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Operations Skorzeny’s Commandos

Page Created
April 7th, 2023
Last Updated
April 7th, 2023
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Additional Information
Order of Battle


September 12th, 1943 – September 13th, 1943
Unternehmen Eiche
Fallschirmjäger, SS Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal
Staff company and two companies of the Fallschirmjäger-Lehr-Regiment and 16 men from the SS Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal, two war correspondents and an Italian General. The mission is under command of Major Mors. Their mission is to Liberate the captured former Prime Minister of Italy, Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini who is being held at a hotel at Gran Sasso mountain, Italy.

In July 1943, Benito Mussolini, the former leader of Italy, is arrested by Partisans after being removed from power by King Vittorio Emanuele III. The new Italian government under Pietro Badoglio seeks to terminate the alliance with Nazi Germany and make peace with the Allies. Hitler orders a rescue mission to save Mussolini, led by General Kurt Student. Otto Skorzeny’s troops are placed under his command in assistance of the Fallschirmjäger General.

After Mussolini is moved to various locations, Skorzeny and his team, along with other German troops, search for him in Rome. They eventually discover that Mussolini is being held captive at the Hotel Gran Sasso on a mountain. General Student confirms the location and assigns Major Otto-Harald Mors to plan the rescue operation.

On September 12th, 1943, Operation Eiche (Oak) is launched. Gliders carrying German Fallschirmjäger and Skorzeny’s men land near the hotel under command of Oberleutnant Freiherr Von Berlepsch. The ground assault column, led by Major Mors, takes a longer route to avoid potential resistance. Mussolini is successfully rescued and brought to safety.

There are discrepancies in the accounts given by Skorzeny and his adjutant Radl, who exaggerate their own roles and downplay the contributions of others. The rescue operation becomes a significant event in World War II and highlights Skorzeny’s reputation as a daring and resourceful commando.

November 28th, 1943 – December 1st, 1943
Unternehmen Weitsprung (Operation Long Jump)
Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal
Unternehmen Weitsprung, was a by the Soviet Union claimed special Forces operation by Nazi Germany. The operation aimed at assassinating the leaders of the Allied Powers, including Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the conference in Tehran, Iran. The plan involved a team of German commandos who would parachute into the conference venue and carry out the assassinations. The Soviet Union revealed the existence of the operation.

After the war Skorzeny denied Unternehmen Weitsprung ever existed.

November – December 2nd, 1943
Paris Coup
Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal
In November 1943, Skorzeny is ordered to go to Paris with one Company. Here, Skorzeny informed of a potential crisis in the Vichy government. There are concerns that Marshal Petain, then in unoccupied southern France, might be in contact with General de Gaulle and is considering leaving Vichy for North Africa, which is under Allied control. This scenario had to be prevented, even if it required relocating Petain and his associates near Paris. The unit is prepared to act upon this situation with the code phrase “The wolf howls” as the signal from Führerhauptquartiere for immediate action.

Two rifle battalions from the SS-Division Hohenstaufen and two police battalions are added to his command. They are to be publicly visible. Additionally, three infantry companies are stationed near a Vichy airfield and kept in reserve. The police battalions are strategically positioned throughout the town and assigned the task of managing traffic control. This measure intends to serve as a cover, masking the unit’s true intentions and preventing any suspicion of the actual plans. When the operation is initiated, these police battalions will tighten their positions, creating a secure perimeter that will effectively prevent anyone, or at the very least any vehicle, from leaving the area. The three reserve companies will close roads and potentially surround government buildings if needed. Headquarters is set in the town center for proximity and understanding of local conditions.

However, the Paris command sounds alarms repeatedly and then retracts them, causing uncertainty. Differing views among German authorities further complicates matters. Disagreements arose among various officials, from the Foreign Office to the Security Service and Intelligence Chief. The conflicting information is about to stand in the way to carry out a successful coup.

However, on December 2nd, 1944, an order is received from Führerhauptquartiere to halt preparations and withdraw.

