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Operation Greif

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by Dave War44, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Operation Greif


    Operation Greif was a special false flag operation commanded by the notorious Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny during the Battle of the Bulge. The operation was the brainchild of German dictator Adolf Hitler, and consisted of using specially-trained German soldiers in captured Allied uniforms and vehicles to cause confusion in the rear of the Allied defense. A lack of transport aircraft, uniforms and English-speaking soldiers limited this operation, but the confusion created by this so-called "Trojan Horse Brigade" was considerable.

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    Otto Skorzeny, after Operation Greif he was called "the most dangerous man in Europe"

    About two dozen German soldiers, most of them in captured American army Jeeps, got through the lines in the initial confusion of December 16, 1944, and began changing signposts and creating panic among American troops they encountered. However, some of the saboteurs were captured by the Americans. Because they were wearing American uniforms, their interrogators threatened to execute them as spies unless they divulged their mission. Knowing they were likely to meet that fate anyway (they did), the Germans falsely told the Americans that their mission was to go to Paris to either kill or capture overall Allied commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower. They truthfully told the interrogators that Skorzeny was their commander.

    The Americans had already captured some documents referring to Operation Greif. In reality, the word Greif was probably used simply to mean a mythical heraldic beast, the griffin. Because Skorzeny was already well-known for rescuing Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and kidnapping the son of Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy, the Americans were more than willing to believe Eisenhower was his next target.

    Because of the perceived threat, Eisenhower was confined to his headquarters for several days, and thousands of American MP's were put to work trying to hunt down Skorzeny's men. Checkpoints were soon set up all over the Allied rear, greatly slowing the movement of soldiers and equipment. Military policemen drilled servicemen on things which every American was expected to know, such as the identity of Mickey Mouse's girlfriend, baseball scores, or the capital of their state. This latter question resulted in the brief detention of General Omar Bradley himself; although he gave the correct answerâ€â€￾Springfield(Illinois)â€â€￾the GI who questioned him apparently believed that the capital was Chicago.

    Ironically, the overall mission was regarded by Skorzeny as a failure. Because a total breakthrough wasn't achieved on the first day of the battle, Skorzeny had to use most of his panzer brigade as ordinary combat troops, in German uniform.

    After the war, Skorzeny was tried by the Allies as a war criminal for allowing his men to fight in enemy uniform. He was acquitted when the British Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas of the Special Operations Executive testified in his defense that he and other Allied commandos had done the same thing.


    Wikipedia contradicts itself on two different pages regarding the fate of Skorzeny. Here is the alternative version:

    Because these prisoners had been captured in American uniform they were later executed by firing squad; this was the standard practice of every army at the time, although it was left ambivalent under the Geneva Convention, which merely stated that soldiers had to wear uniforms that distinguished them as combatants. In addition, Skorzeny was an expert at international law and knew that such an operation would be well within its boundaries as long as they were wearing their German uniforms when firing. Skorzeny and his men were fully aware of their likely fate, and most wore their German uniforms underneath their Allied ones in case of capture. Skorzeny himself avoided capture, survived the war and may have been involved with the Nazi ODESSA ratline escape network.

    All copyrights Wikipedia

    Hmmm. :CONFUSED:I guess I should report this to Wiki! :D
     
  2. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    There is a big story out there somewhere about Skorzeny.. :D If memeory serves me right Dave, Skorzeny was never tried...

    Nice story. :thumb:
     
  4. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Some more on the man with a Polish surname, although it's hard to know what to believe, the stuff about Argentina at least should be easy to confirm/deny...also an unrepentant Nazi it seems.
    Ten days after the war's end Skorzeny gave himself up to the Americans who had launched a massive search for ‘The Most Dangerous Man in Europe'. He was put on trial held prisoner until July 27th 1948. It was on this day that in true commando fashion he escaped.
    His whereabouts after his escape remained a mystery as Russian agents, Jewish organizations hunted for him all over Europe but the ex-commando was not in Europe. In fact he had fled to Argentina and became close to Juan and Eva Peron who was interested in recovering all the German gold and money from the days of the Reich.
    Otto Skorzeny organized the Police into the most brutal in South America and also acted as Eva Peron`s bodyguard foiling at least one attempt on her life.
    His post-war activities included his service as an adviser to Gamal Nasser, dictator in Egypt.

    Skorzeny eventually settled in Spain and became a successful engineering consultant for several years. His later years were all spent on helping his SS comrades to escape justice.

    He founded a secret organization which helped some 500 former SS members escape the hunt for nazi war criminals. One of the better known people the organization is said to have helped is Adolf Eichmann.
    Otto Skorzeny - ‘The Most Dangerous Man in Europe' - died comfortably in Madrid July, 1975 - in his bed.
    The most intriguing Skorzeny story that has surfaced in recent years concerns the alleged Churchill-Mussolini correspondence. New light has been shed upon the mystery of a possible unauthorized Churchill-Mussolini correspondence during the war, whether Mussolini kept the documents with him even in exile, the possible involvement of British intelligence in Mussolini's death, and whether Skorzeny met Churchill in Venice to exchange the Mussolini papers for an unofficial "amnesty" from Allied Nazi-hunters ...
     
