adolf hitler

A “Beautiful Journey”: Rare Pictures of Hitler Meeting Britain’s Duke of Windsor Up for Auction

A photo album showing the Duke of Windsor meeting Adolf Hitler while on a state visit to the Third Reich Germany in 1937 is to be sold at auction.


It was created and captioned by Edward’s sole equerry, Sir Dudley Forwood, and has been in his family ever since.

The album features pictures – many of them previously unseen – of the former Edward VIII meeting top ranking Nazis.

More than 60 pictures detail the official visits the Duke went on with his new wife Wallis Simpson, who had been the cause of the abdication crisis the previous year.

Sir Dudley became the Duke’s personal attendant after the abdication until the outbreak of war, when he returned to his regiment, the Scots Guards.

He later said the Duke’s trip to Germany was “not to support the National Socialists as many thought”, but so the Duchess of Windsor could experience a state visit.

The album is being sold by auction house Duke’s of Dorchester along with Sir Dudley’s invitation to the funeral of the Duchess of Windsor in 1986.

Timothy Medhurst, an expert from Duke’s, said the album is expected to fetch up to £1,000.

“This is an incredible piece of history with impeccable provenance,” he said.

“It shows the couple in a relaxed environment being shown around by Nwho are clearly proud of their nation.

“The photos are neatly compiled in an album with captions written shortly after the visit. Some are quite amusing and include him (Sir Dudley) moaning about having to listen to a school choir for two hours.

“At the end of the concert he says both nations’ national anthems were played and he adds, ‘The press interest as to whether or not the Duke would follow the example of the Nazis and give their salute was quite funny’.

“He writes about how German firms were encouraged to provide staff with sports grounds and if they didn’t they’d get a bad ‘Nazi Mark’.

“In one caption he notes how the Duke told (Nazi politician) Dr (Robert) Ley that demolishing a tower so it could be rebuilt solely for aesthetic reasons was a ‘waste’, to which Ley replied, ‘We have the bricks, the mortar and the labour’.

“It is a unique piece of history compiled at a time when the Nazi war machine was preparing for European conquest and the systematic slaughter of millions of people.

“There will be interest from royal collectors but also those with an interest in history and the war.

“It is being auctioned in a sale that includes a number of other items from this period including medals.”

Sir Dudley once recalled the Duke telling Hitler: “The Germans and the British races are one. They should always be one. They are of Hun origin.”

He added that the Duke must have forgotten about the Norman invasion.

The photographs show the Duke and his wife visiting many places, including a mine, a winter relief headquarters, a lightbulb factory and a school, which Sir Dudley noted was being set up “‘to teach the young Germans to become true National Socialists. It is run on the lines of an English public school with every type of facilities for games”.

Many images record how the couple were shown around by Ley, who was in charge of the visit and a hardcore National Socialist.

He remained in Hitler’s inner circle until the end and was later arrested, but killed himself while awaiting trial.

The title page of the album, written in German, appears to quote a popular song of the day The Good Comrade, and then On A Beautiful Journey.


Neo-Nazis in Germany to commemorate Hitler’s deputy

BERLIN (AP) — Given Germany’s grim history as the home of National Socialism and the efforts it has made since then to atone for its genocidal past, it might seem surprising that far-right extremists who glorify a dead Nazi official are allowed to march in his honor this weekend.

Police in Berlin have given far-right extremists permission to hold a 500-person strong rally commemorating the death of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess in the city’s western district of Spandau.

But there’s a catch.

Police have told organizers they can march, but they’re not allowed to glorify Hess, who died at Spandau prison 30 years ago. The neo-Nazis are allowed to bring banners: but only one for every 50 participants. And military music is strictly forbidden, unless a court overturns that rule before Saturday’s march.

Such restrictions are common in Germany and rooted in the experience of the pre-war Weimar Republic, when opposing political groups would try to forcibly interrupt their rivals’ rallies, resulting in frequent bloody street violence, said Sven Richwin, a Berlin lawyer.

The exact rules differ according to the circumstances, but police in Germany generally try to balance protesters’ rights to free speech and free assembly against the rights of counter-demonstrators and residents, he said.

