CONTENTS - FILM LOCATIONS - WARTIME LOCATIONS - GRAND TOURING - EQUIPMENT - INDEX

Otto Skorzeny (1908-1975) Wikipedia - Otto Skorzeny

+ Berlin

Skorzeny was based in Berlin at Oranianberg for most of the war.

+ Kreta - Crete

1941-MAY: Skorzeny and his commandos were in the first wave of paratroops where they were tasked with taking British HQ and obtaining as much secret material as possible before it was destroyed or removed.

+ Gran Sasso, Rome.

1943: Skorzeny played an important rôle in the rescue of Mussolini

+ Budapest

1944: Skorzeny and the capture of Admiral Horthy.

+ Berlin to Vienna

1945: Skorzeny, who was Viennese and whose family lived in Vienna, drove from Berlin to Vienna as the Soviets began their encirclement of that city.

+ Vienna

1945: Vienna was only lightly defended and saw little fighting. The end of the war was only days away. Skorzeny escaped west to Radstadt, in the Alps. Many Prominente Nazis had escaped to this region at this time.

+ Radstädt

1945: Skorzeny's special train was stationed on a siding at Radstadt.

+ Bad Aussee and the Toplitzsee Wikipedia - ToplitzseeWikipedia - Toplitzsee

1945: Skorzeny used a command post in Bad Aussee Wikipedia - Bad Aussee , at the Café Vesco, to organize resistance and escape for those in the path of the Soviet advance.

+ Schloss Fischorn

1945: Skorzeny met with other SS officers at Schloss Fischorn.

+ Radstädter Hütte

1945: Skorzeny used the Radstädter Hütte as a hideout after the end of the war.

+ Werfen

1945: Skorzeny was debriefed at a house above Werfen after he had surrendered to the Americans

+ Madrid

After the war, Skorzeny was based in Madrid.

+ Kairo

Skorzeny was an advizor to Colonel Nasser in Egypt.

Berlin

Otto Skorzeny was based in Berlin near Oranianberg at Friedrichsthal Wikipedia - Friedrichsthal, north west of Berlin.

Berlin Karte 1939 1:50,000
Reichskarte - Berlin und Umgebung, 1:50,000 circa 1939, Verlag des Reichsamts für Landesausnahme Wikipedia - Verlag des Reichsamts für Landesausnahme, Berlin GW 68, Wilhelmƒƒtraße 9

DDAC Durchfahrtspläne fur 150 deutsche Städe
DDAC Durchfahrtspläne fur 150 deutsche Städe, 1939, Berlin

 

 

+ KRETA

- See Greece - Crete

 

 

 

The Gran Sasso

Der Adler Luftwaffe magazine 1941-september-16 heft 19 - Hitler, Goring, Mussolini arrive by special train
» Der Adler « , magazine of the Luftwaffe, 1941-SEP-16

Otto Skorzeny was chosen by Adolf Hitler to locate and rescue Wikipedia - Gran Sasso Raid Benito Mussolini . Skorzeny spent a lot of time trying to track down Mussolini and finally obtained the intelligence he wanted by, as usual for Italy, bribing Italian officers with large quantities of forged British banknotes, which were being manufactured in the Unternehmen Bernhard Wikipedia - Operation Bernhard operation of SS intelligence (See Bibliography). Wartime intelligence operations are famous for consuming large quantities of cash and sex. Both of these commodities are readily consumed during wartime and become the currencies of exchange. Italy is the origin of the majority of wartime forged British banknotes to this day.

The result was the raid on the Gran Sasso Wikipedia - Gran Sasso Raid, where Mussolini was being held prisoner in the Hôtel Campo Imperatore. After the Battle magazine issue Number 22 deals with the rescue of Mussolini contains all the details of the operation such as the suite Mussolini was staying in which was Suit 201/202. Skorzeny's memoirs also contain a lot of detail.

On arrival in the Gran Sasso 1943-AUG-28, Mussolini was put up at La Viletta Inn, owned by Countess Roa Mascitelli. He occupied a room on the second floor until the Hotel Campo Imperatore had been evacuated and made ready.

Mussolini was not happy about the ride in the cable-car. The original cable-car (replaced in 1965) in which he rode is now parked at the top station.

There is an underground tunnel which leads directly from the top station into the Hotel Campo Imperatore.

A German Army propaganda unit arrived a few days after the raid to re-create and film the event, using Waffen-SS troops.

After being rescued, Mussolini was taken by Skorzeny to Vienna where they stayed at the Hôtel Imperial.

 

The Gran Sasso
After the Battle magazine issue Number 22. This is the most complete account.

The Gran Sasso

The Gran Sasso

The Gran Sasso

 

NATO air chart TPC  F-2C Italia, section Rome , Gran Sasso, Pescara
NATO air chart TPC F-2C, Italia, section Roma, Pescara. The Gran Sasso is between Rome and Pescara, close to Pescara.

 

NATO TPC F-2C Italia, Adriatic, Apulia, Solvenia
NATO TPC F-2C

 

From the Nazi Forgery Program, a British Five Pound note
An English five pound note forged in Unternehmen Bernhard , the SS forgery program. This particular note was produced between 1942 and 1944.

