Rescue of Mussolini?

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Rescue of Mussolini?

Post by Ezboard » 29 Sep 2002 12:29

Unregistered User
(6/7/00 12:59:57 am)
Reply Rescue of Mussolini?
Can anyone fill me in on the details of the Kommando rescue of Mussonlini? How it was executed? By whom (Skornezy? j/n?)? Where from? How PO'ed was Hitler? What was the "plan" to get Italy back?

Also, why and how did Mussonlini go back? I would assume he went back to Italy as I recall seeing a picture of Mussolini and his wife dead (in a rather grizzly manner) in the streets.

Gareth Collins
Unregistered User
(6/7/00 6:45:42 pm)
Reply Mussolini Rescue
Hello George,
The discreet arrest of Mussolini, following his interview with King Victor Emmanuel on july 25, 1943, left the Germans with a double problem: find the former Duce, and having found him, rescue him.
The task fell to Otto Skorzeny, a Waffen-SS officer running a command training school at Friedenthal, near Berlin.
When he began his search, Italy was still an ally of Germany. But if the Italians could hold Mussolini until their surrender to the Allies, he could be a trump card in negotiations.
Skorzeny traced Mussolini to an island prison near Sardinia. He laid careful plans, took aerial photographs, and was about to launch the operation when a final check showed that the Duce had gone. It was a lucky discovery, for Hitler had warned him that failure would mean dismissal and a public repudiation.
Back in Rome Skorzeny intercepted a code message to the Italian Ministry of Interior; it read: "SECURITY MEASURES AROUND GRAN SASSO COMPLETED. CUELI" Skorzeny had discovered that General Cueli was the official responsible for the Duce's safety.
The only place in Gran Sasso, a mountainous part of the Apenines, which could house a state prisoner with his guards, was the winter sports hotel of Campo Imperatore. Built on a 6,000-foot crag, it could only be reached by a funicular railway.
On September 8, Italy surrendered. The operation was now military rather than diplomatic.
Skorzeny established that there was at least a battalion of Carabinieri in the area and a further 250 men in the hotel.
His reconnaisance photographs showed a triangular patch of land near the hotel. Paratroops could not land there (the air was too thin), but gliders might.
The Luftwaffe eventually agreed to provide gliders for the 90 Luftwaffe troops and the 20 men from Skorzeny's unit.
On the afternoon of September 12 they set off.
The landing zone proved to be a sloping, rock-studded, shelf. But risking destruction Skorzeny shouted to his pilot, "Dive-crash land! As near the hotel as you can."
The glider landed and the soldiers lept out. They raced the 20 yards across to the hotel.
Skorzeny recognised a familiar shaved head at an upper window, and yelled to Mussolini to get back. By sheer surprise and aggressiveness they overwhelmed the guards without firing a shot.
The Carabinieri crowded in the corridors were too close to shoot, and the Germans barged past them and pushed further into the hotel.
Skorzeny burst into a room, and there, with two Italian officers, was the Duce. As the Germans came through the door, two more climbed up the lightning conductor and through the window.
Skorzeny noe summoned the Italian colonel who had been the Duce's jailer.
"I ask your immediate surrender. Mussolini is already in our hands. We hold the building. If you want to avert senseless bloodshed you have 60 seconds to go and reflect."
The bluff worked and the colonel returned with a goblet of wine, for "a gallant victor". The return was no less hazardous. Hauptmann Gerlach landed a Fieseler Storch on a strip cleared on the narrow landing zone.
Then looked with the substantial bulk of Skorzeny and Mussolini the Storch took off. It was held by 12 men as its engine revved to a high pitch, but even then the take-off was only achieved after the Storch lurched across the mountain side and plunged headlong over the edge of a ravine.
They landed at Rome and transferred to a transport plane. Skorzeny had completed his mission - overnight he had changed from an obscure SS officer to a national hero.
Dr. Göbbels, the Reich Propaganda Minister, noted in his diary: "Even upon the enemy the effect of this melodramatic deliverance is enormous... We are able to celebrate a first-class moral victory."

Source: Illustrated WWII Encyclopedia

Hope I helped,

George Huelse
Unregistered User
(6/7/00 7:11:23 pm)
Reply Good show!
Thank you for the information. That was a really interesting read!

