View Full Version : Skorzeny, the SS officer who rescued Mussolini, owned a farm in Ireland

31st Dec 2014, 23:14
BBC News - How did Hitler's scar-faced henchman become an Irish farmer? (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-30571335)

31st Dec 2014, 23:17
Despite WWi and WWII, the current British Royal family is mostly of German origin...?!

1st Jan 2015, 01:08
The royals might have german ancestry, but were they Nazis? :)

1st Jan 2015, 02:17
yotty, some of them had a distinct liking for them, hence their removal to Bermuda for the duration.

1st Jan 2015, 03:21
Watch David Lean's 'Ryan's Daughter' (1970) to better understand the long Irish antipathy for the English and a corresponding sympathy for the Germans, set back in WWI. Oh, and 'tis a good film besides. :cool:

1st Jan 2015, 03:28
the current British Royal family is mostly of German origin...?! I would say quite wrong,

Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was German, they begat Edward7 who was half German, who begat KG5, one quarter German, who begat KG6, one eighth German, who begat Queen Elizabeth 2, one sixteenth German.

Details here:http://www.britroyals.com/royaltree.htm

1st Jan 2015, 03:40
who married Phillip (her 3rd cousin) 1/2 German, who begat Charles etc. In fact, both sides of the QE2/Phillip marriage are direct descendants of George I of Hanover

1st Jan 2015, 06:38
It's actually fairly simple:

Charles II had about 10 illegitimate children, but no lawful issue, so the succession passed to his brother, James II. James decided to become Catholic. At first, the British were not worried, because his daughters, Mary and Anne, were Protestants. Then, James married, and he and his new wife had a child, a boy. Yikes. So the British had the Glorious Revolution, deposing James, and installing Mary, and her husband, William, as King William and Queen Mary. Mary died of smallpox around 1694, and William died in 1702, and he was succeeded by Anne. She had about 14 children, but none of them survived. Under the Act of Settlement, 1701, only a Protestant could inherit the throne, so they had to skip over about 52 people, and finally, they came upon George, the Elector of Hanover, who could not speak a word of English. He became King in 1714. They had two Jacobin rebellions, but they were unsuccessful.

From 1714 through 1952, the monarchy was almost wholly German in ethnicity. Queen Elizabeth II was half British, because of her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, but she married Phillip, who was partly Greek and Danish and German, but not English, so Prince Charles is only one-quarter British. He married Diana, who was 100% British, so William is around five-eighths British. If William becomes King, he will be the first predominantly ethnically British sovereign since 1714.

1st Jan 2015, 06:45
"Skorzeny, the SS officer who rescued Mussolini..."

That's very generous to Skorzeny. He more or less interposed himself into the 'rescue' which was more of a give away than a rescue, and squeezed himself into the Fieseler Storch getaway plane before hopping out when they landed and grinning for the cameras.

1st Jan 2015, 09:06
Despite WWi and WWII, the current British Royal family is mostly of German origin...?!

All the so-called indigenous British people are of continental European origin, so your point is?

1st Jan 2015, 11:29
but were they Nazis?

They were pro Germany during WW-II, my friend. And for once this is something I know about from experience.

After the end of the war there was something of a panic in The Firm about the content of some letters which had been written to German relatives during the war. Had these letters surfaced it would have revealed the truth of the statement above. The solution was to send trusted people over to Germany to recover the documents. Hence the presence of Earl Mountbatten and the Duke of Edinburgh in Hessen in the late 1940's and 1950's - and the 1960's when I saw them there. No, I didn't speak to them but I did chat with their drivers.

Considering the rank of these two gentlemen, the letters must have been considered very important.

tony draper
1st Jan 2015, 12:04
Documentary about the Skorzeny chap here. :)

1st Jan 2015, 12:23
Darling: "I'm as British as Queen Victoria!"
Blackadder: "So, your father is German, you're half German and you married a German?"

Metro man
1st Jan 2015, 12:39
Britain should be grateful for Irish neutrality rather than complain about it. Imagine if Ireland had joined with the Axis powers during WW2, or the Russians during the cold war. Massive numbers of enemy troops based behind the main defences, airfields and naval bases cutting off Atlantic access.

The outcomes of both wars could have been very different.

