Coco Chanel, Secret Nazi Spy?

It’s fairly well known that the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel was friendly, to varying degrees, with the Nazis during their World War II occupation of France. Though beyond speculation and rumors, much of what Chanel was up to during those years remained fairly quiet, her story resuming after returning to France after fleeing to Switzerland for a decade after the war. Now a new book, released yesterday, entitled Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, by Hal Vaughan, posits that not only was Chanel a close friend to Nazi spies (varying degrees of closeness there, too), but was also one herself. Here’s a description:

Vaughan reveals the truth of Chanel’s long-whispered collaboration with Hitler’s high-ranking officials in occupied Paris from 1940 to 1944. He writes in detail of her decades-long affair with Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, “Spatz” (“sparrow” in English), described in most Chanel biographies as being an innocuous, English-speaking tennis player, playboy, and harmless dupe—a loyal German soldier and diplomat serving his mother country and not a member of the Nazi party.

The book pieces together how Coco Chanel became a German intelligence operative; how and why she was enlisted in a number of spy missions; how she escaped arrest in France after the war, despite her activities being known to the Gaullist intelligence network; how she fled to Switzerland for a nine-year exile with her lover Dincklage. And how, despite the French court’s opening a case concerning Chanel’s espionage activities during the war, she was able to return to Paris at age seventy and triumphantly resurrect and reinvent herself—and rebuild what has become the iconic House of Chanel.