Shelved Dolls: Coco Chanel – Was She A Nazi?

In the summer of 1942, Parisians watched while Jews were rounded up and arrested. Chanel was delighted, thinking this would finally end all her problems with the Jewish family controlling Chanel No. 5. To be fair, there were strong sentiments of anti-Semitism in  France during that period (to the extent that one woman, when seeing pictures of the Jews deported, remarked “But they are not French, they are Jews.”)

Chanel just didn’t really care. I don’t know how to explain that, quite. She was raised very Catholic? Iribe did that weird naked picture of her? Her lovers were all anti-Semitic? I’m sure there were reasons, but I find it remarkable that The Ritz was 15 minutes away from the Jewish quarter where Parisian Jews were being rounded up and Chanel, if anything, seemed pleased.

Incidentally, the family who Chanel hoped to see dead so they couldn’t have any influence over her business? They survived just fine, and made it to America. They launched a new perfume called “Courage” which sold extremely well and used a portion of the proceeds to support Charles de Gaulle’s Free French and Jewish causes in New York.

Chanel wasn’t thrilled.

And when she made a remark at a party that “France got what it deserved”, members of the Resistance  truly realized that her symapthies did lie with the Nazis. German officials suggested that Chanel and Dincklage leave Paris, and return to Madrid where they could meet with Chanel’s former lover Bendor, and, through him, convey a message to Churchill that some high ranking officials wanted to end hostilities with England.

Look! It's Chanel with Churchill!

Because I’ve seen too many spy movies, I thought that this was some sort of tricky bit of misleading information, but, no, it seems some people really did want to end the war with England. And Churchill was a good friend of Chanel’s – he had cried on her shoulder when Prince Edward abdicated – so she wasn’t an unreasonable person to pick for such a mission.

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    • Lastango

      “In one Iribe drew a naked Coco Chanel – meant to represent Marianne (a symbol of the French state) – being cradled by Hitler who is seemingly defending her from a group of Jews. So that is where Coco formed her political views. It is amazing that you could have these opinions and be open about them and still be part of polite society.”
      Actually, openly-expressed anti-Semitic views are de rigueur in Europe today. In the UK, a parliamentary inquiry found that:

      “Anti-Jewish themes and remarks are gaining acceptability in some quarters in public and private discourse in Britain and there is a danger that this trend will be come more and more mainstream… It is this phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation of longer.”
      That’s expecially true in Europe’s upper crust:

    • fionarocks

      So disappointing to hear this. But great article! You’re right, she absolutely should have known better.

    • Deb

      An interesting read is the book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”. Describes the pervasive antisemitism of not only Germany but the entire continent pretty much.

    • MR

      You know there were a lot fascists in France. The Nazis – after they defeated France in 1940 – formed a French government around them, called Vichy France. Churchill ended any threat it posed to Britain shortly after, in Oran, Algeria, when he ordered the destruction of the (now Vichy) French Navy. I guess Coco wasn’t as much a threat as of the French Navy falling into Nazi Germany’s hands, huh? Lucky for Coco. :)

    • kj

      Well, that’s depressing. At least I don’t have to feel as bad now about not liking her clothes…………

    • Natalie

      I think this is one of those situations that is similar to the founding fathers of America. They all owned salves. That was awful. Yet, we still like them and they still founded America. Not that it is excusable that they owned salves, but we can still like America.
      So we can still like her clothes. I guess.

      • Jennifer Wright

        I mean, I own some salves myself. My skin gets pretty dry in the winter.

      • Kokos

        Yeah,me to. Got to get some slaves to rub it on me,though.

      • jjj


    • Abvilian

      Coco was a British spy, which is well known and documented fact.

    • Kokos

      Still am amazed at the level of admiration uninformed,ignorant and in most cases,desperate left women have for this person. Ladies,grab your pen and notepad: Coce=junkie+golddigger+home-wrecker+nazi+perfume&some clothes. Cheers.

    • Sammy

      After the war, many French women who had been known to “consort” with German soldiers had their heads shaved publicly. Apparently some thought that this should happen to Chanel but Churchill intervened.

    • Clarisse Thorn

      When you’re in a social circle where orgies are common, they usually “just happen,” although sometimes they are explicitly and carefully planned. You know how sometimes you’re on a date and then one thing leads to another and you’re making out and then you both make a million tiny decisions that eventually lead to you leaping into bed naked together? And the next day you’re like, “What decision? it just happened!” even though there were actually a lot of decisions and usually at least one party put a lot of effort into making sex happen? Sometimes orgies happen like that, too.

      But sometimes they really are planned through Facebook events. If you aren’t getting enough Facebook orgies, maybe you should plan one. It’s surprisingly difficult but gets easier with practice.