1st Jan 2015, 13:07
jolihockisticx (# 5): Ryan's daughter tells us very little about Irish antipathy towards Britain in WW1. About 40,000 Irish were killed fighting in British armed forces in WW1. Some radical IRA types tried to suborn Irish POWs taken by the Germans, but they were almost totally unsuccessful. That tells a lot more than any film could.

Also in WW2 despite official neutrality (which I concede is morally problematic), there were thousands of Irish fighting on the British side, and just about no-one on the German side, apart from the usual handful of IRA nutters - the ISIL guys of their day.

As for Skorzeny, I don't know whether he broke Irish laws, or whether his extradition was ever sought. That said, the Irish Courts have been very slow to grant extradition of anyone to anywhere.

1st Jan 2015, 13:41
In the 1950s I was on a group visit to RAF Wroughton, which had several hangars full of a fascinating collection of WW2 aircraft. As RAF-uniformed CCF cadets, we were allowed free rein to sit in the cockpits of German, Italian, and Japanese aircraft, as well as numerous RAF examples.

I chose to clamber into a Fieseler Storch with the usual Luftwaffe markings, the type used by Skorzeny in getting Mussolini off the mountain top. It was a very specialised design, and I recall being impressed by the extensive wing slat and flap systems to achieve very short take off and landing distances, as required to operate on the restricted open area available at that mountain location. The visibility all round was exceptional, with elaborate outwards-bulging glazing to facilitate the observation role it was partly designed for.

But the internal space available was quite limited, and only two of us teenage boys at a time squeezed into it. How the pilot, plus Skorzeny and Mussolini (a very large fellow indeed) managed to cram into the cabin is something of a mystery to me. Who sat on whose lap, I wonder? Perhaps it might have been better for Il Duce if the overloaded little aircraft had crashed attempting to take off, considering the sordid, ignominious manner in which he and his mistress Clara Petacci later met their ends ...

1st Jan 2015, 15:04
considering the sordid, ignominious manner in which he and his mistress Clara Petacci later met their ends ...

Imprisoned in Novara for a time in the grim fortress south of the town centre. I used to walk past the place three or four times a year in the 1980's. Relatives/descendants of the jailers still lived in Novara and I was asked if I wanted to meet them.

1st Jan 2015, 21:15
Economics, nobody disputes the commitment and courage of those Irish men who volunteered to fight the Nazis. Any issue is with the stance of the Irish STATE, which treated those individuals despicably and demonstrated sympathy with the Nazi regime to the very end, even signing Hitlers condolence book!

1st Jan 2015, 23:41
metroman said:

>Imagine if Ireland had joined with the Axis powers during WW2, or the Russians during the cold war. Massive numbers of enemy troops based behind the main defences, airfields and naval bases cutting off Atlantic access.<

In WW2, I suspect it would have been very hard for the Germans to have kept bases in Eire. No real natural resources and everything having to be shipped in. The RN submarines would have had a field day, while the RAF would have found it easy to have air superiority - all the spares for air defence have to be flown in or shipped in, as would the fuel. Unless you can run aeroplanes on peat....Enemy surface vessels would have had pretty major problems, too, and it isn't as far as the Ruhr for a bombing raid....

In the cold war, it could have been different, except for economic matters - which would have been pretty crippling.

1st Jan 2015, 23:53
Metroman, that's outrageous!

Saying the Brits are lucky the Irish were neutral is like saying 'You're lucky I haven't hit you today.'

Surely the default position of the at least nominally civilised Irish should be support for Britain, notwithstanding religious differences.

Una Due Tfc
2nd Jan 2015, 00:29
Allied troops and dignitaries (including Churchill) were flying through Foynes on flying boats, the Sunderlands were permitted to fly over Donegal on their way out to the Atlantic, crashed RAF bombers and personnel were escorted over the border whereas Nazi aircraft were confiscated and added to the Irish Air Corps, and most of the Dublin Fire Brigade was relocated to Belfast when it was being bombed


We sheltered an awful amount of suspected Nazis after the war, and made 1 a millionaire : Albert Folens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Folens)

The 2 most disgusting acts in my opinion in Irish politics were carried out by Taoiseach (prime minister) De Valera during this time: Hitler asking for, and being given the address of every Jew living in Ireland, and signing the book of condolence for Hitler in the German embassy in Dublin when the bastard killed himself.

