Otto Skorzeny, SS-Obersturmbannführer– a leading fascist and intelligence chief given impunity by NATO
Commentary on The Nazi who became an Israeli assassin (I) by Tony Seed
The Zionist article “The Nazi who became an Israeli assassin (I)” is one more article gleefully justifying assassinations – a state policy of Israel euphemistically called “extrajudicial execution” and a crime against humanity – and celebrating the fabled Mossad. Notice the humanitarian considerations and moral angst around the decision to recruit the known Nazi war criminal Otto Skorzeny. What they do not mention is why Simon Wiesenthal listed him as a war criminal and refused Israel’s requests to delist him. Inflating the once-vaunted role of Israeli intelligence, the Haaretz article represents his activity in Egypt, which they deem admirable, as being exclusively on behalf of the Mossad and conceals the known CIA links of both the Mossad and Skorzeny. The author’s accusations that Egypt was “planning a new Holocaust” are completely unsubstantiated and typical Zionist slander against the Arabic peoples to rationalize a war crime.
Nevertheless, the author’s rendition does reveal an organized conspiracy at the highest level of the Israeli state; Skorzeny was brought to Israel and met the head of the Mossad, Isser Harel. The commission of assassinations is not denied but is particularly emphasized. The only thing that remains incomprehensible is the reasoning which does not recognise as criminal assassinations and the reasons not to declare the Mossad organisation criminal. Such articles blinker the war in the Middle East, emphasizing operations and tactics over grand strategy, occupation of Historic Palestine and politics, and the pragmatism of the Israeli Zionists over principles, morality and international law.
The collaboration with the Nazi is presented as something exceptional, yet the links between the Zionists and Nazi Germany stretched back to the Haavara Agreement of August 25, 1933. A reader provided detailed examples from World War II in his comment on the article “When Israeli and German troops fought side by side in Bavaria’s trenches” also published on this blog. Most interestingly, Haaretz further rhapsodizes Otto Skorzeny as an individual loose cannon – the “dashing commando” – and downplays his links to the CIA and NATO and postwar strategy. The authors call him “the great hero.” They contribute to the systematic post-war heroization of this Nazi – General Eisenhower called him “the most wanted man in Europe” – as some legendary man of action. This rehabilitation of the Nazi war criminal is hardly unique.
In the same fashion, for reasons of political expediency, Hitler’s generals such as Rommel and his General Staff (the Halder group) were idealized as “good Germans” and the “clean” Wehrmacht, part of the “resistance” to Hitler. (See Valkyrie: Converting Nazi war criminals into knights in shining armour) Erwin Rommel, for example, was hailed as the “people’s general” by the Nazi’s after its blitzkrieg victory over France in 1940. Two American historians write:
“The British, more particularly Winston Churchill, played up Rommel as the ingenious ‘Desert Fox,’ partly to explain their embarrassing defeats in North Africa in 1941. After the war, Rommel kept his legendary status among both Germans and former Allies, in part because he operated on perhaps the only front where the Nazis did not practice wholesale genocide. Indicatively, General Eisenhower admitted, that it was after reading a Rommel biography that he began to change his attitude towards the German army.” [Ronald Smelser and Edward J. Davies II, The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Culture, Cambridge University Press, 2008. pp .88-89]
The Haaretz story says in passing that “Skorzeny’s escape (from U.S. military prison) was also rumoured to have been assisted by the CIA’s predecessor agency, the Office of Special Services, for which he did some work after the war.” But this is what the writers don’t tell you: During the stage up to the formation of the separate West German state – of US origin and helped by West German capitalism – the top military cadres of Hitler’s Wehrmacht were preserved, provided with new U.S.imperialist ideas, and trained for a revanchist strategy as part of the Anglo-American crusade against the Soviet Union and the struggles for democratic rights, independence and socialism in Europe and on the world scale. Even as the Nuremberg trials were nearing an end, Anglo-American military circles were helping bring about the acquittal of the German General Staff and High Command as a criminal organization, a verdict strongly protested by the Soviet judge, I.T. Nikitchenko in a dissenting opinion. General Franz Halder, Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht, testified on behalf of the Anglo-American powers at Nuremberg, and was then hired by the U.S. army. Under custody of the U.S. military, the Hitlerite military caste was exonerated of war crimes, rehabilitated, released with impunity, and integrated into a rearmed and resurgent German army (Bundeswehr) formed under the U.S. and NATO direction.
In January 1957, Hans Speidel, Hitler’s General in command of occupied Paris and known as the Butcher of Paris, became the first German commander of NATO troops, becoming Commander-in-Chief of NATO’S Central Army Group; the largest land force of NATO, this army was in charge of the Canadian base at Lahr.
In 1961, another Hitler general even became chairman of the Military Committee, “the highest military authority of NATO” – Generalleutnant Adolf Heusinger, architect of the Third Reich’s Operation Barbarossa. He “miraculously” escaped the Nuremberg Trials by testifying for the prosecution. “The entire membership” of the NATO Military Committee made the Heusinger choice “unanimous,” according to the U.S. State Department. He maintained an office at the Pentagon at room number 3-E-180 until 1964, when he retired and was in the White House the day President Kennedy ordered the Bay of Big invasion of Cuba. Both Speidel and Heusinger were awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit. By 1963, at least 223 West German army, navy and Luftwaffe officers occupied highly important NATO posts of strategical-operational and field command. (See Charles R. Allen, Jr., Heusinger of the Fourth Reich. New York: Marzani & Mundsell, Inc., 1963
Otto Skorzeny, SS-Obersturmbannführer, was since April 1943 Group Leader VI S of the Reich Security Main Office and thus commander of the “Oranienburg Special Association”. The tasks of this top-secret special association consisted of building up a total intelligence service as quickly as possible and using it globally, that is: bombing, diversion, robbery, sabotage, and murder. Crimes committed by this group on the territory of the temporarily occupied regions were countless. The aim of the Skorzeny-trained and equipped agents were to halt the defeat of the fascists in Iran and India, England, and the United States, but especially in the Soviet Union. The Haaretz authors completely leave out Skorzeny’s shadowy anti-communist, brutal activity on the eastern front.
On September 12, 1943 Skorzeny organized with his “SS Special Association” – on behalf of Hitler – the kidnapping of the Italian fascist leader Mussolini (pictured) from custody of the Badoglio government. On the other hand, the abject failure of his mission to assassinate Tito in Yugoslavia (Operation ROSSELSPRUNG) in May 1944 is rarely mentioned. It does not serve the manufactured legend. From January 1945 Skorzeny was carrying out diversions as the leader of a diversionist detachment on the eastern front, which had meanwhile reached the Oder.
The Haaretz article is very vague on the critical post-war period. As Nazi Germany collapsed, Skorzeny cowardly hid out in the Austrian Tyrol near Salzburg and surrendered on May 16, 1945. From the SS, he reportedly received 50,000 gold francs, 10,000 Spanish crowns, 5,000 dollars, 5,000 Swiss francs and 5 million Reich marks totalling $9,131,000. It is noteworthy the money given to Skorzeny was never recovered. [Glen Yeadon, The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century, 2007] It is noteworthy that Haaretz questions why Skorzeny refused payment by the Mossad but not the source of his wealth.
Skorzeny also remained what he was – a leading fascist and intelligence chief.
He was held as a prisoner of war for more than two years before finally being tried before a US military court in Dachau as a war criminal for his actions in the Battle of the Bulge (the plan dubbed Operation Grief) on 18 August 1947. The trial lasted over three weeks. However, he was conveniently acquitted when Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas of the SOE testified in his defence that Allied commando forces also fought in enemy uniform. Realising that to convict Skorzeny could expose their own agent to the same charges, the tribunal acquitted the ten defendants, the military tribunal drawing a distinction between using enemy uniforms during combat and for other purposes including deception.
In parallel, Hitler’s master spy, General Reinhard Gehlen, head of the “Fremde Heere Ost” army intelligence service, was sharing his Nazi intelligence data on the USSR and Eastern Europe with his new protectors in the CIA and was even later made chief of the Western German intelligence agency (BND). Skorzeny, the Nazi specialist at organizing terror networks in occupied countries, was initially employed in the U.S. Army’s historical division, which served as a way-station for former Nazis who would go on to serve in the Gehlen-CIA intelligence network. Skorzeny used his tacit immunity to shepherd old Nazi comrades out of Europe, working through cover organizations, known as Odessa, Kamaradenwerk, and Die Spinne. The U.S. military commander of Germany at the end of the war, General Lucius Clay, helped undermine the prosecution of Skorzeny, and later worked with Nazi generals at Oberammergau to train Eastern European revanchists, Nazis and American GIs into the 5,000-strong “Special Forces” against communism. This team later became the U.S. Green Berets. (E.H. Cookeridge, Gehlen: Spy of the Century, amongst other sources)
Skorzeny was allowed to smuggle gold to Spain from the Dachau prison where he was held by the United States as well as Nazis. The war criminal ran the Odessa network right from his cell in Dachau – Denmark and Czechosavkia waned him for war crimes – until his escape from a prison camp on July 27, 1948 with the help of three former SS officers dressed in U.S. Military Police uniforms; they entered the camp and claimed that they had been ordered to take Skorzeny to Nuremberg for a legal hearing. It was hardly fortuitous. According to Wikipedia and other sources, Skorzeny afterwards maintained that the U.S. authorities had aided his escape, and had supplied the uniforms. Skorzeny hid out at a farm in Bavaria which had been rented by Ilse Lüthje, the niece of Hjalmar Schacht (Hitler’s former finance minister, also released by Nuremberg) whom he then married, for around 18 months. During this time he was in direct contact with Reinhard Gehlen, the CIA operative. He began a versatile activity to re-establish contacts between the former members of the Waffen (armed) SS and together with Hartmann Lauterbacher (former deputy head of the Hitler Youth) recruited for the Gehlen Organization (Gehlen Org).
The founding of the Nazi secret organization the “Spider” (Die Spinne) is his handiwork. It not only had at its disposal substantial resources from the pool of looted riches of the SS, but also enjoyed the support of leading German trusts for geo-political reasons. The seat of this secret organization was Denia (Spain).
On May 29, 1951, Times correspondent C. L. Sulzberger reported the existence of a group which had revived the Fascist International in various countries “from Malmo to Tangier, and from Rome to Buenos Aires.” Nazi personnel, plunder, files and secret formulae had been shipped to Spain by the carloads where a brain trust was constituted.
Skorzeny became the owner of an “engineering and brokerage office” in Madrid, a profitable import-export business, which camouflaged his main work – Die Spinne/Odessa, which helped to escape from Spain over 500 war and Nazi criminals by the mid-1960s and and was involved with Spanish ultra-rightists until the 1970s. Among the over 500 incriminated war and nazi criminals who were enabled by the SS underground organization to flee from West Germany were, for example, the SS and concentration camp murderers Eisele, Mengele and Zind. Additionally, he and his wife Ilse became international dealers in the arms trade.
Skorzeny moved from France to Spain in 1953. He lived palatially, running his leg of Die Spinne from there. Supported by his friendship with Franco and the Spanish Minister of Information, Skorzeny maintained close links with influential West German circles and with his former SS cronies in the Federal Republic and other countries from his feudal villa in the municipality of Velasques in Madrid. 
The Skorzenys were closely linked with the biggest German trusts. Alfried Krupp, a financier of Hitler and war criminal – the Krupp “Family Enterprise” exploited a total of 97,952 foreign civilian workers, prisoners of war and concentration camp prisoners in its factories – was pardoned by U.S. Commissioner John J. McCloy and his vast holdings restored to him on February 4, 1951 (during the Korean War) at the request of the Adenauer government. On March 12, 1953, Krupp once again took over the control of his steel monopoly. “Ilse and Otto Skorzeny quickly picked up Krupp Steel as one of their most prestigious clients, representing the firm in Spain and South America. Soon the Krupp company began assembling jet fighters and other necessities for America’s Cold Way military build-up.” (Martin A. Lee, The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists. 1999, p. 71)
Skorzeny was deployed to Egypt well before the nationalist Nasser government came to power. “According to several published accounts, including one by former U.S. intelligence agent Miles Copeland [the CIA agent in charge – ed.], Skorzeny, who died in 1975, helped the CIA train the Egyptian security services in the 1950s.” (“Our Nazi allies,” May 3, 2000, Salon.com) It was clear to American intelligence that Skorzeny had ample funds at his disposal. He received one salary from the CIA and another from the government. The Egyptian government had been taken over by the CIA-backed General Mohammed Naguib. Skorzeny was sent to Egypt the following year by the same former Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, who was still working for the CIA, to act as Naguib’s military advisor. The aim was to combat potential Soviet and nationalist influence and they continued when Nasser and his movement took power. The presence of these Nazis (about 100) is cited by the writers Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman as ridiculous “proof” that Egypt was “planning a new Holocaust” to justify the Mossad’s employment of Skorzeny as assassin. Yet thousands of Nazis and Waffen SS troops had already been brought to the USA and Canada as part of Operations Paperclip and Checkmate. Was it not Israel together with Britain and France which launched the Suez war against Egypt? Was not Anwar Sadat interned by the British for three years during World War II for his active support of Nazi Germany?
In 1957 Skorzeny came very close to being awarded citizenship by Ireland, according to a new book. His initial application was approved by Department of External Affairs officer Conor Cruise O’Brien. Defence Minister Oscar Traynor and Department of Justice secretary Peter Berry both advised that Skorzeny be given a visa.
