Skorzeny, Otto, born 12-06-1908 in Vienna, Austria, into a middle-class Austrian family which had a long history of military service. In addition to his native German, he spoke excellent French. In his teens, Otto once complained to his father of the austere lifestyle that his family was suffering from, by mentioning he had never tasted real butter in his life, because of the depression that plagued Austria after its defeat in World War I. His father prophetically replied, “There is no harm in doing without things. It might even be good for you not to get used to a soft life.” Thus his underprivileged upbringing helped make him the feared commando that he became. He was a noted fencer as a university student in Vienna. He engaged in thirteen personal combats.
The tenth resulted in a wound that left a dramatic dueling scar, known in academic fencing as a Schmiss, German for smite or hit, on his cheek. In 1931 Skorzeny joined the Austrian Nazi Party and soon became a member of the Nazi SA. A charismatic figure, Skorzeny played a minor role in the Anschluss on 12-03-1938, when he saved the Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas
from being shot by Austrian Nazis. Miklas died old age 83, in Vienna, on 20-03-1956
After the Anschluss he worked under Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, he was hanged in Nuremburg, age 43, on 16-10-1946. Six feet 4 inches tall, Skorzeny was appointed as one of Hitler’s personal bodyguard. In February 1940, he joined the German Army as an artillery officer and during the Western Offensive he served with the Schutz Staffel (SS) and saw action in the Netherlands (see Jan Ackermans) and France. Promoted to lieutenant he was sent to Yugoslavia for the Balkan campaign. On 29-07-1943, Adolf Hitler had a meeting with Skorzeny about the possibility of rescuing Benito Mussolini, imprisoned high in the Abruzzi Apennines. Skorzeny agreed and on 13th September he led an Airborne Force of commandos by glider to a dangerous landing near the hotel where he was being held.
On September 12, Gran Sasso raid, was carried out perfectly according to plan. Mussolini was rescued without firing a single shot. Flying out in a Storch airplane, Skorzeny escorted Mussolini to Rome and later to Berlin. It is said that Skorney was not ordered at all for this action, but attached himself to the group at the last moment. After the liberation of Mussolini, Skorzeny jumped in the almost starting Storch. The airplane now to heavy, almost crashed in the deep valley. Skorzeny got all the credits from Hitler.
The exploit earned Skorzeny fame, promotion to Major and the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. Skorzeney’s adjutant was Sturmbannführer Karl Radl her in civilian clothes with Mussolini after the liberation and with Skorzeny in prison. Radl died of heart failure, age 69 on 12-01-1981 in Usingen. Mussolini created a new Fascist regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic. 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 the son of Miklos Horthy Miklas Jr. who wanted to surrender Hungary to the advancing Red Army. While his father was placed under house arrest in Bavaria, the younger Miklós was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Late in April 1945, Miklós Jr. was taken to Tyrol with other prominent inmates of Dachau. There the SS abandoned their prisoners as Allied forces advanced. The younger Miklós Horthy was liberated by the Fifth U.S Army, motto Strength of the Nation under General Lucian Truscott, on 05 05-1945. Miklas Jr went into exile in Portugal, where he lived almost fifty years before dying at Estoril, near Lisbon, on 28-03-1993, age 86. He had two daughters, Zsófia (born in 1928) and Nicolette (1929). Skorzeny next assignment was as leader of 2,000 English-speaking Germans, dressed in American uniforms, who attempted to create havoc behind Allied lines in Belgium, Operation Griffin. Skorzeny had become one of Hitler’s favorites and was summoned to meet Hitler at his headquarters at Rastenburg in East Prussia on 22-10-1944. After congratulating Skorzeny and announcing that he had been promoted to Obersturmbannführer, Hitler outlined the planned Ardennes Offensive and the role he was to play in it.
Operation Greif/Griffin was a special false flag operation commanded by Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny during the Battle of the Bulge. All German soldiers with American roots were organized for this operation.The operation was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler, and its purpose was to bring great confusion among the enemy by giving false orders, upsetting communications, and misdirecting too capture one or more of the bridges over the Meuse river before they could be destroyed. German soldiers in captured US Army uniforms and using some US vehicles were to cause confusion in the rear of the Allied lines. A lack of vehicles, uniforms and equipment limited the operation and it never achieved its original aim of securing the Meuse bridges. Some Germans were captured and executed, as Gunther Billing, Manfred Pernass and Wilhelm Schmidt. Otto Skorzeny was arrested by American troops on 15-05-1945 and 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 lived in wealth and where he received the protection of General Bahamond Franco.
Death and burial ground of Skorzeny, Otto.
Otto Skorzeny died of cancer in Madrid on 05-07-1975, age 67 a wealthy man and his ashes are buried on the Döblinger Cemetery in Vienna.
Otto Skorzeny was married three times, his first wife was Margareta “Gretl” Schreiber. She is still alive and is 97 years of age right now. After she got divorced form Skorzeny, she got married two more times again. Today she lives in Vienna/Austria. His second was Emmi Linhart a niece of Hajlmar Horace Schacht, and the mother of Skorzeny’s only child Waltraut , now Frau Weiss, born February 1940 and she divorced 1950. His third wife was Ilse Luthje, the “Countess” Fincke von Finckenstein, born 1919 in Kiel and she died in 2001. She met Skorzeny in 1949 (Bavaria); married him in Madrid, March 1954.