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Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 3:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Artworks by Wilhelm Petersen – Part I

Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 3:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Successful Missions of Otto Skorzeny


He had a scar on his cheek, inflicted during a fencing duel. He was an Austrian National Socialist Party member since 1931 and was a noted figure in the lower and mid-level party structures prior to the war.

After failing to enlist as an airman, his party connections enabled him to become a member of Hitler’s elite bodyguard unit. After proving himself to be a capable soldier, most notably in the campaigns in Netherlands, France and Yugoslavia, he advanced through the ranks and became a Lieutenant in the Waffen SS. He was wounded on the Eastern front and transferred to a desk job in Berlin, after which he got into the SS Foreign Intelligence Service.


Here he was given a chance to propose his ideas on commando warfare, studying partisan methods he saw in the East. He advocated the use of a small force of saboteurs, kidnappers and assassins to minimize the casualties and maximize the effect and create panic in the enemy. During the war, his name was associated with a string of operations, some of them largely successful, some of them not.

Some were only planned, but never conducted and some were not exactly commando operations, but were more daring or reckless efforts that prove Skorzeny’s insatiable ambition and loyalty to Adolf Hitler. This is a list containing his successful missions, in chronological order.

5. Operation Oak, or the Gran Sasso Raid

A picture that was taken with Mussolini, after his rescue

In 1943, Skorzeny conducted his most famous action, the kidnapping (or rather a rescue) of then imprisoned Benito Mussolini, the former Duce of Italy. The mission was codenamed Operation Oak.

After success in the North African theater of War, the Allies landed in Sicily in 1943, and swiftly crushed the Italian Army in a series of victories. The fronttline was then settled on the so-called Winter Line, the Allied advance was held back by the Germans here, until the end of the war. Mussolini was overthrown and arrested by the Italian King, Emanuel the Third in 1943. Hitler wanted him back so he ordered Skorzeny together with five Luftwaffe agents and three agents selected from the Armed Forces.

Mussolini had first been held on the island of Sardinia, where Skorzeny started to gather intelligence. He was shot down during a reconnaissance mission but managed to bail in time to be saved by a passing Italian destroyer ship, still loyal to the Fascists. After this event, Mussolini was moved to the Campo Imperatore Hotel on the top of the Gran Sasso Mountain.

Together with agents Kurt Student and Harald Mors, Skorzeny devised a daring plan which would be remembered as one of the finest commando operations ever.

The mission was conducted via glider planes which landed on the mountain. The members of the 502nd Paratrooper Division then proceeded to the compound of the Campo Imperatore Hotel. In a rather dashing turn of events, the team, accompanied by the Police General Fernando Soleti, managed to persuade the carabinieri guarding the hotel to surrender their arms.

Skorzeny managed to take hold of a radio and formally greeted the high-level captive with words: “Duce, the Führer has sent me to set you free!”, to which Mussolini replied, “I knew that my friend would not forsake me!”

4. July 20 Assassination attempt

Wolf’s Lair after the assassination attempt

On 20 July 1944, Skorzeny was in Berlin when an attempt on Hitler’s life was made. Anti-Nazi German Army officers tried to seize control of Germany’s main decision centers before Hitler recovered from his injuries. Skorzeny helped put down the rebellion, spending 36 hours in charge of the Wehrmacht’s central command center before being relieved.

Even though this wasn’t an operation so to speak, it was a turning point as Skorzeny proved to be one of Hitler’s most loyal officers and one on which he could rely on. Skorzeny had by that point received many decorations for his actions and was one of the few people who enjoyed the Fuhrer’s trust and respect. Skorzeny was also an opportunistic figure who knew his way around the Reich’s headquarters and this event launched his professional career to new highs.

3. Operation Panzerfaust

German tank on the street in Budapest, 1944

It was obvious that the war wasn’t going to last much longer in 1944. The Kingdom of Hungary was ready to sign a secret separate peace treaty with the Soviets, as they advanced through Ukraine and Romania. The Hungarian regent, Miklos Horthy, was ready to sign the treaty.

Germany couldn’t afford the surrender of its southern ally, for they needed Hungary to hold the Red Army as much as they could. Otto Skorzeny was assigned to use blackmail and extortion to persuade the Hungarian regent to step down from power and enable the Pro-Fascist Arrow Cross Party to keep Hungary at war. The plan was to kidnap the regent’s son, Miklos Horthy Jr. who was a politician himself and who was an important supporter of his father.

The action was in full effect on 15th of October in 1944. The regent’s son was to meet the Yugoslav middlemen in the negotiations, but was instead captured by a commando unit and flown to Vienna and transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp.

The action was swift with no casualties . Some of the Hitler’s old-fashioned generals often opposed to Skorzeny’s methods for they have been in direct violations of every rule of war, but his popularity only grew, as he was Adolf Hitler’s favorite and most trusted soldier. Miklos Horthy Sr. was blackmailed after the event and he agreed to resign and let the country be occupied peacefully by German forces who installed a pro-German the regime.