“Skorzeny travelled from Madrid to Ireland in 1957 where he was guest of honour at a glittering high society reception attended by Irish MPs,” the London Express reported. Kim Bielenberg, a Dublin-based journalist, said: “Skorzeny was feted by the Dublin social glitterati, including a young politician, Charles Haughey, who was later to become Ireland’s most controversial prime minister.” Between 1959 and 1969, he owned a 200-acre country estate in Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland. He also had property in Mallorca.
Skorzeny became a rallying point for the serpentine labyrinth of European fascism.
In Spain he worked with the covert NATIO-CIA Gladio network, the Portuguese intelligence PIDE and the notorious Aginter Press terrorist front (see here). His activity in South America contributed to the organization of the CONDOR terror network, the counterpart to Gladio.
According to Wikipedia, in the 1960s Skorzeny and former U.S. Colonel James Sanders set up the Paladin Group, which he envisioned as “an international directorship of strategic assault personnel [that would] straddle the watershed between paramilitary operations carried out by troops in uniforms and the political warfare which is conducted by civilian agents.” Based near Alicante, Spain, the Paladin Group specialized in arming and training guerrillas, and their clients included the Mossad, the South African Bureau of State Security. They also carried out work for the Greek military junta of 1967 – 1974, Augusto Pinochet’s fascist regime in Chile and reportedly provided personnel for José López Rega‘s notorious Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance death squad. Some of their operatives were recruited by the Spanish Interior Ministry to wage clandestine war against the Basque independence movement.
Although the crimes committed by Skorzeny were known to the Bonn government, it did not do anything to have him sentenced or at least prevent his neo-fascist activity. On the contrary. The Bonn government tolerated the activity of this war criminal and supported Die Spinne through its close cooperation with the Franco regime. During a debate in the Bonn parliament on October 16, 1951, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer admitted that 134 former Nazis, who were once serving in Ribbentrop’s Foreign Office, were now in the high echelons of the foreign service in the Bonn government. It was not for nothing that Adenauer had declared in 1949 that the German people had never surrendered in 1945. Like thousands of other former Nazis, Skorzeny was declared entnazifiziert (denazified) in absentia in 1952 by a West German government arbitration board, which now meant he could travel from Spain into other Western countries. In parallel, West Germany paid the newly-created Israeli state $862 million in reparations to be paid over 12 years, shocking many Jews the world over, the major factor along with US loans in stabilizing the fiscal crisis of the new government. (Wiesenthal felt this was an opportunistic cover-up for the failure to de-Nazify Germany and prosecute Nazi criminals.) On this basis Skorzeny entered the employ of the Israeli Zionists, only too well aware of his war crimes, as attested by Haaretz. 
What was the long-range program of Skorzeny and the post-war Nazi geo-political braintrust based in Bonn, Madrid and Latin America? Skorzeny’s developed collaboration with the Mossad was an integral part of the postwar alliance between the Zionists and German imperialism, exposed by Norman Finkelstein in his work, The Holocaust Industry. Skorzeny actually worked to re-establish German imperialism in the Middle East. His activity to destabilize Egypt and create an atmosphere of chaos through assassinations was to its advantage in creating a lucrative market for exports of its revived arms industry. In a provocative book written at the time, T.H. Teten refers to the Madrid Letter issued by the Geopolitical Centre of the Nazis in Madrid during the Korean War. They “see their main objective to be the maintaining of German and European neutrality if a showdown should come between the Soviets and the U. S. A. They visualize the creation of a united Europe under German domination and the build-up of a third power bloc. The Geo-political Center recommends a long-range orientation towards the East, which will subsequently open profitable markets to German industrialists. The Madrid circular clearly emphasizes why Germany and Europe should remain neutral in the event of war between the Soviet bloc and the United States:
“Not merely Germany, but the whole of Europe has been bled white and is not now in a position to act as a decisive factor in world politics. The aim of German policy, and that of Europe as a whole, must be to remain neutral in any new world conflict no matter the circumstances. This is especially important for Germany for she still has a long way to go until she can regain her political freedom and her economic strength to the fullest extent. Germany has exploited the tension between the East and the West to the utmost and she must continue her efforts in that direction. She must endeavor to influence discreetly the shaping of the future. Not only is it decisive how Germany acts in her own interests, but she in turn is also tremendously affected by the policies of the other European powers. England and France today are perhaps more dependent on the U. S. A. than the still occu- pied West German Republic.
