The Gran Sasso raid: The Liberation of Mussolini

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
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panzertruppe2001
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Post by panzertruppe2001 » 29 Jan 2008 03:49

Only my opinion but I guess both Heer officers were Brandenburgers, both Luftwaffe Leutnant Colonel Fallschirmjäger and the SS a Waffen SS veteran or an SD officer. About the SS man I think he was not a commando because Skorzeny did not knew him and in this days Skorzeny was organizing Friedenthal units so in this case he must knew him.

One thing is clear Hitler summited two officers both for Heer, Waffen SS and Luftwaffe

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Helly Angel
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Post by Helly Angel » 29 Jan 2008 04:11

But do you think in the SD existed Comandos these days?

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panzertruppe2001
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Post by panzertruppe2001 » 29 Jan 2008 07:50

Helly Angel wrote:But do you think in the SD existed Comandos these days?
Of course not, but there were spies and may be Hitler did not necesarily need a commando operation, may be a secret operation something like Gleiwitz or Venlo incident where SD took action. In any case we are trying to discover who were the other officers.

Saludos desde Argentina (greetings from Argentina)

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 29 Jan 2008 10:49

Most likely the Luftwaffe officers were from KG 200.

II./KG 200 did have trained Fallschirmjägers in its ranks in 1944,elements participated in the Velcors operation,like Gran Sasso,landing by glider.

Whether this force was in existence in September 1943 I do not know.

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Post by Helly Angel » 29 Jan 2008 12:50

Yes, unfortunately Skorzeny didn´t wrote the names in "Secret missions" and "Lebe Gefährlich" (¡Vive Peligrosamente!), just the reference to the grades and branch, I imagine we never can know who were these gentlemen :(

Saludos desde Venezuela!

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panzertruppe2001
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Post by panzertruppe2001 » 29 Jan 2008 13:19

Peter H wrote:Most likely the Luftwaffe officers were from KG 200.

II./KG 200 did have trained Fallschirmjägers in its ranks in 1944,elements participated in the Velcors operation,like Gran Sasso,landing by glider.

Whether this force was in existence in September 1943 I do not know.

KG 200 literally existed since February 1944 http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=2577 but before this date existed some special Luftwaffe units one of them was Kommando Rowehl. Equally your opinion is a good point, Peter

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Bob Forczyk
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Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Bob Forczyk » 12 Oct 2008 17:07

I'm trying to develop a complete list of the 16 SS men involved in the glider part of the raid at Gran Sasso on 12 September 1943. So far I have the following:

1. SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Skorzeny
2. SS-Obersturmführer Ulrich Menzel
3. SS- Obersturmführer Karl Radl
4. SS-Untersturmführer Otto Schwerdt
5. SS-Untersturmführer Robert Warger
6. SS-Untersturmführer Andreas Friedrich
7. SS-Hauptscharführer Manns
8. SS-Oberscharführer Walther Gläsner
9. SS-Oberscharführer Paul Spitt*
10. SS Unterscharführer Hans Holzer
11. SS-Unterscharführer Bernhard Cieslewitz
12. SS Unterscharführer Robert Neitzel
13. SS-Rottenführer Herbert (?) Himmel
14. SS-Rottenführer Albert (?) Benz
15. Sfaeller or Gföller
16. Max Pföller

After checking at NARA, there were no SS records on Spitt, Sfaeller or Walter Dyck (who claimed to be on the raid). Also, at least 4 of Skorzeny's men may have gone with Major Mors on the ground operation at Assergi. Looking for any clarification on names/ranks, esp. Manns, Himmel, Benz and Gföller.

Bob

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Hauptsturmfuhrer Ulrich Menzel

Post by waffen-IDF » 17 Nov 2008 18:31

B:22.6.12 Capt:12.9.43

Capt. Kdr, SS-Werfer.Btl.501 at 1.45

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Bob Forczyk » 17 Nov 2008 23:45

Thanks, but I already had Menzel's records from NARA.

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Nov 2008 13:26

Hi Bob,

Why only the SS men involved? It was primarily a paratroop operation that Skorzeny hijacked and endangered the success of by unnecessarily insisting on flying out with Mussolini.

It is also often forgotten that the operation took place hundreds of miles behind German lines and was rather less impressive than the contemporary seizure of the Italian Army HQ by paratroops, which is almost unknown.

Let's put the self-promoting Skorzeny in his proper perspective.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Bob Forczyk » 18 Nov 2008 13:53

Sid,
I'm not trying to hype Skorzeny (see my review of his book on Amazon, entitled "The Biggest Liar in Europe"). I'm currently writing a book on the Gran Sasso Raid and include a section on the Monterotondo assault three days prior. Also, Gran Sasso was precisely 105 km from Kesselring's HQs in Frascati, so it was not hundreds of miles behind enemy lines and the Italian Pinerolo Division in nearby L'Aquila actually just sat there until disarmed.

