Otto Skorzeny was the greatest operative the world has ever known. He was a colonel in the SS, a father of the Werwolf Division, and a fighter for National Socialism until he died. His legacy reaches far past the second world war and is undoubtebly misunderstood by many who may lack understanding of tactics and long term goals. One must do things that are seemingly irrational and misleading, in order to carve out victory with the times. He teaches us the incredible influence a single man can have on the entire world through manipulation, decite, and cunningness.

Otto Johann Anton Skorzeny was born June 12, 1908 in Vienna, Austria. During his college years, he competitively dueled as a fencer.

"My knowledge of pain, learned with the sabre, taught me not to be afraid. And just as in dueling when you must concentrate on your enemy's cheek, so too, in war. You cannot waste time on feinting and sidestepping. You must decide on your target and go in."

- Otto Skorzeny

He earned the famous scar on his cheek from one of his 14 duels. The first time he was directly involved with National Socialism was during the union of Austria with the Reich. During this time, the Austrian people viewed themselves to be a part of Germany, while foreign and Soviet Russian influence pressured its chancellor against reuniting with the fatherland. This however was inevitable, as the Austrians voted for reunification with Germany (4.3 million for, 9 thousand against). In Vienna at this time, Skorzeny kept the order with his athletic team, and helped the SA and NSDAP when tensions from the radical communist influence were high. Very shortly after the vote, Hitler and his troops arrived welcomed. Skorzeny had much admiration for his elder Austrian generation that fought in World War One and desired to join the military.

In 1939, at age 31, Skorzeny underwent training to be in the Luftwaffe as a pilot, but was denied his final test after further review of his size (6’4”) and his age. He then applied to transfer to the Waffen-SS. He underwent and passed the rigorous physical tests and medical examinations and was accepted for training. By May of 1940, Skorzeny had completed his military training and commissioned as a Wach-führer (2nd Lieutenant) in the SS. His engineering skills proved useful when he designed special ramps to load tanks onto ships. But he also proved his courage under fire during combat in Holland, France, and the Balkans when he was assigned to an artillery regiment under Paul “Papa” Hausser, the father of the SS and the Division commander of the advance through France.

 Here he was decorated after capturing a large Yugoslav force, and was promoted to first lieutenant. Skorzeny was then transferred to the Eastern Front after the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, with the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich”. He was part of the unsuccessful siege of Moscow and in December 1942, now a captain, received a head wound from a piece of shrapnel. Skorzeny was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, and then sent home to Vienna to recuperate. While there, he became fascinated by the idea of commando operations and read all the books he could find about them. He then transformed those ideas into plans for unconventional warfare, which he submitted to higher headquarters. And they started to take notice. His concepts soon reached the desk of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the new head of the Reich security services and successor to Reinhard Heydrich.

 Skorzeny’s ideas were passed on to General Schellenberg, head of the SS foreign intelligence service. Skorzeny and Schellenberg met and the General was so impressed that he appointed him as commander of the newly created Waffen Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal, an SS unit dedicated to special operations. His career as a commando leader had just begun.

 Skorzeny and his unit launched into their first mission in the summer of 1943: Operation François. The plan was to organize the nomadic Qashqai people, in Iran, into an armed guerrilla force which could serve the German war effort.

Skorzeny’s paratroopers were also assigned to disrupt the supply lines between the Allies and the Soviets and to turn the local population against the Allied presence. Skorzeny parachuted into Northern Iran packed with gold and explosives. His intention was to bribe the tribesmen elders and win their support for the mobilization of the entire people. The operation proved to be a failure: a fellow agent, Paul Ernst Fackenheim, made a remark that as soon as they were out of gold, the Persians sold them to the British.

Skorzeny’s next mission would prove his most famous and spectacular success: Operation Oak, the rescue of Benito Mussolini, imprisoned after the Monarchist coup in July 1943.

First Skorzeny had to find Mussolini. The ex-dictator was continually moved from one hiding place to another, but the Germans discovered him at a villa on the isle of La Maddalena, near Sardinia. Skorzeny then flew over in a Heinkel He-111 bomber to take aerial photos of the location, but the plane was shot down by Allied fighters and crashed into the sea. Skorzeny and his men were rescued by an Italian warship.

