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Was Hollywood Actor Errol Flynn a Nazi Spy?

Under the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, numerous files have been declassified and that tell of how and why the FBI, decades ago, secretly and carefully kept their eyes and ears on the rich and famous. One of those was the legendary Hollywood “swashbuckler” of the 1930s to the 1950s, Errol Flynn, who was suspected of being nothing less than a full-blown Nazi spy. Flynn biographer Charles Higham said: “I spoke to Colonel William E. Williamson, former director of demilitarization procedures in Japan under General [Douglas] MacArthur…Williamson had done his own research at the Pentagon and State Department and the CIA…and had learned that Errol was a spy for the Nazis on a major scale.” Also, nightclub owner, and friend of Flynn’s, Johnny Meyer told Higham: “I believe Errol was not merely in touch with the Nazis in San Francisco but was actively aiding and abetting them.” And the alleged links do not end there.

It’s a matter of official record that one of Flynn’s girlfriends was Gertrude Anderson, a Nazi sympathizer and Swedish singer, who was the subject of deep FBI surveillance. According to Charles Higham, Flynn’s friend Freddie McEvoy had been under investigation as a possible collaborator with the Nazis. Interestingly, the Government’s files on Flynn include transcripts of telephone conversations between Flynn and McEvoy that were monitored by the wartime Office of Censorship. Of particular note is a document that can be found within the Office of Censorship’s files on Flynn that is dated December 14, 1942, and titled American Film Actor Reported Associating With German Agent In Mexico. This document details the testimony of an unnamed informant who had provided the Office with some intriguing material: “Writer, after telling of three weeks spent in Acapulco…adds, Errol Flynn came up to the hotel for drinks a couple of evenings bringing his girl along – Hilda Kruger, leading German spy here, arranged the date for him. An associate of hers, another Nazi suspect, gave Errol Flynn and Frederik McEvoy as references while spending time in California.”

Most controversial of all, however, was Flynn’s friendship with a certain “Dr.” Hermann Frederick Erben. Born on November 15, 1897, in Vienna, Austria, Erben was described in Lionel Godfrey’s The Life and Crimes of Errol Flynn, as “a specialist in tropical diseases.” Indeed, he was. However, he was much more, according to Flynn authority Charles Higham, who described Erben as “one of the most important and ingenious Nazi agents.” Erben had graduated from the State High School, Vienna, in 1915, and between that year and 1918 had served with the Austrian Army, before being honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. Eight years later, Erben received a fellowship to study in the United States, and while there was granted an Immigration Visa. In 1927 he was licensed to practice medicine and surgery in Louisiana, and the following year was he was also licensed for the state of Washington. But what of Erben’s friendship with Flynn? The files of the Intelligence Detachment Screening Center make for eye-opening reading:

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