“Anything intimidating is ‘verboten,’” Richwin told The Associated Press on Friday.

The rules mean that shields, helmets and batons carried by far-right and Neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville last weekend wouldn’t be allowed in Germany. Openly anti-Semitic chants would prompt German police to intervene, although efforts would be made to detain specific individuals rather than to stop an entire rally, said Richwin.

Left-wing groups expect about 1,000 people to attend counter-protests Saturday in Spandau.

Hess, who received a life sentence at the Nuremberg trials for his role in planning World War II, died on Aug. 17, 1987. Allied authorities ruled his death a suicide, but Nazi sympathizers have long claimed that he was killed and organize annual marches in his honor.

The marches used to take place in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, where Hess was buried until authorities removed his remains.

In 2014, residents and former far-right extremists got donors to pledge 10 euros ($12.50) toward a Nazi rehab program for every meter that the Hess supporters marched. The stunt and similar ones elsewhere in Germany have since collected tens of thousands of euros to help people leave Germany’s neo-Nazis scene.

Ferdinand Liebermann – German Sculptor Favoured by the Führer
Biography from the German Art Gallery

Ferdinand Liebermann (1883–1941), the son of a toy manufacturer, was a German sculptor. He studied at the Munich School of Arts and Crafts and the Art Academy.

After taking study trips to Rome and Paris, he opened a studio in 1910 in Munich. In the same year he received the Great Austrian Golden State Medal for a small bronze sculpture. Several exhibitions followed. He became one of the most important designers for the porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal AG. Liebermann’s work-spectrum encompasses bronze sculpturing, monumental sculpturing and memorials. In 1926 he received the professor title for monumental and portrait sculpturing in Munich.

Ferdinand Liebermann, working on an oversized Führerbust.

After 1933, Liebermann produced at the orders of the Nazi party 32 busts of Hitler (all 1½ life size), one of which was a commission from the city of Munich for the city hall. In appreciation he was made city councillor of the Capital of the Movement, the ‘Haupstadt der Bewegung’. Liebermann’s Führerbust was displayed at the XIX Venice Biennale 1934 (‘Cancelliere del Reich Adolf Hitler’) and also at the GDKs of 1937, 1938 and in the Münchener Kunstausttellungen 1934, 1940 and 1941. It is said that the busts designed by Liebermann were favoured by the German leader over all the others.

His sculpture ‘L’Abbandoro’ (‘Abandoned’) was displayed at the XIV Biennale 1924 in Venice; ‘Erhebung’ (‘Elevatione’ or ‘Elevation’) was displayed at the XIX Venice Biennale 1934 and later again at the GDK 1937, room 9. In 1938 his bronze ‘Abwehr’ (‘Defence’ or ‘Ripulso’) was displayed at the XXI Venice Biennale. Liebermann also completed a bronze bust of Hitler’s half-niece Geli Raubal, who had shot herself in Hitler’s apartment in 1931. From this bust Hitler had numerous copies made for display in his residences.

At the Great German Art Exhibitions Ferdinand Liebermann was represented with 16 works, among them the two Hitler busts, the relief ‘Wille’ (design for the Freikorps-monument), a bust of Riechsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, Reichsleiter Amann and two ‘Kampf’ sculptures.

In 1941, the year of his death, he created the massive sculpture for the Freikorpsdenkmal (‘Freikorps monument’) in Munich. This monument was dedicated to the Freikorps, a post-World War I right-wing organization. It was also named: ‘Das Denkmal für die Befreier Münchens von den kommunistischen Horden’ (‘Memorial for the liberators of Munich from the communist hordes’). On May 3rd, 1942 it was erected at a busy traffic intersection, the Giesinger Hill (Munich), which was the site of a May 1919 battle between the Freikorps and local communists. The monumental stone structure was composed of a twenty-four foot high relief of a naked male figure strangling a snake symbolizing degeneration and decline. The Freikorps memorial itself was removed after the war, but its concrete base can still be seen today on Ichostraße. A smaller version of the sculpture with the name ‘Wille’ (Will) was displayed in the GDK 1940, room 7. In the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen are the following works: ‘Eva’ (GDK 1939 room 35), ‘Abwehr’, ‘In Erwartung’, Frisches Lachen’, ‘Paolo’, ‘Rhythmus’ and ‘Knabe auf einem Waller reitend’. A copy of ‘Eva’ in bronze (72 cm high) was displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’; the exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.

