How amusing about Skorzeny

A notorious former SS officer known as “Hitler’s commando” reportedly worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence.
Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny, once described by British and American intelligence as “the most dangerous man in Europe”, was secretly recruited by Mossad after the Second World War, according to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper.

But then I think there were quite a lot of such around. No, I don’t mean just Nazis who went on to do other things. But men for whom the excitement of war and battle was so great that the actual cause wasn’t the important point at all.

There were such on the British side too, popping up all over Africa in the next few decades. A proper shooting war simply suits some people. They revel in it.

30 comments on “How amusing about Skorzeny

  1. I think the formula applied by the Allies in late 1945 was 1 dead Goering = 100,000 living useful Nazis.

  2. Doing some work for Mossad, also meant that they’d take him of their list of ‘Persons of Interest’. Probably a good move on his part – the Israeli assassins really know their onions. Skorzeny also worked for Nasser so it’s not as if he had any scruples about who was signing the cheques.

    Tim’s right though, theres a long, glorious list of WW2 types who liked action. Jack Churchill and Eddie Chapman spring to mind.

  3. There is zero chance that Skorzeny worked for Mossad. Why would they touch him with a ten foot barge pole? It is not as if they need help killing people. They are quite good at it.

    The rule of thumb is that pretty much every German War hero was not just a Nazi but a hard core Nazi. Skorzeny seems no exception.

    In 1952, when Egypt had been taken over by General Mohammed Naguib, Skorzeny was sent to Egypt the following year by former General Reinhard Gehlen (who was now working for the CIA) to act as Naguib’s military advisor. Skorzeny recruited a staff made up of former SS and Wehrmacht officers to train the Egyptian army. Among these officers were SS General Wilhelm Farmbacher, Panzer General Oskar Munzel, Leopold Gleim, head of the Gestapo Department for Jewish Affairs in Poland, and Joachim Daemling, former chief of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf. In addition to training the army, Skorzeny also trained Arab volunteers in commando tactics for possible use against British troops stationed in the Suez Canal zone. Several Palestinian refugees also received commando training, and Skorzeny planned their raids into Israel via the Gaza Strip in 1953-1954. One of these Palestinians was Yasser Arafat.
    ….
    It is believed by some that by using the cover names Robert Steinbacher and Otto Steinbauer, and supported by either Nazi funds or (according to some sources) by Austrian Intelligence, he set up a secret organization named Die Spinne[35][36] which would have helped as many as 600 former SS men escape from Germany to Spain, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, and other countries. As the years went by, Skorzeny, Gehlen, and their network of collaborators gained enormous influence in Europe and Latin America. Skorzeny traveled between Francoist Spain and Argentina, where he acted as an advisor to President Juan Perón and as a bodyguard for Eva Perón,[30] while fostering an ambition for the “Fourth Reich” to be centered in Latin America.[37][38][39]
    CEDADE

    Skorzeny was a founder and an advisor to the leadership of the Spanish neo-Nazi group CEDADE, which had been established in 1966.

    For whatever reason – and being a hard core Nazi is the likely bet – Skorzeny chose not to return to Austria even after his nationality was restored. He lived all the rest of his life in Spain. Except, of course, when he was planning a Fourth Reich in Latin America

  4. Dan

    I think I missed the bit where he worked for Nasser, in fact I would have thought that guaranteed a Mossad hit on him. Perhaps you could fill in the gaps for me.

  5. Shame Skorzeny was a Nazi – there’d be a terrific film waiting to be made otherwise. Rescusing/kidnapping dictators, plenty of cloak and dagger work, then shagging Eva Peron and international post war intrigue for the final act.

  6. Dan – “Doing some work for Mossad, also meant that they’d take him of their list of ‘Persons of Interest’. Probably a good move on his part – the Israeli assassins really know their onions.”

    Why would he be on their Persons of Interest list? He was a Nazi but he wasn’t a Jew-killing Nazi.

    Some of his friends were, of course, but him personally?

    This is a nonsense story in a silly season.

  7. Magnusw,

    There’s a quote from “The Magnificent Seven” that might apply, when our heroes are looking for fighting men to recruit:-

    Miguel: There’s one! Look at all the scars on his face!
    Hilario: The man for us is the one who *gave* him that face.

  8. Why wouldn’t they touch him? And why wouldn’t he respond positively? He had a supremely good cover to gain access to Nazis who Israel had an urgent need to eliminate. He had a superb track record showing he knew exactly what he was doing. For his part he remained “in the game” and getting the thrill that only his type (essentially a soldier of fortune) would understand. He would also know he wasn’t being targeted by Mossad.
    The best IRA informers were those who remained true believers; their cover was immaculate. Espionage seems a little like the Mafia: once you’re in someone always has something on you. So your real choices are removed and the ‘choices’ you make are really you just keeping moving to stay afloat.

  9. Rob – “Was he SS? I thought he was a paratrooper.”

    He was too old and too tall for the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe also having the paratroopers.[1] So he was in the SS and more or less invented Special Ops for the Nazis.

    [1] The Luftwaffe having perhaps the most odd military unit – a parachute tank division, the 1st Hermann Göring Paratroop Panzer Division. Almost the most odd. Britain has the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.

  10. Ironman – “Why wouldn’t they touch him?”

    Life is short and the world full of people who deserve killing. Why would they bother killing some semi-retired Nazi? They had better things to do.

    “And why wouldn’t he respond positively? He had a supremely good cover to gain access to Nazis who Israel had an urgent need to eliminate. He had a superb track record showing he knew exactly what he was doing. For his part he remained “in the game” and getting the thrill that only his type (essentially a soldier of fortune) would understand. He would also know he wasn’t being targeted by Mossad.”