Two quick questions:

How did Skorzeny and Mussonlini get into the plane? Also, what of the German Kommandos? Did they get away or did they let themselves get captured?

Thank you!

George Huelse
Unregistered User
(6/7/00 8:57:56 pm)
Reply Ooops, one more thing....
Why did Mussonlini go back? Why didn't he hang out in Germany since his country had surrendered and was over run by the Allied forces?

P.S. Didn't Skorzeny go live in Spain after the war. Curious.

Gareth Collins
Unregistered User
(6/7/00 9:00:27 pm)
Reply An even more detailed write-up
On 25 july 1943, the King of Italy removed Mussolini from the post of Prime Minister and placed him under arrest.from a group of dynamic young officers of the Army, the Luftwaffe and the SS, Hitler selected the man who would carry out the rescue mission. The choice was Major Skorzeny of the SS, who, accompanied by 20 Luftwaffe paratroops and equipment which included explosives, laughing-gas and forged British banknotes, arrived at Practica di Mare aerodrome, south of Rome, where 50 SS men of Skorzeny's own detachment had already arrived. Radio messages intercepted by the German communications experts soon located the area in which the Duce was being held and inquiries established that in the area in which the Duce was being held and inquiries established that in the Gran Sasso there was a large hotel, the Albergo Rifugio, set upon the summit of the mountain peak. It was accessible only by funicular railway. Skorzeny's battle plan ruled out any frontal assault from the valley to the crest of the Gran Sasso. The alternative was a glider landing on the summit concurrent with which would be an attack upon the funicular terminal in the valley to prevent the arrival of Italian reinforcements.
12 fully-manned DFS-230 gliders took off from Practica di Mare at 12.30 on 12 September. 4 of the 12 dropped out en route and failed to reach the target area. The loss was disconcerting, but worse was to come. As the gliders made their descent Skorzeny saw that the landing site which he had selected from a high-altitude photograph, was not a flat Alpine meadow but a small triangular piece of very steep ground, probably a ski run, which ended abruptly at the edge of a precipice. The gliders would have to crash-land close to the hotel.
One after the other the machines touched down and raced along the boulder-strewn ground, their breaking chutes streaming behind them. Skorzeny's machine halted only 15 or 20 yards from the hotel's main door. He raced up the slope and into the foyer, kicked an Italian radio-operater and his set out of action, found and liberated the Italian leader. From touch down to liberation had taken less than four minutes. The next stop was to bring the Duce to Hitler's headquarters. It has never been clearly established why Skorzeny did not use the funicular down into the valley whence he could have organised a fast motor convoy to the aerodrome. Instead, his flamboyant gesture was a masterpiece of propaganda: he flew Mussolini from the Gran Sasso in a light Fieseler Storch.
The danger of a take-off from the small meadow was increased when Skorzeny insisted on accompanying the Italian leader and the pilot. The Storch was not built to carry such a load. in vain the pilot pointed out this fact, and how short was the runway. The SS officer was adamant. The men boarded the plane, the engine was revved to produce maximum power. The brake was released suddenly and the Storch shot forward along the boulder-strewn runway, careered over the edge of the cliff and vanished from sight. For a few frightening seconds the light plane plunged towards the valley floor, but the pilot regained control and landed at Practica di Mare whence Mussolini, still escorted by Skorzeny, was flown to Hitler's headquarters.
The soldiers got away using the Aquila Airfield. While Skorzeny was in the hotel, the paras were securing both ends of the funicular railway, and secured the airfield. He left Major Mors and Captain Radl incharge of the clearing up.

Thomas Sinha
Local user
(6/10/00 10:35:10 pm)
Reply Mussolini's death
Hi George,
I just wanted to add two things:
The pictures you have seen showed Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, on Piazzale Loreto in Milan after they had been executed by Italian communist partisans in Dongo.
Mussolini's wife died many years after the war.

After Mussolini had been rescued by German troops he actually wanted to "quit" politics. But Hitler urged him to constitute the RSI (Hitler held Mussolini in high esteem - he somewhat regarded him as his teacher in politics).


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