 

Gran Sasso 1943
The Hôtel Campo Imperatore

Headline : Gran Sasso, Hotel Campo Imperatore
Spec.Instr. : Italien, Gran Sasso.- Befreiung von Benito Mussolini. Sporthotel "Campo Imperatore"; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503A-05
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943

Headline : Gran Sasso, Lastensegler, Hotel Campo Imperatore
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- gelandete Lastensegler DFS 230 C-1. Im Hintergrund Hotel Campo Imperatore; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503B-23
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943
One of the gliders used to drop the Fallschirmjäger

Headline : Gran Sasso, Lastensegler neben Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Italien, Gran Sasso.- Befreiung von Benito Mussolini; gelandeter Lastensegler DFS 230 C-1 neben Hotel Campo Imperatore; PK Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503B-05
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943
Fallschirmjäger dressed for action.

Headline : Gran Sasso, Fallschirmjägern nach Einsatz
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Gruppe von Fallschirmjägern nach dem Einsatz; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503B-08
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943

Headline : Gran Sasso, Fallschirmjäger nach Einsatz
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Fallschirmjäger u.a. mit geschultertem Maschinengewehr (MG) nach dem Einsatz; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-34
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore

 

 

Gran Sasso 1943
A grateful Mussolini with his rescuers. His hat is likely from manufacturer Borsalino Wikipedia - Borsalino

Headline : Gran Sasso, Mussolini vor Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern und Lastenseglerpilot. links neben Mussolini Major Harald-Otto Mors; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-14
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso - 1943
Happy days: Skozeny with Mussolini

Headline : Gran Sasso, Mussolini vor Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern und italienischen Soldaten. links neben Mussolini Otto Skorzeny (helle Uniform, Fernglas) und Major Harald-Otto Mors. Rechts Karl Radl (mit St
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-15
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943

Headline : Gran Sasso, Mussolini vor Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern und italienischen Soldaten. links neben Mussolini Otto Skorzeny (helle Uniform, Fernglas); Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-16
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943

Headline : Gran Sasso, Mussolini vor Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern und italienischen Soldaten. links neben Mussolini Otto Skorzeny (helle Uniform, Fernglas); Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-17
DateCreated : 19430912

 

 

Gran Sasso 1943

Headline : Gran Sasso, Mussolini vor Hotel
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini vor Hotel Campo Imperatore auf dem Weg zum Flugzeug mit deutschen Fallschirmjägern: links neben ihm Otto Skorzeny; Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-18
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943
Mussolini and Skorzeny depart via Fieseler Storch in a dangerous take-off.

Headline : Gran Sasso, Fieseler Fi 156 »Storch«
Spec.Instr. : Gran Sasso, Befreiung von Mussolini.- Benito Mussolini im startbereiten Flugzeug Fieseler Fi 156 "Storch" (Kennung SJ+LL); Fs AOK
Byline : Schneiders, Toni
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 101I-567-1503C-03
DateCreated : 19430912

 

Gran Sasso 1943 - Sportpalast
Presentations of decorations at the Sportpalast. Mussolini also presented to the officers a gold watch.

Caption : Scherl Bilderdienst, Schwahn
Die Befreier des Duce als Ehrengäste im Berliner Sportpalast
Die Grosskundgebung, die anlässlich des Erntedanktages 1943 im Berliner Sportpalast stattfand, wohnten auch die Männer bei, die unter Führung von Ritterkreuzträger SS-Sturmbannführer Skorzeny den Duce aus dem Berghotel am Gran Sasso aus den Händen seiner Feinde befreiten.
3.10.43
Headline : Berlin, Sportpalast, Waffen-SS-Angehörige
Byline : Schwahn
Credit : Bundesarchiv
ObjectName : Bild 183-J07989
DateCreated : 19431003

 

- Link - www.youtube.com Interview with Otto Skorzeny on the Gran Sasso raid, post war https://www.youtube.com/ - Otto Skorzeny being interviewed about the Gran Sasso Raid

 

 

- There are more photographs from the Bundesarchiv here

- Link - Axis Histor Forum - The Gran Sasso Raid http://forum.axishistory.com/ - Then&Now photographs of the raid on the Gran Sasso by Italian re-enactors. A very important set of photographs. Some truly outstanding photographic work.

- Link - Gran Sasso Snow Forecast http://www.snow-forecast.com/- Gran Sasso at Snow Forecast

- Link - Snow Forecast Campo Imperatore http://www.snow-forecast.com - Campo Imperatore at Snow Forecast

- Link - Climbing rock in the Gran Sasso http://www.gdargaud.net/ - Climbing rock in the Gran Sasso

- Fallschirmjager equipment: Parachute harness and parachute.

- In the Abbruzzi by Anne MacDonnell, 1908

 

 

 

 

Budapest

 

 

 

In Budapest Wikipedia - Budapest Link - Budapest Pocket Guide Skorzeny was charged with the recapture of Admiral Horthy Wikipedia - Admiral Horthy, who had attempted to take Hungary Wikipedia - Hungary over to the Soviets. Hungarian troops Wikipedia - Hungarian Army had barricaded themselves inside the Burgberg Wikipedia - BurgbergWikipedia - Buda Castle , the huge rock citadel on the Pest Wikipedia - Pest side of the Danube Wikipedia - Danube River which rises directly above the river. One of the great rock fortresses like Salzburg Wikipedia - Salzburg and nearly impregnable as it would prove during the Soviet siege Link - Siege of Budapest of Budapest.