    Because he hated Jews? Because he was a Nazi? Sure, it would have been great for Mossad if he killed some Nazis for them in Egypt. Especially if he got caught and killed as well. Which is kind of the point isn’t it? Why would he work for people who wouldn’t mind him dead?

    You don’t stay in the Game for long if you betray your employers. And you lose a lot of Nazi friends if you start working for Israel. This had nothing for him at all and there is no reason to think he did.

  11. If this story is true, why didn’t Skorzeny mention it? He paid for his old age by writing at least two memoirs.

    The audience for unrepentant anti-semites is somewhat limited these days. On the other hand, the audience for a jolly brave chap who came to realise what a dreadful mistake he made and so tried to make amends by working for Israel, is considerably larger.

  12. Well, according to the story (which has been confirmed by some retired Mossad chaps), they recruited Skorzeny when he was in Spain, and he originally thought they were there to kill him. Seems to have been put to work on Operation Damocles (which I’ve never heard of before) which was a campaign against German rocketmen who had taken work with the Egyptians. Skorzeny killed (allegedly) a guy in Munich and blew up five Egyptians with a bomb.

    God, WW2 has been over for a gajillion years and theres STILL juicy stories coming to light about some of the cast.

    Liam Neeson would be a good bit of casting for the film.

  13. IIRC Newt Gingrich, of American political fame, wrote a pretty good alternate history novel where Skorzeny was the admirable baddie.

  14. The audience for unrepentant anti-semites is somewhat limited these days.

    There’s always Comment Is Free.

  15. “He was too old and too tall for the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe also having the paratroopers.[1] So he was in the SS and more or less invented Special Ops for the Nazis.”

    If I had done a Google search I would have seen lots of images of him wearing a uniform with ‘SS’ on the collar. Bit of a giveaway.

  16. Rob – I’ve occasionally thought what a great lark it would be head of a braindead department of Social Services and watch their little faces light up as I show them their impressive new uniforms and logo.

  17. Much of the German military was apolitical. Early formations of the Waffen SS were thoroughly indoctrinated, but even they were rather apolitical by wars end, as their casualties were hundreds of percent.

    Kurt “Panzermeyer” Meyer worked hard to restore the rights of former Waffen SS soldiers. He argued, usually successfully, that they were just soldiers.

  18. From the news story:

    “I met and ran Skorzeny,” Rafael Eitan, the former Mossad officer who successfully abducted Adolf Eichmann and brought for him for trial in Israel, told Ha’aretz.

    But of course SMFS knows better,

  19. Fascinating stuff re Skorzeny – just spent an hour reading various links. I’d forgotten a lot about him and there was a lot more I didn’t know.

    Herman’s mob were just a cross between the RAF Regt and the British Transport Police, despite the exotic name. Weirdest current outfit I am aware of are the Indian cavalry regiment which still trains for horse warfare, although there are probably hard to access places on their various borders where they might come in handy.

    Nothing weird about 7RHA – ostensibly airborne troops still require artillery support and given their particular tactics, and just for other obvious reasons, it’s a good idea to train with the same gunners. The same goes for the ostensibly seaborne 29 Cdo – Royal Marines wouldn’t want to work with non-commando trained artillery, after all.

  20. john77 – “Rommel was the no 1 German war hero and very much not a hard-core Nazi.”

    I am not sure that is true. It helps, of course, that he died. And died because of some peripheral involvement with the plot to kill Hitler.

    Gamecock – “Much of the German military was apolitical.”

    Or so they said after the war. Had the war turned out differently they might have said something else.

    A lot of the NCOs and younger officers were clearly Nazis. The older officers were often hang overs from the Kaiser’s day. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t Nazis too. There were decidedly anti-Nazi officers. Usually Catholics. Their chances for promotion often suffered. Which means they were political too in their own way.

    “Kurt “Panzermeyer” Meyer worked hard to restore the rights of former Waffen SS soldiers. He argued, usually successfully, that they were just soldiers.”

    Sure. After the war, building the Free World, resisting the Soviets, forgive and forget. But they weren’t.

    diogenes – “But of course SMFS knows better,”

    I am sorry for not being credulous enough. It is a flaw that I work on every day. I will try harder. Tell you what, you bring me Eitan in person saying that and I will provisionally believe him. You bring me a credible source and I will believe it. Ha’aretz is not a bad newspaper. I used to read it myself back in the day. But it is not that far away from the Guardian. Well, that is not fair, The Independent when it wasn’t so awful perhaps. Given the absurdity of the claim I see no reason to believe it without some sort of evidence.

    You would agree if this was a miracle diet story.

  21. They weren’t just soldiers? Okay, SMFS, what were they? What crimes had the 900,000 at war’s end committed to earn them loss of human rights?

  22. Gamecock – “They weren’t just soldiers? Okay, SMFS, what were they? What crimes had the 900,000 at war’s end committed to earn them loss of human rights?”

    There is such a grand chasm between your first two sentences and your third I find it hard to comment. No they were not just soldiers. That has nothing to do with their human rights.

  23. Gamecock – “I’ll repeat: What did they do that should cause them to lose their human rights?”

    Ask someone who thinks they should lose their human rights.

  24. Although if someone were to argue for anyone losing their human rights, fighting to gas more Jews might, you know, be up there as a reason.

  25. My Dad actually met Skorzeny in 1965 — went out drinking with him in Lisbon (part of a business deal, not worth recounting here). He said that Skorzeny was the only man who ever terrified him.

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