Coco Chanel: the French Mata Hari (who was rescued by Churchill, of all people)

Posted in History and Politics on November 2nd, 2012 by byronkho

So Brad Pitt is pushing Chanel No 5. Big news everybody…. though everyone misses the bigger story.

Coco Chanel liked being cosseted by high-born rich men, who helped her rise in business and society. When Hitler marched into France, Chanel took a German lover. Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage was a charming, handsome man, who became the last great love of Chanel’s life. He was also a spymaster reporting directly to Goebbels. As the French starved and suffered, Chanel and Dincklage lived the high life, residing in the Hotel Ritz, going to Maxim’s, eating pheasant and drinking Chateau Latour. During their affair, the baron recruited her for German military intelligence. In 1941, the Abwehr enrolled Chanel as Agent F-7124, code name Westminster (after her ex-lover, the Duke of Westminster), and began sending her on missions. After the liberation of Paris, Chanel was brought in for questioning about her collaboration with the enemy. She was allowed to go home, saved by the intervention of an old friend. “Churchill had me freed,” she said.

- from Lewis Lapham at Bloomberg Businessweek.

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