From rescuing Mussolini for Hitler to becoming a hitman for Mossad, Otto Skorzeny's life was full of twists.
Heinrich Hoffmann/ullstein bild/Getty ImagesSS Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny.
SS Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny was an extraordinary military man who specialized in guerrilla warfare and commando-style raids during World War II. He mounted numerous operations with varying degrees of success that involved either the rescue, kidnapping, assassination, or defense of numerous wartime leaders in Europe.
As a result, he became Hitler’s favorite commando and dubbed “the most dangerous man in Europe” by the Allies.
Skorzeny certainly looked the part.He was an imposing figure at 6′ 4″ that sported a deep scar on his left cheek from a fencing duel.
Though loyal to Hitler and a staunch Austrian Nazi, Skorzeny would ultimately turn on his former compatriots and become a hitman for Israel at the end of the war.
Skorzeny was born in 1908 into a middle-class Austrian family. He became a Nazi early on joining the Austrian branch in 1931. When World War II broke out in 1939, Skorzeny’s military career got off to a bumpy start when his application to join the Luftwaffe was denied. He was told he was too tall and too old at the age of 31.
Instead, he joined the SS and became an officer-cadet in the Liebstandarte, Hitler’s bodyguard regiment. From 1940 to 1942, he fought on the battlefield in Holland, France, and the Eastern Front.
But in December 1942, Skorzeny nearly lost his life on the Eastern Front after shrapnel struck him in the head. He carried on fighting until his wounds incapacitated him and he was hospitalized. For his bravery, he was awarded his first Iron Cross.
While recovering in Berlin he became interested in commando operations, reading everything he could on unconventional warfare and guerrilla tactics.He soon formulated his own ideas which gained the attention of SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg, head of the SD (the SS foreign intelligence service).
Schellenberg made Skorzeny the head of the newly formed Waffen Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal. Now with a team of commandos, he got to test out his ideas of unconventional warfare. His first mission, Operation Francois, did not go according to plan, but his next would be his greatest success.
In July 1943, the Italian government toppled Benito Mussolini. Outraged, Hitler vowed to rescue him and initiated Operation Eiche (Oak). He assembled a line-up of Germany’s best operatives that included Skorzeny. They had never met before, but it soon became apparent Skorzeny was the best man for the job.
First Skorzeny had to find Mussolini. The Italians were moving him from one secret location to the next, and a game of cat ‘n’ mouse ensued. Finally, after weeks of searching, Skorzeny tracked him down to the Campo Imperatore Hotel, some 6,500 feet above sea level on Gran Sasso mountain in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
The hotel was accessible only by funicular. So on Sept. 12, 1943, Skorzeny led a daring airborne raid on the hotel by gliders, but not without incident.
As the gliders approached the hotel, Skorzeny relied on a level patch of grass in front of the hotel as a landing strip. But as it came into view, he realized that what he had seen in reconnaissance photographs was not grass but a rock-laden incline.
Wikimedia CommonsDeposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Otto Skorzeny outside the Campo Imperatore Hotel. 12 September 1943.
Orders were given to abort, but Skorzeny ignored them and ordered his pilot to land.The pilot managed to awkwardly land 30 feet from the hotel. Within minutes Skorzeny found Mussolini. Not one person had been killed.
Not to be overshadowed by Mussolini, Skorzeny barged onto a waiting flimsy Fieseler Scorch aircraft designed to only carry a pilot and one passenger. With three on board, the craft strained to take off but somehow made it safely to its destination.
Skorzeny’s audacious plan had paid off. The Fuhrer, delighted with Skorzeny, awarded him the Knights Cross. The plan even impressed Winston Churchill. And so Skorzeny’s legend began.
Getty ImagesAdolf Hitler awarding Otto Skorzeny his Knight’s Cross after the liberation of Mussolini.
A few months later, Hitler required Skorzeny to carry out a mission that, at least in planning, was even more audacious. This time Hitler planned to kill his major enemies in one location. Called Operation Long Jump, Skorzeny and his commandos were required to infiltrate the Tehran Conference and assassinate the ‘Big Three’: Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin.
