(Document Source: Reproduction of the Original Papers by EUCMH)

EUROPEAN CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY – 2022
UNITED STATES ARMY – EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS
DEPUTY JUDGE ADVOCATE’S OFFICE – 7708 WAR CRIMES GROUP
EUROPEAN COMMAND APO 407 – APRIL 14 1948

UNITED STATES
v.
Otto Skorzeny et all
Case N° 6-100

REVIEW AND RECOMMENDANDATIONS

I. TRIAL DATA: The accused were tried at Dachau, Germany during the period August 14, to September 9, 1947, before a General Military Government Court.

II. CHARGE AND PARTICULARS

Charge I: Violation of the Laws and Usages of War

Particulars: In that Otto Skorzeny, Philipp Von Behr, Walter Scherf, Hans Haas, Wilhelm Maus, Dennis Müntz, Günther Fitze, Ralph Bellstedt, Wilhelm Kocherscheidt, and Arend de Bruin, and divers other persons, German nationals or persons acting with German nationals, at sundry times between about October 1, 1944, and about January 15, 1945, in the vicinity of the Kingdom of Belgium, and the then German Reich, acting in pursuance of a common design to commit the acts hereinafter alleged, did wrongfully encourage, aid, abet, and participate in the improper use of the military insignia, badges, emblems, markings, and uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States Army of America, by entering into combat disguised therewith and treacherously firing upon and killing members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

Charge II: Violation of the Laws and Usages of War

Particulars: In that Otto Skorzeny, Philipp Von Behr, Walter Scherf, Hans Haas, Wilhelm Maus, Dennis Müntz, Günther Fitze, Ralph Bellstedt, Wilhelm Kocherscheidt, and Arend de Bruin, and divers other persons, German nationals or persons acting with German nationals, at sundry times between about December 10, 1944, and about January 15, 1945, at or in the vicinity of the Kingdom of Belgium and the then German Reich, acting in pursuance of a common design to commit the acts hereinafter alleged, did wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate in the killing, shooting, ill-treatment, abuse and torture of members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, who were then and there surrendered and unarmed prisoners of war in the custody of the then German Reich, the exact names and numbers of such persons being unknown but aggregating over one hundred.
(Charge II was later withdrawn during the course of the trial)

Charge III: Violation of the Laws and Usages of War

Particulars: In that Otto Skorzeny, Philipp Von Behr, Walter Scherf, Hans Haas, Wilhelm Maus, Dennis Müntz, Günther Fitze, Ralph Bellstedt, Wilhelm Kocherscheidt, and Arend de Bruin, and divers other persons, German nationals or persons acting with German nationals, at sundry times between about October 1, 1944, and about January 15, 1945, in the vicinity of the Kingdom of Belgium, and the then German Reich, acting in pursuance of a common design to commit the acts hereinafter alleged, did wrongfully encourage, aid, abet, and participate in removing, appropriating, and using uniforms, identification documents, insignia of rank, decorations, and other effects and objects of personal use in the possession of members of the Allied Forces of the United States of America, who were then and there surrendered and unarmed prisoners of war in the custody of the then German Reich.

Charge IV: Violation of the Laws and Usages of War

Particulars: In that Otto Skorzeny, Philipp Von Behr, Walter Scherf, Hans Haas, Wilhelm Maus, Dennis Müntz, Günther Fitze, Ralph Bellstedt, Wilhelm Kocherscheidt, and Arend de Bruin, and divers other persons, German nationals or persons acting with German nationals, at sundry times between about October 1, 1944, and about January 15, 1945, at sundry places within the then German Reich or areas under the control of the then German Reich, acting in pursuance of a common design to commit the acts hereinafter alleged, did wrongfully encourage, aid, abet and participate, to their own use and benefit, in obstructing and preventing the receipt and delivery of Red Cross and other parcels, containing food and clothing, consigned to members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, who were then and there surrendered and unarmed Prisoners of war in the custody of the then German Reich.

III. DATA AS TO ACCUSED

A motion by the prosecution for findings of not guilty as to accused Arend de Bruin was granted by the Court (R 452). A motion by the defense for findings of not guilty as to accused Wilhelm Maus was granted by the Court (R 453, 482). All other accused were acquitted (R 799).

IV. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

In October 1944, Hitler personally directed accused Skorzeny to organize and command a special unit (Panzer-Brigade 150) in the performance of an unusual, top-secret mission (Operation Greif). The principal mission of this unit as proscribed by Hitler was the capture and securing of bridges crossing the Meuse River in Belgium. The secondary mission was to be espionage and sabotage. It was directed that American uniforms and insignia be used by the German forces assigned to this unit during its operations. Hitler’s plan contemplated that Skorzeny would command the unit during its operations against the enemy. The unit was to be technically under the command of (then) SS-Obersturmbannführer Willi Hardieck, during the organization and training phase, all to be controlled and directed by Skorzeny. Hardieck was technically in command of the unit from about November 1, 1944, to December 14, 1944, when Skorzeny assumed the technical as well as the actual command. The unit was designated as the 150.SS-Panzer-Brigade and was utilized in the Ardennes Counteroffensive, commonly known as and hereafter referred to as the Ardennes Offensive.

Skorzeny, immediately after having received his direction from Hitler, aided by (then) SS-Sturmbannführer Adrian von Fölkersam, determined upon the table of organization, personnel, and equipment for the unit. The German High Command directed all Army Groups to seek physically fit volunteers, who had a command of the English language, for a secret assignment. A large number of men volunteered and were sent to Grafenwöhr for training.