“Europe, on the one hand, is today in an unenviable strategic position, but, on the other hand, it enjoys the advantage of being the geo-political center astride the Soviet colossus and the U. S. A. Present circumstances make it therefore necessary for Europe to be on guard against both sides in order to avoid being swallowed up by one of the two colossi. The dollar imperialism is certainly in no way less aggressive or reckless than communism. The British and French, although former ‘allies’ and ‘victors’ feel the impact of that arrogant dollar diplomacy to a greater extent than we Germans whose sympathy they (USA) hope to gain . . .” [Germany Plots with the Kremlin, New York: Henry Schuman, 1953, pp 81-82]
As the years went by, Gehlen, Skorzeny and their network of fascist collaborators accumulated enormous influence both in Europe and Latin America.
In June 1947, Evita Peron travelled to Madrid where “Generalissimo Francisco Franco – her husband’s model and mentor – greeted her with all the dignified folderol of a head of state.” Evita reportedly met secretly with Nazis who were part of the entourage or clique of Otto Skorzeny. “Evita’s next stop was equally fitting. The charismatic beauty traveled to Rome for an audience with Pope Pius XII. Former Justice Department Nazi-hunter John Loftus has charged that the First Lady of the Pampas and His Holiness discussed the care and feeding of the Nazi faithful in Argentina.” (Georg Hodel, “Evita, Swiss & the Nazis,” ConsortiumNews) A top-secret U.S. State Department report from May 1947 – a month before the trip of Evita Peron to Italy and Argentina – termed the Vatican “the largest single organization involved in the illegal movement of emigrants,” including many Nazis. Leading ex-Nazis later publicly thanked the Vatican for its vital assistance. [For details, see Martin A. Lee’s The Beast Reawakens]
Once a ruler in Argentina, Evita Peron got her funds from the Nazi treasuries stolen by Martin Bormann at the end of the war, and put hundreds of millions in the “Evita Peron Foundation” and Swiss bank accounts. This money aided war criminals like Josef Mengele, Heinrich Dorge, Hjalmar Schacht (who had worked under Herman Abs at the Reichsbank), Rudolf Freude, Dr. Fritz Thyssen, Dr. Gustav Krupp, Otto Skorzeny, and others. [Skorzeny: Hitler’s Commando; Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile]
Skorzeny shuttled between Franco’s Spain and Peron’s Argentina, where he served the Argentine dictator as a gray eminence. His goal was to foster the growth of a fascist Fourth Reich centred in Latin America. He could count on such loyalist operatives as Josef Mengele in Paraguay, on Adolf Eichmann and Hans Ulrich Rudel in Argentina; on Walter Rauff in Chile; and on Klaus Barbie in Bolivia. (“Barbie’s Postwar Ties With U.S. Army Detailed,” editorial, Boston Globe, dated February 14, 1983, shortly after the extradition of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi “Butcher of Lyons,” from Bolivia to France.)
The Nazis trafficked arms in Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, purchasing their weapons via Skorzeny, whose former subordinate Maj. Gerhard G. Mertins had started the Merex weapons business in Bonn, West Germany in 1963, which had a branch office in Savannah, Georgia. By arrangement with U.S. Lt. Col. Oliver North of the White House, Merex International Arms delivered 3 million rounds of ammunition to the Contras death squads in Nicaragua.
Nobody counts the costs of all the assassinations and killings perpetrated by Israel. Skorzeny’s victims numbered in the thousands. He died a rich man in July 1975 in Madrid, having been sheltered for 30 years by the great powers and their secret intelligence services and massing an estimated fortune of $15 million. His wife Ilse was an honorary member of the New York Women’s Republican Club.
1. The West German state created out of the Anglo-U.S. occupied zone (Bizone) was composed on Nazis and war criminals. The Brown Book: War and Nazi Criminals in West Germany published in 1965 covered more than 1,800 Nazis and war criminals in West German leadership positions (in the 3rd edition over 2,300 names) by that date, including their pasts – especially 15 Ministers and state secretaries, 100 admirals and generals, 828 judges or state lawyers and high law officers, 245 officials of the Foreign Office and of embassies and consulates in leading position, 297 high police officers and officers of the Verfassungsschutz. The first edition of the Brown Book was seized by the West Germany government at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but was published in 12 languages. The book was dismissed as “propaganda” but, according to Wikipedia, 99 per cent of the names proved to be correct. (National Council of the National Front of Democratic Germany and the Documentation Center of the State Archives Administration of the German Democratic Republic, Brown Book: War and Nazi Criminals in West Germany: State, Economy, Administration, Army, Justice, Science, Dresden: Verlag Zeit im Bild, 1965.)
2. See also: Paul Preston, “Franco’s Nazi haven,” History Today. Volume 47. Issue 7. July 1997; John Judge, Good Americans, 1983