In 1939 he was awarded the Iron Cross, 2nd Class on August 26th 1941 and 1st Class on September 12th 1943. He was also awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross on September 13th 1943 and with Oakleaves on April 9th 1945.
According to Wikipedia,
“Skorzeny was interned for two years before being tried as a war criminal at the Dachau trials in 1947 for allegedly violating the laws of war during the Battle of the Bulge.” and “was detained in an internment camp at Darmstadt awaiting the decision of a denazification court. On 27 July 1948 he escaped from the camp with the help of three former SS officers dressed in US Military Police uniforms who entered the camp and claimed that they had been ordered to take Skorzeny to Nuremberg for a legal hearing. Skorzeny afterwards maintained that the US authorities had aided his escape, and had supplied the uniforms.”
Later he became a military advisor to Egypt under General Mohammed Naguib and later to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He also became an advisor to Argentinian President, Juan Domingo Perón and a bodyguard for Eva Perón.
The claims of his alleged recruitment by Israel’s Mossad are shaky to say the least and appear to have “come to light” in order to just tarnish the name of a highly decorated and loyal Commando Ace to the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler.
Skorzeny died in Madrid, Spain on July 5th 1975 due to lung cancer at the age of 67.
Of Skorzeny, the acclaimed and best-selling historian, John Toland said in October 1990,
. . . Otto Skorzeny, an Austrian who became famous by rescuing Mussolini in a commando operation. This American had been a GI where the Malmedy massacre [during the Battle of the Bulge] took place. He and a dozen other Americans were stuck during the battle in a hotel, and thought they were go to be killed. Then one night this big face looked down at them and said, “You are now my prisoners.”
It was Skorzeny, who commanded a special regiment of German soldiers dressed as American GIs. He took the Americans prisoner and thereby saved them. The former GI said that Skorzeny now lives in Madrid, and he asked if I would like to talk to him. I said, “You’re talking about ‘Scarface,’ the guy that was going to kill Eisenhower, a criminal whom you say saved your lives?” In those days, everyone was trying to find Skorzeny, but this former GI was ready to direct me to him.
So I went down to Spain and found him in two hours! I met this huge man, like a mountain, who had a big scar. Wow! I had to tell him that I was John Toland, and that I was going to write a book about the Battle of the Bulge. And he replied, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Well, he took me home, cooked me dinner, and we had a marvelous time. I could see what a marvelous, historical artifact I had found. He loved Hitler! He wasn’t like those other characters who talked about how terrible Hitler had been. Skorzeny offered to put me in touch with former SS men living in South America and elsewhere, people like former Belgian SS commander Leon Degrelle. “Fine,” I replied, I’ll listen to anybody.” And so he became my conduit to the SS.
I had all these things going for me, and the book itself was a success. You know, we really screwed up in the Battle of the Bulge, but people love to see us screw up, because we always come out ahead in the last minute of play.
After talking to people like Skorzeny, my perspective and thinking changed. I saw that the Germans had a point, too, and I presented them as human beings. Similarly, I never used pejorative adjectives. You know, it worked!
Not long ago I decided to purchase a copy of Skorzeny’s memoirs but found this to be more confusing than originally thought and anticipated.
The reason is twofold, one, because the varied English editions have different titles, and two, in a number of them the text from the “same work” is also different. It evidently wasn’t going to be as easy as I originally thought.
So, where to begin; I will detail everything in chronological order.
Although, I will only be focusing on the original French, German, and English editions, and not including the many, many others such as Portuguese, Italian, 1976 Spanish translation (PDF), etc.
First I will talk about the first English edition of 1957 and then details the different publication by year. These will be highlighted in red and bold.
To save you time and money I will give my purchase recommendations at the end of this article. This isn’t my recommendation of the best edition, but of the final updated editions of the three different memoirs!
The earliest reference to his memoirs I could find was in 1950, in the article “The Press: Fools & Opposition” which appeared in the June 5th 1950 edition of Time Magazine. According to this article they were published by the French newspaper ‘Le Figaro’ which caused 1,500 communists to riot outside the central offices of the newspaper.
In 1950 also they appear to have been published in French by Flammarion as ‘Missions Secrètes‘ (Amazon). See image below.
The earliest reference to an English translation of his memoirs I found to be in Britain in 1957 by Robert Hale Limited. This I first found on the copyright page of the 1995 English edition (PDF) through Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
The cover of the 1957 Robert Hale first English translation edition is below:
The complete text of this edition was republished in 1997 unabridged.
In 1959 Panther Books (Amazon) released an English translation. I believe this to be a reissue of the 1957 original English edition. The below is the cover.
In 1974 Futura Publications (Amazon) released an English translation. I believe this to be a reissue of the 1957 original English edition. The below is the cover. 224 pages.
The next date of publication I found was in French in 1975 through the publisher, Edition Albin Michel, as ‘La Guerre Inconnue‘ (Amazon). Cover below.
This I saw referenced in the copyright page of 1976 German edition (PDF) republished 1977 by Limes Verlag. Image below.