May 25th, 1944 – June 6th, 1944
Unternehmen Rösselsprung
Fallschirmjäger, Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal, SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 500
Unternehmen Rösselsprung, was a military operation planned and executed by Nazi Germany. The mission of the operation was capturing or killing the Yugoslav Partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito, as well as disrupting the Partisan forces in Yugoslavia. The operation involved a massive airborne assault, with SS-Fallschirmjäger being dropped behind enemy lines to seize key strategic points and secure the area for the subsequent ground forces.
However, the operation failed due to a combination of factors, including poor planning, intelligence leaks, and effective resistance by the Partisan forces. The failure of Unternehmen Rösselsprung represented a significant setback for the German war effort in Yugoslavia and highlighted the resilience of the Partisan forces.

Summer and autumn of 1944
Unternehmen Forelle (Operation Trout)
SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau
Unternehmen Forelle was the codename for the German guerrilla warfare against the supply lines of the Red Army in southeastern Europe by the SS-Kampfschwimmergruppe of the SS-Jagdverband Südost / SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau. Strategist and planning chief is Reserve Major Friedrich Hummel. The overall leadership of the SS-Jagdverbande was in the hands of Otto Skorzeny.

SS-Kampfschwimmers of the subunit SS-Jagdeinsatz Donau conduct a guerrilla river warfare on the Danube during the late summer and autumn of 1944 in “Operation Forelle”. With four captured motor yachts equipped with 2 cm machine guns and Machine guns, they sank 30,000 Gross Registered Tons of Red Army ships and barges.

August 31st, 1944 – October 1st, 1944
Unternehmen Landfried (Operation Landfried)
SS-Jäger-Bataillon 502
Unternehmen Landfried was a secret mission ordered by SS-Sturmbannführer Skorzeny in August 1944. The operation was performed by six airplanes and fifty-five men of SS-Jäger-Bataillon 502 to the area of Temesburg. Their mission was distributing weapons among the civilian population, organising them, and establishing a defensive line between Temesburg and Kronstadt to halt the advance of the Russians and Romanians until German troops could relieve them.

However, due to changing circumstances, the mission plan is altered, and three reconnaissance and sabotage groups are formed under the leadership of SS-Oberscharführer Fritsch, SS-Oberscharführer Hahn, and SS-Obersturmführer Walter Girg. They must avoid direct contact with the enemy, live off the land for 14 days, and obtain all information from the population.

October 15th, 1944 – October 16th, 1944
Unternehmen Panzerfaust/Eisenfaust
SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 600, SS-Jäger-Bataillon 502
Unternehmen Panzerfaust a.k.a. Unternehmen Eisenfaust. Their mission is kidnapping of Miklós Horthy Jr. to force his father, Admiral Miklós Horthy, to resign as Regent of Hungary in favor of Ferenc Szálasi, the pro-Nazi leader of the Arrow Cross Party.

The operation was under the leadership of Hungarian Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer Otto Winkelmann. The SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 600 and SS-Jäger-Bataillon 502 flew to Hungary and captured the country’s leader, Admiral Miklós Horthy, his son and captured the Buda Palace in Budapest. The operation resulted in the establishment of a puppet government in Hungary, which remained in power until the end of the war. The operation was seen as a significant success for the Nazis and demonstrated their willingness to use covert operations to achieve their goals.

December 16th, 1944 – December 28th, 1944
Unternehmen Greif
150. Panzer Brigade Einheit Stielau, SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 600, SS-Jagdverbände
Unthernehmen Greif was a German military special forces operation during Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ,led by Otto Skorzeny. There were two goals in the operation. The main goal was to capture at least two of the bridges across the river Meuse. The second goal of the operation was infiltrating German soldiers disguised as American troops behind enemy lines. The mission area was the Malmedy area, Ardennes, Belgium.