Metro man
2nd Jan 2015, 00:36
If Ireland had aligned itself with Hitler early on, bases and stockpiles could have been built up before the outbreak of war. The diversion of allied resources needed to defend two fronts would have been considerable. U boat bases on the west of Ireland together with Luftwaffa squadrons able to range far out into the Atlantic, could have cut Britain off. The Battle of Britain may have ended differently had the RAF also been up against attacks from the west, with their opponents having to fly a far shorter distance and thus able to stay in the fight for longer and fly more missions in a day.

The outcome could have been very different with Britain forced to recognise the Nazi conquest of Europe.

During the Cold War, Ireland could have become another Cuba.

The price of reunification would have been small change for the Nazis or Russians.

With the potato famine, Irish slavery and partition, there is little love lost for the English.

In order to prevent poverty and discontent in Ireland, the British allowed free movement of labour. Much better to have a few hundred thousand Irish working on British building sites and sending money home to their families than having communism take root and the Russians move in.

2nd Jan 2015, 10:07
With the potato famine, Irish slavery and partition, there is little love lost for the English.Fortunate then that the potato famine was entirely a domestic affair and nothing to do with the British. Also fortunate that the records of that period, available today, show that Irish exports did, in fact, exceed imports, contrary to the propaganda being shoved around at the time. Obviously it could have been a lot worse!

G&T ice n slice
2nd Jan 2015, 10:36
I believe there was a plan for the British to re-occupy the Republic of Ireland in case of war. It wasn't implemented.

Una Due Tfc
2nd Jan 2015, 12:19
Not to nit pick parabellum, but exports exceeding imports when over a million people starved to death is not a good thing. I think one of the issues is that there were still more boat loads of food from Irish farms crossing the Irish sea to Britain during the famine than there was food coming in.

2nd Jan 2015, 15:20
If anyone's interested, there's a very poignant first hand account of life in Ireland, near the bottom of the social register, in the 19th century.

"My Lady of the Chimney Corner" by Alexander Irvine.

It's on Gutenberg at

The Project Gutenberg eBook of My Lady of the Chimney-Corner, by Alexander Irvine. (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31765/31765-h/31765-h.htm)

2nd Jan 2015, 15:29
I understand that the decision for the abdication of Edward VIII was influenced by his pro-nazi attitudes. I think that a visit to Germany was also involved.

2nd Jan 2015, 15:33
I never did understand the Hess situation and why, after coming to this country, he was kept isolated in prison until he died. This has been reported as another area where members of the Royal family were involved.

2nd Jan 2015, 15:45
I've always wondered why Hess had reason to learn how to fly a twin engined Messerschmitt.

tony draper
2nd Jan 2015, 15:51
A lot of the Great the Good the Aristocracy and the Landed Gentry were not exactly at odds with that nice Mr Hitler's ideas,lots of papers started to be shredded and history rewritten when things started to go pear shaped for him.
Lots of stuff in the national archive with the 'Never to be Opened' stamp on em.

2nd Jan 2015, 18:12
Otto Skorzeny.
I find this thread fascinating.
A couple of years ago I had the intriguing experience of sitting and chatting with a gentleman , who as a 16 year old reservist, was replenishing the flak guns up on the Möhne Dam during 617's visit . He included some interesting Int. linked observations, that I have never heard elsewhere, that made me wonder about possible 5th column type collusion within the German military (alleged relocation away of Flak Units just before) along with possible agent activity in the area pre-raid.
As the conversation rambled on, Skorzeny's name cropped up, initially regarding Mussolini. The whole atmosphere then changed when I responded with some indication of admiration of the man as a soldier.
My new friend's brother apparently had his career wrecked by Skorzeny ( Eastern front etc.). This was due to personality clashes against Skorzeny's fanatically self-centred versions of operations, in many of which he played a rôle somewhat less impressive than was later written up by himself ( Sound familiar? :) )

The second point is Ireland. The Westland Sikorsky Dragonfly(S.51) went over on a demonstration tour. Harald Penrose went along on the sales side and found himself showing a man, whom he suddenly realized was Otto Skorzeny, over the machine. Interesting to get the probable confirmation after so many years.

2nd Jan 2015, 18:33
why, after coming to this country, he was kept isolated in prison until he died.

