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British Mata Hari spied for Germany in Spain

Alex Dunham · 14 Mar 2014, 12:24

Published: 14 Mar 2014 12:24 GMT+01:00

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Elizabeth Bedlington, who performed under the stage name of La Titanesca, acted as a British Mata Hari for German forces during WWI, Spanish historian Fernando García Sanz has revealed in his soon-to-be published book España en la Gran Guerra (Spain in the Great War).

Bedlington is reported to have delivered secret documents for German forces as she travelled and worked across Spain, having been recruited through her Austro-Hungarian husband Gunter Hopf.

Although the popular ballerina was never arrested for spying for the Germans, the book's author uncovered Italian secret service reports which indicate she had been identified as a mule, a discovery which spurred Allied forces to block her entry into Italy.

Originally from London, Bedlington is believed to have lived in Spain for the rest of her life, The UK's Times wrote on Thursday.

The comparison drawn between the UK dancer and Mata Hari, the famous Dutch courtesan executed by French troops for spying for Germany during WWI, is equally applicable to other female undercover agents featured in the 426-page book.

"Mata Hari was no-one compared to other female spies who were so good that even to this day they haven't been identified," García Sanz told Spanish daily El País.

Pilar Millán Astray, sister of the founder of Spain's military Legion, was one of the cunning women the book's author talks about.

Later becoming a famous Spanish novelist, Millán Astray is reported to have stolen documents from the UK Ambassador to Spain and handed them over to the Germans in 1917.

Story continues below…

Her actions epitomize the overall attitude of Spain during WWI as described by García Sanz, a willingness to allow the country to become a spying ground for both sides in return for quick profit and favours.

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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