I'm trying to develop a comprehensive list of all the raiders, but since only 18 SS men were involved, that is a bit easier. I now have details on most of the enlisted men and officers, which indicates how inexperienced and untrained most of the SS men were for this type of operation. Skorzeny's own SS records, which I got from NARA, demonstrate that he had very little combat experience and his memoirs conceal the fact that he spent most of the war sitting around in Berlin on his behind. I do have a list of about 35 of the 70 fallschirmjager on the raid, but don't expect to get all the names.

Bob

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Nov 2008 11:43

Hi Bob,

Sorry to be so touchy. When I was on other sites I had long discussions about the Skorzeny myth. As far as I can tell, Skorzeny was a political animal from his days in Austria in the early 1930s. In WWII he seems never to have been behind enemy lines himself. He was essentially an internal enforcer most of whose operations occurred within Axis-occupied Europe (Mussolini's rescue, the raid on Tito's HQ, the kidnapping of Horthy's son, etc.) For his operations in the Ardennes he had to take almost all his few fluent English speakers from amongst ex-Brandenburgers. When the Bomb Plotters took over the Ersatzheer HQ in Berlin Skoprzerny's unit was only about 20 miles north of Berlin, but still arrived too late to take part in their suppression. And so on. Skorzeny's achievements have been puffed up out of all recognition, mostly by himself, but abetted by under critical later authors who often accepted his line without apparently doing much other research.

On a point of information, I did not say that Gran Sasso was "hundreds of miles behind enemy lines". I actually wrote "the operation took place hundreds of miles behind German lines". The actual battlefront was then several hundred miles further south.

We seem to have similar approaches, so I wish you well in your attempt to write a detached history of this raid.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Bob Forczyk » 19 Nov 2008 13:26

Sid,
Thanks. One of the things I'm going to bring out is that because he lacked any kind of commando training (and was physically out of shape after two years of bear-swilling in Berlin), Skorzeny needed help to climb even a modest 1.5 meter high platform on the side of the hotel at Gran Sasso. I'm also bringing up the fact that he sent Otto Schwerdt and several other SS men to Denmark in '44 to commit assasination and arson. These guys were not commandos. However, in order to look up the SS records, I need full names and a couple of SS men I only have last names.
Bob

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Bernd R » 19 Nov 2008 16:22

Hi Bob,

you surely know the most of the story and the material contained in the below two links. Maybe it's useful to have them here with regard to the one or the other detail ; and to cover the bigger picture for all readers as well. I've quoted the "award list" too - it seems that only Skorzeny himself was decorated with an award for the operation (?) ; which is a spotlight on the rating of the importance and contribution of Skorzeny's men and the FJ by higher authorities (and it supports the remarks by Sid).
special
"Operation Eiche" , 12.09.1943 : Mussolini relief / "Gran Sasso" awards
inspired by / for further info see : http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=9089
I./ FJR 7 - Sep 1943 (Gran Sasso). on AHF by tigre

Knight's Cross (4)
Student, Kurt 27.09.1943 (305. EL] General der Fallschirmtruppe K.G. XI. Flieger-Korps [LL-Korps]
Skorzeny, Otto 13.09.1943 SS-Hauptsturmführer d.R. Kdr SS-Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal
Gerlach, Heinrich 19.09.1943 Hauptmann Flugzeugführer beim K.G. XI. Flieger-Korps [pilot Fieseler Storch (Fi 156)]
Meyer, Elimar 17.09.1943 Leutnant (Kr.O.) Pilot eines Lastenseglers i. d. III./LL-Geschw 1

German Cross in Gold (7)
Berlepsch Freiherr von, Georg 01.11.1943 Oberleutnant Chef 1./Fsch.Jäg.Rgt 7 [1./Fsch.Jäg-Lehr.Btl]
Mors, Otto-Harald 01.11.1943 Major i.G. Kdr I./Fsch.Jäg.Rgt 7 [Fsch.Jäg-Lehr.Btl]
Langguth, Gerhard 01.11.1943 Hauptmann Ic XI. Flieger-Korps [Verbandsführer]
Heidenreich, Johannes 26.09.1943 Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 12.[III.]/LL-Geschw 1
Neelmeyer, Hans 26.09.1943 Oberfeldwebel Pilot eines Lastenseglers i. d. 12.[III.]/LL-Geschw 1
Lohrmann, Heiner 26.09.1943 Feldwebel Pilot eines Lastenseglers i. d. 12.[III.]/LL-Geschw 1
Thielmann, Gustav 26.09.1943 Unteroffizier Pilot eines Lastenseglers i. d. 12.[III.]/LL-Geschw 1
It might be of interest also to evaluate this essay http://balsi.de/Weltkrieg/Verlauf/Itali ... tseite.htm

Best regards
Bernd

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Re: Skorzeny's team at Gran Sasso

Post by Peter » 16 Dec 2008 18:40

A photo from Bundesarchiv/Wikipedia, maybe Menzel or Radl on the right hand edge wearing the HJ badge ?
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