Charlottesville car-ramming suspect idolized Hitler, Nazism, ex-teacher says

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) — The young man accused of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by school officials in the 9th grade for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race, a former high school teacher said Sunday.

James Alex Fields Jr. also confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, Derek Weimer said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In high school, Fields was an “average” student, but with a keen interest in military history, Hitler, and Nazi Germany, said Weimer, who said he was Fields’ social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper high school in Union, Kentucky, in Fields’ junior and senior years.

“Once you talked to James for a while, you would start to see that sympathy towards Nazism, that idolization of Hitler, that belief in white supremacy,” Weimer said. “It would start to creep out.”

Police charged Fields with second-degree murder and other counts for allegedly driving his silver Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding at least 19 other people. A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence then crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died.

James Alex Fields Jr (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP)

The 20-year-old Fields had been photographed hours earlier carrying the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that organized the “take America back” campaign in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue.

The group on Sunday denied any association with the suspect, even as a separate hate group that organized Saturday’s rally pledged on social media to organize future events that would be “bigger than Charlottesville.”

The mayor of Charlottesville, political leaders of all political stripes, and activists and community organizers around the country planned rallies, vigils and education campaigns to combat the hate groups. They also urged President Donald Trump to forcefully denounce the organizations, some of which specifically cited Trump’s election after a campaign of racially charged rhetoric as validation of their beliefs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities would pursue a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Weimer recalled that school officials had singled out Fields when he was in 9th grade for his political beliefs and “deeply held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism.

“It was a known issue,” he said.

Weimer said Fields left school for a while, and when he came back he was quieter about politics until his senior year, when politicians started to declare their candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. Weimer said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields, Weimer said. Fields also admired the Confederacy for its military prowess, he said, though they never spoke about slavery.

The car that allegedly plowed through a crowd of protestors is seen after the vehicle was stopped by police several blocks away in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

As a senior, Fields wanted to join the army, and Weimer, a former officer in the Ohio National Guard, guided him through the process of applying, he said, believing that the military would expose Fields to people of different races and backgrounds and help him dispel his white supremacist views. But Fields was ultimately turned down, which was a big blow, Weimer said. Weimer said he lost contact with Fields after he graduated and was surprised to hear reports that Fields had enlisted in the army.

“The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015, said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson. “He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015,” she said.

Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, told the AP late Saturday that she knew her son was going to Virginia for a political rally, but she had no idea it involved white supremacists.

“I just told him to be careful,” she said, adding she warned him that if there were protests “to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.”

“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” said Bloom, speaking from the condominium in Maumee, Ohio, where she had lived with her son until he moved out a few months ago.

In photos taken before the rally, Fields was shown standing Saturday with a half-dozen other men, all wearing the Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts. The men held white shields with Vanguard America’s black-and-white logo of two crossed axes. The Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee was in the background.

A woman receives first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

The photo was taken about 10:30 a.m. Saturday just hours before authorities say Fields crashed his car into the crowd at 1:42 p.m. The Anti-Defamation League says Vanguard America believes the US is an exclusively white nation, and uses propaganda to recruit young white men online and on college campuses.

In a Twitter post, the group said it had handed out the shields “to anyone in attendance who wanted them,” and denied Fields was a member. “All our members are safe an (sic) accounted for, with no arrests or charges.”

In blog posts after the violence, the Daily Stormer, a leading white nationalist website that promoted the Charlottesville event, pledged to hold more events “soon.”

“We are going to start doing this nonstop,” the post said. “We are going to go bigger than Charlottesville. We are going to go huge.”

Saturday’s chaos erupted as neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacist groups arrived for the rally. Counter-protesters were also on hand, and the two sides clashed, with people throwing punches, hurling water bottles and unleashing chemical sprays. Officials have not provided a crowd estimate but it appeared to number well over 1,000.

Hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" march down East Market Street toward Lee Park during the "Unite the Right" rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, police in riot gear ordered people out of the streets, and helicopters circled overhead. Then, as the counter-protesters marched a few blocks from the statue, the Dodge Challenger tore into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer as she was crossing the street.

Hours later, the helicopter crashed, killing two state police troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M.M. Bates, one day shy of his 41st birthday.

Trump criticized the violence in a tweet Saturday, followed by a news conference and a call for “a swift restoration of law and order.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said.

The “on many sides” ending of his statement drew the ire of his critics, who said he failed to specifically denounce white supremacy and equated those who came to protest racism with the white supremacists.

Trump “needs to come out stronger” against the actions of white supremacists, McAuliffe told reporters at the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville on Sunday. “They are Nazis and they are here to hurt American citizens, and he needs to call them out for what they are, no question.”

Germany: Probe after Thousands of Youth Wearing “I love Hitler” T-Shirts in Festival

A police probe is underway after thousands of young National Socialists wearing ‘I love Hitler’ T-shirts and shouting ‘heil’ in a German town for a “Rock against Foreign Domination” festival.

More than 6,000 members of the nationalist descended on Themar in the German state of Thuringia to watch 12 patriotic bands performing.

Revellers were seen performing the Hitler salute and breaking the zionist occupied Germany’s dictatorial “anti-Nazi” laws which forbids the use of symbols of “unconstitutional organisations” or “re-engagement in National Socialist activities”.

According to police, the event, on July 15, was peaceful, with officers using the tactic of ‘deescalation’ to keep the peace.

Authorities in of the state of Thuringia said it was the biggest nationwide event in the NS scene.

Visitors were dressed in t-shirts with slogans such as ‘I love Hitler’ and ‘Sturm auf Themar’ (‘assault on Themar’).

In images taken from the large tent on the festival ground, hundreds of concert visitors did the Hitler salute along with shouts of ‘Heil!’ while posters showing WW2 soldiers were visible on the walls.

The public prosecutor has in the meantime opened an investigation.

Six people were provisionally arrested and 32 criminal offences were registered for the use of signs of anti-constitutional organisations, property damage and verbal abuse.

The citizens of Themar, which has a population of just 3,000, tried in vain to stop the concert but two separate courts ruled in favour of the Nationalists saying they had the freedom to organise the gig.

The event was held on grounds belonging to a former member of the far-right AfD party (Alternatives for Germany).

Around 500 citizens and anti-fascist scum held a small protest against the concert with slogans such as ‘out with the brown plague’.

The local hotel closed during the concert as it refused to offer patriots accommodation.

When People Name Their Kids Hitler (LOL….)


You may remember the parents who named their kids Adolf Hitler.

And no, I’m not talking about Hitler’s parents, I’m talking about parents who live in the U.S. right now. Isidore Heath Campbell and his then-wife Deborah named one of their children Adolf Hitler.

A few years ago, JTA reported that Campbell showed up to court regarding custody over his youngest son, Heinrich Hons, then 2, in full Nazi regalia. Campbell and his then-wife lost custody, largely stemming from an incident involving their local supermarket. The supermarket refused to print the full name of his oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, on a cake for his third birthday.

While the incident wasn’t the sole cause of the children’s removal, it was the necessary clue into the fact that the children’s well-being was threatened–authorities looked into the situation and removed the children from their parents, because “there was violence in the home.”

Just this past May, however, the saga continued. Campbell officially changed his last name to Hitler. As JTA wrote, “his initials are now IHH, which he said stands for ‘I Hail Hitler.’” He also sports a swastika as a neck tattoo (this guy is obviously very serious about being anti-Semitic).

While Campbell is seeking full custody of his children, it seems unlikely he’ll receive it—he has refused to seek counseling, despite a court order.

But Campbell isn’t the only one obsessed with Hitler and naming his kids something controversial. The 2014 documentary, “Meet the Hitlers,” explores families who have Hitler (or Adolf) as a name, willingly or not. In a move similar to Campbell’s, after the events of 9/11, a Turkish couple living in Cologne, Germany, wanted to name their child after Osama Bin Laden,for instance.

