Otto Skorzeny (June 12, 1908 – July 7, 1975) was a Standartenführer in the German Waffen-SS during World War II. After fighting on the Eastern Front, and being recommended to Adolf Hitler by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, he is known as the commando leader who led Operation Eiche, the rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from imprisonment after his overthrow. This rescue was followed up by other operations such as Rösselsprung, Eisenfaust, Greif, and Werwolf. Otto Skorzeny succumbed to a spine tumor on July 7, 1975 in Madrid. He was cremated and his ashes were later brought to Vienna and interred in the Skorzeny family grave at Döblinger Friedhof.
- War is inevitable, and this time, it will be truly world wide. It will unravel everywhere and there will be no limit to its battlefields. The condemnations of Nuremberg will be one of the main reasons, which will cause this war to be a conflict whose horror will be unparalleled. These condemnations gave birth, in fact, to a new conception which makes the victor a hero and the vanquished an odious criminal. By this fact, each leader will wage war like a demon in order not to be the loser and become, consequently, a criminal. All the atrocities that can be imagined by man, will be committed during this next war, in order to prevent the enemy from acquiring victory. What I have just said, I have repeated to the American representatives and I have warned them that all of the mothers of the entire world will one day curse America.
- Interviewed by the Agence France Presse (AFP), in Cairo (30 January 1953), quoted in an article in Le Monde, entitled "Les Condamnations de Nuremberg seront responsible de l'horreur de la prochaine guerre, affirme Otto Skorzeny."
- My knowledge of pain, learned with the sabre, taught me not to be afraid. And just as in dueling when you must concentrate on your enemy's cheek, so, too, in war. You cannot waste time on feinting and sidestepping. You must decide on your target and go in.
- Comparing his dueling days with commando tactics, as quoted in Skorzeny (1972) by Charles Whiting, p. 17
- Although care must be taken not to kill or injure anyone while these persons are being taken into custody, resistance must be broken!
- Quoted in The Race for Rome (1975) by Dan Kurzman
- Duce, the Führer has sent me to set you free!
- To Benito Mussolini, upon rescuing him from after his overthrow, as quoted in Hitler's Raid to Save Mussolini (2005) by Greg A. Annussek, p. 228
- Hitler decided that Mussolini must be freed from the Italian Partisans because Benito was his friend and had acted in good faith.
- To Jack Bell of the Chicago Daily News, as quoted in Scoop : An Historical Adventure (2006) by James H. Walters, p. 32
- I would never have surrendered, because of my pledge as a German officer. But when Hitler died, that pledge ended. By killing himself, Hitler saved thousands of lives. They relieved us of our oaths as soldiers.
- To Jack Bell of the Chicago Daily News, as quoted in Scoop : An Historical Adventure (2006) by James H. Walters, p. 34
- Give me a dozen men who are not afraid to die, and I'll accomplish what all the Generals & Admirals with all their Armies & Battleships cannot...
Quotes about Skorzeny
- The most dangerous man in Europe.
- Title bestowed on Skorzeny by the Allies and the press towards the end of the war, as quoted in The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Special Ops Forces (2002) by Marc Cerasini
- Otto Skorzeny was probably the most effective special forces commander of World War II.
- Mark A. Cerasini, in The Complete Idiot's Guide to the U.S. Special Ops Forces (2002)
- You have performed a military feat which will become part of history. You have given me back my friend Mussolini!
- Adolf Hitler, congratulating Skorzeny on the mission to rescue Mussolini.
- Skorzeny was a giant of a man with a chalk-line scar scribbled from the left temple to the corner of his mouth, above a massive chin.
- William Stevenson, in The Bormann Brotherhood (1973)