This German edition was called, ‘Meine Kommando unternehmen: Krieg ohne Fronten (Erstmals die vollständige Biografie)’ by Limes Verlag, 1976. The copyright page screenshot above reads:
3. Auflage (11.-14. Tsd.) 1977
Alle Rechte vorbehalten
© Edition Albin Michel, 1975; für die deutsche Ausgabe
Limes Verlag, Wiesbaden und München, 1976
Umschlagentwurf: Klaus Neumann
Druck und Bindearbeit: May & Co., Darmstadt
Printed in Germany
In English this reads:
3rd edition (11th-14th thousand) 1977
All rights reserved
© Edition Albin Michel, 1975; for the German edition
Limes Verlag, Wiesbaden and Munich, 1976
Cover design: Klaus Neumann
Printing and binding work: May & Co., Darmstadt
Printed in Germany
The below is the cover for the 1977 edition of the 1976 original:
Chapter 1 begins as below:
The cover and copyright page of the 1995 English edition (PDF) through Schiffer Publishing Ltd. can be seen below. 468 pages.
The below is the cover of the 1995 Schiffer edition:
This edition is titled, ‘My Command Operations: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Most Daring Commando’ and was translated from the German by David Johnston. It was first published in 1995. As per the copyright page, this book was originally published under the title:
This book was originally published in 1975 by Edition Albin Michel.
Chapter 1 begins as below:
In 1997 Greenhill Books / Stackpole Books published a hardback edition with two different covers and two slightly different titles. This editions text is published exactly as the original 1957 Robert Hale original edition, complete and unabridged. Below are the two covers:
This first image in maybe Doubleday books, an imprint of Greenhill?
Skorzeny’s Special Missions: The Memoirs of ‘The Most Dangerous Man in Europe’
(This is the cover of the Greenhill Books/Stackpole Books edition)
Chapter 1 begins as below:
As you can see, chapter 1 starts completely differently from the 1995 English edition by Schiffer Publishing Ltd which is an exact English translation of the 1976 German language edition.
In 2005 R. James Bender Publishing released another edition with a different title, ‘For Germany: The Otto Skorzeny Memoirs’ and edited by Craig W. H. Luther, Ph.D. and Hugh Page Taylor. The cover can be seen below. This edition is a different memoir to the 1957 Robert Hale edition and the 1995 Schiffer Publishing Ltd. edition which is an exact English translation of the 1976 German language edition.
The below photo is of the copyright page.
The below is a photo of Chapter 1. As you can see it is completely different to the 1957 Robert Hale edition (updated in the 2016 edition detailed further down this page), and the 1995 Schiffer Publishing Ltd. edition which is an exact English translation of the 1976 German language edition.
The below is a photo of the publisher’s comments and acknowledgements. I recommend reading this page.
In 2006 Greenhill Books released a paperback edition with a new Foreword (2006) by Charles Messenger. This edition contains new material that didn’t appear in the hardback 1997 edition, as per the copyright page in the 2011 reissue.
In 2011, Frontline Books/A Greenhill Book (an imprint of Pen & Sword Limited) released ‘Skorzeny’s Special Missions: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Most Daring Command’ (EPUB) which contains the 2006 Foreword by Charles Messenger. 244 pages. As per the copyright page pictured below, it says that it was first published in 1957 by Robert Hale Limited, of which Greenhill Books published a hardback edition back in 1997 and a paperback edition with new material and Foreword by Charles Messenger in 2006.
This 2011 edition by Frontline Books/A Greenhill Book includes the additional material from the 2006 paperback edition.
First is the cover of this 2011 edition followed by the copyright page.
The below is the copyright page:
Chapter 1 begins as below:
As you can see Chapter 1 begins in the same way as the 1997 Greenhill Books edition, completely different from Chapter 1 of the 1995 English edition by Schiffer Publishing Ltd which is an exact English translation of the 1976 German language edition.
Also in 2011 Zenith Press in America published an edition with the below cover.
In 2016 Skyhorse Publishing released a hardback edition, ‘Hitler’s Commando: The Daring Missions of Otto Skorzeny and the Nazi Special Forces’ with the 2006 Foreword by Charles Messenger but this time introduced by Dan Raviv. 244 pages. This is an update of the 2011 Greenhill Books edition.
In 2018 Skyhorse Publishing released a paperback edition (244 pages) of the 2016 release with the same cover, which is again an update of the 2011 Greenhill Books edition.
In the end, I found that their were three different versions of the text (three different memoirs entirely!), with the latter one also having two version because a later edition had been updated. So if you want the latest editions of all three versions with the one being an updated text of the second version, I recommend the below:
* My Command Operations: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Most Daring Commando
Translated from the German by David Johnston
Published in 1995 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 468 pages.
You can view a PDF version of it here: PDF.
This edition is an exact English translation of the first German edition of 1976 as my screenshots of Chapter 1 for both editions shows.
* For Germany: The Otto Skorzeny Memoirs
2005 R. James Bender Publishing.
Edited by Craig W. H. Luther, Ph.D. and Hugh Page Taylor. 528 pages.
This edition is a different memoir to the 1957 Robert Hale edition and the 1995 Schiffer Publishing Ltd. edition which is an exact English translation of the 1976 German language edition.
* Hitler’s Commando: The Daring Missions of Otto Skorzeny and the Nazi Special Forces
Either the hardback edition of 2018 or the paperback edition of 2016 published by Skyhorse Publishing. 244 pages. Foreword by Charles Messenger but this time introduced by Dan Raviv.
This is an update with additional information of the original 1957 by Robert Hale Limited edition memoir. This 2016/2018 edition is an update of the 2011 Greenhill Books edition which was actually an update with additional material of the Greenhill Books 2006 edition that didn’t appear in the hardback 1997 edition by Greenhill Books, as per the copyright page in the 2011 reissue, which again was a reprint of the 1957 edition.