Belgio / Storia

Commando Skorzeny in the Ardennes



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At the end of the Second World War the Austrian SS-commander Otto Skorzeny was for the Allies ’the most wanted man in Europe’. During the Ardennes Offensive he commanded a special unit, that was trained to take bridges on the Meuse and to disorganize the Allied troops.

Otto Skorzeny was born in Vienna in 1908. Before the Second World War he joined the Austrian Nazi Party. In 1940 he enlisted the SS forces and fought in several battles on the Western and Eastern fronts. In December 1942 he got injured and was hospitalized in Vienna. After his recovery he was selected as commander of a SS unit specialized in unconventional warfare. His first assignment was the rescue of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in September 1944. A year later he kidnapped the son of the Hungarian regent.

Due to his successes Skorzeny was promoted lieutenant-colonel (Obersturmbannführer). In December 1944 Skorzeny came to the Ardennes and joined the 6th Army, commanded by Sepp Dietrich. Skorzeny formed a special unit, the Panzer Brigade 150, and launched Operation Greif. The aim of this operation was not only to capture the bridges over the Meuse, but also to cause total confusion among the Allied forces and thus hinder the Allies in their advance. Skorzeny’s men operated under a false flag behind the enemy lines and were disguised in British and American uniforms. In total 44 German soldiers wearing an allied uniform were sent through the lines. But after days of fierce fighting, all German soldiers were exposed.

Quickly, the goals of the mission changed and the Panzer Brigade 150 fought finally as a regular unit. On 21 December 1944, Skorzeny failed in his attempt to take the town of Malmédy. After the war Otto Skorzeny was tried as war criminal, but he finally was acquitted. He lived in Spain and Egypt and died in Madrid on 5 July 1975.

Malmedy, Belgique