(JTA) — An American group of Holocaust survivors slammed the fashion house Chanel for rejecting a new biography’s claim that its founder, Coco Chanel, was a Nazi spy.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, said in a statement that his organization was "shocked" by the charges in "Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War," by Hal Vaughan, and "the blithe and unsupported rejection of these charges by the Chanel fashion house."
The book builds on past evidence to describe the secret life of Chanel, a fashion icon, as a "fierce" anti-Semite recruited by the Abwehr military intelligence organization, as well as the lover of Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, described as a "Nazi master spy." The book gives her agent number as F-7124 and code-name as "Westminister," after the duke with whom she had another affair.
The Chanel group in a statement denied the allegations beyond that "she had a relationship with a German aristocrat during the war" and "Clearly it wasn’t the best period to have a love story with a German." It further denied that she was anti-Semitic based on her friendship with Jews and business ties with the Rothschild family.
Steinberg said that "The documents on Ms. Chanel’s past are too serious and historically important to be cavalierly dismissed by the fashion house without any effort to confirm their veracity through objective research." An investigation, he added, "is the least that can be done for the sake of historical truth and the memory of Nazi victims."