Alex Constantine - July 12, 2009
Errol Flynn, the Hollywood actor, was a Nazi spy who met Adolf Hitler shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, it has been alleged.
The hard-drinking and womanising actor's life is currently being celebrated with a special festival in his home state of Tasmania
The Australian-born star, who was known for his anti-Semitic views, worked undercover for the Germans during the Spanish Civil War, according to a controversial biography.
Charles Higham alleges that Flynn was employed to gather information on German socialists who fought against General Franco, helping contribute to the death of hundreds of volunteers and their families.
Higham, whose claims are partly based on analysis of declassified CIA files but have been challenged by other historians, said that the commemorations were inappropriate given the actor's political activities.
"There is no doubt whatsoever that Flynn had Nazi sympathies and worked as a Nazi operative if not an actual agent," he told the Daily Mail. "He was first noticed for his violently anti-British and pro-Nazi views as early as 1934 and there is little doubt his work for the Nazis resulted in people being killed."
According to the biography, Flynn fell under the influence of a Hermann Erben, an Austrian doctor and Nazi party member, in the 1930s. They both travelled to Spain in 1937 where they fed information to the Gestapo, it is alleged.
The following year Flynn may even have attended a secret meeting with the Fuhrer at his Bavarian mountain retreat, according to Higham.
Flynn's surviving relatives have dismissed reports that the actor, whose roles included Robin Hood, had links with Hitler's regime.
"The idea of Errol Flynn being a Nazi is totally ridiculous," the Second World War historian James Holland told the Daily Mail.