REVIEW: Otto Skorzeny – The Devil’s Disciple by Stuart Smith

An excellent historical record of the most dangerous man in Europe during World War II. A true German special forces leader and daredevil involved in most of the high visibility missions during the war.

Otto Skorzeny was involved in most of the critical special forces mission for Germany. A true leader that was not convicted of any criminal activity after the war.

Skorzeny was instrumental and the leader on the spot during these important special forces missions during World War II;

  • Securing the Austrian Chancellery during the Anschluss
  • Participating in the Night of the Long Knives
  • Participating in Kristallnacht
  • The Rescue of Mussolini
  • The Pursuit of Tito in Yugoslavia
  • Development of Naval Special Forces responsible for blowing bridges during and after Operation Market Garden
  • During Operation Grief, he was responsible for the implementation of interdiction forces before and during the Battle of the Bulge
  • The Battle of the Bulge by the SS but did not witness nor participate in the massacre at Malmedy.
  • Development of piloted V-1 suicide bombers program
  • Special Forces behind the lines activity with guerrilla forces in Poland, Ukraine, Soviet Union
  • Stabilizing the Berlin Forces and Chancellery after the attempted assassination of Hitler

Skorzeny led Operation Greif, in which German soldiers infiltrated enemy lines using their opponents’ languages, uniforms, and customs. For this he was charged at the Dachau Military Tribunal with breaching the 1907 Hague Convention, but was acquitted of all charges.

Skorzeny escaped from an internment camp in 1948, hiding out on a Bavarian farm for 18 months, then spent time in Paris and Salzburg before eventually settling in Francoist Spain. In 1953 he became a military advisor to Egyptian President Mohammed Naguib and recruited a staff of former SS and Wehrmacht officers to train the Egyptian Army, staying on to advise President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He spent time in Argentina, where he acted as an advisor to President Juan Perón and as a bodyguard for Eva Perón. In 1962, Skorzeny was allegedly recruited by the Mossad and conducted operations for the agency. Skorzeny died of lung cancer on 5 July 1975 in Madrid at the age of 67.

If Germany had a hero to follow during the war it was Otto Skorzeny. An Austrian patriot that started as a paratrooper and through his own initiative, charm and guile worked his way up the chain of command resulting in his position as head of German Special Forces at the end of the war. Skorzeny was known as an arrogant, egotistical, but highly effective leader.

This book is available on (US),  Amazon (UK) and Osprey Publishing