According to the Soviets,their own legendary agent, Nikolai Kuznetsov, infiltrated the Wehrmacht in the Ukraine, where he learnedall the details on Long Jump after plyinga German SS major with alcohol.
With this knowledge, the Soviets allowed the first phase of the German operation to unfold. A team of German radio operators had gone ahead to Tehran to prepare for the arrival of German commandos. There, Soviet spies intercepted messages sent by the Germans stating that Skorzeny and his men would parachute into Iran a few weeks before the conference started.
The Soviets now with irrefutable proof of the planned assassination, arrested the Germans and thus thwarted the plan. Skorzeny and his team never made it to Iran.
Historians have debated whether this operation existed, claiming it was just Soviet propaganda. The Soviets state it was real and high-ranking Soviet officers involved at the time have written books about it.
Wikimedia CommonsIn Operation Long Jump, Otto Skorzeny and his team allegedly planned to assassinate the “Big Three” at the Tehran Conference.
Skorzeny’s next success was not strictly an operation but a response to a threat to Nazi leadership.
In his memoir, he claimed he played an integral part in restoring order to Berlin — and the war effort in the aftermath of Hitler’s assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. The conspirators hadmodified the Wehrmacht “Valkyrie” codeword normally used to suppress a revolt into instigating an uprising instead.
While Major Otto Remer spearheaded an attack against the plotters, Skorzeny got inside the conspirators’ base of operations and had the “Valkyrie” order rescinded. He then restored communications to Fuhrer Headquarters, thus preventing a possible civil war between German troops.
Skorzeny took charge of Wehrmacht administration until normalcy returned, and he was relieved.
Hitler now knew he could completely trust Skorzeny and in October 1944, sent him to kidnap the son of Hungarian leader Admiral Horthy. The successful mission kept Hungary on Germany’s side and involved in the war.
However, Skorzeny’s most infamous mission was Operation Greif (Griffin), which was part of Hitler’s last-ditch attempt at turning the tables on the Allies. His key objective required the capture of key bridges over the Meuse river during the Battle of the Bulge. Skorzeny devised atrojan horse operationwhich required his men to go behind enemy lines in the Belgian Ardennes dressed as American soldiers and cause maximum panic and confusion.
But there were major hurdles. Only a handful of men spoke adequate English and there was a lack of appropriate American uniforms and equipment, which made the charade risky at best.
Wikimedia CommonsA German tank disguised as an American tank during Operation Greif during the Battle of the Bulge. Belgian Ardennes. December 1944.
Still, on Dec. 16, 1944, Operation Greif launched into action. Skorzeny’s men cut communication wires, issued fake orders, and turned around road signs.
Paranoia set in amongst American forces as word of the German impostors spread. Some Americans fired on each other and soon GIs grilled each other on American popular culture to flush out German agents.
Many American soldiers and even Allied generals were detained at checkpoints for answering questions wrong. For instance, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery refused to show his ID and had his car tires shot out. He was thendraggedinto a barn and restrained until his identity could be confirmed.
But the biggest confusion — and the masterstroke of the operation — came from Skorzeny himself when he let a rumor run wild within his own ranks that the real target was General Eisenhower, who was still in Paris.
Convinced of the “real” mission, two jeeps full of German agents confirmed the assassination plot to kill Eisenhower when interrogated by Americans. Back in Paris, Eisenhower spent time in protective custody while his body-double did his daily rounds.
In the end, the impostors’ inability to correctly mimic “Americanisms” and U.S. Army protocol proved their underdoing. Many were shot as spies for impersonating the opposing side.
By war’s end, Skorzeny had received oak leaves for his Iron Cross, the highest honor awarded by the Nazis. However, his directive for his men to wear American uniforms got him inhot water in 1947 at the Allied Dachau War Crimes trials.
Luckily for him, he escaped execution when British SOE operatives confirmed they wore German uniforms during the war.
Other charges loomed — and Skorzeny sidestepped those too when former SS men, donning American military police uniforms, helped himescape. He later claimed the OSS (the CIA’s forebear) had aided his escape in return for his services.
Wikimedia CommonsAt Nuremberg, Otto Skorzeny sits in a prison cell. November, 1945.
