Documents prove that Karl Lagerfeld’s parents belonged to the NSDAP. His mother is said to have been a convinced National Socialist for many years. The biography brings new insights.
Karl Lagerfeld’s parents were in the NSDAP. Newly discovered documents prove this, as the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” (F.A.S.) reports in an advance copy of the Lagerfeld biography by F.A.Z. editor Alfons Kaiser. Otto Lagerfeld, the father of the fashion designer and founder of the condensed milk company Glücksklee, who died in 2019, acted primarily out of business interest. His mother Elisabeth Lagerfeld, however, was a convinced National Socialist in the 1930s. The biography “Karl Lagerfeld. Ein Deutscher in Paris” by Alfons Kaiser will be officially published on Thursday (17.9.) by the publishing house C.H. Beck.
In a typewritten letter that Kaiser found in the estate of her sister Felicitas Ramstedt, Elisabeth Lagerfeld openly confesses to her party membership, but also mentions that her ideals were later shaken.
Whether Karl Lagerfeld, who was born in Hamburg, knew of his mother’s convictions is unclear. About his childhood, the fashion designer usually spoke only very vaguely. An anecdote about his mother, however, could indicate that he wanted to divert attention from the truth, Kaiser believes. “Can’t you even tell your son to cut off his hair?” a teacher is said to have said to her after the war. Thereupon Elisabeth Lagerfeld grabbed the teacher’s tie and asked: “Why? Are you still a Nazi?” and threw it in her face. This scene was probably intended to illustrate the assumption that the Lagerfelds had nothing to do with the Nazis.
“Of course, that has little to do with his own life,” Kaiser said. “But his career might well have taken a different course if this had become known earlier. Perhaps Chanel would not have taken him on, because as a German, he did not have it easy in Paris in the early years anyway.