Plan of the Burgberg
Plan of the Burgberg, from the river side.

Skorzeny forced entry into the castle by surprise and cunning, causing confusion among the defenders as to what had happened. As soon as he had captured Admiral Horthy, he had the Hungarian officers order their troops to surrender which saved serious fighting and casualties on both sides. If the Hungarians had offered resistance the fighting would have favored the defenders and a massacre would have ensued. The Burgberg was shelled to destruction during the Soviet siege of Budapest but has been rebuilt on its original plan. The interior of the palace, where Skorzeny captured Admiral Horthy is now a library, built inside the old walls, on a new plan.

Burgberg, Budapest, showing the directions of Skorzeny's attacks

Video from the Vienna Gate Link - Buda Castle Vienna Gate

 

The Burgberg at Budapest

The Burgberg at Budapest

 

Budapest
BBC footage of the Chain Bridge from 1966

Budapest

 

The Burgberg at Budapest

The Burgberg at Budapest

The Burgberg at Budapest

 

 

Ardennes

 

Ian Fleming in his novel Moonraker (1955) Wikipedia - Moonraker at writes Otto Skorzeny into the story at Chapter XXII:

My REAL name," said Drax, addressing himself to Bond, is Graf Hugo von der Drache. My mother was English and because of her I was educated in England until I was twelve. Then I could stand this filthy country no longer and I completed my education in Berlin and Leipzig."
Bond could imagine that the hulking body with the ogre's teeth had not been very welcome at an English private school. And being a foreign count with a mouthful of names would not have helped much.

"When I was twenty," Drax's eyes glowed reminiscently, "I went to work in the family business. It was a subsidiary of the great steel combine Rheinmetall BorsigWikipedia - . Never heard of it, I suppose. Well, if you'd been hit by an 88 mm.Wikipedia - shell during the war it would probably have been one of theirs. Our subsidiary were experts in special steel's and I learned all about them and a lot about the aircraft industry. Our most exacting customers. That's when I first heard about Columbite. Worth diamonds in those days. Then I joined the party and almost immediately we were at war. A wonderful time. I was twenty-eight and a lieutenant in the 140th Panzer RegimentWikipedia - . And we ran through the British Army in France like a knife through butter. Intoxicating."
For a moment Drax puffed luxuriously at his cigar and Bond guessed that he was seeing the burning villages of Belgium in the smoke.

"Those were great days, my dear Bond." Drax reached out a long arm and tapped the ash of his cigar off on to the floor. "But then I was picked out for the Brandenburg Division and I had to leave the girls and the champagne and go back to Germany and start training for the big water-jump to England. My English was needed in the Division, We were all going to be in English uniforms. It would have been fun, but the damned generals said it couldn't be done and I was transferred to the Foreign Intelligence Service of the SS. The RSHAWikipedia - it was called, and SS Obergruppenführer Kaltenbrunner Wikipedia - had just taken over the command after HeydrichWikipedia - was assassinated in '42. He was a good man and I was under the direct orders of a still better one, Obersturmbannführer," he rolled out the delicious title with relish, "Otto Skorzeny. His job in the RSHA was terrorism and sabotage. A pleasant interlude, my dear Bond, during which I was able to bring many an Englishman to book which," Drax beamed coldly at Bond, "gave me much pleasure. But then," Drax's fist crashed down on the desk, "Hitler was betrayed again by those swinish generals and the English and Americans were allowed to land in France."

"Too bad," said Bond drily.

"Yes, my dear Bond, it was indeed too bad." Drax chose to ignore the irony."But for me it was the high-spot of the whole war. Skorzeny turned all his saboteurs and terrorists into SS Jagdverbände Wikipedia - SS Jagdverbände for use behind the enemy lines. Each Jagdverband was divided into Streifkorps and then into Kommandos, each carrying the names of its commanding officer. With the rank of Oberleutnant," Drax swelled visibly, "at the head of Kommando 'Drache' I went right through the American lines with the famous 150 Panzer Brigade Wikipedia - SS Jagdverbände in the Ardennes break-through Wikipedia - SS Jagdverbände in December '44. No doubt you will remember the effect of this Brigade in its American uniforms and with its captured American tanks and vehicles. Kolossal! When the Brigade had to withdraw I stayed where I was and went to ground in the Forests of Ardennes, fifty miles behind the Allied lines. There were twenty of us, ten good men and ten Hitlerjugend Werewolves Wikipedia - SS Jagdverbände. In their teens, but good lads all of them. And, by a coincidence, in charge of them was a young man called Krebs who turned out to have certain gifts which qualified him for the post of executioner and 'persuader' to our merry little band." Drax chuckled pleasantly.

 

 

Zusammendruck 1:300.000 Belgien title

 

Otto Skorzeny played a central role in Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein Wikipedia - Unternehmen Wacht em Rhein or The Battle of the Bulge Wikipedia - Battle of the Bulge

Zusammendruck 1:300,000 Belgian
The above map is a 1939 1:300,000 Wehrmacht map of Belgium. Overlain is the path of Kampfgruppe Peiper (red) and the location of the US Army gasoline dumps (blue). Aachen Wikipedia - AachenWikipedia - Aachen is at the top center of the map

Zusammendruck 1:300,000 Belgian map section within the overal Ardennes Offensive
The map section in the context of Unternehmen Wacht em Rhein Wikipedia - Unternehmen Wacht em Rhein

1939 1:300,000 Wehrmacht map of Belgium

 

 

Wien

Otto Skorzeny's last mission was to reach the Alpenfestung Wikipedia - Alpenfestung or 'Alpine Redoubt' in Austria and report to Führer HQ Wikipedia - Führerbunker in Berlin on preparations. The CinC of the southern sector of the Eastern FrontWikipedia - was by then Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner Wikipedia - , who was headquartered somewhere in Breslau Wikipedia - Breslau not far from the Czech border.