Because he had been given reason to believe that 'overtures for peace' would be acceptable. Who had given him reason to believe this ?

another area where members of the Royal family were involved.

And as long as he was incarcerated and never spoke to anyone this was deniable.

2nd Jan 2015, 22:28
Someone has touched upon this earlier in the thread, but I saw a History Channel programme (not always a solid evidence basis, I accept), where they interviewed a man who said he led the raid to rescue Mussolini.

He said that the glider troops who conducted the raid were Fallschirmjäger, (paratroopers, who were part of the Luftwaffe, and not SS troops) and that the whole raid was very much a Fallschirmjäger affair from go to woe. This is evident from photographs taken at the time, as all the German rescue party were wearing the distinctive Fallschirmjäger 'cropped' helmet. I may be wrong, but I've always understood that the Waffen SS was a very different animal to the normal German Army/Air Force units with a very different credo and a lone SS officer leading an otherwise all Luftwaffe unit, especially one as high profile/high stakes as the Mussolini rescue was would be unusual in the extreme.

You couldn't help but get the impression from everything that was said that the Italian troops guarding Mussolini had no intention of offering any resistance or impeding Il Duce's removal from their care.

Skorzeny was there very much in a political officer/observer/commissar role (or whatever the right word should be in the Nazi environment) and certainly not as leader. He literally squeezed himself onto the Storch and gilded the lily outrageously in talking up his role in the rescue when he delivered Mussolini back to German-held territory.

He did the same with his many other exploits when he wrote his very self-serving version of his career after the war.


As for the comments about some in the British aristocracy and even the Royal Family being sympathetic to the Nazis, anyone who has seen the excellent Foyle's War series could not fail to see that this was very much the case.

The writers of that programme have shown all sorts of nuances about life in wartime Britain that the 'stiff upper lip, we're all in this together, backs to the wall, our finest hour' propaganda of the day (which has been allowed in the main to be maintained by many if not most accounts of those days right up to today), was in large part, for many Britons, pure myth.

Low Flier
3rd Jan 2015, 04:43
I've always wondered why Hess had reason to learn how to fly a twin engined Messerschmitt.

In a fascist society a fuhrer (or deputy in Hess's case) can place himself at the controls of a military aircraft by picking up the phone. Even if the fuhrer demands to land on an aircraft carrier, the mil bods are most unlikely to say "Sir, no Sir"!:}

Hess arranged for Willy Messerschmit himself to give him some dual time on the aircraft which he subsequently flew to Dungavel. He also arranged for twice daily North Sea met reports to be delivered to his desk for at least a week prior to the first planned flight and then thereafter until the eventual ill-fated flight. He also arranged for someone to calculate the local time of sunset and the Farne Islands which was Hess's planned landfall.

It was a good bit of flying, but he'd badly misunderstood the hierarchy of the British constitution and his attempt to go over the head of the Prime Minister to the top of the aristocracy was doomed.

I concur that there is stuff at Kew which will never be released. For example, I know that locals later recalled that a German aircraft had landed at Hamilton's private airstrip a few days earlier. I rather doubt Hamilton's protestations that he knew nothing of the planned flight until he happened to see it being tracked in the Ops Room at Turnhouse. There was always something fishy about him being there at 10:30pm on a Sunday night. Just too convenient for him to keep an eye on the track of his guest.

As for the Skorzeni/Mussolini jape, one must admit that it was a ballsy thing to do, and well executed too.

16th Jan 2015, 17:31
Hess was an experienced pilot having trained as a WW1 military pilot but too late to see air combat. The Messerschmidt 110 became his personal aircraft after he helped Willi Messershmidt over a business difficulty in the 30's and was fitted with long range tanks. His position in the hierarchy was on the wane and he had strongly requested to become a Luftwaffe pilot but this has been blocked by hitler. There are tantalising accounts that he flew to Dungavel by invitation but after the failure of his peace bid the "madman" line suited both Hitler and Churchill.

...and it was his stated intention after the war (which Britain, having agreed his peace treaty, sat out as a neutral) to retire to a house in Scotland

Union Jack
16th Jan 2015, 18:46
.....some of them had a distinct liking for them, hence their removal to Bermuda for the duration.

The Bahamas, actually - but to be fair you do give your location as "Permanently lost".....:ok: