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Charles, Capt. Rollo | Conrad, Lt. Doda | Cooper, Sqdr. Ldr. Douglas


Conrad, Lt. Doda  

Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA)

Polish-born bass singer Doda Conrad was the son of baritone singer Doda Conrad and famous German-born soprano Marya Freund. The younger Conrad lived most of his life in France and performed his first recital in Paris in 1932. He was “an intelligent and thoughtful musician”1 who was known for interpreting songs by French and other foreign composers. Extremely well connected to many great artistic icons of his day from “the salons of Paris . . . to America’s cultural magnates,”2 Conrad was a renowned performer across the globe.

During World War II, Conrad joined the United States Army and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. From his enlistment in 1942 to the end of the war Conrad saw service across Europe and the Mediterranean, from Algeria to Naples and Marseilles. Following the Allied victory he found himself serving under General Lucius Clay with the occupying armies. While in Germany Conrad met Lt. Col. Mason Hammond, an early member of the MFAA, who suggested Conrad join the MFAA as a member of Capt. Calvin Hathaway’s team in Berlin.3 In the summer of 1945 Conrad traveled through Germany to Berlin and there he witnessed first hand the destruction that had occurred in the Friedrichshain Flak Tower. According to Conrad, the fifth floor of this immense, bombproof shelter had been used to store artworks removed from the Berlin Museums in the final weeks of the war. A fire broke out in the tower, allegedly caused by Russian soldiers when they entered the city, and many works of art were destroyed. Conrad described the scene as a room filled with dust and ashes up to their knees along with paintings by Raphael and Bellini, the Pergamon Altar, and dozens of porcelain and bronze sculptures. He and other officers sorted through the debris, collecting what was salvageable into baskets.4

While in Berlin, Conrad encountered opposition to the primary goals of the MFAA. In the mess hall one evening, a Russian-American Colonel informed Conrad of a collection of over one hundred small, 18th century porcelain figurines from the Palace of Sans-Souci in his possession. Conrad asserted that the objects should be entrusted to the MFAA to be returned to the palace, however the Colonel argued that as one of the victors of the war he only wanted to keep the figurines for his children, not intending to make a profit from selling them. Feeling that this was a complete contradiction to the ethics of the MFAA, Conrad promptly reported the Colonel and the objects were eventually sequestered and returned.5

Conrad was transferred to the Munich Collecting Point in the fall of 1945 and began his work sealing damaged roofs to protect the furniture depositories. He was also responsible for the automobile lot and a group of one hundred men hired to guard and work in the building. In addition, he also organized regular expeditions to the countryside to take possession of newly discovered objects. While at the Collecting Point, he realized that three out of the five Vermeer paintings in the collection were of questionable legitimacy, and indeed, the paintings were forgeries by Han van Meegeren. Conrad also participated in the recoveries of the Veit Stoss altarpiece, which had been hidden in Nuremberg behind a faux wall, and a prized Pleyel harpsichord, belonging to the acclaimed harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, which had been found in the recreation room of military government headquarters in Alt Oetting, Bavaria.

Following his service with the MFAA, Conrad resumed his career as a vocalist, eventually settling in Paris where he died in late 1997. His autobiography, Dodascalies, was published shortly before his death.

1. “Recital by Doda Conrad.” New York Times, Jan. 19, 1945, 26.
2. Joel Kasow, Review of Doda Conrad’s Dodascalies: Ma chronique du XXi siècle. http://www.CultureKiosque.com.
3. Doda Conrad, Dodascalies: Ma chronique du XXi siècle (Arles: Actes Sud, 1997), 264.
4. Ibid, 268-269.
5. Ibid, 269-270.
 

 


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