Skorzeny, Lieutenant Colonel Otto, 1908-1975

Skorzeny was one of HITLER’s most successful irregular soldiers. He had been invalided out of service in December 1942 and found himself appointed to organize a special commando unit. As an unknown he had been appointed by the German Army High Command to sabotage the outfit which Hitler had specially requested, but in fact, he succeeded in establishing a most successful unit. Their first coup was in September 1943 when Skorzeny and about 90 soldiers landed on the plateau of the Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi mountains and succeeded in abducting MUSSOLINI. His unit was expanded and his next mission was to bring the Hungarian dictator, HORTHY, to heel. Skorzeny decided the best method to accomplish this would be to kidnap Horthy’s son, who was negotiating an armistice with Soviet Russia. Once he had sent Horthy’s son to Berlin, Skorzeny brazenly marched into Castle Hill, the citadel of Budapest and took control of the city. Horthy was forced to abdicate and a pro-Nazi regime was established. All this had been done for the loss of only seven Germans killed. In December 1944 Skorzeny took part in another daring raid when he and his men dressed up as US troops and went behind the lines during the Ardennes Offensive. Although they could not turn the battle into a victory their actions severely shook the Americans, who instituted stringent security measures which only confused the situation more. After the war Skorzeny was tried at Nuremberg but he was acquitted.

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