While many of the families and people involved didn’t choose their names (their parents chose for them, like Ecuadorian immigrant Hitler Guiterrez, whose dad named him Hitler without realizing the cultural implications of this decision), the film interestingly explores the meaning of names–and issues like tolerance, racism, and anti-Semitism. Campbell was featured in the documentary, too.

And yet, in Lauren Collins’ recent piece for The New Yorker titled, “Notes from a Baby-Names Obsessive,” Collins points out how legals laws around naming are strange–and in some cases, racist and anti-Semitic. She wrote that “in California, amazingly, you can be Adolf Hitler Smith, but not José Smith, because of a ban on diacritics.”

So, what exactly does that mean? Well, diacritic is a noun that is a sign, such as an accent or cedilla. When written above or below a letter, shows a difference in pronunciation from the same letter when unmarked or marked in a different way.

Like a lot of things, baby naming laws are different depending on state (way to be confusing, U.S. government), meaning that the rules vary a lot. For instance, you can’t use Arabic numbers in Texas, but you can use Roman numerals. As Time said:

“In California, baby names cannot contain umlauts or accents. In South Dakota, if a mother is unmarried at the time of conception, her surname goes on the birth certificate (unless a man signs an affidavit saying he’s the father).

Roman numerals are allowed for suffixes in Texas, but not Arabic ones, so a boy could be Rick Perry III but not Rick Perry 3.

In Massachusetts, the total number of characters in first, middle and last names cannot exceed 40. New Hampshire, meanwhile, prohibits all punctuation marks except for apostrophes and dashes.”

Time went on to say that it’s not just the U.S., either, that has antiquated rules:

“These rules aren’t limited to the U.S. Spain bans “extravagant” names while Portugal outlaws those that “raise doubts about the sex of the registrant.” And in New Zealand, a judge in 2008 spared a girl of being called Tulula Does The Hula From Hawaii; in his ruling he cited other names nixed by registration officials, such as Fish and Chips, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit. A 1995 act states that “unreasonably long” names are “undesirable in the public interest” in New Zealand.”

All of this, of course, raises the question: Should parents get full autonomy when naming their children? And what does happen when someone names their child a seriously offensive name, like after someone who is a murderer, for instance? Free speech is free speech is free speech–until it isn’t. But where is the line and how do we draw it?

Marilyn Manson, obviously, uses a controversial stage name for a reason–which is meant as a subversive act. This is much different from naming a child Adolf Hitler of Osama Bin Laden.

It’s important to emphasize that Campbell’s children were taken away because of the violence inside their home, not because of their names. While it may not seem unlikely abuse would occur in a house where a parent names their kid after Hitler, what if nothing else was found? And while using a name like Hitler may be an obvious example of going too far, and abusing free speech, how does one create naming laws without being racist or anti-Semitic?

Who thought naming a baby would be so hard? To quote Shakespeare, from his masterpiece “Romeo & Juliet,” “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

So, what’s in a name? Well, a whole lot.

Adolf Hitler’s Prophecy


New Alerta Judiada video showing Adolf Hitler’s prediction of what would happen to Europe if Germany were to lose World War II.

Then & Now: Video of Adolf Hitler’s Berghof Offers a Stunning New Perspective (Watch)



This mesmerizing 52-minute video takes you on a walking tour of the picturesque beautiful sites of Adolf Hitler’s mountain hideaway.

From an aerial view, the camera zooms in on various points so that you have an idea of where things were in relation to each other and how expansive a semi-military complex it was.

When the videographer stops at a point of interest, a picture of that site from the NS era is superimposed on the video, showing the viewer a glimpse of the past.

The tour begins in 1925 in the Bavarian village of Obersalzberg. Strolling through the lush green overgrowth, you’ll see the foundations of cabins and then a youthful, and happy, Adolf Hitler sitting on the porch of a cabin when it still existed.

From there, you’ll learn what the countryside was like around the Berghof, including the path on which Hitler walked his dog, the gatehouses that kept out fervent fans of the Führer, and even Mooslahnerkopf, the tea house with a view, where he liked to sit and reflect.