The start of Unternehmen Greif on December 16th, 1944, faced immediate challenges as Panzer-Brigade 150 became entangled at a blown-up bridge near Losheim. The brigade struggled to maintain its intended position and execute surprise actions due to congestion and chaotic traffic. Skorzeny, realising the setbacks, traveled on foot to the front lines, where he addressed his commanders and learned that the German attack had caught the Allies off guard. However, progress was limited on the first day, and Skorzeny relied on Kampfgruppe Peiper to create a breakthrough.

On December 17th, 1944, Skorzeny attended a staff conference and proposed combining his battle groups into a conventional army unit, which was accepted. Panzer-Brigade 150 was assigned to capture the strategic road junction in Malmedy, known as “Rollbahn C,” to flank American positions on the Elsenborn ridge and support the 12. SS-Panzer-Division and Kampfgruppe Peiper. Skorzeny relied on information gathered by a commando team accidentally entering Malmedy, unaware that the town’s defense had been reinforced with additional American units and prepared obstacles like bridges, viaducts, and minefields.

On December 20th, 1944, Kampfgruppe X and Kampfgruppe Y of Operation Greif assembled near Ligneuville, while Kampfgruppe Z remained as a reserve. Otto Skorzeny devised a two-pronged attack plan, but their chances of surprise were ruined when one of their men was captured and revealed the planned attack. American Intelligence issued a warning about the impending attack.

On December 21st, 1944, Kampfgruppe X launched their assault from Ligneuville towards Malmedy. However, they triggered a tripwire, exposing their position, and faced heavy resistance from American defenders. The assault eventually subsided with heavy casualties and retreat.

Meanwhile, Panthers positioned near a bridge engaged American defenders, including the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, inside a house. Private Francis Currey displayed bravery and disabled one of the Panthers, contributing to the defense of the position. Throughout the day, American artillery barrages intensified, and Skorzeny observed the lack of progress. The fighting continued, but Panzer-Brigade 150 regrouped on a hill south of the Warche valley. Skorzeny himself suffered a shrapnel injury to his face.

On December 22nd, 1944, Kampfgruppe Y attempted another attack east of Malmedy but was forced to retreat due to prepared American outposts. The 291st Engineers demolished bridges, effectively blocking the road west of Malmedy. The situation remained tense as further demolitions were carried out by American forces. Panzer-Brigade 150 continues to hold the line until it is relieved by elements of the 18. Volksgrenadier-Division.

Meanwhile, during Unternehmen Greif, Otto Skorzeny dispatched reconnaissance and demolition commando teams behind enemy lines. They operated in German uniforms and carried out various tasks. Some teams altered road signs to misdirect American troops, while others gathered intelligence and spread false information. However, there were setbacks and instances of mistaken identity, leading to friendly-fire incidents.
Skorzeny’s commandos successfully caused confusion and paranoia among American forces. They created doubt about the security of passwords and prompted increased caution at checkpoints. Rumors of a large German paratrooper unit heading to capture General Eisenhower caused anxiety and resulted in Eisenhower being relocated.

Unfortunately, the chaotic nature of the Battle of the Bulge led to tragic incidents of friendly fire. Confusion, mistaken identities, and the fast-paced nature of the battle contributed to these accidents. Incidents occurred where American soldiers mistakenly engaged and harmed their fellow comrades.

These incidents continued into early 1945, further highlighting the challenges and risks posed by the presence of Skorzeny’s commando units during the battle.

December 1944
Unternehmen Brauner Bär
Kampfgeschwader 200, SS-Jagdverband Ost
Their mission is to establish operational links between the many small groups of German forces which had been isolated in the area to the north-west of Minsk behind the Soviet front line on the one hand and the leadership, under Stepan Andreivich Bandera, of Ukrainian anti-Soviet guerrilla forces in the area on the other hand with a view to locating and attacking the lines of communication supporting Soviet front-line formations. Kampfgeschwader 200, a specialised Luftwaffe unit, undertakes the perilous task of flying behind enemy lines, dropping the SS teams to carry out these dangerous assignments.

