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Maurice Sachs
(September 16, 1906 - April 14, 1945) France

Maurice Sachs



Born Maurice Ettinghausen, half-Jewish and with a multiplicity of nationalities in his family tree, Sachs was educated in an English-style boarding-school, where he early learnt to give free rein to his interest in his own sex. In 1919 he lived for a year in London and worked in a bookshop, but the following year he returned to Paris and gravitated to the Boeuf sur le toit group of young artists which centered on Cocteau.

In 1925 he converted to Catholicism under the influence of the fashionable Catholic thinker Jacques Maritain, with Cocteau acting as his godfather at the baptism. He then decided to become a priest and entere a seminary in 1926, a vocation which melted away swiftly when he met an amenable young man on the beach at Juan-les-Pins.

After involvement in a number of dubious business activities, he fled to New York, where he passed himself off as an art dealer. Returning to Paris, he haunted leading homosexual writers of the time - Cocteau, Gide and Max Jacob - with all of whom he had stormy relationships whose precise nature is unclear. At various times he worked for Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel, in both cases stealing from them.

His lifestyle became increasingly extravagant and his means of supporting it increasingly uncertain. Sachs was mobilised at the start of the war but was discharged for sexual misconduct. During the early years of the Occupation he made money out of helping Jewish families escape to the Unoccupied Zone. He may also hae been an informer for the Gestapo.

He disappeared from Paris resurfacing in prison in Hamburg and seems to have died there in 1945, killed by te SS, on a forced, grueling march across Germany when his prison was evacuated upon the approach of Allied troops, probably with a shot to the back of the head when he staggered and fell.


Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii

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