2. Operation Griffen

Knocked-out Panther tank disguised as an M10 Tank Destroyer 

Operation Griffen was a ‘false flag’ mission under the command of Otto Skorzeny. It occurred during the Battle of Bulge in the winter of 1944, and its primary objective was to cause confusion and chaos among the Allied troops and capture the bridges over the river Meuse.

The mission employed the use of captured Allied vehicles and uniforms and was conducted by the English speaking members of the Einheit Stileu brigade, who were assembled through a series of tests that tested their English language skills and knowledge of  American slang and dialect.

Skorzeny lacked authentic American vehicles and equipment to conduct a large-scale operation that Hitler had unrealistically ordered. He had to improvise, so he camouflaged some German Panther tanks to look like American M10 Tank Destroyers. He also used German armored cars, which were adjusted to look more like their Allied counterparts.

The mission was set out in three directives: Demolition teams were to destroy the bridges when captured, alongside with sabotaging the enemies fuel and ammunition depots. Reconnaissance patrols would go ahead of the main squads and pass on false orders to the units they’ve met, reverse road signs and remove minefield warnings.

Lead commando units would work closely with the attacking units to disrupt the US chain of command by destroying field telephone wires and radio stations, and issuing false orders. They never managed to secure and hold the Meuse bridges, but they did cause a temporary havoc among the Allied ranks and Skorzeny succeeded in applying his tactics. Rumors were spread that the commandos were trying to kidnap Eisenhower in Paris and that one of the Germans presented himself as Field Marshall Montgomery.

This led to a series of mishaps, one of them being the maltreatment of Montgomery by the American soldiers who shot the tires of his car suspecting he was an impostor. Eisenhower was forced to spend Christmas under high-security alert. After the dust settled, the American General put out a “Wanted” poster with Skorzeny’s face on it, just like in a Western movie.

1. Battle for Oder River

Knocked-out Panther tank disguised as an M10 Tank Destroyer 

In January 1945, the Soviets were advancing through Poland and it’s scouts were already on the natural border with Germany, the Oder river. Otto Skorzeny was sent there to organise a defence force and hold the bridgehead at Schwedt. The commando had to improvise and gather all the troops he could muster, for the high command hadn’t given enough men for a realistic defense.

The core around which he assembled his troops was an elite paratrooper unit. He called out for Hamburg dockyard workers, pilots who had no planes and an SS battalion of Germans from Romania. He also borrowed an anti-tank unit from his fellow SS officer and managed to employ the cadets of the Friedenthal Sniper School.

Skorzeny held the bridge for 30 days, outnumbered 15 to 1. He managed to achieve that with careful positioning of his sniper teams who covered the approach route and completely immobilized the Soviet infantry. Undoubtedly, this operation disrupted the Red Army’s timetable, buying Germany weeks to improve its defenses.


Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Top 10 Surviving NSDAP Built Buildings

10. Olympiastadion Berlin

Das Olympia-Stadion in Berlin in 1936


The Olympic Stadium in 2017

9. Olympic Village Berlin

The Olympic village. Photo Credit.
The Olympic village 1936

1478601752-9418-08-2013-img04-medium-640x386Berlin Olympic village of 1936

8. Prora Holiday Resort

Prora Beach Resort in 2011

Prora is a beach resort located on the island of Rugen, Germany. It was built as part of the Strenght through Joy project in the period between 1936 and 1939.

The Strenght through Joy was a large-scale, state-operated  leisure organization in Germany that promoted the advantages of National-Socialism. In the 1930s, it became the largest tourism operator in the world.

Prora beach resort was designed by Clemens Klotz, who won a design competition organized by Hitler and Speer. More than 9,000 workers were involved in the project.

The central building was 4,5 km long and it was located 150 meters away from the coastline.

“Koloss von Prora” or the Colossus of Prora.

7.  Flak Towers

The 'L-Tower' at Augarten, Vienna. Photo Credit.
The ‘L-Tower’ at Augarten, Vienna. Photo Credit.

Flak Towers were structures made of concrete that were used for anti-aircraft defense and as civilian shelters during bombing raids in Germany and Austria.

In Berlin, three were built, two have survived the war and are still standing today.

Another three were built in Vienna. The L-Tower and the tower near the Obere Augartenstrasse survived to this day.

In Hamburg, two of the flak towers remained partially.

Flakturm IV G-Tower in Hamburg.

The towers proved to be almost indestructible, so there was never a large-scale initiative for their demolishment.

Several were destroyed after the war, but the ones that remained were turned into restaurants, nightclubs, or music shops.

6. NSDAP Party Rally Grounds Nuremberg


Reichsparteitagsgelände or the NSDAP Rally Grounds covered an area of 11 square miles, just outside of Nuremberg.

The entire complex consisted of many structures, some of which built before the NSDAP, like the Luitpold Hall and the Hall of Honor (which was initially built to honor the soldiers from Nuremberg who died during WWI).

The largest and best-preserved building that remains today is the Congress Hall. The foundation stone was laid in 1935, but it was never finished. It was planned by the Nuremberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff.

Zeppelinfeld, main tribune

It was intended to serve as a congress center for the NSDAP with a self-supporting roof and should have provided 50,000 seats.

