France opens secret archives on Nazi-era resistance

French historians have unveiled secret services’ archives from World War II that offer a unique insight into underground operations led by both the Nazis and the French resistance — along with the individual paths taken by thousands of agents, including celebrities like French designer Coco Chanel.

Most of the letters, reports, cables and photos from the rival intelligence agencies of the French Resistance, the collaborationist Vichy regime and the German authorities remain unpublished. The documents, stored for years in the archives at the medieval castle of Vincennes, east of Paris, have not been explored by historians until recently.

They include details of operations led by German spies hunting members of the French resistance, the secret activities of London-based Gen. Charles De Gaulle’s government and efforts to track war criminals.

The French secret services also had files on celebrities they deemed suspicious. Designer Coco Chanel’s file includes a note written in Paris in November 1944.

According to Frederic Queguineur, in charge of the secret services’ archives, the file shows that Coco Chanel was documented as an agent by the Nazi intelligence organization, the Abwehr.

— AP

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