The World War II came about as a result of deviations from previously agreed resolutions from the World War I. These deviations were not welcomed by Germany who was directly affected by the heavy sanctions imposed on her by the super nations. The principal actors of the war were Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. The strong nations formed ties with less strong nations with certain measures of concession from both parties. The World War II became the bloodiest as more than 50 million persons were said to have perished in it, and some of these deaths could be attributed to Adolf Hilter’s number one man – Otto Skorzeny.
The famous Adolf Hilter took advantage of the unrest and dissatisfaction that loomed to capture territories and unleash his evil propaganda and he had loyal and devoted men like Otto Skorzeny to thank for a job well followed through.
Who is Otto Skorzeny?
Otto Skorzeny was Adolf Hilter best hit-man for secret and technical missions. He was well trained as a bodyguard and he acquired great guerrilla, operational warfare skills which made him outstanding from the pack. He was also the highest decorated of all the commandos.
He was referred to by European as the ‘most dangerous man’ a title he bagged as a result of his numerous exploits during the war. He was born 12th June 1908, in Vienna, and was an Austrian. He was commonly referred to as Otto Skorzeny, Skorzeny or Otto.
He could speak three languages fluently; German, French, and English. His family had a long history of years services in the military, perhaps this may have fueled his desire to join the Nazi SS by all means though he was earlier rejected during the selection.
Everything You Need To Know About Otto Skorzeny
1. Otto Skorzeny’s Educational Background
He had his university education in Vienna where he studied engine building at the Technical University of Vienna and participated actively in sports such as fencing, and represented his school in German-national Burschenschaft. He had fifteen outings, one of which left him with a deep scar on his left cheek. He graduated in 1931.
2. Spouses and Family
Colonel Otto Skorzeny married three wives throughout his lifetime. His first wife’s name was Margareta Gretl Schreiber, who got married twice again after she divorced Otto Skorzeny and as at the last report is still very much alive at ripe of age 97 and still resides in Vienna, Austria.
His second wife named, Emmi Linhart, was the niece of Hjalmar Schacht, Hilter’s former finance minister and she was the mother of his only child – Waltraut who now goes by the name Frau Weiss – born February 1940. Due to the war and long separation, they eventually got divorced in 1950.
He proceeded to marry Countess Fincke Von Finckenstein (Ilse Luthje) in 1954, though the duo met in Bavaria, 1949. He was married to her till his death. She is reported to have kicked the bucket also in 2001.
3. His Early Contact With Nazi
It was widely reported that as a young man, Otto Skorzeny was not satisfied with the hardships and tough economic climate they operated in as Austrians and he often complained to his father, therefore when the opportunity came, he quickly joined the Austrian Nazi Party, in 1931 and became very active in the movement’s ideologies and activities. He gradually grew in the Nazi organization and gained his membership of the Nazi SA (the part of the National Socialism Party responsible for assaults on the opposing parties like Romania, Jews, Red Front Fighters Leagues and providing protection for all Nazi rallies).
He soon made himself relevant and undertook tasks assigned to him diligently and meticulously earning respect and recommendations from his trainers. One such task, was for him to handle the Eastern Front and all the Technical sections of the German forces during the war, most specifically to seize high priority facilities and building within the Moscow. He was also assigned to help save the then-Austrian president Wilhelm Miklas from being killed by trigger-happy Austrian Nazis in 1938 convincing them, that if the man stayed alive there would not be resistance to the coup being implemented at that time.
4. Participation During World War II as Nazi SS
In the 1940s, he joined the German Army as an artillery officer and was later promoted to the rank of a lieutenant before he was sent to Yugoslavia for a campaign. He fought with SS Divison Das Reich in 1942 to invade the Soviet Union. Otto Skorzeny was however hit on the back of the head but he kept fighting till he was moved out for treatment. He was awarded the ‘Iron Cross’ for his bravery and then sent off to recuperate in Berlin where he began reading up on guerrilla and operational warfares. The knowledge he acquired formed the basis for his next deployment and subsequent successes in his missions.
He was made one of the bodyguards of Adolf Hilter because of his build and had direct contacts with him from time to time. In 1943, he met with Adolf Hilter who gave him the order to rescue Benito Mussolini, who was voted out of power in July 1943 from the Italian Grand Council of Fascism after the invasion by allied forces. On September 13, 1943, Otto Skorzeny led paratroopers in an airborne force of commandos, tracking, and locating where Benito Mussolini was hidden.
On arrival at the place, Benito Mussolini was freed and flown to safety. The success of this operation earned him yet another promotion and rank as lieutenant colonel. He was given operational control of Hitler’s SS Special Forces. Later he was awarded Germany’s highest honor, the Knight’s Cross. Some of his other operations and services were the assassination of Tito Josip in Bosnia which he failed to execute as Tito escaped and the kidnap of Miklos Horthy who was then at the verge of surrendering Hungary to allied forces in 1944.
5. Recruitment by MOSSAD
Otto Skorzeny was later approached by Israeli and recruited for top-secret assignments which included the obtaining of the names and addresses of all scientists working on Egypt’s military projects and the companies in Europe procuring and shipping components for the military projects. In 1962, Heinz Krug, a German rocket scientist, ran to Otto for help but instead of help, Otto lured him to a forest in Munich and killed him and thus, effectively averting a potential Jewish genocide or annihilation.
Named the most dangerous man in Europe in 1957, he later served as the government adviser to many governments including Egypt, Spain, and Argentina, and also became the personal bodyguard for Eva Perón, the wife of then-Argentine President Juan Perón.
Read More: World War 2 Facts, Propaganda, Causes, Countries Involved, Leaders, Effects
He was said to have traded pieces of information between Egypt and Israel and aided raids into Israel. He also founded a freelance intelligence and mercenary organization that worked for governments from Libya to Greece in 1960.
6. Illness and Death
Otto Skorzeny’s spine grew a tumor in 1970 that made him paralyzed, but after intensive care, he started walking again. Then on July 5, 1975, cancer recurred, and he died in Madrid. His body was cremated and ashes were transported to Austria for burial. Two burial ceremonies were organized for him, one at the Spain capital and the other with his ashes buried in his family’s plot in Austria. During the funeral, Nazi chants and songs were recited by his family and some SS officials who came to honor him for the last time and he was saluted in a Nazism way. Few MOSSAD watched the event from a distance.
Books and Drama on Otto Skorzeny
Like other warlords of the World War II, Otto Skorzeny has some books written on him including some fictional television drama which portrayed his exploits and they are; The Worldwar Tetralogy by Harry Turtledove in 1945, The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, etc.