In 1950, he moved to Spain, where Nazi refugees received asylum.To all appearances, his new life with his wife and their small engineering business appeared relatively normal. But his business may have been a front to help numerous Nazis escape to Spain or Latin America.
Which makes it even more interesting that Skorzeny became a hitman for Israel over ten years later.
One evening in 1962, two Mossad agents posing as a couple befriended Skorzeny and his wife in a Spanish bar. But Skorzeny was no fool and he lured them back to his house, where he pulled a gun on them.
He said, “I know who you are, and I know why you’re here. You’re Mossad and you’ve come to kill me.”
Pictured here wearing the Iron Cross, Otto Skorzeny briefly worked for the Israelis as a hitman.
The agents said he was half-right: they did not want to kill him but wanted to recruit him.Israel wanted to stop Egypt’s missile program and they saw Skorzeny as the person to do it.
After tense negotiations at the point of a pistol, Skorzeny agreed only if Mossad removed his name from Israel’s hit-list.
Apparently, Mossad tried to convince Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal to take Skorzeny’s name off his list, but he refused. So, Mossad presented Skorzeny with a forged letter from Wiesenthal agreeing to his terms.
Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty ImagesFormer Nazi hero Otto Skorzeny sits in his office in Madrid, Spain.
Convinced, Skorzeny got to work. In Munich, he assassinated Heinz Krug, one of the principal former Nazi scientists working on the missile project. In Egypt, he sent an exploding package which killed five Egyptians at Factory 333, the military site where the scientists worked. The intimidation worked because the remaining German scientists all left by the end of 1963.
Why Skorzeny decided to work for Mossad is difficult to ascertain. Skorzeny is unlikely to have assassinated Nazi scientists just to have his name removed from aNazi hunter’s list, especiallysince the Allies declared him de-Nazified in absentia in 1952. Some posit that he felt sorry for the actions of the Nazis against the Jews during World War II.
Whatever his reasons he took those with him to the grave.
On July 5, 1975, Otto Skorzeny died at the age of 67 from lung cancer. He had two funerals, one in Madrid, and the other at his family plot in Vienna. At both, he received a full Nazi send-off with Nazi veterans giving him the Nazi salute and singing some of Hitler’s favorite songs.
Next, read about the mission that may have saved us all from Nazi rule. Then learn about how Nazi scientist Wernher Von Braun helped send the U.S. to the moon.
Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favorite soldier and Germany's top commando in World War II, is one of the most famous men in the history of special forces. His extraordinary wartime career was one of high risk and adventure, and here he tells the full story.
Otto Skorzeny, (born 1908, Vienna—died July 5, 1975, Madrid), Nazi SS officer, who gained fame in 1943 for his daring rescue of Benito Mussolini from confinement at Campo Imperatore in the Abruzzi mountains where he had been imprisoned by Marshal Pietro Badoglio.
After World War Two, he landed in Argentina and became a bodyguard for Eva Perón, with whom he was rumoured to have had an affair. So when Otto Skorzeny arrived in Ireland in 1959, having bought a rural farmhouse in County Kildare, it caused much intrigue.
No confirmed source can explain Skorzeny's motives for working with Israel, but he may have craved adventure and intrigue and feared assassination by Mossad.
Heinrich Himmler became the second-in-command of Nazi Germany following Göring's downfall after the repeated losses of the Luftwaffe which the Reichsmarshall commanded, as Supreme Commander of the Home Army and Reichsführer-SS. As commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS), Himmler also held overall command of the Gestapo.
Germany's invasion plans for Britain were codenamed 'Operation Sealion'. Their invasion plans for Ireland were codenamed 'Unternehmen Grun' or 'Operation Green'. Like Operation Sealion, Operation Green was never executed. The Nazis failed to achieve air superiority over the English Channel that summer.
Otto Skorzeny, the hulking, scar‐faced Nazi Elite Guard colonel who bedeviled the Allies in World War II with a daring rescue of Mussolini, with confusing subterfuges and with a false assassination plot, died Saturday at his home in Madrid of bronchial cancer, it was reported yesterday. He was 67 years old.
Massacre of Feodosia.
|Deaths||150–160 German POWs|
German POWs in the USSR
The German 6th Army surrendered in the Battle of Stalingrad, 91,000 of the survivors became prisoners of war raising the number to 170,000 in early 1943.
