Benito Mussolini Captured, and Rescued by German Commandos from Gran Sasso Hotel on September 12th. 1943
Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922, many years ahead of Adolf Hitler taking control of Germany. A Treaty of Friendship between Germany and Italy was arranged in 1930, developing into " The Pact of Steel" in 1939.
Mussolini and Hitler
When Europe burst into war flames on September 3rd. 1939 after Germany had invaded Poland, Mussolini sat on the fence until after France had fallen prey to German forces. He now sensed in the Spring of 1940, it was opportune for Italy to join with Germany in the war against Britain and France, then in 1941 Mussolini declared war on the Soviet Union, and after Pearl Harbor, on the United States.
In July 1943 the Allies invaded Sicily, the war was now closing in on both Mussolini and Italy. On July 25th. the Dictator was arrested and imprisoned at the Campo Imperator Hotel on top of Gran Sasso in central Italy, the Hotel some 6,000 feet high, and 80 miles North East of Rome.
Captain Otto Skorzeny.
Otto Skorzeny had joined the Waffen SS in 1940, he served in Yugoslavia the next year, and was wounded from some flying shrapnel in Russia in June of 1941. In April 143 he was summoned to Berlin and put in charge of training special agents for sabotage, espionage etc, his men known as Jagdverbande ( Hunting Group ) 502.
Captain Otto Skorzeny who led the
Commando troop that freed Mussoloni
Skorzeny studied British Commando techniques from captured documents, and HG 502's first mission Operation Francois took place in the summer of 1943, the group parachuted into Iran, charged with joining dissident groups to sabotage Allies supplies bound for the Soviet Union .
Skorzeny had stayed behind to keep training new recruits, but now he was summoned to Hitler's presence on July 26th. 1943, the day after Mussolini's arrest. He was given the task of finding the former Italian Dictator, and to rescue him before the Italian Government surrendered to the Allies, and handed over Mussolini to them.
It took Otto and his men until September 8th. 1943 to locate where Mussolini was being held prisoner. The Commando Captain took a look via an aircraft at the Gran Sasso Hotel, high up in the Apennine Mountain range, and decided the only way to try and free Mussolini was by the use of Gliders.
In the shadow of the Corno Grande is the Hotel Campo Imperator where
Mussolini was held prisoner, to be rescued by German commandos on September 12th. 1943
Kidnap of Italian General, and rescue of Mussolini.
On September 12th. Skorzeny kidnapped Italian General Ferdiando Soleti, hoping his capture and presence would ensure that Mussolini's guards would cooperate when the Commando troop stormed the Hotel.
That afternoon 12 Gliders left for Gran Sasso, after a rough landing with General Soleti in tow, Skorzeny burst into the Radio room, smashed the radio with the butt of his pistol, to be confronted by armed guards. They noted General Soleti with the German Commandos, did not open fire on the intruders. Mussolini was soon located to be greeted by Captain Otto Skorzeny " Duce, the Fuhrer has sent me to set you free." and the ex prisoner responded with " I knew my friend Adolf Hitler would not abandon me. "
Mussolini was loaded into a light aircraft and flown to Vienna where a room at the Hotel Continental awaited.
Mussolini's liberation on 12 September 1943 as he prepares to fly out in General Kurt Student's
personal Feisler Storch, the German equivalent of the American Piper Cub.
Republican Fascist State set up.
Mussolini now set up up a Republican Fascist State in Northern Italy.
Mussolini and his Mistress caught and executed.
In April 1945 just when Allied forces were closing on Milan, Mussolini in civilian clothes and with his Mistress Clara Petacci, they were in the back of a truck trying to make their way to freedom in Switzerland, and their vehicle was stopped by Italian Partisans, both were captured and soon executed.
Their bodies were taken to Milan and put on public display, strung up side by side and upside down.
Mussolini and his mistress hung upside down in Milan, after being shot
Mussolini strutted the stage in Italy over a number of years, the success of his troops never matching his rhetoric. I do not believe that Hitler really ever took him too seriously, having to bail him and his forces out in their invasion in Greece.
The Italian dictator came to a nasty end together with his Mistress, their bodies ignominously displayed to the public gaze.
Mussolini and his mistress hung upside down in Milan, after being shot.