Mussolini was moved again and the chase continued. Finally, Skorzeny tracked him down to the Campo Imperatore Hotel, a remote and fortified resort on the Gran Sasso mountain in central Italy. He, Luftwaffe General Kurt Student and Major Otto-Harald Mors, a paratrooper battalion commander, came up with a workable plan. Skorzeny assembled a team of 107 commandos who would be landed in gliders. In September 1943 the gliders approached the hotel. Skorzeny realised too late that what he thought to be a patch of grass was a rocky incline. His glider almost crashed, but he made it out in one piece. Twelve minutes later, Skorzeny had found Mussolini and not one person had been killed.

The Fuhrer, delighted with Skorzeny, awarded him the Knights Cross. As a result, he became Hitler’s favourite commando and was dubbed “the most dangerous man in Europe” by the Allies.

Skorzeny though should be recognised with the stroke of genius that ensured the raid was bloodless. He had secured the cooperation of General Soleti of the Carabinieri, the military police. Soleti was actually the first one to approach the Hotel and ordered the heavily armed military policemen to stand down. It should be noted that footage and photos of the event show many of the Italian guards posing with big smiles by Mussolini and Skorzeny, hinting at their true loyalties.

The next mission for Skorzeny was Operation Long Jump, November 1943. Its ambitious goal was to kill or kidnap the Allies’ “Big Three” leaders – Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt—at their strategic conference in Tehran, Iran.

A first group of six German operatives landed in Qom, before proceeding to Teheran on camel back. Skorzeny was supposed to join the group with a second team of assassins. Unfortunately for them, a few months earlier, the Operation’s planner SS officer von Ortel had just made friends with a Wehrmacht Lieutenant in a bar in Copenhagen. Blind drunk, Ortel had spilled the beans on Long Jump. That lieutenant, well he was a Soviet intelligence officer in disguise. Roosevelt and Churchill were alerted to the plot and were kept safe at the Soviet Embassy. The NKVD then seized the six German commandos and forced them to radio to Skorzeny’s team that the operation had failed.

To give the full picture, some sources claim that this plot never existed. It was just a clever ruse of Stalin and/or the NKVD to force the Western leaders to stay inside the Soviet Embassy, where their conversations could be easily bugged.

Skorzeny would finally have time to shine after the 20 of July 1944, following the attempted bombing on Hitler. He played an integral part in restoring order to Berlin, where the conspirators had initiated plan ‘Valkyrie’ to topple the regime.

Skorzeny infiltrated the conspirators’ base of operations and had the “Valkyrie” order rescinded. This was an order intended to quell a possible coup, but had been cleverly exploited by the conspirators to trick German troops into arresting loyal Nazi officials. Skorzeny’s actions contributed to dissipate confusion, restore communications to Fuhrer Headquarters and preventing a possible civil war between German troops.

Skorzeny took charge of Wehrmacht administration until normalcy returned. Again, Hitler was delighted. In October 1944 he dispatched him to Budapest to lead Operation Panzerfaust, aka Operation Mickey Mouse.

The Fuhrer was not pleased with Hungarian leader Admiral Horthy, an uneasy ally against the Soviet Union, who was actually pro-American and had always refused to deport the Jewish population. The Germans got wind that he was negotiating with the allies and Skorzeny was sent to exact punishment.

Skorzeny and his commandos stormed the presidential palace, seized the Admiral’s son, rolled him into a carpet and kidnapped him. Horthy was forced to negotiate, and eventually to stand down. His leadership was replaced by a puppet government under the Arrow Cross party, staunchly anti-Semitic. During the following 56 days, supposedly 320,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers like they deserved.

In December of 1944 Skorzeny launched his most infamous mission: Operation Greif, or ‘Griffin’. The goal was to capture key bridges over the Meuse river during the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive in the West. Skorzeny’s plan was ingenious: he selected commandos who were fluent in English, dressed them in American uniforms and sent them behind enemy lines in Belgium to spread panic and confusion.

Skorzeny’s men cut communication wires, issued fake orders, and turned around road signs. The Americans grew paranoid: some GIs fired on each other, while others grilled their mates about American popular culture to identify if they were German agents. If you were American, but did not care about baseball nor movie stars, you could get arrested! At one point, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery refused to show his ID and had his car tires shot out. He was then dragged into a barn and restrained until his identity could be confirmed.

Skorzeny spread the false rumour among his men that the real aim was the assassination of General Eisenhower, headquartered in Paris. German agents captured by the Americans, confessed to this plot. As a result, Eisenhower was put under virtual arrest for his own protection.