Allied propaganda map of Festung Europa in 1945

DDAC Durchfahrtspläne fur 150 deutsche Städe
DDAC Durchfahrtspläne fur 150 deutsche Städte, 1939, Breslau 1939

 

Shörner told Skorzeny that Vienna Wikipedia - Vienna was already falling to the Russians as they spoke and Skorzeny, whose family were still in Vienna, took off south at a furious pace on one of those better-to-travel-hopefully journeys. There are only a few routes across the mountains into Bohemia and Skorzeny crossed at Jelena Gora Wikipedia - Jelena Gora, heading south to Turnau Wikipedia - Turnau, turning south east to Jicin Wikipedia - Jicin, thence to Hradec Kralove Wikipedia - Hradec Kralove, Brno Wikipedia - Brunn, crossing the border at Mikulov Wikipedia - Mikulov and thence to Vienna as dusk fell, on what appears to be the tenth of April 1945. He drove around Vienna finding the defenses apparently unmanned. His family had already left two days previously and so too had Skorzeny's Commando Unit Amt-IV-S Wikipedia - , on their special train. The spearhead unit of Soviet tanks had already broken through to the center of Vienna from the South the previous night and were fighting with the remains of the SS units in the city, who kept their backs to the Danube Wikipedia - bridges to the north east, the Soviets being trapped below the Danube. The Soviet spearhead having insufficient forces to surround the SS while the main Soviet front was still below Vienna. There are photographs of the fighting and the SS men from these hours. Photographs from late 1944 and 1945 are very rare because film stock within Germany was exhausted at this time.

DDAC 1939 map of Europe.
DDAC Wikipedia - DDAC map of Europe in 1939. The Soviets had encircled Budapest, which refused to surrender, and swept onwards under the Donau overrunning the remnants of the Magyar government which had decamped to Sopron Wikipedia - , the last town before Austria. The Red Army's tanks attacked Vienna from the south.

The commander of the Soviet Spearhead unit, Dimitri Loza, subsequently wrote his memoirs in Commanding the Red Army's Sherman Tanks Wikipedia - . At dawn on the eleventh of April, Skorzeny drove back east across the Florisdorfer bridge Wikipedia - , probably looking up at the Kahlenberg Wikipedia - above Vienna where he had raced in hill-climbs before the war, and swung north to follow the long straight road to Linz Wikipedia - Linz down the banks of the Danube. Loza, commanding his unit of American supplied Sherman tanks Wikipedia - had entered the city like Mongol horsemen, while the gates were still open, sweeping inwards in a circle from the south west and drove directly to the center. There seems to have been little fighting except to hold the bridges, over which any evacuation would have to occur. I could find no shell fragments nor empty cases in the outer reaches of the Prater (Park) Wikipedia - , which is close to the Reichsbrücke Bridge Wikipedia - over which one of the SS units exited. The only scaring from shell fragments I could find was on some gravestones close to the entrance buildings in the Zentralfriedhof Wikipedia - which seem to have received strikes from shell fragments. It is in this very location where the history of wartime and postwar Vienna begins in earnest, for these shell fragments are but a stone's throw from the place of Harry Lime's grave. It was here that Harry Lime was supposed to be buried, and is buried a second time after being exposed as The Third Man (1949) Wikipedia - .

Kahlenburg, Vienna
A view over Vienna from the Kahlenburg Wikipedia - . Skorzeny was Viennese and before the war had participated in hill-climb automobile races up the winding road from Vienna to the top of the Kahlenburg hill.

 

Florisdorfer Bridge, Vienna
The new Florisdorfer Bridge Wikipedia - looking into the City.

Vienna was lightly defended by both the native populace and the Waffen SS troops stationed there. The Soviet tank spearhead swept inwards from the south and the Waffen SS troops retreated east across the Florisdorfer bridge, across the Danube, Vienna being bounded to the north by the Danube which swings in a bend around it and comes from the west. There was some fighting for several days on the Florisdorfer Bridge and there are photographs from these days which I have seen. The modern Florisdorfer Bridge is a replacement for the original. As Skorzeny drove away from Vienna across the bridge that day, his rear view mirror would have looked similar to this photograph. Vienna is over the rise of the bridge.

Map of the Alpenfestung, 1945
Plan of the Alpenfestung in 1945 complied by Roland Kaltenegger.

 With no gasoline, nearly no heavy weapons and no possibility of re-supply, there was no chance of building the Alpenfestung, which only existed on paper. The only movements in these last weeks were a headlong retreat from the east to evade capture by the Soviets. Some troops had been retreating on foot from as far away as Russia. For those with a past, the Alps provided a myriad of places to hide and unsurrendered troops were scattered though the forests for months after the end of the war.

