Coco Chanel, a Nazi spy: The role the famous designer had in WWII

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Coco Chanel remained in history as one of the most inspiring fashion designers of all time and as the first person who had a perfume which bears her name. Less known is the fact that some information reveals that Coco Chanel would have been a Nazi spy.

Although Coco Chanel always denied having collaborated with the Nazis, it seems that there are documents proving that the famous French fashion was a spy during the Second World War. According to a documentary by made by the French TV station France 3, there are documents that prove without a doubt that the designer was a member of the Abwehr, the intelligence service of the German general staff.

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The documentary mentions that her involvement in espionage dates back to the time when the French army gave ground in 1940. She lived in Paris at the Ritz, and began an affair with a German spy, by the name of Hans Günther von Dincklage. Coco Chanel, who was 57 years in 1940, became a constant presence in the entourage of Nazi officers, and in 1943 was sent to Madrid, where she tried to exploit the fact that she and Winston Churchill had met, in order to reach an understanding with British officers that were stationed there.

It seems that Churchill ignored the offer, the famous historian Henry Gidel saying that the fashion designer showed “naivety and megalomania” imagining that she could influence the position of the British Prime Minister.

Hans Günther von Dincklage

According to the cited document, kept secret in the archives of the French Ministry of Defence in the past seven decades, Coco Chanel was known as Agent F-7124, code-named Westminster, after the name of her former lover and friend, the Duke of Westminster.

In the documentary, one historian claims that the famous designer hoped to be able to use her links with the Nazis to recover her perfume business, which she sold in 1924 to a Jewish family, Wertheimer. She hoped that after the deportation of that family, their business will be seized and returned to her. However, meanwhile, the Wertheimer family sold her share of Chanel perfume business to  a German businessman.

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The documentary also mentions that other French personalities such as Edith Piaf, Chevalier or Guitry, had ties to the Nazis. The French Government officials state that almost all the personalities of the time either joined the resistance, or the Nazis.

In 2011, the American journalist Hal Vaughan published a book – “Sleeping with the Enemy, Coco Chanel ‘s Secret War”- which argued also that in 1940 Coco Chanel was recruited by the intelligence service of the German general staff.

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Ovidiu Popa

Ovidiu Popa is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE