SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny became a legend in his own time. 'Hitler's favourite commando' acquired a reputation as a man of daring, renowned for his audacious 1943 mission to extricate Mussolini from a mountain-top prison. Skorzeny's influence on special operations doctrine was far-reaching and long-lasting – in 2011, when US Navy SEALs infiltrated Pakistan to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, the operational planning was influenced by Skorzeny's legacy. Yet he was also an egoist who stole other men's credit (including for the seminal rescue of Mussolini), brave and resourceful but also an unrepentant Nazi and a self-aggrandizing hogger of the limelight.
Stuart Smith draws on years of in-depth research to uncover the truth about Skorzeny's career and complex personality. From his background as a student radical in Vienna, to his bloody service with the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front, his surprise rebirth as a commando, and his intriguing post-war career and mysterious fortune, this book tells Otto Skorzeny's story in full – warts and all – for the first time.
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Table of Contents
Prologue /Acknowledgements /Maps /1. The Knowledge of Pain /2. Accidental Soldier /3. Thugs in Field Grey /4. The Liberator of Mussolini /5. Special Ops and High-Value Targets /6. Miracle Weapons /7. The Stauffenberg Plot – July 1944 /8. The Scherhorn Affair /9. The SS Changes Tack /10. Operation Panzerfaust /11. Everything on One Card /12. Operation Greif /13. Implosion /14. Skorzeny's Last Stand /15. Trial and Errors /16. Escape from Darmstadt /17. Apocalypse Soon /18. Neo-Nazis and Colonel Nasser /19. The Years of Plenty /20. Ghosts of the Past /Epilogue /Glossary /Note on the Waffen-SS /Bibliography /Notes /Index