 

Bad Aussee

DDAC 1939 Map of Austria
DDAC 1939 road map of the Reich. Skorzeny's route from Vienna along the Danube to the Bad Aussee in the Salzkammergut is shown in purple.

In the above, the first photograph on the right is the Danube Road. The two photographs to the left are the Feuerkogel Cable-Car Link - Feuerkogel at Ebensee Link - Ebensee which Skorzeny would have seen up to his right as he drove up the river Traun. The photograph of the bridge below is the eastern end of the Enns Bridge which Skorzeny would have passed on his left as he drove south.

DDAC 1939 Map of Austria
DDAC 1939 road map of the Reich. The locations which Skorzeny is known to have appeared in the final weeks of the war are numbered in order.

Skorzeny left Vienna east across the Florisdorfer Bridge (1) and swung north along the Danube to avoid the roads to the west of Vienna which were clogged with refuggees fleeing from the Russian advance. Through Enns (but not crossing the Enns Bridge - just passing it's eastern end) he arrived in Bad Aussee (2) to set up his last command post. Skorzeny probably met with SS-Standartenführer Josef Spacil Wikipedia - Josef Spacil at Schloss Fischorn (3) but his Skorzeny's memoirs did not reveal details of his movements at this time. Spacil was distributing looted valuables to other SS officers and any one who called at Schloss Fischorn. The Americans, the British or the Soviets would be here in a matter of days. We know Skorzeny attended a meeting with Kaltenbrunner Wikipedia - Ernst Kaltenbrunner at a large house in Strobl (4) a few days before the surrender. Then he retreated to his special train at Radstadt (5). As the Americans approached he and those men of his unit who had not taken off for other locations in Austria made their way up to the Radstädter Hütte Link - Radstädter Hütte above Radstadt. Some time later after surrendering to the Americans, he was taken to a large house above Werfen (6) where he was debriefed by his captors.

Gerhard Zauner, the Austrian salvage diver and historian who has documented much of the history of the last days of the Alpenfestung in the Salzkammergut, had an uncle who was in Skorzeny's unit. On several occasions, Zauner has found items on the lake beds, such as document stamps, decorations, honor rings, which tell us who was where when they changed from uniform and into civilians clothes to make their escape.

 

Map of Bad Aussee
Map of Bad Aussee and Altaussee. The road from Bad Ischl to the north runs past Bad Aussee. You descend down into Bad Aussee and either turn east up the long shore of the Grundlsee and up again to the Toplitzsee, or you head north to Altaussee and the Altausseer See.

 

Map of Bad Aussee showing the position of Eichmann, Kaltenbrunner and Skorzeny
Map of Bad Aussee showing the hideouts of Skorzeny, Kaltenbrunner and Eichmann.

Bad Aussee
DDAC Wikipedia - (wartime ADAC ADAC) 1939 road map of Deutƒchen Alpenlandes. The Salzkammergut Wikipedia - alzkammergut, the Austrian Lake Region, is between Salzburg Wikipedia - Salzburg (center of map) to the north-west and Linz Wikipedia - Linz to the north-east.

You can see that in 1939 the München-Salzburg Autobahn was completed and the Salzburg-Linz Autobahn was planned. After the end of the war, an American officer used to drive a captured Auto Union racing car Wikipedia - Auto Union Type A-D racing car along the autobahn from München to Augsburg every night after curfew. Looting by the Allies was rife, with everything from personal possessions through to works of art looted by ranks from private through to general. The looting even made it through into fiction: The American officer in Kelly's Heroes (1970) Wikipedia - Kellys' Heroes who is trying to get his looted yacht transported back to the United States was not merely a plot element in the movie.

Map DDAC Europa 1939
DDAC map of Europe 1940 showing Austria. The northernmost end of the Adriatic appears center bottom. Austria was not shown as a separate country because it was the Ostmark: It had been incorporated into Germany proper. Czech Bohemia Wikipedia - and Moravia Wikipedia - are shown as the Reichs-Protektorat Böhmen-Mähren Wikipedia - , the Reichs-Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia.

Skorzeny used a command post in Bad Aussee Wikipedia - Bad Aussee , at the Café Vesco, to organize resistance and escape for those in the path of the Soviet advance. Kaltenbrunner Wikipedia - Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Eichmann , Höttl Wikipedia - Höttl, and others were also hiding here. Goebbels Wikipedia - had had a large house built on the lake before the war. The Nazi counterfeiting operationWikipedia - , which forged the English five pound notes with which Skorzeny bribed Italian officers to divulge the whereabouts of Mussolini Wikipedia - , were dumped in the next lake, the Toplitzee Wikipedia - , at the end of the war. Much of this has been researched and documented by the king of Austrian lake divers, Gerhard Zauner Link - Tauchmuseum in HallstattLink - Divernet, in his book Verschollene Schätze im Salzkammergut. Die Suche nach dem Nazi-Gold. Zauner found many personal items, such as decorations, document stamps and honor rings, in the lakes in this region, which escaping Nazis had dumped into the oxygen-less water, in order to change into civilian dress. Thus, we know exactly where these individuals were in the final days of the Reich.

Verschollene Schätze im Salzkammergut. Die Suche nach dem Nazi-Gold by Gerhard ZaunerVerschollene Schätze im Salzkammergut. Die Suche nach dem Nazi-Gold by Gerhard Zaune

 

Café Vesco, Bad Aussee
Café Vesco, Bad Aussee, 1930. The Café is the building to the left of center.


