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Otto Skorzeny the Most Famous Agent of Hitler Who Ended Life as a Mossad Hitman and Was Probably Soviet Double Agent

MG is an air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff and a voracious writer on military

otto-skorzeny-the-most-famous-agent-of-hitler-in-world-war-ii
otto-skorzeny-the-most-famous-agent-of-hitler-in-world-war-ii

Introduction

We are all fond of 007 movies of James Bond. My preference is for the Bond played by Sean Connery. There is one character in the 20th century who rivals 007 but Hollywood hasn't thought it fit to make movies about his exploits. His name was Otto Skorzeny. He was born into a middle-class family in Vienna, Austria, on June 12, 1908. As a student, he distinguished himself in scientific topics, and after graduating he enlisted in college at Vienna affiliated to the University of Vienna as an engineering student. But despite studying technical subjects his great passion was fencing. He was a member of the fencing team and during a match, received a cut with an epee that resulted in a prominent scar on his cheek. This scar is known in German as a 'Schiess' was his passport to bravery.

Skorzeny was an assassin, double agent, secret agent, spy, commando, all rolled into one. In 1931 the Nazi philosophy was becoming the toast of Austria. That was the time when the brownshirts who represented the Nazi philosophy appeared on the scene and Skorzeny was infatuated with them. With a height of 6'4," he was probably a valuable asset. By that time he had completed his engineering degree and taken employment but he continued his association with the brownshirts.

Things began to move at breakneck speed when in 1938, Austria was incorporated as a part of the Reich. Skorzeny applied to join the Luftwaffe but he was rejected because of his height and also because of his age, as he was 31 at that time. He did not feel disheartened but joined the SS and became a Lieutenant. His engineering background was a great help in his appointment as he was able to design special ramps that could load tanks onto ships. Skorzeny was next seen in action in Yugoslavia where he could capture quite a few soldiers and was decorated for bravery.

The Austrian was next transferred to the Russian front and was part of the unsuccessful attack on Moscow where he received a head injury and was given leave to convalescence back home in Austria. It was during his period of convalescence that he thought of commando operations and even wrote a paper which he forwarded to earns Ernst Kaltenbrunner( He was hanged in 1946 after the Nuremberg trials). He was the man who had replaced Reinhard Heydrich who had been assassinated. The head of the SS security was impressed and he passed on the information to General Walter Schellenberg, who was heading the foreign intelligence cell of the SS. The general was impressed with the information given to him and Incorporated him in the special group called the Sonderverband z.b.v Freudenthal.

This was the start of the career of Skorzeny as a secret agent and commando and he did not look back after that.

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Operations

Commando

Skorzeny started his career as a commando in Iraq/Iran in 1943. The Germans had a lot of sympathizers in this middle eastern country. 'Operation Francois' was the code name of this operation. The purpose of this commando operation was to disrupt the supply lines from the Allies to Russia. By now Skorzeny had made a name for himself and even Hitler was made aware of him.


Operation Oak

He now carried out his most famous 'operation oak' the rescue of Mussolini from the custody of the Italian king who had carried out a coup against him. The Italian government was aware of the danger of Mussolini being rescued and accordingly was shifting him from place to place to confuse the Germans. The Germans first discovered him imprisoned on the island of La Maddalena. Skorzeny took a HE 111 to carry out an aerial reconnaissance to rescue the Italian dictator but he was shot down and was rescued by an Italian warship. The Italian government now moved Benito Mussolini to a mountain resort called the Campo Imperatore hotel high in the mountains in Central Italy where the only access was by a cable car.

Luftwaffe General Kurt Student and Major Harold-Otto Mors along with Skorzeny formulated a plan to rescue Mussolini and 107 commandos were got ready for the operation. The rescue force landed by gliders and without firing a shot the Italian dictator was rescued. Skorzeny himself piloted a plane with Mussolini at his side and took off from the mountain top. This was in September 1943 and he flew out in a Storch airplane. Skorzeny escorted Mussolini to Rome and later to Berlin. He was awarded the Knights Cross and Hitler greatly appreciated his feat. This was the time when he came to be known as the 'most dangerous man in Europe'. Much of this was due to the propaganda machine set in motion by Dr. Goebbels. Even Winston Churchill commented favorably on the aspect of bravery of the rescue.