The building reached a height of 39 m (128 ft) (a height of 70 m was planned) and a diameter of 250 m (820 ft).

5. Haus der Kunst Munich

Haus der Kunst in 2014

The House of Art in Munich ― Hitler’s own shrine to his aesthetic ideals  through an inaugural exhibition titled “The Great German Art Exhibition” that occurred on 18 July 1937.

The building was designed by Paul Ludwig Troost and it is considered to be the first monumental example of NSDAP architecture.

4. Ministry of Aviation Berlin

The Ministry of Aviation, December 1938

Detlev-Rohwedder Haus was the largest office space in the world when it was constructed in 1936. The building is most famous for housing the Ministry of Aviation of The Third Reich.

It was designed by Ernst Sagebiel, a prominent architect that was also responsible for the reconstruction design of the Tempelhof airport.

Photo Credit.

3. Keroman Submarine base Lorient

An original photograph of the submarine base at Keroman taken by me from the Port Louis ferry in August 2005.

In 1940, Grand Admiral Karl Donitz needed a base of operations on the French shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

The  Keroman Submarine Base became the starting point of numerous U-Boat operations.

In the period between February 1941 and January 1942, three gigantic reinforced concrete buildings were erected on the Keroman peninsula, near the French town of Lorient. The base was capable of sheltering thirty submarines under cover.

Although Lorient was heavily damaged by Allied bombing raids, this naval base survived through to the end of the war.

2. NS Ordensburg

View to the Ordensburg from the former town of Wollseifen. Photo Credit.
View to the Ordensburg from the town of Wollseifen

NS Ordensburg is a common name for three remote castle-like schools that were  to educate the future party leaders.

The first one was built in 1934, Ordensburg Sonthofen in Allgau, following the design of Hermann Giesler.

"Die Burg" in Sonthofen Germany.
“Die Burg” in Sonthofen Germany.

The school nurtured the elite status, as it enrolled only trustworthy candidates who were of “pure blood,” between 25 and 30 years of age, mentally and physically fit and already members of the NSDAP.

Besides Sonthofen, the other two Ordensburg schools were Vogelsang in Eifel and Krossinsee in Pomerania.

Ordensburg Krössinsee. Photo Credit.
Ordensburg Krössinsee.

All schools were equipped with the state-of-art technology, sports gymnasiums, cinemas and other commodities.

With the fall of the Third Reich, the schools were used for other purposes.

All three locations were used for military purposes after the war in the countries that inherited them ― Sonthofen for the German Bundeswehr, Vogelsang for the Belgian Armed Forces and Krossinsee was left for the Polish.

Today, only Krossinsee is still in military use, serving as the headquarters of the Polish Army’s 2nd Battalion and 12th Tank Brigade.

The other two castles are turned into tourist attractions and are marked as historic sites.

1. Eagle’s Nest Berchtesgaden

Kehlsteinhaus. Photo Credit.
Kehlsteinhaus. Photo Credit.

Kehlsteinhaus, or as the Allies called it “The Eagle’s Nest,” was built atop of the Kehlsteinhaus summit that rises above Obersalzberg in the Bavarian Alps.

The large house on the top of the mountain also includes an underground tunnel with an elevator that leads to a large parking lot, 124 meters bellow.

The interior was decorated by the famous Hungarian-born architect and designer, Paul Laszlo. Benito Mussolini donated a large fireplace made of red marble as a token of appreciation.

1945 photo of entrance tunnel to elevator going up to the Kehlsteinhaus, visible at top. Photo Credit.
1945 photo of entrance tunnel to elevator going up to the Kehlsteinhaus, visible at top.

Today the building is owned by a charitable trust and serves as a restaurant offering indoor dining and an outdoor beer garden.




Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  

John F. Kennedy Called Adolf Hitler “Stuff of Legends”

JFK hitler

A diary kept by President John F Kennedy as a young man travelling in Europe, revealing his fascination with Adolf Hitler, is up for auction.

Kennedy, then 28, predicted “Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived”. “He had in him the stuff of which legends are made,” he continued. Kennedy wrote the entry in the summer of 1945 after touring Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat. It is thought by historians to be the only diary ever kept by the 35th US president.

The original copy was auctioned on 26 April 2017 in Boston for $718,750.That’s significantly higher than the original bid estimate of $200,000.

The 61-page diary includes both handwritten and typed pages, which are bound in a black leather binder.


It was sent to auction by longtime owner Deirdre Henderson, who worked as a research assistant for Kennedy while he was a US senator with White House ambitions. He wrote that Hitler “had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him”. The 61-page diary was kept by Kennedy around four months after Hitler committed suicide. At the time, the young American was touring Europe as a newspaper reporter after finishing his military service aboard a ship in the Pacific Ocean.

Nearly two decades later Kennedy would address crowds in West Berlin as US president. He gave Ms Henderson the diary in order to inform her of his views on foreign policy and national security, she said. In a description of the auction, she wrote: “When JFK said that Hitler ‘had in him the stuff of which legends are made’, he was speaking to the mystery surrounding him.

Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 2:05 am  Leave a Comment