Schloss Fischorn, Bruck, Zell am See, Austria
Schloss Fischorn at Bruck, outside Zell-am-See.

The SS had used the Schloss as a quarters and Skorzeny met here with SS-Standartenführer Josef Spacil Wikipedia - Josef Spacil and other SS officers who were anxiously preparing for the end of the war as the Soviets closed from the Vienna, and the Americans approached from Italy and from Bavaria. After the war, hoards Wikipedia - of valuables, some looted from the Reichsbank in Berlin in the last days of the war, were discovered buried in the grounds. Spacil had distributed large quantities of valuables to other SS officers knowing that Allied troops would arrive soon. Even today, small caches of valuables turn up during renovation work in a number of buildings used by the SS during the final days.

 

Radstadt

After escape from the encirclement of Vienna, Skorzeny spent the final weeks of the war on his special train at Radstadt Wikipedia - RadstadtWikipedia - Radstadt. He met with other SS officers and party officials who were also in this region, sometimes at Schloss Fischorn. Understandably, Skorzeny's memoirs do not mention these meetings.

The siding in Radstadt where Otto Skorzeny's special train was halted after Vienna fell to the Bolesheviks
The siding in Radstadt Wikipedia - Radstadt where Otto Skorzeny's special train was halted after Vienna fell to the Bolsheviks. As the Americans approach Skorzeny and his men took off on foot up to the Radstädter Hütte Wikipedia - Link - Radstädter Hütte , a mountain Hutte overlooking the Dachstein Wikipedia - Dachstein, where they hid from the Americans until Skorzeny decided that their only option was to surrender.

Radstadt railway sidings
Railway siding in Radstadt. Not Skorzeny's special train, but an engineering train, probably standing in the same place as Skorzeny's special train. The mountainside in the background is the hinterland of the mountainside visible in he photograph above.

Radstädter Hütte, from the Radstadt side
Radstädter Hütte from the Radstadt side.

Fresh snow on the Dachstein from the Radstädter Hütte
The first fresh snow of winter on the Dachstein from the Radstädter Hütte. A fitting vista to the swansong of the great events which Skorzeny had been present at or participated in.

 

Some distance on the other side of the Dachstein is the Feuerkogel at Ebensee, where Where Eagles Dare (1968) was filmed.

 

Madrid

After release from imprisonment, Skorzeny, who was from a family of engineers, opened an engineering consultancy in Madrid. He was involved with providing support to imprisoned Nazis and Wehrmacht officers and their families through HIAG Wikipedia - HIAG, the veterans support organization.

In the press, Skorzeny's name was commonly linked with ODESSA, the fictional Nazi post-war organisation. ODESSA never existed but as a story it was too good to die.


Letter heading of Otto Skorzeny from his time as a consulting engineer in Madrid
Skorzeny's office in Madrid at Montera 25-27.

Skorzeny used to dine at Horcher's Wikipedia - Horcher's in MadridLink - Horcher's in Madrid, a restaurant owned by the Horcher family of restaurateurs who during the war, ran Horcher's Wikipedia - Horcher's Berlin in Berlin, as well as the Drei Husaren Wikipedia - Link - Drei Husaren in Vienna, and the Tour D'Argent Wikipedia - Tour D'Argent in Paris. After the war, all Horcher's had left was their restaurant in Madrid.

Otto Skorzeny smoking a cigarette in his Madrid office

Otto Skorzeny, in his office in Madrid at Montera 25, 1964-JAN-01
Otto Skorzeny, in his office in Madrid at Montera 25, 1964-JAN-01

Otto Skorzeny at a mass being said for Mussolini, 1964-JAN_01
Otto Skorzeny at a mass being said for Mussolini, Madrid 1964-JAN-01

 

+ Art Kramer's encounter with Otto Skorzeny at the Tennis Club in Madrid. Link - Art Kramer at the Tennis Club in Madrid. Sadly, it seems that during the late 2000s, Art Kramer has died. He lived alone. He was a veteran of the USAAF in WWII, as a bombardier-navigator on B-26.

 

 

Kairo

After the end of the war, there was very little food in Germany and industry, destroyed by the bombing was slow to restart. »The Year Zero«, it was called. And the winter which followed, »The Hunger Winter«. Many German technical staff such as pilots, engineers, and doctors sought work in distant foreign countries. There was little food given to German PoWs in the Allied camps and the French even went to so far as to sell the food given to them by the Americans to feed the German PoWs. Waffen SS and Heer troops who were imprisoned in French PoW camps were told that they would receive food if they joined the French Foreign LegionWikipedia - . I have spoken to one whose unit was told that they had the choice between the the Foreign Legion and a firing squad. This is how German Fallschimjager Wikipedia - and Waffen SS Wikipedia - end up fighting at Dien Bien Phu Wikipedia - Dien Bien Phu in 1956. Indeed these units were the only ones which performed well. Paratroopers in the FFL still sing the Fallschirmjager song Wikipedia - to this day. German officers found employment in South America and in the Middle East. Understandably, there is little information on these officers and their rôles. Some of them show up in the memoirs of famous mercenaries, such as Bob Denard Wikipedia - Bob Denard, Black Jack Schramme Wikipedia - Black Jack Schramme and Mad Mike Hoare Wikipedia - Mad Mike Hoare, who populate the patchwork of African warfare throughout the Fifties and Sixties. One of the few physical traces of former Axis officers from these decades is a wristwatch, called the Egyptian Navy.