Further operations

In November 1943, he was given the task of assassinating the American president and the British prime minister when they were in Iran for a conference with Stalin. The Russians got wind of this and both Churchill and Roosevelt were put up in the Russian embassy. However many people opinion that this was just a ruse of Stalin to keep both the leaders of the UK and USA in the Russian embassy so that he could eavesdrop on their conversations.

He was also detailed to assassinate Marshal Josip Broz Tito the Yugoslav leader but he escaped. In October, 1944 Hitler summoned Skorzeny and gave him orders to go to Hungary and stop Hungary's Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, from negotiating peace with the Soviets. Dubbed 'Operation Panzerfaust,' Skorzeny and his men captured Horthy's son as a hostage before securing Castle Hill in Budapest. Horthy was left with no choice but to leave the office. Skorzeny was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Towards the end of the war Skorzeny now a decorated Colonel of the SS organized groups of young Germans to act as a guerrilla force behind enemy lines. This operation dubbed ' Ópersation werewolf ' was a bit of a disaster and about 5000 young boys were shot dead by the Russians. He handed himself over to the Americans in 1945 who put him on trial. There were reports that he organized 2000 soldiers who spoke good English and put them in American uniforms to infiltrate behind the American lines to carry out sabotage and killing during the battle of the Bulge. The operation was not a success and many of the German troops in American uniform were captured and executed.

This act merited a death sentence but an intervention by British soldiers who claimed that they had also worn german uniforms behind enemy lines won him a reprieve. In 1947 however, he escaped from prison with the help of 2 guards.He hid for 18 months on a Bavarian farm and also spent time in Paris and Salzburg before eventually settling in Francois Spain. But it is rumored that it was American intelligence that let him escape in return for the promise that he would render services for them.

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A Checkered life : Arabs and Mossad

Skorzeny now settled in Spain and set up a business there but he was a restless man and he longed to get back to what he was always good at. In 1952 a German court de- Nazified him and he became almost a free man. In 1953 he left Spain and became an advisor to the Egyptian President Mohamed Najib and continued as an advisor to President Gamal Nasser. Earlier to that for some time, he went to Argentina where he was the bodyguard of Argentina president Juan Peron and his wife to Eva Peron. There are rumors that he had a love affair with Eva Peron who died in 1952 of cancer.

In the meantime, he had married a very young girl in Spain and should have normally lived a contented life. But in 1962 comes the biggest twist in his life, when he was contacted by Israeli intelligence Mossad. Otto Skorzeny had been involved in the deportation of Jews in Hungary and he very well knew that he was on the list of the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. He was contacted by Mossad agents while he was sitting in a restaurant in Madrid with his wife and was surprised that the Israelis did not kill him but asked him to help them provide intelligence on Arab countries. They were particularly concerned about the rocket programme being researched by Egypt. He was flown to Tel Aviv where he met the Mossad agent Joe Ranaan. Israel was particularly concerned about the rocket program headed by German rocket scientist Heinz Krug who had worked with Wernher von Braun. Skorzeny kept his part of the deal and handed over all the names of the Germans who were working in Egypt. and As far as Heinz Krug was concerned, he met him in Munich and took him to the outskirts and shot him dead.

The Israeli intelligence had earlier decided to assassinate him but then decided against it and decided to use him. Skorzeny was a diehard Nazi till the end of his days. He also set up an organization to aid former Nazis through the ODESSA network to hide their wealth and flee to Argentina. There is some news that he was also perhaps a double agent with the Russians. He was recruited by a man called Viktor Abakumov whose aim was to use ex-Nazis to further their own interests after the war.

In 1970 he was reported to have been operated on for a spine injury and within six months recovered but in 1975 he died of lung cancer. His funeral was well attended and it is reported that agents from Mossad the Israeli secret service also attended his funeral. Here is a man who lived a full life, something which people dream of; a life of adventure and glory or infamy. Whatever way you look at, it is something that cannot be ignored. He deserves the title of the most dangerous man in Europe.

