ϟϟ-Obersturmbannführer der Waffen-SS Skorzeny

SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Skorzeny
Otto Skorzeny joined the Austrian National Socialism Party in 1931. He played a minor role in the Anschluss on March 12 1938, when he saved the Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas from being shot by Austrian National Socialists. Skorzeny then joined the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler as an officer-cadet in 1939. In 1940 he was promoted Obersturmführer in the Waffen-SS and went to war in the Soviet Union with SS-Infanterie-Division Reich and subsequently fought in several battles on the Eastern Front. Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's Austrian commando leader in WWII, became known to the world in September 1943, for his key role in the daring airborne raid to rescue the ousted Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. It was Skorzeny's first success as a commando leader. The exploit earned Skorzeny fame, promotion to SS-Sturmbannführer and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. With the successes that followed, allied media began calling Skorzeny "The most dangerous man in Europe". Skorzeny was involved with the Werwolf guerrilla movement and the ODESSA network but surrendered on May 16 1945, feeling that he could be useful to the Americans in the forthcoming Cold War.
In 1948 he escaped from the camp with the help of three former SS-Offiziers dressed in U.S. Military Police uniforms. Skorzeny afterwards maintained that the U.S. authorities had aided his escape, and had supplied the uniforms. Using the cover names of Robert Steinbacher and Otto Steinbauer, and supported by either National Socialists funds (or according to some sources Austrian Intelligence), he set up a secret organization named Die Spinne which helped as many as 600 former Waffen-SS officiers escape Europe. In 1953 Skorzeny was sent to Egypt by former Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen, who was now working for the CIA, to act as General Mohammed Naguib´s military advisor. Skorzeny recruited a staff made up of former Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht officers to train the Egyptian army. Several Palestinian refugees also received commando training. One of these Palestinians was Yasser Arafat.
As the years went by, Skorzeny and his network gained enormous influence in Europe and Latin America, Skorzeny travelling between Franquist Spain and Argentina, where he acted as an advisor to President Juan Perón. In the 1960s Skorzeny set up the Paladin Group, based near Alicante, Spain, the Paladin Group specialized in arming and training guerrillas, and their clients included the South African Bureau of State Security and Muammar al-Gaddafi. They also carried out work for the Greek military junta of 1967 – 1974 and some of their operatives were recruited by the Spanish Interior Ministry to wage clandestine war against Basque separatists. The Soviet news agency TASS alleged that Paladin was involved in training U.S. Green Berets for Vietnam missions during the 1960s. Not surprisingly, t
his claim has been denied by the U.S. Army.
SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny finally succumbed to cancer on July 5 1975 in Madrid. He was cremated and his ashes were later brought to Wien to be interred in the Skorzeny family plot at Döblinger Friedhof.
Operations, among others: Operation Francois - Co-ordination of Partisan operations in Iran, Operation Oak (Unternehmen Eiche) - The rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Operation Armoured Fist (Unternehmen Panzerfaust) - The kidnapping of Miklós Horthy, Jr., son of Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, Operation Griffin (Unternehmen Greif) - A false flag operation to spread disinformation during the Battle of the Bulge. External link: 
Interrogation of Otto Skorzeny on August 2 1945. Credit: For Germany: The Otto Skorzeny Memoirs and My Commando OperationsImage: Fair use.

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