Rumors have been all over the interweb the last week about a new book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan which alleges, among other things, that Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy. Haven’t read the book (yet) I can’t say with any accuracy what this information is based on. We all know that she was Baron Von Dincklage’s (Spatz’s) lover – an issue that is not contested. But it’s quite another thing to allege that someone is a Nazi spy (and the book releases the week of Mademoiselle’s birthday – the nerve!).
I’ve been holding my tongue on this issue because the whole thing makes me uncomfortable. I suppose when you are one of the most influential women of the 20th century and your life is shrouded in mystery there are going to be rumors. Thankfully, Chanel came out with a statement to British Vogue – here it is:
“Such insinuations cannot go unchallenged,” a Chanel spokesperson took the unusual step of telling us. “She would hardly have formed a relationship with the family of the owners or counted Jewish people among her close friends and professional partners such as the Rothschild family, the photographer Irving Penn or the well-known French writer Joseph Kessel had these really been her views. It is unlikely.
“We also know that she and Churchill were close friends for a long time. She apparently approached him about acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut. No one knows for sure exactly what happened or what her role was to be. There are several different versions and it will no doubt always remain a mystery.
“More than 57 books have been written about Gabrielle Chanel. To decide for yourself, we would encourage you to consult some of the more serious ones.”
The book also claims that Chanel was the lover of a spy, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who “reported directly to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, right hand of Hitler”.
“We know for a fact that she had a relationship during the war with a German aristocrat she had met in Paris in the Thirties,” Chanel acknowledged, conceding, “the timing of this romance with a German was unfortunate even if Baron Von Dincklage’s mother was English and their relationship started before the war.”
Image: AleXsandro Palombo
Yellow X: moi