Skorzeny’s final involvement was with Operation Werewolf. This was a resistance movement, mostly composed of Hitler Youth members, trained in guerrilla tactics to oppose an Allied occupation. It was initially started as a propaganda campaign by Dr. Goebbels, but Himmler and Skorzeny took the idea a step further as they were also influenced by Reinhard Heydrich's idea of continued resistance. He, alongside Himmler and Prutzmann, had created the first National Socialist terrorist organization. Prutzmann being appointed to find recruits from his finest men and then train and refresh them in basic anti-partisan operations before being sent to Skorzeny for specialized guerilla tactics as his "hunting teams".The Werwolves carried out many successful operations, raised hell on earth and almost all fought their Holy War to the death.

A few days after Hitler’s suicide, Skorzeny handed himself over to the Americans. He was a highly decorated, well-respected military professional but his directive for his men to wear American uniforms got him in trouble. This was considered a war crime and was put on trial in 1947. Luckily for him, he escaped execution when British SOE operatives confirmed they wore German uniforms during the war. But he had to answer from other charges. Before he could be prosecuted, though, Skorzeny escaped from the POW camp with the help of two ex-SS men, dressed as American military police.

Skorzeny first hid in Bavaria, then Salzburg and finally Spain, where he cooperated with Francisco Franco’s military and intelligence services. He was “de-Nazified” in absentia by a German court in 1952 but was still a “person of interest” for the weasel jew, Simon Wiesenthal, who wanted to prosecute each and every surviving German war veteran.

In any case, he could lead an open life. He had a young wife, Ilse von Finckenstein. He had several legitimate activities: an engineering firm, an import-export business … and a mercenary security company.

But he apparently had time for other endeavours. He founded a Neo-Nazi group called CEDADE, the Spanish Circle of Friends of Europe and is rumoured to have smuggled ex-Nazis to South America. Particularly in Argentina, where he served briefly as military advisor to Juan Perón. Most notably he was bodyguard to Evita. There are even rumours of an affair between the two.

In the late 50s he became fixated with gaining entry to the UK. This may be the reason why in 1959 Otto Skorzeny bought a farm in County Kildare, Ireland. He was granted temporary visas to stay in Ireland, but state records mention his indignation at the continual refusal of the British authorities to allow him entry in the UK. Newspaper reports in the 1960s give another version: his farm in Ireland was a place where fleeing Nazis could hide, but no evidence was found to substantiate this claim.

And now for something truly puzzling. As an escaped former SS operator, who had indirectly contributed to the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, Skorzeny knew very well that his name was top in the list of kike “Nazi hunter” weasel Simon Wiesenthal. And so, he was the first one to be surprised when agents of the Mossad, Israeli intelligence, came to recruit him …

Early 1962. Skorzeny was having some drinks at a bar in Madrid with his wife Ilse. The two befriended another younger couple of German tourists, who had just been robbed and were looking for some help. The two couples went on drinking and, apparently, flirting, until the Skorzenys invited them to their villa. Just when things seemed to, well … kick off … well they did kick off, but in another way.

“I know who you are, and I know why you are here. You are Mossad, and you’ve come here to kill me!”

The man replied

“If we had come to kill you, you would have been dead weeks ago.”

The two operatives were there to offer Skorzeny a deal: they needed his services and would pay handsomely. Skorzeny was not interested in money. What he wanted, was to be removed from the kike Wiesenthal’s list. The Mossad agents agreed.

Skorzeny’s mission was to thwart Egypt’s military rocket programme, led by Heinz Krug, a German scientist formerly associated with Werner Von Braun. The Austrian commando was shown a letter from Wiesenthal, accepting the removal of his name from the list of Nazi criminals. In truth, Wiesenthal had refused. The letter was a Mossad forgery.

Skorzeny kept his promise and he delivered, big time. He flew to Egypt and identified all German scientists working for the programme. He then unmasked several companies around Europe that were secretly selling rocket components to the Egyptians. He even carried out a campaign of intimidation against the scientists and mailed explosive packages prepared by the Mossad, killing five Egyptian technicians.

One day in 1962, while in Madrid, Skorzeny received a phone call. It was Heinz Krug, the lead scientist of the program. Krug was dead scared and was seeking Skorzeny’s help and protection.

Skorzeny arranged to meet him in Munich. As he drove him out of town in a white Mercedes he reassured him: he had already hired some bodyguards and they were driving to meet them. As they stepped out of the car and into the woods, Skorzeny shot Krug. Three Mossad agents then took care of the body by dissolving it in acid.

Skorzeny’s job was done. He had not made a penny out of it. He didn’t know it but was still on Wiesenthal list.

