Skorzeny - Dancing With The Devil
REVIEW by Willard Manus
astounding and outrageous life is the subject of Hugo N. Gerstls
new novel, SKORZENY-DANCING WITH THE DEVIL. The Austrian-born Skorzeny,
a six-foot-four ramrod with a jagged dueling scar, was a life-long Nazi,
one who joined the SS and fought in France and Russia, then headed the
commando unit which, in 1943, used gliders and paratroopers to free Benito
Mussolini from his mountaintop prison. Skorzenys daring plan succeeded
and Il Duce was spirited off to Rome, giving a huge propaganda boost to
the Reich-and earning a medal for himself.
Over the next five years Skorzeny helped hundreds of top-level Nazis to escape to South America. Then he became an arms dealer in Argentina (where he bedded Evita Peron) and was persuaded by Richard Gehlen, Hitlers former intelligence chief, to relocate to Egypt and retool Nassers army. While in Cairo he befriended the youthful Yassar Arafat, who confessed that, as a boy, hed frequently visited the Jewish quarter and attended religious services. I wanted to study the Jewish mentality, Arafat said. How was this small remnant of a people, a third of whom had been killed in Hitlers ovens, somehow able to occupy land-our land-and defeat the Arabs against such overwhelming odds?
Skorzenys opinion of the Jewish people-and of the State of Israel-began to change. Even though he had previously sworn that he had never directly killed a single Jew, his conscience began to trouble him. Why had I not raised so much as a weak protest against the Holocaust? he asked himself. To assuage his guilt, he accepted an offer-a shocking offer!-to change sides and work for Israels secret service, the Mossad. Using the very skills that had impressed his Nazi overlords, he went undercover in Egypt and compiled a list of the German scientists who were working on a missile program aimed at destroying Israel. Skorzeny even mailed bombs to five Egyptian scientists at the missile site, killing them all.
Its no wonder why Otto Skorzeny was once called the most dangerous man in Europe-or why Hugo N. Gerstl has chosen to write a book about him. As the author said, Skorzeny has lived more lives than a dozen James Bonds.
(Dekel Publishing House, visit firstname.lastname@example.org)