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.
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.