Much of what was there was destroyed by aerial bombing or was demolished in the 1950s, including the Platterhof hotel, which was restored by the U.S. Army as the Hotel General Walker, but destroyed when returned to the government of Germany and turned into a parking lot.

When the tour takes you to the Gästehaus Hoher Göll and on to the entrance to the bunkers, you see the dirty underbelly that you’ve forgotten while enjoying the scenic wonder.

After riding down in a gleaming golden elevator, you enter into the cement bunkers. Even that effect, though, is not as much of an impacting moment as seeing the superimposed pictures in the dining room at the Eagle’s Nest where the SS dined and where you now sit with a vase and table setting ready to eat.

Without the interruption or distraction of narration, you’re free to imagine on your own just how things must have been. If you have never been to Berchtesgaden, this tour will give you a great deal more perspective about how seemingly secure Hitler must have felt in the protection of these mountains.


Reconstruction of Hitler bunker draws tens of thousands in Berlin

BERLIN – Hitler continues to fascinate, and a new exhibit in Berlin is proof with its most sensational attraction: a reconstruction of the bunker where Hitler took his life in April 1945.

Meant to show the dangers of dictatorship, the exhibit – called “How Could It Happen” – also contains thousands of documents, photos and objects that tell the life story of the Nazi dictator, ending with his suicide.

More than 20,000 visitors reportedly have poured into the new private museum in the two months since it opened. Billed as the “world’s largest documentation about Hitler,” it was created in only four months, and cost $1.5 million.

Historian Wieland Giebel and museum entrepreneur Enno Lenze told local news media they wanted to show how low a society can go when it hands over the reins to a dictator. Their recreated bunker is behind glass and – like the wax figure of Hitler in the nearby Madame Tussauds – is not to be photographed by visitors.

Giebel, 67, told Reuters he’d been accused of promoting a “Hitler Disney” for recreating the bunker. His answer: “This room is where the crimes ended, where everything ended, so that’s why we’re showing it.”

Adolf Hitler (German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler’s actual underground bunker was destroyed in 1947. Its site is marked by an informational sign. Several civilian bomb shelters – like the one used for this museum – still stand in the city, nearly indestructible by conventional means.

Before opening the new Hitler-centric museum, Lenze ceremoniously destroyed a clay bust of the dictator and added the shards to a pile of rubble in the exhibit.

Exhibits featuring images of Hitler remain controversial in Germany. Curators of an exhibit about Nazi propaganda in the German Historical Museum some years ago deliberately relegated mass-produced busts of Hitler to a glass case that appeared difficult to photograph, due to glare.

In July 2008, one of the first visitors to Madame Tussauds in Berlin lopped off the head of the wax Hitler, depicted sitting at a desk with a morose expression. It was repaired and visitors were barred from approaching and taking selfies.

Otto Skorzeny: Hitler’s Elite SS Commando Leader

In September 1943, Hitler sent SS commandoes to rescue his ally Mussolini from the new Italian government. For the man leading the raid, Otto Skorzeny, this was only the first in a series of extraordinary operations.

Path to the SS

Otto Skorzeny was born in Austria in 1908. His early experiences were shaped by an economic depression and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which caused disruption to millions of lives.

Skorzeny studied engineering at Vienna University. There, he was active in student dueling groups, gaining several scars and a reputation for aggression.

After university, he founded an engineering business in Vienna. Despite its success, he sought a change of career after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. A dedicated Nazi, he wanted to fight for the new regime. After being rejected by the Luftwaffe because of his age, he instead joined the SS.

Founding the Hunting Group

In the early campaigns of the Second World War, Skorzeny served in Holland, Hungary, and Romania.

As an engineer, Skorzeny was not a frontline soldier. He still earned a citation for bravery while serving in Russia in the winter of 1941. There he was injured in a mortar strike.

In 1942, the Nazis set about creating a commando force to match those used by other powers. Skorzeny applied to be part of it, and in April took charge of the new Hunting Group.

He recruited specialist soldiers for the force. After struggling to get the supplies he needed, he used double agents in the Dutch underground to get them delivered by the British, who thought they were providing them to resistance fighters.

