Coco Chanel's second life as an undercover Nazi agent

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Tuesday 02 December 2014 14:20
Celebrities

A new television documentary in France has produced evidence that shows fashion designer and perfume magnate Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel worked as an informer for the Nazi government in the Second World War.

L’Ombre d’un Doute (The Shadow of a Doubt), which was broadcast on state channel France 3, produced documents from the French Defence Ministry archives which showed she worked for the Abwehr - the Nazi intelligence service.

Although this revelation is not new - a 2011 book by American historian Hal Vaughan documented her affair with Abwehr officer Baron Hans Guenther von Dincklage and her operations as Agent F-7124 - what is more striking is that the motives of those living in occupied France have been so openly discussed on national television - something which is a taboo subject in the modern day country, according to the Times.

The programme documented Chanel's strained relationship with the Jewish owners of her perfume business - which she had sold in 1924 - and attempt to use Nazi laws to have it returned to her control.

It also says that she was sent to Madrid in 1943 in an attempt to broker truce with British officials stationed there. Winston Churchill did not respond.

The programme also investigated the lives of other prominent French figures who continued to live under the Nazi occupation - including singers Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier and actor Sacha Guitry.

According to France24, the documentary has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the difficult choices faced by those living under Nazi control.

More: Why neo-Nazis in Germany are now dressing as hipsters

More: The French far right is being torn apart by cats and dogs

Trending