Several Top Third Reich Henchman Chose Ireland as their Refuge
|Otto Skorzeny ('Scarface') as a commando in the SS, and as an Irish farmer|
|Hitler greets Skorzeny after the Mussolini rescue|
The Big Fish: Otto SkorzenyHistorians of World War II know that Otto Skorzeny was Adolf Hitler's 'special projects' guy. He was a wartime celebrity and well known on both sides. Skorzeny's most famous mission was rescuing dictator Benito Mussolini from his mountaintop prison in September 1943. Even Winston Churchill was impressed by this glider assault, terming the mission 'one of great daring.' Other projects came along, which Skorzeny executed with varying degrees of success. These included the kidnapping of the son of Hungarian Regent Admiral Horthy in October 1944 in order to keep Hungary in the Axis, and Operation Greif against the Americans during the Battle of the Bulge. After undertaking one last project in Vienna during the last days of the Reich, Skorzeny - 'the most dangerous man in Europe' - was captured by the western Allies.
|Skorzeny flew a light plane onto a mountaintop to rescue Mussolini, who probably regretted being rescued a couple of years later.|
|Skorzeny on trial at Dachau.|
It's a bit unclear exactly how much time he spent there, as he maintained his residence in Madrid, but locals still remember his hulking presence. Eventually, certain members of the parliament (the Dáil) became concerned, they denied Skorzeny a permanent visa and he was barred from England, and Skorzeny ultimately passed away quietly in 1975 at his Spanish residence.
Other Third Reich GermansAn estimated 100-200 other former adherents to the Third Reich also found their way to Ireland. Albert Folens (a suspected Belgian collaborator), Helmut Clissmann (a member of the Brandenburger Regiment who had long ties to Ireland), Andrija Artukovic (Minister of the Interior in Croatia and the man responsible for the deaths of over 1,000,000 men, women and children in concentration camps), Celestine Laine (leader of the Bezen Perrot, a Waffen SS unit responsible for the torture and murder of civilians in occupied Brittany), Louis Feutren (a French member of the Bezen Perrot) and Pieter Menten (allegedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Jews in Poland) were among them. Their presence is a little more difficult to explain than that of Skorzeny, who, after all, was invited and was not actually a convicted war criminal.
|Andrija Artuković (third from right). Here he is part of an oath ceremony during the NDH government inauguration in April 1941.|
|Louis Feutren, on the left.|