Skorzeny Otto - Skorzeny's special missions

Author : Skorzeny Otto
Title : Skorzeny's special missions The memoirs of Hitler’s most daring commando
Year : 1957

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Foreword. Otto Skorzeny was one of the more colourful characters of the Third Reich and became a darling of the Nazi propaganda machine. He is best known for the part he played in the dramatic rescue of Mussolini from incarceration in a hotel in the Abruzzi mountains, but he also took part in a number of other daring special forces operations. Originally published in 1957, this is an account of his war. Austrian-born like Hitler, Skorzeny experienced the turbulence in that country of the early 1930s. A believer in Anschluss, he joined the Nazi Party in 1930, but says nothing about the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss as a result of an abortive Nazi plot to bring about union with Germany four years later, although it is difficult to believe that he was not in some way involved. When Anschluss did occur in March 1938, Skorzeny’s role in helping to prevent bloodshed came to the attention of Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the newly appointed German governor of Austria. But, when war came, he was turned down by the Luftwaffe as being too old to become a pilot and had to content himself as a trainee Waffen-SS engineer officer instead. Skorzeny saw service with the SS Das Reich Division in France, the Balkans and the invasion of Russia before being evacuated sick with colic at the end of 1941. It was not until spring 1943, after a period of home service, that Skorzeny entered the field that would make him famous. He joined Section 6 of the RSHA, which was its foreign department, covering not just intelligence, but special operations as well. Here he experienced the bureaucratic frustrations and jealousy which characterised so much of the Nazi government system. In the midst of this he turned to studying British special operations, notably those employing commandos, and the activities of SOE, and began to formulate his own concepts. This was helped in that he was allowed to form his own special forces unit, thanks to an extent to the head of the RSHA, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, whom Skorzeny had known in Vienna. It was, however, the order to report to Hitler’s field headquarters at Rastenburg, East Prussia, on 26 July 1943, which radically changed his life. Skorzeny’s account of the problems in tracking down Mussolini in the aftermath of his arrest and the operation to spring him from the Albergo Campo Imperatore Hotel is fascinating and it was undoubtedly one of the most spectacular feats of the war. While he states that he was able to obtain decorations for all his men, Skorzeny does not allude to the bitterness that General Kurt Student and his paratroopers, who played a vital part, felt at being ignored in the aftermath. Notwithstanding, Skorzeny was now famous in Germany and personally known to Hitler. ...

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