  5. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Why do you always feel something fishy was going on when you read such articles.. :confused: Now reading that there was an agreement not to chase Skorzeny after he had passed over the Mussolini papers wouldn't surprise me or others one bit. :)
     
  6. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Heroics against Skorzeny

    Aye Jim reckon you're right. The more I read parts of that last post of mine the more it looks like a load of old flannel as they say. Simon Wiesenthal's thoughts on this man and his "escape" might perhaps shed more light on it....:D

    Anyway here's a pretty good account of some of the fighting during Operation Greif:


    (Skorzeny's troops)...that gathered in Ligneuville must have made a motley crew. Some were completely equipped with American uniforms and dog-tags; others had olive drab trousers and American combat boots surmounted by field gray tunics; still others wore the German field uniform. Their vehicles were an assortment of German makes; captured American armored cars, tanks, and jeeps; and German models which had been given a facelifting job by the addition of dummy turrets, decks, and fronts to simulate an American equivalent. Despite this rag-tag appearance Skorzeny's command was composed of tough, hand-picked men, abundantly armed with automatic and heavy weapons.

    Skorzeny divided his brigade into three groups, two for the assault and one in reserve. About two hours before dawn the right group struck straight north along the Ligneuville road in an effort to seize the bridge south of Malmédy.

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    Mined Bridge at Malmedy, Taped Area shows Safe Passageway

    The assault force was engaged by the 1st Battalion of the 120th Infantry and the 3d Battalion joined the fire fight as well; but it was left to the artillery to "plaster" the Germans, as the infantry were quick to acknowledge. Two hours later the attackers had disappeared. The morning came with a dense fog floating out from the Amblève River. Attacking under this cover the left German assault group, two rifle companies, and a tank company rolled in column along a secondary road which would bring it west of Malmédy against the 3d Battalion of the 120th. One detachment turned toward the town but came to a sudden halt when the lead vehicles hit a mine field in front of B Company, 99th Infantry Battalion. It took only minutes for mortars, machine guns, and artillery to dispel this assault.

    Here, on the first day of use of the new POZIT fuze, the Germans were roughly dealt with. Nearly a hundred were killed by the shellbursts and for a moment panic spread among them, some running forward into the fire shouting "Kamerad." But Skorzeny's troops were tough and tried repeatedly to break Lt. Col. Harold D. Hansen's "Norwegians," an outfit characterized in the German intelligence reports as "old men." German machine gun crews tried to set up their pieces right in front of the railroad embankment where B Company lay but were shot down or blasted by hand grenades. Several times the enemy infantry reached the foot of the embankment, but could go no farther. Finally the assault died down.

    The main enemy detachment headed for the Malmédy-Stavelot road, pushing its infantry to the fore. In the fog it encountered K Company of the 120th Infantry, knocked out a platoon deployed at a roadblock, and, using its tanks, drove the remaining American infantry back some distance to the north. Four 3-inch towed tank destroyers covering the road were abandoned after their crews removed the firing pins.

    Not all the Americans fell back, however. One who stayed was 1st Lt. Kenneth R. Nelson, who decided to hold on with a few men left in his section and did so, savagely beating back the attackers. Nelson led the fight until he died of the wounds he had suffered. He received the DSC posthumously. T/Sgt. John Van Der Kamp then took command, although wounded, and held the position until ordered to withdraw. He was awarded the DSC. Part of K Company withdrew to a nearby factory, where Pfc. Francis Currey essayed a series of gallant deeds for which he later received the Medal of Honor. He knocked out a tank with bazooka fire, drove the German crews out of three tanks with antitank grenades, with a bazooka blew in the front of the house where the enemy tankers had taken refuge, and turned a half-track machine gun on the house with such effect as to silence the German fire and permit the escape of five Americans who had been cornered by the enemy.


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    German Tank Disguised as American Tank
    SOURCE: http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_3.htm
     
  7. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Great follow up Dave, the Bridge has similar similarities to the one near the end of the film Private Ryan, where they are defending the Small Town.. :p

    Pfc. Francis Currey surely deserved the MOH, imagine taking on a German Panzer Division and coming out on top... Single Handed.:rolleyes:
     
  8. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Oh yeah SPR ! Great movie ! ;)

    I agree, at least, about Pfc. Currey, an astonishing day's work by any standards :)



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    Francis Sherman "Frank" Currey
    He was an automatic rifleman with the 3d Platoon defending a strong point near Malmedy, Belgium, on 21 December 1944, when the enemy launched a powerful attack. Overrunning tank destroyers and antitank guns located near the strong point, German tanks advanced to the 3d Platoon's position, and, after prolonged fighting, forced the withdrawal of this group to a nearby factory. Sgt. Currey found a bazooka in the building and crossed the street to secure rockets meanwhile enduring intense fire from enemy tanks and hostile infantrymen who had taken up a position at a house a short distance away. In the face of small-arms, machinegun, and artillery fire, he, with a companion, knocked out a tank with 1 shot. Moving to another position, he observed 3 Germans in the doorway of an enemy-held house. He killed or wounded all 3 with his automatic rifle. He emerged from cover and advanced alone to within 50 yards of the house, intent on wrecking it with rockets. Covered by friendly fire, he stood erect, and fired a shot which knocked down half of 1 wall. While in this forward position, he observed 5 Americans who had been pinned down for hours by fire from the house and 3 tanks. Realizing that they could not escape until the enemy tank and infantry guns had been silenced, Sgt. Currey crossed the street to a vehicle, where he procured an armful of antitank grenades. These he launched while under heavy enemy fire, driving the tankmen from the vehicles into the house. He then climbed onto a half-track in full view of the Germans and fired a machinegun at the house. Once again changing his position, he manned another machinegun whose crew had been killed; under his covering fire the 5 soldiers were able to retire to safety. Deprived of tanks and with heavy infantry casualties, the enemy was forced to withdraw. Through his extensive knowledge of weapons and by his heroic and repeated braving of murderous enemy fire, Sgt. Currey was greatly responsible for inflicting heavy losses in men and material on the enemy, for rescuing 5 comrades, 2 of whom were wounded, and for stemming an attack which threatened to flank his battalion's position.
     

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