CC and the SS
An article in the Times Online by Kate Muir reveals topics not often discussed about Chanel's life during World War II, her relationships with the Nazis (both sexually and politically), questionaning her moral integrity and explaining how she managed to live so comfortably at The Ritz Hotel in Nazi-occupied Paris while other artists struggled to survive both morally and physically.
"It seems to me that Chanel bent to the times, always intent on survival. The French call this Système D, or système débrouillard, which means getting round the rules somehow. As Charles-Roux notes, “playing refugee was not her style”, hence Chanel's move to the Nazi-infested Ritz (...) "
And to me it seems that Chanel sold out to the Nazis. Muir puts it ironically - "Who else could afford to buy her perfume?"
Among Chanel's compromises mentioned in the article were using the Nazi rules against Jewish businesses in order to take over her perfume factory from the Wertheimer family. How convenient.
“The occupation was merciless in exposing character” (Frederic Spotts, "The Shameful Peace"). How awfully true. But without being there it is so easy to judge others. I often wonder what I would have done if I lived in that era, both as a Jewish or a non-Jewish person.