29. During the German Occupation of France, Coco Chanel Asked The Nazis to Confiscate Her Jewish Partner’s Share of the Business and Hand it Over to Her
Coco Chanel had long been a reactionary and anti-Semite, and got on well with others who disliked Jews. In 1923, she began a ten-year affair with Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, one of the world’s richest men at the time, and a rabid anti-Semite. In the 1930s, she began a relationship with an illustrator named Paul Iribe, and financed his monthly journal, a reactionary anti-republican and anti-Semitic rag. She often stated that she believed that the Jews were a threat to Europe. As such, it is no surprise that Chanel got on well with the Nazis and collaborated with them when they conquered France in 1940. In the years of occupation, Chanel lived in Paris’ Hotel Ritz, where many high-ranking German military and Nazi officials dwelt.
She also became the mistress of a Baron Gunther von Dincklage, a diplomat and German military intelligence operative. Before the war, the majority owner of Parfums Chanel, the company that marketed Chanel No. 5, was a Jewish businessman named Pierre Wertheimer. The Nazis routinely confiscated Jewish property and gave it to Aryans. Chanel petitioned the Nazis that since she was Aryan, they ought to seize the Jewish Wertheimer’s share of Parfums Chanel and hand it over to her. Unbeknownst to her, however, Wertheimer had guessed that the Nazis would confiscate Jewish properties, so before they got around to it, he transferred legal ownership of his business entities to a French Christian industrialist. He had more integrity than Chanel, and returned them to Wertheimer after the war.