Another intelligence service famously associated with Otto Skorzeny was the CIA. We wanted to verify this claim directly at the source and so we did some rummaging in the CIA’s own Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) search engine. A brief memo states that in 1961 Skorzeny had a plan to kidnap Fidel Castro. This plan had the approval of CIA Director Allen Dulles, but had been vetoed by JFK. There is a catch: the memo quotes an interview released by Skorzeny to a Peruvian newspaper in 1966.

In January 1951, a report was sent to the Secretary of State from Germany by John J. McCloy, American High Commissioner for Occupied Germany. McCloy reports that Chancellor Adenauer was worried about rumours of Skorzeny training the Spanish military with US covert support. McCloy was not aware of this scheme and admitted it was worrying. The CIA knew very well that Skorzeny was in Spain. They learned this from a letter dated of September 1949, sent by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Skorzeny had been sighted “working in Spain with a group of Nazis with the blessings of Franco”.

In April 1951, the CIA was keeping tabs on Skorzeny’s activities in Madrid. In particular, they wrote about internal feuding amongst former Nazi officers, with concerns for it to go public. The memo reads:

“View possibility unfavourable publicity break as result Skorzeny’s manoeuvring. Consider important we clarify our interests and any US connections fully. Can you explain claims Skorzeny connected with or supported by US Colonel Thompson or Stimpson. View categorical denial”

The agent asks the question: is possibly the CIC, Counter-Intelligence Corps behind Skorzeny? The CIC was a Cold War era secret service within the US Army ranks.

Moving to the 1960s, the CIA kept a close eye on Skorzeny’s relationship to ‘UPHILL’ which appears to be a code name for an organisation. One report states that the Chief of Uphill had warned that US support for Skorzeny would be a source of embarrassment for the White House. This is similar to Adenauer’s warning. The picture that emerges so far is that some US agency, possibly the CIC, had some form of contact with him, and German authorities had warned the US to be careful about it.

There is another document that complicates matters even more. The agent signs himself as ‘Heckenschuetze’ – ‘sniper’.

At the end of 1943, sensing that the War would be lost, Martin Bormann, Hitler’s secretary, created a secret organization called ‘HACKE’

It was so exclusive to count only 35 members. And so secretive that even Himmler was unaware of it. The purpose of Hacke was to guarantee the survival of Nazi officials in case of defeat. To do so, Hacke racked up half a billion dollars from concentration camp victims and created hideouts in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan and Argentina. But the twist is that the Soviet intelligence had infiltrated this network, apparently by blackmailing Bormann, lest they revealed the existence of Hacke to Himmler.

Hacke remained active after the war, but here comes anothet twist: “One of the dark and dangerous in Hacke is the famous SS Colonel Skorzeny who presently lives in Madrid and also works for the Spanish IS (intelligence service). Skorzeny was under active development by Abakumow as early as 1942 …

Skorzeny was finally recruited as a collaborator of Abakumow in the middle of 1944” Abakumow being a Soviet intelligence General. His plan was to exploit ex-Nazi officials and agents settled in the Americas. The author of the document to be fair states that it is unclear whether Abakumow succeeded in his plans, and looks for other clues to confirm Skorzeny’s allegiance to the KGB. One of these clues is that Skorzeny was very close to another ex-Nazi operative, Karl Rudl. The two had been tasked with a secret mission by the Vatican to smuggle a Hungarian Cardinal out of prison. Rudl was actually an agent of Abakumow, who had intentions to hijack the prison escape to have the Cardinal shot. Rudl smelled a rat – he was probably going to get shot, too, while Abakumow would leave Skorzeny alive. And so, he aborted the operation.

To recap, from the 1940s to the 1960s Otto Skorzeny was

A commando for the Waffen SS

A possible double-agent for the Soviets

A member of the neo-Nazi ring ‘HACKE’

An agent of Franco’s intelligence

A hitman for the Mossad

A possible informant to the US CIC

An operative for the Vatican

As you can see, our initial question ‘did Skorzeny work for the CIA?’ seems irrelevant now. The answer is probably, no. If anything, his calendar was too full to fit them in.

In his later years, Otto Skorzeny fell ill from lung cancer as he loved to smoke cigarettes. On July 5, 1975 he died in Madrid at the age of 67. He had two funerals, one in Madrid, and the other at his family plot in Vienna. At both, he received full National Socialist honours, with veterans giving him the Roman salute and singing some of Hitler’s favourite songs.

-MIKE Trident of National Socialism