Art News

UK spies sought German movie extra and Nazi agent

By: Jill Lawless, Associated Press
LONDON (AP).- At the end of World War II, British spies were in pursuit of a charismatic, multilingual German agent who had befriended Hollywood celebrities and persuaded British and American detainees to broadcast propaganda for the Nazis. Secret files from the MI5 spy agency declassified Friday reveal the colorful story of Werner Plack, a German agent who moved from the film sets and nightclubs of prewar Los Angeles to the hotels of wartime Berlin and occupied Paris. A Nazi interrogated by MI5 described Plack as a “freelance propaganda agent.” MI5 said it was eager to find him because he had “taken part in the recruitment of British renegades” who helped the Nazi war effort. He was involved in persuading British comic writer P.G. Wodehouse to make radio broadcasts from Berlin for an American audience in 1941 — broadcasts that caused outrage in Britain. MI5 sources filled in a vivid picture of Plack, described as having an “elegant appea