During the war, the most effective arm of the Italian armed forces was its combat divers. The Italian Tenth Flotilla, or X-MAS Wikipedia - X-MAS, became expert at using underwater breathing apparatus and would plant magnetic mines on British warships and merchantmen in Mediterranean ports. The success of the X-MAS was dramatised in the movie The Silent Enemy (1958) Wikipedia - . It is easy to forget that the military rôle of Commando had only just been invented in the Second World War. This form of military activity was an new departure. Skorzeny's commando Kampfschwimmer trained with the Italian X-MAS during the war and adopted all of their techniques and equipment. Wristwatches for use underwater were unheard of and a small family manufacturer of military wrist-watches in FlorenceWikipedia - called Officine Panerai Wikipedia - Officine Panerai made underwater watches for the Italian combat divers. Skorzeny's Kampfschwimmer ordered their wrist-watches from the same maker.

Konrad Knirim Link - Konrad Knirim in his definitive reference work Militäruhren - Die Uhren de deutschen Streitkräfte 1870 bis 1990 details the Kampfschwimmer's use of Officine Panerai watches and has had contact with a former member of Skorzeny's Kampfschwimmer. The pages are reproduced here.

Militäruhren - Die Uhren de deutschen Streitkräfte 1870 bis 1990 by Konrad Knirim

After the war, Officine Panerai continued to make underwater watches for the Italian Navy. Volumes produced were not large (tens) and the company remained a small family concern working from a workshop in Florence.. At some point in the 1950s Officine Panerai received a commission from a former Italian officer in the Egyptian Navy for a large and robust underwater watch for wear on the outside of diving suits. Officine Panerai designed and built the Egyptian Navy Link - Egiziano.Only fifty were produced and almost nothing is known of their employment once they left Officine Panerai. However, their existence tells us without doubt that the Kampfschwimmer of the Egyptian Navy were being trained by Skorzeny's Kampfschwimmer. Original watches produced by Officine Panerai for the Italian Navy are rare and valuable. The 6152 may be betwen 20,000USD and 40,000USD (@2011). An Egyptian Navy would be over 100,000USD.

Recreational SCUBA diving is most frequently undertaken in warm blue waters which require the diver to wear only basic wetsuits. A waterproof wristwatch which attatches to the wrist like a normal wristwatch is sufficient to tell the diver how much air he has left. Navy salvage diving can take place anywhere and will usually be in highly unpleasant conditions. Tasks may be the recovery of equipment which has been dropped in the water, or the repair of ships. Soviet Navy salvage divers are required to change the propeller blades on Soviet Navy nuclear icebreakers when they become damaged from striking large blocks of ice. Salvage divers will freqently use heavy gear, which is the old style diving suit and large metal helmet, with compressed air feed. In all of these conditions, it is impossible to reach a wristwatch and any watch worn will have to be strapped over a large suit. Visibility is frequently very bad and the watch needs to have a large and well-illuminated face in order to be readable in conditions were visibility may only be 30cm or less. The watch must also be robust and well protected because salvage diving involves the use of heavy equipment and power tools.

The design of the Egyptian Navy watch reflected all of these requirements and must have been designed by an individual who had wartime experience underwater.

1940s
X-MAS Wikipedia -
 
Skorzeny's Kampfschwimmer
 
X-MAS 1943 fights on as a unit Wikipedia -
 
Kampfschwimmer operations on the Rhein
   
1950s
X-MAS liase with English Royal Navy Wikipedia -
   
1956
Egiziano - Egyptian Navy - Italian Officers - Skorzeny advizes Colonel Nasser
   

Egyptian Navy

Egyptian Navy

Officine Panerai Egyptian Navy
This photograph copyright Link -

- Jakes World Blogspot history of Panerai Links - Jakes World Blogspot Panerai History

Skorzeny would have been the guest of Colonel Nasser Wikipedia - Gamal Abdel Nasser in Cairo Wikipedia - Cairo and may well have stayed in a government residence. However it is more likely that he stayed at the Cairo Savoy, where T.E.Lawrence had been billeted, a Weltkrieg ago. By the time Colonel Nasser took over, the most eminent hotel, ShepheardsWikipedia - Link - , had been burnt to the ground by a rioting mob. Shepheard's was famous for its social occasions and for being the hub of Cairo's nightlife. Most important people stayed there: Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence, Sir Ronald Storrs. Storr's excellent memoirs Orientations, contain the best description of Cairo during the Great War.

I have seen porcelain dinner ware for the Cairo Savoy recovered from a deep-sunk wreck in the English Channel. Sadly there is no chance that Otto Skorzeny, T.E. Lawrence ever dined off these pieces because the ship carrying the cargo sank before it reached Egypt.

The Cairo Savoy was destroyed in a raft of re-development which has gradually consumed most of old Cairo in the post-war era, thanks to lack of planning controls.

From Thunderball (1961) Wikipedia - Thunderball by Ian Fleming, Chapter 16.

