December 8, 2014

By Marcellous L. Jones

Paris, France – While actresses Shirley Maclaine and Audrey Tautou have starred in biopic films in both the USA and in France on the life of fashion maverick Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, a new French television documentary will show aspects of her far lesser qualities. This is greatly in part to declassified seized documents that reveal Chanel’s active hand in the Nazi cause.

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel

The documentary film is titled “The Shadow of a Doubt: Artists Under the Occupation”. Produced by French broadcaster channel France 3, it reveals concrete details of Chanel’s past as more than just a sympathizer of the Nazi cause during World War II. It gives clear proof of her as a spy for the Nazi camp and of her involvement in a plot that took her to Madrid in 1943 as an agent of Adolf Hitler and of the Third Reich.

The information comes to light thanks to archivist Frederic Quqguineur, who said, “We found it two months ago in a French intelligence file that was seized in Germany in 1945.”

Quqguineur said there is “no doubt” as to the authenticity of the documents, which paints Coco Chanel as a Nazi spy working for the Abwehr German military intelligence under the agent number F-7124. This new information is right in line with material previously written in author’s Hal Vaughan’s 2011 book — “Sleeping with the Enemy, Coco Chanel and the Secret War”. That biography depicts her as “vicious anti-Semite” who considered Hitler a “great European.”

A month after the German occupation of Paris began, Chanel moved back into her exclusive room at the luxurious Hotel Ritz in the Place Vendôme in the first arrondissement in Paris. The German air forces took the hotel as its headquarters. It is there where she fell in love with and began shacking up with Gestapo officer, the Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage. When the war started going badly for Germany, Chanel directly got involved.

Under the codename “Westminster”, she traveled to Madrid to speak with the British Ambassador to Spain about a possible truce. (Her “Westminster” codename came about from her affair in the 1920s with the Duke of Westminster.) The ambassador, Sir Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood, Prime Minister Churchill and Chanel were all personal friends since before the war. As Churchill had refused to respond to her truce overtures between Germany and Great Britain, she then turned her attention to Sir Hoare. She hoped that he would intervene on her behalf and obtain a response from Churchill. But her plan failed.

Though Prime Minister Churchill never responded to Coco Chanel, it is widely circulated that Churchill personally intervened (probably speaking directly with French war hero Charles de Gaulle) to save her from the vengeance of the French Résistance. Considered a traitor and disgrace to the French people, Chanel exiled herself for a while to Switzerland. However, she did make her triumphant return to Paris some time later.

Madame Chanel’s involvement with the Nazi is not the only subject of the documentary. France 3 also places light on fabled singer Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and author and theatre director Sacha Guitry.

Madame Chanel at Work

Madame Chanel at Work