(1908 - 1975)
Along with Sepp
Dietrich, Otto Skorzeny is the other legendary Waffen SS commander of World War II.
Otto Skorzeny was born in Vienna, Austria, on June
12, 1908. An engineering student, he fought 15 ritual sabre duels as
a young man. In one of these he received a cut to the face that left
him with a permanent scar.
Skorzeny joined the Austrian Nazi
Party in 1930 and was a strong advocate of union with Germany.
After the Anschluss he worked under Ernst
Kaltenbrunner. Six feet 4 inches tall, Skorzeny was appointed as
one of Hitler's personal
In February 1940, he joined the German Army as an artillery
officer and during the Western Offensive he served with the Schutz Staffeinel
(SS) and saw action in the Netherlands and France. Promoted to lieutenant
he was sent to Yugoslavia for the Balkan campaign.
On July 29, 1943, Adolf Hitler had a meeting with Skorzeny
about the possibility of rescuing Benito
Mussolini, imprisoned high in the Abruzzi Apennines. Skorzeny agreed
and on September 13 he led an airbourne force of commandos by glider
to a dangerous landing near the hotel where he was being held. Mussolini
was soon freed and Skorzeny flew him to safety.
In November, 1943, Josip Tito was able to establish
a government in Bosnia. In February 1944 Adolf Hitler sent Otto Skorzeny
to kill Tito. The partisan leader was able to escape but Skorzeny was
more successful in October 1944 when he kidnapped Miklos Horthy, who
wanted to surrender Hungary to the advancing Red Army.
Skorzeny's next assignment was as leader of 2,000 English-speaking
Germans, dressed in American uniforms, who attempted to create havoc
behind Allied lines in France.
On July 20, 1944, Skorzeny was called to the scene of the July
20th coup attempt. But by the time he arrived, Major Remer's forces
had already seized the Bendlerstrasse and snuffed out the uprising.
Skorzeny was arrested by American troops on May 15,
1945. He was tried for war
crimes but was acquitted in September 1947. He was handed over to
the German authorities but managed to escape from captivity in July
1948. He went to live in Spain where he received the protection of General Francisco Franco. Otto Skorzeny
died in Madrid on July 5, 1975.
Sources: Joric Center