Last word

There are reports that he wrote some deathbed confessions which have to be taken with a pinch of salt. He claimed the man shot in Berlin as Hitler's double and the real Hitler escaped which I think is a very far-fetched story. There are also reports that Eva Peron left him $1 million; again information that is not verified.

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 02, 2020:

Anupam, thanks for reading and commenting.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on November 02, 2020:

Interesting story of the real 007. Thanks for sharing Manohar.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 29, 2020:

Thank you flourish for sparing time and commenting. It's a fact that Skorzeny even after the war and so many crimes continued his activities.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 28, 2020:

This was very interesting. He was a war criminal and should have been fully punished rather than being permitted to go free in exchange for providing useful information. It’s too bad that justice didn’t hunt him down.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 25, 2020:

There are so many theories about Hitler but we really don't know what is the truth. I remember reading that Skornezy on his deathbed did say that Hitler was alive. I don't know whether to believe it or not.

tom on October 24, 2020:

diesel electro u boats were used to reach argentina,some say hitler died in a ranch in argentina, berlin bunker had tunnels

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 24, 2020:

Thank you Pamela for commenting. I agree he took advantage of the leniency of the Americans and in real fact should have been executed as a war criminal. Surprisingly even Israel intelligence Mossad let him off the hook.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 24, 2020:

Tom, thanks, this is where Skorzeny comes in. He helps Mossad and all Germans working in Syria and Egypt was betrayed. As I pointed out he even executed one scientist who was working with Egypt on orders of Mossad. Why did he do it? I think he was trying to save his skin and this shows how brave a man is, he is scared of death.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 24, 2020:

This story of Skorzeny is so interesting. What a life he led! He was an evil man and yet different countries used him for his skill. He really should have been executed as a war criminal but he wasn't. This account of Skorzeny's life is very good, MG.

tom on October 24, 2020:

ferderick forsyths novel and movie odessa file.rudel 9 kills as fighter pilot,later stuka pilot,rudel and otto in argentina,kurt tank designed jet fighter pulqui arrow in argentina ,failed due to funding,tank later in india,other nazis in syria and egypt

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 24, 2020:

ODESSA was the brainchild of Skornezy. As far as Rudel is concerned, he was an ace ground-attack pilot and highly decorated.

tom on October 24, 2020:

odessa organisation helped war criminals to escape,hans rudel was consultant to argentina

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 24, 2020:

I have seen the eagle has landed but when I was in Russia I saw a Russian movie which name I cannot recollect which was the better movie. Hollywood makes all sorts of movies like 'where Eagles Dare' but they do not make movies on subjects where Americans are not involved.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 24, 2020:

Skorzeny had set up an organization to help ex nazi not only to save their wealth but flee to Argentine. Even the notorious Eichman had escaped to Argentine. He was kidnapped by Israeli agents and brought to ISRAEL, put on trial, and hanged. It was poetic justice.

tom on October 24, 2020:

only two movies shows mussolini rescue the eagle has landed and mussolini george c scott

tom on October 23, 2020:

skorzeny wrote my commando memoirs ,argentina sheltered 150 nazi war criminals

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 23, 2020:

Thank you Tom for commenting. Indians had a big role in the Middle East during WWII

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 23, 2020:

Tom, I have lot of information on Skorzeny that I think I must write a book. I remember seeing a Russian movie in Russia about the rescue of Mussolini. I must complement you on your information about Skorzeny.

tom on October 23, 2020:

skorzeny became ss brigade fuhrer,his english speaking brigade in battle of bulge,ladsislas farago wrote patton made into movie ,1920 born major gen pratap narain ,mussolini rescue operation filmed live, otto crushed july 20 1944 ,only movie role based on him is mussolini tv movie george c scott as duce, horst kahler plays otto

tom on October 23, 2020:

i have read his memoirs, teheran conference was organised by two indian army officers, this is from major gen pratap narains book subedar to field marshal,hitler had actually planned to kil big three in teheran,ladsialav faragos book ,soviet movie teheran shows this,skorzeny met lt col david stirling after the war,indian special force officers of ww2 lt col megh singh,lt gen inderjit singh gill who won mc.