History | Politics
He was the managing director of a Viennese scaffolding company
- and became the alleged “most dangerous man in
He repeatedly committed war crimes in World War II - but a War
Crimes Tribunal proclaimed him innocent!
He remained a fanatical National Socialist until his death - and
became a global media phenomenon, particularly in the countries
of his former enemies!
His name was Otto Skorzeny, member of the Waffen-SS and
famous for freeing Mussolini from Gran Sasso. For the first time,
this film tells the true story of the man from Vienna many inaccurately
regard as an example of “a good, a brave, an honourable
Nazi”, based on his recently released secret intelligence
agency files and his personal estate.
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History | Politics
Otto Skorzeny was one of Hitler's most elusive “craftsmen of war”. Born in Vienna in 1908, he
was appointed commander of the newly established SS special units in 1943 and tasked with a
new kind of warfare: fast special operation strikes with air support that could hit even far behind
enemy lines. That same year, Skorzeny became both famous and feared around the world due to
the spectacular liberation of dictator Benito Mussolini from the Gran Sasso mountain in the Italian
Abruzzo region. Broad dueling scars from his student days gave him his nom de guerre: Scarface.
To the secret services of the Allied forces, he was “the most dangerous man in Europe.” Until the
end of the war, Skorzeny was Hitler's “most favorite command soldier”. He received the orders for
his most daring missions from no one but the Führer himself: after Mussolini's liberation, the capture
of Hungarian dictator Miklós Horthy, for example, or the creation of an American-uniformed
Waffen-SS unit to sabotage behind Allied lines during the Ardennes offensive. Even aiding in the
development of special arms, Skorzeny fought doggedly to the end to avert the Third Reich's
defeat. He was also critically involved in the organization of the “Werwolf” Nazi resistance combat
Skorzeny's special operations had a decisive impact on the course of World War II. Even more effective
than any of his missions, however, was the Skorzeny myth. German propaganda turned him
into an archetypal “Aryan war hero”: far superior to his opponents, never shrinking from any task,
Hitler's “one-man secret weapon”, a kind of Nazi “James Bond”. Many still expected him to score
a crucial surprise coup during the final stage of the war, a last-minute twist that would turn everything
around, such as assassinating the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, General Dwight
D. Eisenhower, amidst his general staff in Paris. The mission never took place and was never seriously
planned. However, the rumors about it made the name Skorzeny a myth on both sides of the
front. Across the world, Skorzeny above all others represents the idealization of the “upright
German warrior” - respected equally by friend and foe - and is held in high esteem in radical rightwing
and military circles to this day.
Apart from his myth, Skorzeny himself survived the war, though his voluntary surrender to the
Americans and his subsequent acquittal from all charges at a war crimes trial in Dachau, Germany,
only fueled his myth all the more.
To avoid the possibility of further trials in Germany, Skorzeny fled to Generalissimo Franco's Spain
where he died in 1975. A group of former National Socialists and neo-Nazis brought Skorzeny's ashes
to Vienna where, after a triumphal procession, they interred them at the Döbling graveyard. Even
his last journey was turned into a political affair: a gathering of Nazis old and young at their hero's
final place of rest, a pathetic funeral procession, suspiciously watched but ultimately tolerated by the
Austrian state police. The man Otto Skorzeny is dead but his myth endures to this day. Men around
the world still dream of his adventures, read his books, compete with their role model in state-ofthe-art
3D computer games, and will even buy a Skorzeny puppet as an object of admiration.
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