Rescuing Mussolini

In July 1943, the new Italian government imprisoned Mussolini and sought peace with the Allies. Hitler needed Mussolini to lead an alternative Italian regime. He ordered Skorzeny to rescue the Fascist leader.

After a false start, Skorzeny tracked Mussolini down to an Apennine ski resort.

The Hunting Group approached the lodge in gliders. Skorzeny’s crashed yards from the building. Leaping out, he immediately assaulted the building, overcoming the guards, smashing a radio, and capturing Mussolini in a matter of minutes.

The transport plane intended for a getaway had been damaged landing at the resort. Skorzeny, therefore, ordered the pilot of a spotter plane to come down and extract him and Mussolini. Between the hulking commando and the overweight dictator, the small plane was so overburdened that paratroopers had to hold up the wings during preparations for take-off.

The mission was a success. Skorzeny was personally congratulated by many senior National Socialist and decorated for his achievement.

Skorzeny with the liberated Mussolini – 12 September 1943.

Opposition and Innovation

Skorzeny was a national hero. The high command authorized him to train more commandoes and develop new techniques. He used a range of tools including frogmen, mini-submarines, and specialist torpedoes against the Allies.

The Hunting Group faced resentment and opposition from the regular armed forces. These inter-service politics got in the way of an attempt to capture the Balkan leader Tito.

Skorzeny was in Berlin in July 1944. He witnessed first-hand the chaos that followed an attempt to assassinate Hitler, as top officials ran around bewildered and unsure who was on which side.

The Hungary Coup

Admiral Horthy, the aging leader of Hungary, was wavering in his support for the Axis powers. If Hungary made peace with the Allies, it would be a disaster for Germany.

In October 1944, Skorzeny went undercover to Budapest. He and his men assessed the situation and saw that disaster was imminent. They kidnapped Horthy’s son.

Horthy responded by publicly renouncing Germany and announcing peace with Russia. Using cunning, diplomacy, and deception, Skorzeny swiftly took control of Horthy’s HQ at the Burgberg castle. Horthy became a prisoner of the Germans, and a new pro-German leader was installed.

It changed the allegiance of a country in the war. It was a more significant success politically than the rescue of Mussolini, but it is often overshadowed due to Mussolini’s fame.

Skorzeny (left) and Adrian von Fölkersam (right) in Budapest, 16 October 

In the Ardennes: The Most Dangerous Man in Europe

Hitler then gave Skorzeny another task. He recruited 3,000 English-speaking soldiers to a special group.

As the Germans launched their offensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, these troops crossed the lines. Disguised as Allied troops, they were meant to misdirect units, cut communications, and hinder any counter-attacks.

The deception was quickly detected, but it left the Allies suspicious. No-one knew who to trust. Units arrested their own officers. Fears for General Eisenhower’s safety left him almost a prisoner in his headquarters.

The Allies dubbed Skorzeny, the most dangerous man in Europe.

Despite the success of Skorzeny’s troops, the Ardennes advance was halted. Skorzeny’s men joined the regular German forces. He was injured by shrapnel and had to spend time away from the lines.

Chaos Amid the Ashes

As the Reich crumbled, Skorzeny was caught up in the schemes of desperate leaders trying to cling to power. He was sent on fruitless missions in Russia and on the Rhine. He argued with Himmler when ordered to do jobs for which he lacked the resources.

In the dying days of the war, Skorzeny retreated to the Alps with some of the Hunting Group. After the armistice, he surrendered to the Americans.

A Secret Soldier

In 1947, Skorzeny faced a war-crimes tribunal and was found not guilty. With some countries seeking his deportation, he remained in a prison camp until rescued by former SS colleagues.

Skorzeny continued to use his training as a covert warrior. During the Cold War, he worked for organizations including the CIA, the Argentine Secret Police, and the Egyptian government. His activities, which included training guerrillas, were shrouded in secrecy. He spent a lot of time living under sympathetic regimes in Argentina and Spain.

He died of cancer in 1975. His funeral included National Socialist symbols. His skills had made him so useful to post-war governments that he had never had to renounce his old beliefs.

Source: David Rooney (1999), Military Mavericks: Extraordinary Men of Battle.