Colonel Otto Skorzeny

Colonel Otto Skorzeny

(Disclaimer : Nobody here is a Nazi or neo-Nazi sympathizer.)

Have you ever seen U.S. representative Katie Porter interrogate crooks and liars during the congressional hearings? Nobody escapes the double edged razor of her sharp wit and profound knowledge of the law. After all, she wrote the book, and it looks like she was a born litigator.

In the same manner, here is a man who the allies sure would have liked to have on their side. He was a qualified engineer, and an inventive and skillful strategic planner and operator who was animated by incredible courage and audacity. He was a born black ops commando.

And he was an Obersturmbannführer SS...

Otto Skorzeny bore on his cheek a scar called a Schmiss, a dueling scar acquired in fencing, and a feature that spoke of extreme masculinity to the German mind of yore. He was also an Austrian of Prussian descent, very big and tall, so much so that he literally dwarfed his German army “coal scuttle” helmet. He was also credited with much leadership and charisma, enough to lead men into battle on very risky missions of his own design.

He loved the silenced British Sten SMG, so much so that he used a captured Sten in combat. There is even an anecdote that he used one to empty a whole clip of 9 mm Sten ammo behind a group of visiting Nazi dignitaries, just to prove how silent they were. They didn't even notice.

Moreover, he was a man of contradictions.

He joined the SA (Sturmabteilung), that later mostly evolved into the SS, early in 1931 but saved the the Austrian President from execution by the Nazis when they forced the annexation of Austria to Germany, in a sad historical episode known as the Anschluss. He was a darling of the Nazi high command, conceived of the ODESSA network which helped Nazis SS men escape justice after the war, yet later became a Mossad operative.

Black ops and the Commando order

Otto Skorzeny issued a proposal that would see specialized Nazi units wear the opposing army's uniforms, adopting the enemy's language and customs. Thus, they would carry out recon operations, disseminate dezinformatsiya, prompt and organize dissidents and distant hostile tribes to attack the enemy and perform kidnappings, sabotage or assassinations in enemy territory.

In short, he was a military man who would accomplish the covert or clandestine work of spies in the battlefield.

Through no fault of his own and sheer bad luck, a lot of the operations he headed or planned, like Operation Long Jump, didn't even get off the ground. But some of them did.

When public opinion turned against him, he devised and commanded a very daring covert mission, personally leading paratroopers in gliders high into the Apennine mountains to rescue Mussolini from his Italian captors. A publicity hog when he needed to be, he endangered the whole mission by sticking by him and adding his considerable mass to a small rescue plane that already had trouble taking off with Il Duce's and the pilot's combined weights, just to be there for the photo op when Mussolini was delivered and thus augment his and the SS's fame.

And he was. And he did. Himmler was proud.

After many successful and daring missions, he established schools where were taught the methods of unconventional warfare. That's a lot of Special Operations activity to have on your resume.

In 1942, Hitler issued the Commando Order that stipulated that any soldier captured by Nazi troops deemed to be a commando, even wearing his own country's uniform, should be summarily executed.

Fortunately for Skorzeny, the allies had no such directive.

Odessa days

Skorzeny as commander of the SS unit "Friedenthal"

After the war, a bounty was put on every SS man's head. They were relatively easy to catch, due to rigorous German record keeping and also because each and every one of the SS men had their blood types tattooed under their arm. With Reinhard Gehlen, as a high ranking member of Die Spinne which was part of Odessa, he helped them escape mostly first to Italy who saw Nazis as comrades in their fight against communism, but also to the Middle East, Spain, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and other countries. As the Roman Catholic Church already had a mission to export “talent” to South America, it was a marriage, so to speak, made in heaven.

A Bishop by the name of Alois Hudal, like Skorzeny an Austrian, was their principal contact and facilitator in Rome, but there were many others. Also, the International Red Cross had a duty to produce papers for those displaced persons who had none, and complied immediately and without question when the Church asked for them.

Using what was called “fugitive capital”, stolen capital hidden in Swiss bank accounts or forged money; fugitive high ranking Nazis greased palms and bought their escape. Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” escaped to Bolivia. Walter Rauff, who helped design the mobile gas chambers, went to Chile, subsequently worked with the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND, the German Federal Intelligence Service) and then, like Skorzeny, the Mossad. Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina and was then forcibly brought to Israel to stand trial by the same Israeli secret agency.

General Juan Domingo Perón, the then-president of Argentine, wanted to turn his country into a fascist / Catholic state and welcomed fugitive Nazis with open arms.

Otto in the sixties

Mossad days

Newspaper accounts have him collaborating with the Mossad. He was said to have been trained in Israel, then allegedly gathered information on German scientist who chose to work for the Egyptian government and even allegedly executed one of them, a German rocket scientist. He was also said to have supplied the coordinates of European front companies that sold sensitive military hardware to Egypt.

Other, later activities and death

He was declared denazified by West Germany in 1952. He bought a farm in Ireland and in Majorca, Spain, where he later founded the Spanish far-right Paladin Group whose trained guerrilla operatives were recruited to go to war against the ETA. There, he also founded a neo-nazi coordinating and publishing group called CEDADE.

Otto Skorzeny died July 5, 1975 of lung cancer.

At his funeral, attending Nazi veterans gave him the raised arm Nazi salute.

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