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Coco Chanel: Nazi Collaborator or Spy?

Several weeks after the liberation of Paris, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel was arrested by members of the FFI (French Forces of the Interior—resistance fighters during latter stages of the war) and taken to the Free French Purge Committee headquarters. After two hours of questioning, Chanel was released. She would later tell her maid that she was released under the personal orders of Winston Churchill. Within hours of arriving back at 31, rue Cambon, Chanel left in her Cadillac for Lausanne, Switzerland where she would live in exile until her return to Paris in the mid-1950s (she would come back to Paris from time to time—once as a witness in a trial of her friend and collaborator, Baron Louis de Vaufreland—the judge would declare, “The answers Mademoiselle Chanel gave to the court were deceptive”).

Coco Chanel. Photo (c.1970). Photograph by Marion Pike. Public Domain - copyright expired. Wikimedia Commons.
Coco Chanel. Photo (c.1970). Photograph by Marion Pike. Public Domain – copyright expired. Wikimedia Commons.


Chanel had been put on the French Resistance black list since 1942 as a German collaborationnistes (specifically as a horizontal collaborator—get the euphemism?). She was well known as being anti-Communist, pro-German, and virulently anti-Semitic (her verbal diatribes at dinner parties are legendary). Chanel was extremely adept at spinning any story to suit her needs or objectives. Her life story included a broken family childhood (i.e., insecurity—she was a very complex individual), prostitution, homosexuality, drug addiction, creativity, business acumen, betrayals, treason, promiscuous activities, a well-known spy mission, cover-ups, bribes, extreme poverty, extreme wealth, dance halls, lovers—men and women, intellectual friends, loyalty to her friends, and a passion for fashion and fragrances that remain legendary. Wow, how many of us have that resume? Read More Coco Chanel: Nazi Collaborator or Spy?

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Jacques the Ripper

Dr. Petiot
Portrait du Docteur Petiot. Photo (date unknown). Author unknown. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Not many tourists (or Parisians) find themselves on this narrow little street that connects the Place du General Patton and the grand Avenue Foch. I would venture to guess that only a small percentage of Parisians even know about the nefarious past of Rue le Sueur or should I say, one of its buildings.

On the evening of 11 March 1944, 5 months before the liberation of Paris, Monsieur Marçais, resident of 22, rue le Sueur, called the police over his concern for the immense amount of black smoke billowing from the chimney across the street at number 21. He was worried about a potential chimney fire in the unoccupied house. The neighbors later noted that the smoke had been heavy for the prior 5 days and the stench was nauseating.

Two policemen arrived on their bicycles and attempted to gain entry but were not successful. A neighbor who knew the owner telephoned him. Dr. Marcel Petiot lived at 66, rue Caumartin, approximately 15 minutes away by bike. He told the police to wait, as he would be right over with the keys.

After one half hour and no Dr. Petiot, the policemen were so worried about a fire that they called the fire department from which a truck and crew were sent immediately (the fire station still exists at 8, rue Mesnil). After smashing a window, several of the men were able to get inside the dark house. They followed the smell down to the basement where the most hideous scene unfolded.

Discovery of Bodies

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