August 19, 2011 -Coco Chanel would have marked her 128th birthday tomorrow, and though she's been gone for just over 40 years now, new allegations keep popping up about her life. One upcoming biography, out this November,recently made headlines for positing that Chanel did drugs and was bisexual, and now another biography — just out this week —alleges that Chanel was an anti-Semite and a Nazi spy forGermany's Abwehr military intelligence organization.
Citing evidence culled from archives around the world — and recently declassified documents —author Hal Vaughan makes such claims in Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War. The book was spurred by an accidental findin France's national police archive, Vaughan says: "I was looking for something else and I come across this document saying 'Chanel is a Nazi agent, her number is blah, blah, blah and her pseudonym is Westminster.' I look at this again and I say, 'What the hell is this?' I couldn't believe my eyes! Then I really started hunting through all of the archives, in the United States, in London, in Berlin and in Rome and I come across not one, but 20, 30, 40 absolutely solid archival materials on Chanel and her lover, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who was a professional Abw
Vaughan also suggests that Chanel's alleged anti-Semitism caused her to capitalize on laws permitting the expropriation of Jewish property — allowing her to gain control of the Chanel perfume lines from the Jewish-born Wertheimer brothers, who'd helped make her Chanel No. 5 a worldwide best-seller.
In response to the book's allegations of anti-Semitism, Chanel released a statement: "Such insinuations cannot go unchallenged. [Coco Chanel] 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."
As for Chanel's relationship with alleged Nazi spy Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, Chanel noted: "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. 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."