The two Vons: the World War I secret government investigation of Erich von Stroheim

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Date: July 2010
From: Film History(Vol. 22, Issue 3)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 12,779 words

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Abstract :

Research in U.S. government archives concerning World War I-era German espionage activities in the United States reveals a number of previously unknown surveillance files regarding film actor and director Erich von Stroheim. The essay describes the process through which these otherwise un-indexed files were discovered and reprints several of the key documents. Evidence indicates that Military Intelligence suspected a link between von Stroheim and German operatives working in California before the American declaration of war. Wilhelm von Brincken, convicted of espionage for such activity in 1918, was later a confident and co-worker of von Stroheim's in Hollywood. While the files reveal significant new information on von Stroheim's activities in this period, they are also shown to contain inconsistencies, unverified allegations, and numerous errors of fact. Key words: Erich von Stroheim; Wilhelm von Brincken; "The German-Hindoo Conspiracy"; World War I espionage; U.S. Military Intelligence (1917-1918); The Unbeliever (motion picture, 1918); Foolish Wives (motion picture, 1922).

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A239271843