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Conrad Fulke O'Brien-ffrench. Artist and Spy.

The Archaeology of the Reich

Love Healing and Portents of war

His return to England saw the end of his military service. Conrad was soon immersed in the country life of hunting and horses again. However, he was an intelligence agent by default now and met with many a covert side acquaintance while fox and hounds were allowed to slip away. There was a recurrence of the illness which had assailed him in India. He spent some time in a nursing home in Grosvenor Crescent, London, under the care of a Sister Agnes Keyser. The medical profession failed to discover what the problem was and soon Conrad became convinced his trouble was not physical but psychological and decided to look for a cure elsewhere.

He met a society lady from Norfolk and her banker husband at a party at their grand estate. She was a Christian Scientist and for a while Conrad subscribed to their beliefs. Moreover, she was an insatiable matchmaker and hosted weekend parties for the purpose of bringing the young and eligible together. It was at one of these events that Conrad met a nineteen-year-old American girl, Jane. Conrad and Jane became lovers. They entered into a brief clandestine affair which ended ingloriously when Jane’s mother found them in bed in a Paris hotel. Presented with the prospect of legitimising their relationship in open courtship leading to marriage, he decided to retire from the field. As he says, “My mind was still in too great a turmoil and my emotions too much in chaos to take a decision involving another’s life.” (DM p. 86)

Conrad had introduced his sister, Yvonne Ffrench, to the Actons and they had become great friends. She became a celebrated author writing romances set in the rarefied atmosphere of the British Aristocracy at play. Conrad, who had never properly recovered from the privations of his long captivity, was ill. Yvonne told him of a German physician from Carlsbad in Bohemia. His therapeutic methods, massage, diet, and the imbibing of natural saline spring water was reputed to be a cure for the malady that afflicted Conrad. The natural approach appealed to Conrad and he subsequently travelled to Carlsbad to take the cure. Dr Meyer, who was known as Dr “hunger” Meyer due to the strictness of his dietary regime, took Conrad on as a patient and affected the cure he sought. Meyer refused payment for his care treatment, saying: “You lost your health at the hands of the Germans and now I, a German, have helped you to regain it. Let us say that I do it for the love of humanity.” (DM p. 91)

During his stay in Carlsbad, Conrad had met a Baron Max Ferdinand von Oppenheim, an archaeologist from Cologne. He had been involved in The Hindu Conspiracy of 1914 a plan to cause unrest in the British Raj by fomenting a rebellion against British rule. He told Conrad of his excavation of a city on the lower reaches of the Euphrates and of how he had found evidence of a great flood – the great biblical flood, Max supposed. There conversation turned to politics. He told Conrad of another flood overtaking his country. “Ever hear of one Adolf Hitler?” he asked. Conrad had not. Max told him of the search for evidence of the Aryan race and its claim of ethnic superiority, a claim Max himself deplored. Through Max he also learned of Karl Haushofer, whose Geopoitik theories. These meetings and conversations were to be a foretaste of things to come. Haushofer visited Rudolf Hess and Adolf Hitler when they were imprisoned at Landsberg Prison after the failed Beer Hall Putsch,of 1923. Hess was Haushofer’s most devoted student and the theories of Geopolitik became an essential part of Nazi rationale for their territorial and racial claims and policies. Conrad traveled to the Tyrol and Southern Germany frequently over the next few years, enjoying the mountains and becoming familiar with the area and people. These holiday’s were to serve him well. Austria was to become the venue of his next mission for the Secret Service. The seeds of the coming war had yet to germinate and grow. After his sojourn taking Dr Meyer’s cure he returned to England and looked to create himself a career.

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