For these and other charges, the arrested military leaders were moved to prisons, stripped of their weapons and papers, and detained. They would all face tribunals or German courts, many of them at the famous Nuremberg Trials.
Field marshal (German: Generalfeldmarschall) was usually the highest military rank in various German armed forces. It had existed, under slightly different names, in several German states since 1631.
Rudolf Hess, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's former deputy, is found strangled to death in Spandau Prison in Berlin at the age of 93, apparently the victim of suicide. Hess was the last surviving member of Hitler's inner circle and the sole prisoner at Spandau since 1966.
Heinrich Himmler was buried in an unmarked grave by British military authorities somewhere near Lüneburg, Germany.
It is alleged that Hitler had a son, Jean-Marie Loret, with a Frenchwoman named Charlotte Lobjoie. Jean-Marie Loret was born in March 1918 and died in 1985, aged 67. Loret married several times, and had as many as nine children.
|Appointed by||Heinrich Himmler|
|Preceded by||Rudolf Diels|
|Succeeded by||Heinrich Müller|
Field Marshal of the German Army (Wehrmacht), Chief of the Supreme High Command of the German Armed Forces (OKW) and Chief of Defence for Germany, Hitler's Chief of Staff.
As Ireland is not a member of NATO it does not benefit from integrated European military radar detection systems nor NATO-level equipment.
Only 14 countries remained officially neutral throughout the entire war. They included Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Turkey, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan as well as the microstates of Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Vatican City.
Ireland wanted to maintain a public stance of neutrality and refused to close the German and Japanese embassies. Unlike many other non-combatant states, Ireland did not declare war on the near-defeated Germany, and therefore did not seize any German assets.
Otto Günsche was born in Jena in Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. After leaving secondary school at 16 he volunteered for the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and joined the Nazi Party on 1 July 1934. He first met Adolf Hitler in 1936. He was Hitler's SS adjutant from 1940 to 1941.
The decision to stick to gasoline engines was a consequence of Germany's hasty rearmament and chronic bureaucratic inefficiency. Gasoline engines were initially the logical choice for the German panzer arm because such engines were both cheaper and easier for German industry to produce.
Even by Russian standards, it was brutal. temperatures plunged to -40 degrees in places, freezing German tanks and equipment, shutting down diesel engines and freezing German soldiers who were not equipped with coats, hats, proper boots, gloves, or anything necessary to fight a winter campaign.
The average annual temperature is 23° F with an average January temperature of -13° F and an average temperature in July of 50° F. It's in this part of Siberia where you'll find the coldest permanently inhabited settlement on Earth. In 1933, the village of Oymyakon recorded a temperature of -89.9° F.
Six thousand survived, returning to Germany after the war. Of them, 35 are still alive today. We visited ten of these veterans, to trace the memories of the battle in their faces and voices.
Volgograd, formerly (until 1925) Tsaritsyn and (1925–61) Stalingrad, city and administrative centre of Volgogradoblast (region), southwestern Russia, on the Volga River.
Forbidden to break out by Hitler, the Sixth Army endured until February 1943, when its exhausted remnants surrendered. The Germans lost a total of 500,000 men during the Stalingrad campaign, including 91,000 taken prisoner.
More than half a century after World War II, the German authorities have acknowledged that war disability pensions are still being paid to members of Waffen-SS units and even to war criminals.
No German general was as famed among the Allies as Erwin Rommel. He was so well respected that Field Marshal Montgomery had to remind his own troops to stop speaking about Rommel in such favorable terms. This talented general rose to prominence during the campaign against France.
An equally staggering total of 136 German generals were killed in action or died of wounds during the Second World War. A further 30 died in accidents; 64 took their own lives; and 20 were executed by the Nazis.
Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually, it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it.
Erich von Manstein, original name Erich Von Lewinski, (born Nov. 24, 1887, Berlin, Ger. —died June 11, 1973, Irschenhausen, near Munich, W. Ger.), German field marshal who was perhaps the most talented German field commander in World War II.
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery was one of the most prominent and successful British commanders of the Second World War (1939-45). Known as 'Monty', he notably commanded the Allies against General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, and in the invasions of Italy and Normandy.
