PARIS – Documents recently declassified by the French intelligence services make it clear that the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel was a diehard Nazi true believer and a spy involved in a plot that led her to Madrid to serve the Third Reich.
Archivist Frederic Quqguineur told Efe on Friday that he had “no doubt” about the authenticity of the document that identifies Coco Chanel as an agent working for the Abwehr, German military intelligence.
“We found it two months ago in a French intelligence file that was seized in Germany in 1945,” he said of the file that served as the basis for a documentary film that will be shown on the public channel “France 3” called “The Shadow of a Doubt: Artists Under the Occupation.”
A month after the German tanks rumbled through the streets of Paris, Chanel retuned from the French Pyrenees, where she had taken refuge, to her exclusive room at the luxurious Hotel Ritz in the Place Vendôme.
The Ritz was being used at the time as the headquarters of the German air forces.
Here she fell in love with Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, ten years younger who was working as an attaché at the German embassy and who was closely linked to the Gestapo.
The revelation is consistent with a biography of the fashion designer, written by Hal Vaughan in 2011, called “Sleeping with the Enemy, Coco Chanel and the Secret War,” in which he describes Chanel as a “vicious anti-Semite” who praised Hitler as a “great European.”
So it was not surprising that Chanel went to Madrid in 1943 when the war began leaning toward the Allies to sound out the British ambassador to Spain, who was close to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, about terms for a possible German surrender.
“She showed megalomania and incredible naivety,” Chanel biographer Henry Giddel says in the documentary.
The same film documentary also offers a new and critical examination of the activities of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier or filmmaker Sacha Guitry under the German occupation.