There’s a theory going around that perhaps Saunière was a spy for the Germans during World War I. The story was fuelled by Baron Hans von Krohn visiting Saunière in 1915, while World War I was raging. Von Krohn was one of the people responsible for Germany’s intelligence operation in Spain. He was also protector and lover of WWI’s most famous spy Mata Hari. It is certainly one of the more colourful stories surrounding the mystery and Von Krohn’s visit was documented.
In 1915, apart from just having started a World War, the German Emperor Wilhelm II had some private trouble over an inheritance with his cousin, the Mother Superior of the Convent Mater Dei in Azille, not far from Rennes-le-Château in the Aude province. Von Krohn was a confident of the Kaiser who had just been allowed passage through France to Spain by the French authorities as officially he had been invited by King Alphonse XIII of Spain to help stop anti-German propaganda. (In fact he had just been nominated head of counter espionage by the Germans). Wilhelm saw an opportunity and asked Von Krohn to make a stopover at Azille on his way to Spain to talk to his cousin to sort out the inheritance issue. When this assignment was fullfilled, Krohn, accompanied by two of his secret agents insisted on making a detour to Rennes-le-Château to visit Saunière before travelling on to Madrid. He claimed he had met Saunière on a tourist trip a few years earlier.
On arriving in Rennes-le-Château the German men attracted attention from suspicious villagers who reported the incident to the authorities. They described Von Krohn having a private conversation with the priest for a few minutes and then leaving again straight away. A bit short for a friendly meeting perhaps. What did the two men discuss?