A target high up in the mountains to attack either from below, i.e. from the valley, or from above, from the air. If you want to have success, then it is advisable, from both directions at the same time to strike.
for Several weeks it had lasted, until the German troops in Italy, the former ally of the third Reich, had found, where the deposed Duce of the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini was being held. And when they had brought it at the end of August 1943, in experience, everything had to go very quickly.
But at the same time, the planned rescue operation had to be performed extremely meticulously, because Mussolini’s involuntary location was close to defend perfectly to the mountain hotel “Campo Imperatore” is located on the homonymous high plateau in the Abruzzo region, around 140 kilometres North-East of Rome – in around 2130 meters height.
Colonel-General Kurt Student, the Creator and commander-in-chief of the German paratroopers, had received from Hitler personally the order to free the former dictator of Italy in a command company. And the Student did not hesitate long, but put on his best force, the paratrooper training battalion under Major Harald Mors.
Because SS-chief Heinrich Himmler wanted to know his organization is necessarily involved in the action, was a hitherto unknown SS-Hauptsturmführer of the Reserve from Wien seconded, Otto Skorzeny. His main qualification was that he, Brunner knew the chief of the Reich main security office Seriously cold nor from common days in the case of the illegal Austrian Nazi party in 1930.
Mors worked with company leaders, a bold Plan: His battalion should be divided. Around two companies, about 200 men (there were different information about the strength of the Association), should conquer the valley station of the gondola lift in the Hotel “Campo Imperatore” – on 12. September 1943 to 14 PM.
at The same time, so it was Mors’ Plan, would land ten gliders of type DFS 230 on the high plateau and the mountain hotel of storms, in the Mussolini under Arrest. It was planned so an attack from above and below at the same time, a classic coup, a daring commando RAID.
Shortly after 13 o’clock on that Sunday, the “company oak”, the cover name began. The load sailors and their tractors raised on an airbase in Rome, divided into three groups of three; the tenth, afterwards flew as a Reserve. At the last Moment, Himmler had set by that Skorzeny with 17 other SS men and a Mussolini faithful Carabineri-General should participate in the action.
Mors was not thrilled, because of the military capabilities of the SS, he held nothing and had to dispense with 18 of his tried-and-tested, well-trained airborne soldiers. But he had no choice, but the direction of the Student had to obey.
The storm at the valley station of the cable car above the Village of Assergi in 1115 meters above sea level, succeeded as planned. The Carabineri, where the guard Station was, was overwhelmed after a brief firefight. Two dead Italians in the price of goods.
Not quite as smooth, the attack was from above. Because the first group of gliders had approached the target too quickly and had to turn out of the sight of the mountain hotels for a loop. this, in turn, led to Skorzeny, the SS-squad sat in two of the three sailors in the second group, landed against 14.05 at first at the mountain hotel. Therefore, it was his squad, was first on the Hotel.
But the fighting had to be anyway. The Carabineri, the Guards surrendered without a fight and were disarmed. A few minutes later, Mussolini, wrapped came out in a thick black coat and a dark hat on his angular skull, from the Hotel.
The Plan was that an experienced air force Pilot, captain Gerlach, Mussolini should fly out from the Plateau with a Fieseler Storch to Rome and from there to Vienna, then to Munich and finally to Hitler to the führer’s headquarters wolf’s lair in East Prussia.
After the successful coup circled Gerlach in his light aircraft over the Hotel, until the paratroopers had made a slope of larger stones. There, he uphill landed.
Mussolini, however, was not thrilled when he heard that he was supposed to climb Gerlach in the Fieseler Storch – he had simply awaken fear of the little confidence construction made of steel tubes and a painted fabric covering; only the slats were made of light metal, the wings yourself out of plywood. So Major Mors had to come as a commanding officer with the cable car to the mountain hotel, in order to convince Mussolini.
But now, Skorzeny pressed on once more: He insisted, to rise also in the Fieseler Storch. The had three seats, but at a height of 2100 meters, the starting weight was reduced, so that actually no third man could be taken. The SS-Hauptsturmführer insisted; Gerlach and Mors buckled a: Skorzeny escorted Mussolini to Vienna.
So – and only then – came the SS man to the undeserved reputation of being the “liberator of Mussolini”. He reported the first successful use of, and exaggerated his own role excessively. That earned him laudatory articles in the Nazi press and the knight’s cross of the Iron cross, a promotion to SS-Sturmbannführer, so Major.
It remained the only notable success, in which he was involved; in the Rest of the war, he had only to unsuccessful actions. Completely different sounds, however, in his memoirs, which were first published in 1950. Skorzeny, until his death in 1975 at the age of 68 years, a convinced national socialist, remained mostly in the Spanish exile lived, and stylized themselves to the heroes. The actual commander of the “company’s oak”, Harald Mors returned in 1955 as a Lieutenant Colonel to the newly founded German army and had left for Skorzeny only contempt.
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