: a third positive afterimage in a succession of visual afterimages resulting from a brief light stimulus.
He spent the rest of his long life, 46 years, as Prisoner Number 7 in Spandau where he lingered long after the other Nazis were freed. Hess was the facility's only prisoner for more than 20 years, his term ending only when the 93-year-old was found hanging from a lamp cord in a garden building in August 1987.
Hess was captured in May 1941 after he parachuted into Scotland as part of a renegade plan to negotiate peace with the British. Doubtful of Hess's motives, Prime Minister Winston Churchill had him sent to the Tower, making him the final state prisoner to be held at the castle.
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While Westerners tend to see the war through the lens of events such as D-Day or the Battle of Britain, it was a conflict largely won by the Soviet Union. An incredible eight out of 10 German war casualties occurred on the Eastern Front.
The crisis culminated in the city's de facto partition with the East German erection of the Berlin Wall. This stand-off ended peacefully on 28 October following a US–Soviet understanding to withdraw tanks and reduce tensions.
A key figure of Hitler's inner circle was Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda and a fervent follower whom Hitler selected to succeed him as chancellor. However, Goebbels only held the post for one day before committing suicide.
Margarete and Gudrun were then detained at the Flak-Kaserne Ludwigsburg internment camp. Since they were not accused, she and Gudrun were released in November 1946 from internment. They took refuge for a time with the Bethel Institution of Bielefeld.
On 22 May 1945, British soldiers arrested him at a border check. His brand-new passport and nervous behaviour gave him away. Himmler was sent to a prison camp for questioning. The next day, he announced his identity.
On September 28, 1918, in an incident that would go down in the lore of World War I history—although the details of the event are still unclear—Private Henry Tandey, a British soldier serving near the French village of Marcoing, reportedly encounters a wounded German soldier and declines to shoot him, sparing the life ...
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, in Braunau am Inn, a small Austrian town near the Austro-German frontier. After his father, Alois, retired as a state customs official, young Adolf spent most of his childhood in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria.
BERLIN (Reuters) - A car expert says he has tracked down Hitler's favorite Mercedes to a garage near the town that helped the Austrian-born Fuehrer become a German citizen.
Around 0200 he went out in the open, to walk up and down in front of his bunker. He always took his daily walk at night, completely alone. Hitler was highly susceptible to exposure to the sun which seemed to affect his brain in some way. Generally a man who lived at night.
The first World War was won by the Allies consisting of the United Kingdom, France, United States, Japan, Italy. They defeated the Central Powers consisting of Imperial Germany, Austro-Hungary Empire and the Ottoman Empire. It lasted from 1914 and lasted until the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty in 1919.
Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 drove Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.
|Robert Blair Mayne|
|Years of service||1939–1945|
|Commands held||1st Special Air Service Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Second World War North African campaign Battle of the Litani River|
It is alleged that Hitler had a son, Jean-Marie Loret, with a Frenchwoman named Charlotte Lobjoie. Jean-Marie Loret was born in March 1918 and died in 1985, aged 67. Loret married several times, and had as many as nine children.
Adolf in American English
(ˈædɑlf, ˈeidɑlf, German ˈɑːdɔlf) noun. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning “ noble” and “ wolf”
It is still in common use in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries across the world.
$3.3 Million Mercedes-Benz W31 Type G4 Was Hitler's Personal Armored Off-Roader.
- Rolls-Royce Boat Tail.
- Bugatti La Voiture Noire.
- Bugatti Centodieci.
- Bugatti Divo.
- Bugatti Bolide.
- Pagani Huayra Roadster BC.
- Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+
- Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport.
In addition, he refused to pay income tax. He used his vast wealth—which some estimated was about $5 billion—to amass an extensive art collection, purchase fine furnishings, and acquire various properties. After the war, his estate was given to Bavaria.
Thomas Fuchs concurred, observing that a "typical day's consumption included eggs prepared in any number of ways, spaghetti, baked potatoes with cottage cheese, oatmeal, stewed fruits and vegetable puddings. Meat was not completely excluded. Hitler continued to eat a favourite dish, Leberklösse (liver dumplings)."