she’d never asked him
for any military information.

Clunet, her defense attorney, called various influential men
to testify as character witnesses –
they’d all fucked her, of course.
“We spoke only of art,” they testified.

In summing up, I declared,
“The evil that this woman has done
is unbelievable.  This is perhaps
the greatest woman spy of the century.”

The tribunal deliberated only forty-five minutes
before returning with a verdict of guilt.


Léon Bizard, Prison Doctor at Saint-Lazare

I’d come across Mata Hari once
in a house in the quarter of  L’Etoile
when I was checking prostitutes for syphilis.
She’d been rather pricy then, I recall,
fifty louis for what they called a “passing fancy,”
rather regal and refined in such an environment.

She’d retained her grace in Saint-Lazare,
the prison in Paris reserved
for the vilest female criminals.
With an air of elegance,
despite the appalling conditions –
dark, filthy, over-run by rats,
a flea-infested straw mat to sleep on –
she greeted me whenever I came to check on her.

I knew she’d been having trouble sleeping,
and when I learned she was going to die
the following morning,
I visited her with Sister Leonide,
asked her about dancing,
and when we insisted,
she arose and performed for a few minutes.

While she was preoccupied,
I slipped a sleeping potion
into her water. At least
she would have one good sleep
before she faced the firing squad.


Charles Rammelkamp’s latest book, Fusen Bakudan (“Balloon Bombs” in Japanese), was published in 2012 by Time Being Books. It’s a collection of poems about missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war. He also edits an online literary journal called The Potomac - and is a fiction editor for The Pedestal