Regrettably, almost all of the dispatched groups, with the exception of one, are swiftly surrounded by the advancing Soviet Army and annihilated.
However, the surviving group manages to join forces with a larger pocket and devises an air bridge to transport essential supplies. Although they evade capture for several months, they eventually meet the same fate as their comrades, succumbing to the overwhelming Soviet forces arrayed against them.

December 30th, 1944 – past end of the war
Unternehmen Unke-Nikolaus
SS-Kampfschwimmers, Frontaufklärungskommando 206, Lehr Regiment Kurfürst
On December 30th, 1944, the Brandenburgers now part of them incorporated with Skorzeny’s Jagdverbande, a German special forces unit, are deployed in the operation “Unke-Nikolaus” to defend the besieged Hungarian capital, Budapest, against the Soviet forces. They were part of the Frontaufklärungskommando 206 (Army Group South) and worked alongside local special forces (“residents”) recruited by the Front Reconnaissance Command.

The goal of the operation was to defend Budapest and carry out espionage, sabotage, and disruption of supply against the Soviet invaders. The residents, who were disguised within the city, were tasked with reporting on enemy movements, providing safe meeting places for German agents and commandos, and carrying out acts of sabotage. They were not supposed to know each other and acted independently.

Explosive material was hidden at various locations in the city for sabotage purposes, and crates with accelerants were also placed in other locations. The aim was to target transport infrastructure and public buildings. The operation continued until the fall of Budapest on February 13th, 1945, and all participants were considered to have fallen.

German liaison officers were smuggled through the front or dropped off by parachute to maintain communication with the residents. The operation even continued beyond the end of the war.

March 5th, 1945 – March 28th, 1945
Schwedt Bridgehead
SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 600, SS-Jagdverbände

March 5th, 1945 – March 28th, 1945
Zehden bridgehead
SS-Fallschirmjäger-Bataillon 600, SS-Jagdverbände
The surviving members of SS-Jagdverband Mitte and SS-Fallschirmjäger-Batallion 600, enter the Zehden bridgehead on March 5th, 1944. They form the core of Kampfgruppe Solar, led by SS-Hauptsturmführer Siegfried Milius, which is integrated into the Infantrie Division z.b.V. 610 under General Lendle’s overall command. The unit defends the locks that control the water level for the Finow and Hohenzollern Canals in the Bridgehead Zehden. They withdraw during the night of March 27th/28th, 1945, crossing the Oder by swimming. Many of them drown.

Middle East

June 21st, 1943 – July 9th, 1943
Unternehmen François
Fallschirmjäger, Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal
85 Fallschirmjäger, sixteen men of the Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal. Their mission is to sabotage British and American supply lines bound for the Soviet Union with the help of the Qashqai people in Iran.

The units are deployed to Iran for the operation. They collaborate with pro-Axis sympathizers in Iran and Palestinians in British territory. Coordinated attacks are launched on major supply routes and ports, damaging Allied infrastructure. However, the Axis interference is eventually detected, leading to increased security measures by the Allies and reprisals against suspected saboteurs.

In the Eastern Front, the Germans plan the Citadel Offensive to regain the initiative and divert Soviet resources. The offensive begins, but the Soviets are well-prepared with strong defenses. The battle becomes a grueling and costly stalemate.

Meanwhile, in Iran, the Germans face depleted supplies and the possibility of betrayal. SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Skorzeny orders the withdrawal of German troops to prevent capture. Evacuation is carried out before the Allies can wipe out the remaining resistance.
Despite setbacks, the Allies secure the Persian Corridor and resume their supply efforts to the Soviet Union. The operation’s impact is limited, but it highlights the Axis attempt to disrupt supply lines and their reliance on unconventional tactics.

After War

Unternehmen Werwolf (Operation Werewolf)
A planned Nazi underground resistance movement in Allied-occupied Europe.