New book claims Coco Chanel was Nazi spy

A new book by a Paris-based American historian suggests Coco Chanel not only had a wartime affair with a German aristocrat and spy, but that she herself was also an agent of Germany’s Abwehr military intelligence organization and a rabid anti-Semite.

Doubts about Chanel’s loyalties during World War II have long festered, but “Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War” goes well beyond those previous allegations, citing as evidence documents culled from archives around the world.

The book, published in the United States last week, has ruffled feathers in France, where the luxury industry is a pillar of the economy and Chanel is widely regarded as the crowning jewel.

The author is Hal Vaughan, an 84-year-old World War II veteran and longtime journalist. He said the book sprung from an accidental find in France’s national police archive.

“I was looking for something else and I come across this document saying ‘Chanel is a Nazi agent, her num-ber is … and her pseudonym is Westminster,’” Vaughan said. He then hunted through archives in five countries, he said, and found “absolutely solid archival materials on Chanel and her lover, Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, who was a professional Abwehr spy.” — ap