Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War


Hal Vaughn

When reading the historical novel, The Chanel Sisters, there was a reference to Coco Chanel working for the Nazi Regime during WWII.  The reference nudged me to learn more. Therefore, I read the book by Hal Vaughn titled: Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War.  Chanel lived at the Ritz in Paris with a Nazi Officer during Nazi occupation. While defenders are quick to point out that Chanel knew her lover since she was young and his mother was British, the evidence demonstrates that her lover, Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, was a spy.  In addition, Chanel was a known antisemite.

Chanel was detained and briefly questioned but then was quickly released. The belief is that Winston Churchill, a friend of Chanel’s was behind the quick release as he feared that Chanel would expose the former King Edward’s Nazi Sympathies. Chanel was again detained and questioned before a judge but never officially stood trial. Chanel lived with Dincklage for years after the end of the War in Switzerland. Furthermore, Chanel silenced other living members of the Nazi regime who could point to her involvement through generous acts of financial support.

Chanel brought us the Little Black Dress, the Chanel Suit, the Quilted Purse and of course, Chanel No 5, all of which continue to serve as fashion icons today. It is disheartening to say that least, to know that she may have helped the Nazis in any way.