Skorzeny’s Special Missions - The Memoirs of Hitler’s Most Daring Commando
By Otto Skorzeny
Published by Frontline Books (www.frontline-books.com)
RRP GBP £13.99
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Virtually everyone who has studied World War 2, Special Forces or who is just interested in this conflict will have heard of Otto Skorzeny. He is the most famous commando or “special forces” operator on the German side of this war. He will always be renowned for making history by the daring rescue of the Italian dictator Mussolini.
Skorzeny’s and Mussolini’s names will always be associated. It was Skorzeny who on the orders of Adolph Hitler planned and executed the rescue of Mussolini. There were many leads that Skorzeny had to research - some of which were useful and others not so. His men developed an intelligence system to obtain data on Mussolini’s location and these exploits are recounted. Once when Allied propaganda stated Mussolini’s location Skorzeny could discount their claims as his intelligence proved otherwise.
Skorzeny held a position within the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA – Reich Security Main Office). This organisation was responsible for the security of the Reich and was part of the SS (Schutzstaffeln). Some branches of the RSHA “competed” against the regular military’s intelligence forces. Surprisingly Skorzeny managed to attract a broad range of men from across all branches of the military and the SS. These men were moulded into efficient “special forces” regardless of their original arm of service.
The author won the Knight’s Cross for rescuing Mussolini and his expert talents and skills were then employed on many future special operations. He was sent to Budapest to stop the Hungarian Regent Admiral Horthy creating a peace treaty with the Russians. This treaty was critical to the defence of the Reich as any surrender would leave a massive hole in the German southern flank. Obviously this situation had to be avoided at all costs. For these exploits Skorzeny received the German Cross in Gold.
Another of his famous operations came during the Battle of the Bulge (also termed the Ardennes Offensive). He raised a brigade drawn from all the branches of the military and with these forces he tried to create confusion amongst the Allied Armies. Some of his men wore Allied battledress over their German tunics and they tried to impersonate Allied soldiers. Surprisingly this operation proved to have some excellent results albeit the guise was nearly foiled due to orders concerning the creation of this special unit being broadcast to every German unit. The confusion that Skorzeny’s men created lead to the (albeit) temporary imprisonment of many allied servicemen and officers by their own Military Police!
Skorzeny’s memoir will always maintain a high standing in the ranks of books on “special forces” and their development. It will also appeal to those members of the public who would like to know more about this exciting and outstanding man who is world famous for his exploits. These exploits have their own unique place in military history and he has done a great service to historians by producing this excellent and interesting autobiography.