Waffen-SS commander during World War II, and a favorite of Hitler's.

An Austrian, before the war, Skorzeny was an advocate of Anschluss. After union with Germany took place, Skorzeny enlisted with the German Army and served with the SS. He participated in the Balkan Campaign in Yugoslavia as a Lieutenant, where he earned the Iron Cross.

In 1943, Benito Mussolini was removed from office by Victor Emmanuel III, and his successor declared martial law and placed him under arrest. On September 13, acting under Hitler's orders, Skorzeny led a team of commandos into Italy by glider, and freed Mussolini from his imprisonment, bringing him safely to Vienna.

The next year, Hungary was in the process of negotiating a surrender to the USSR under the leadership of Admiral von Horthy. Skorzeny kidnapped the Admiral's son, Miklos Horthy, in order to persuade him to drop his plans for surrender. When this failed to change the Admiral's mind, and von Horthy announced Hungary's surrender to the Red Army, Skorzeny personally led a mission to kidnap the Admiral, keeping Hungary in the war on the side of the Axis for the duration.

Skorzeny's next mission was at Ardennes. He was charged with taking a group of English-speaking German soldiers, and, using captured American tanks, sowing confusion behind Allied lines.

On May 15, 1945, Skorzeny was arrested by American troops. He was eventually tried for war crimes but acquitted, and handed over to German custody. In 1948, he escaped imprisonment, eventually making his way to Spain, where he was granted asylum by Francisco Franco and lived out the rest of his life. He may or may not have been involved with attempts to help other former SS members, including Adolf Eichmann, escape justice. He died of natural causes in Madrid in 1975 at the age of 67.

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