Santos grinned. “Usual harbor stuff, sah. Some barracuda perhaps. Mebbe a shark. But they’s lazy an’ overfed with the refuse an muck from de drains. Dey won’t trouble you—less you bleedin’ that is. They’ll be night-crawlin’ things on the bottom—lobster, crab, mebbe a small pus-feller or two. The bottom’s mostly seagrass on bits o’ iron from wrecks an plenty of bottle and suchlike. Mucky, if you get me, sah. But the water’s clear and you’ll be hokay with this moon and the lights from the Disco to guide you. Tek you bout twelve, fifteen minute, I’da say. Funny ting. I been lookin’ for an hour and dere’s no watchman on deck an no one in the wheelhouse. An the bit o’ breeze should hide you bubbles. Coulda give you an oxygen rebreather Wikipedia - , but ah doan like dem tings. Them dangerous.”

Jaques Cousteau Wikipedia - Jacques Cousteau had developed SCUBA Wikipedia - SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) apparatus during the war because of the dangers of oxygen rebreathers mentioned in the above paragraph.

 

Funeral in Madrid

Funeral in Madrid: Otto Skorzeny died in 1975 after a long struggle with cancer of the spine. A funeral service was held for him in Madrid at the Capilla del Cementerio de la Almudena Wikipedia - Cementerio_de_la_Almudena which was attended by hundreds or mourners and most of the surviving figures in Nazi Germany and the Wehrmacht.

The funeral service for Otto Skorzeny in Madrid at the Capilla del Cementerio de la Almudena, 1975, Skorzeny's decoration precede his coffin
The funeral service for Otto Skorzeny in Madrid at the Capilla del Cementerio de la Almudena Wikipedia - Cementerio_de_la_Almudena, 1975: Skorzeny's decorations precede his coffin

The funeral service for Otto Skorzeny in Madrid at the Capilla del Cementerio de la Almudena, 1975: Skorzeny's decorations
Skorzeny's decorations

Otto Skorzeny's Allach cigarette case and gold SS honor ring, presented to him by Adolf Hitler
Otto Skorzeny's SS honor ring Wikipedia - and gold cigarette case, made at the SS Allach Wikipedia - works. The letter heading upon which it is laid is the personal letter heading of Adolf Hilter Wikipedia - .

Otto Skorzeny's SS uniform
Otto Skorzeny's SS uniform, which was sold by his daughter.

Wien

Skorzeny's funeral was attended by hundreds or mourners and most of the surviving figures in Nazi Germany and the Wehrmacht. His remains were cremated and interred in the family plot.

Grave of Otto SkorzenyGrave of Otto Skorzeny
Grave of Otto Skorzeny in Vienna

Grave of Otto Skorzeny, Vienna

 

Grave of Otto Skorzeny, Doblingerfriedhof, Vienna

Grave of Otto Skorzeny, Doblingerfriedhof, Vienna

Grave of Otto Skorzeny, Doblingerfriedhof, Vienna

We Fought ... We Lost - Wir Kampften - Wir Verloren  

 

Wir Kampften - Wir Verloren

 

 

 

+ SEE ALSO

- Benito Mussolini

 

+ BIBLIOGRAPHY

- Verschollene Schätze im Salzkammergut. Die Suche nach dem Nazi-Gold by Gerhard Zauner Link - Tauchmuseum in HallstattLink - Divernet

- Skorzeny - Hitler's Commando, by Glen B. Infield, St Martin's Press, 1981

- Nazi Hunter - The Wiesenthal File, by Alan Levy 1993 published by Constable and Robinson:

- Skorzeny's Special Missions - The memoirs of 'The Most Dangerous Man in Europe' , Otto Skorzeny, Greenhill, ISBN 1-85367-291-2

- Otto Skorzeny - My Commando Operations, Otto Skorzeny, Schiffer Military History, 9 780887 407 185

- Skorzeny - The Most Dangerous Man in Europe, Charles Whiting, Leo Cooper, London 1972 ISBN 85052 578 0

- The Real Odessa, Uki Goni, Grant Books, London 2003 ISBN 1-96207 403 9

- Hitler's Paper Weapon by Willhelm Höttl

- Commanding the Red Army's Sherman Tanks by Dimitri Loza

- After the Battle magazine issue Number 22 Link - After the Battle magasine.

Shepheards Hotel by Nina Avery.

- Hunting Evil by Guy Walters published by Bantam Books ISBN 978-0-553-87939-7 www.guywalters.com - Perhaps the definitive work on post-war Nazis. Successfully de-bunks the myth of the ODESSA network. The first comprehensive, all-inclusive account of the capture of Adolf Eichmann. Large quantities of newly discovered archive material and eye-witness accounts. Successfully exposes the media and publishing circus which built-up around Nazi-hunting.

 

- Drama Between Budapest and Vienna by Georg Maier published by JJ Fedorowicz www.jjfpub.mb.ca 2004

 

+ EXTERNAL LINKS

- Photographs of the Radstädter Hütte Link - Radstädter Hütte

- Film footage of Skorzeny being interrogated Link - Youtube

- Film footage of Skorzeny in Madrid Link - Youtube

- Film footage of Skorzeny's funeral, cremation and interment Link - Youtube

- Law Reports: Skorzeny's trial Link - Law Reports

- Article on Skorzeny and the editions of his memoirs Link - Skorzeny's Memoirs

 

 

 

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