World War II German SS Commando. He was called "The most dangerous man in Europe". Born into an Austrian family with a long record of military service, Skorzeny was educated as a civil engineer. While a student, he became a respected fencer; his famous facial scar dates from that time. He joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1930, and had a part in the Anschluss, preventing Austrian President Miklas from being killed by Nazis. Rejected by the Luftwaffe as too tall and too old, he became a communications officer. Wounded during the Russian campaign, he was returned to Germany to recover. His leadership skills having been recognized, he was selected to train men for commando units to be modeled on British units. His troops were required to have skills in parachuting, diving, explosives, aviation, espionage, and foreign languages. This is the foundation of modern Special Operations. Skorzeny took part in several operations, the most famous being his 1943 rescue of Benito Mussolini. He and his men used a glider to get into a remote luxury hotel where Mussolini was being held, and got him out without firing a shot. In October 1944, he kidnapped the son of Hungarian President Horthy, then captured the President himself. During the Battle of the Bulge, Skorzeny's troops repeatedly infiltrated American units using captured jeeps and uniforms. He was rumored to be planning the capture of General Eisenhower in Paris, but precautions were taken, and that part of the operation came to nought. Imprisoned for two years after the war, Skorzeny was tried for war crimes for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge; he was acquitted after British commandos testified for the defense, stating that they had used the same tactics. His decorations included the Iron Cross, the Knight's Cross, and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. After his acquittal, Skorzeny traveled to Argentina and got control of part of the money that Martin Bormann had left with President Juan Peron. He also had an affair with Peron's wife, Eva. He used the money to fund ODESSA, aiding numerous ex Nazis. At various times he lived in Ireland, Egypt and Spain. He served as a consultant to Egyptian President Nasser, and Spanish President Francisco Franco. Otto Skorzeny died after a five year battle with spinal cancer.
Bio by: Bob Hufford