Skorzeny informed (then) Oberst Fritz Meurer, Chief of Staff for the Head of the German Prisoner of War Bureau, that he would need a large number of American uniforms for a special task, which had been assigned to him by Hitler, and that the assistance of the Prisoner of War Bureau was essential in obtaining these uniforms. Meurer stated that there was not a sufficient number of American uniforms at prisoner of war camps to fill Skorzeny’s requisition. Meurer also stated that those not obtainable in prisoner of war camps could not be procured legally from International Red Cross sources, by the interception of parcels or otherwise. They agreed to obtain the uniforms, first, from booty dumps and, secondly from warehouses. It was also understood that American emergency rations, to complete the deception, would be supplied from Red Cross packages. Meurer directed his Chief of Administration, (then) Oberst Grossekettler, to fill Skorzeny’s requisition.

At Skorzeny’s direction, Gerhard, accused Fitze and accused Müntz called upon Meurer who had been advised of their visit by Skorzeny. They presented to Meurer identification credentials and a letter from Skorzeny, stating that any officer or official who did not cooperate with them would be reported to Hitler. At a conference of these four persons, a decision was made to supply American uniforms from a prisoner of war camp at Fürstenberg. Meurer sent Grossekettler with Fitze and Müntz to that camp.

Fitze and Müntz forgot some special jackets and returned the following day and informed (then) Oberst Blau, one commanding officer of the camp, that they must have the jackets immediately. Blau told them that these jackets were not on hand in the clothing warehouse. They then insisted, notwithstanding his protest, that these jackets be taken from the American prisoners of war. Thereupon, Blau ordered that the jackets be taken from the prisoners of war. In carrying out the order, some of the prisoners of war yielded their jackets without much resistance, but others tore and burned theirs. Blau reported this incident to Grossekettler. Meurer reported it to SS Gen Berger, who as Chief of the Prisoner of War Bureau was responsible at the Reich level for overall prisoner of war affairs.

There is evidence that jackets, blouses, shirts, underwear, socks, and other articles of American uniform clothing were taken from American prisoners of war at other camps. A substantial proportion, if not the major portion, of the clothing taken, had been supplied to the prisoners of war by the International Red Cross.

The unit was organized, equipped, and trained at Grafenwöhr. The mission of the unit was designated by the code name Rabenhügel and 1ater by the code name Greif. The unit was designated as the 150.SS-Panzer-Brigade. Each man was issued a complete set of American uniform clothing and equipment, including a steel helmet. The men were told at Grafenwöhr that they were to wear American uniforms on the Western Front. Some Red Cross packages, the contents of which included meat, dried milk, chocolate, and soap were stored in a stable at Grafenwöhr. A few of such Red Cross items, as well as American cigarettes, were issued to tho men during the training phase.

The brigade was comprised of three combat groups and a Commando Company. The Commando Company, composed of 150 to 200 men, was divided into reconnaissance, radio or communication, and engineer demolition teams. Most of these teams were composed of four men, but there were some seven-man teams. The four-man teams consisted of a leader, a speaker, a driver, and a rifleman. The speaker invariably was the team member who was the most proficient in the English language. The four-man teams were furnished with American jeeps. Other types of vehicles, some American and some British, were furnished and used in the brigade. The team members were equipped with American ammunition and weapons, including M-1 rifles, M-1 carbines, ACP .45 caliber Colt pistols, and M-1 or M-3 submachine guns.

The teams were furnished United States Army motor vehicle trip tickets and the drivers were issued United States Army driver licenses. The members of the brigade were assigned United States Army officer and enlisted rank designations and were given United States Army insignia pertaining to the rank assigned. Frequently the assigned ranks did not correspond to those held by the individuals in the German Army. They were also supplied with United States Army officer and enlisted man identification cards, pay data cards, pay books, post exchange cards, and immunization records. The equipment of the brigade also included some German vehicles, weapons, and ammunition.

The instruction at Grafernwöhr included training in the English language, American slang, and mannerisms, and in United States Army close order and extended order drill. Accused von Behr conducted instruction in the English language and classified the men according to their proficiency in the use thereof. Some of the men were sent to American prisoner of war camps for a few days to talk with and observe the speech, behavior, and mannerisms of the American soldiers. Instruction was also given in driving United States Army vehicles and in firing United States Army weapons. The members of the brigade were forbidden to write or send out letters and were required to take an oath that they would not reveal anything concerning the unit, its mission, or operation either during or after the end of the war. Skorzeny addressed the officers and team leaders stating that he was to lead them in combat by order or Hitler; that they should not count on returning from the mission of the unit; and that anyone who desired to withdraw from the unit and its task would be permitted to do so at that time without prejudice.

Early in December 1944, the unit was moved to Koln – Wahn in railroad boxcars. During the trip, Major von Schrotter spoke to the men and said that their mission would include creating disorder and unrest behind the tho enemy lines. At Koln – Wahn, additional Red Cross packages were distributed, and instructions were issued that the contents were to be utilized, for deception only, after the men had succeeded in breaking through to enemy territory. After about three days, the unit moved into a forest in the vicinity of Münstereifel, at which place American and British currency was distributed to each team leader. Each member of the brigade was issued a Poison vial and instructed to use it for self-destruction in the event of capture by the enemy.

On December 15, or 16, the members of the Commando Company were ordered by Major von Schrotter to remove their German uniforms, dress in their American uniforms, and wait for further instructions. They wore their German parachute jump jackets over, the American uniforms. Their German uniforms were stored in bags that were left at a forester’s house. The men were instructed that their German parachute jump jackets were not to be discarded until enemy territory had been reached. They were also instructed that the code rame Solar would be used thereafter to designate the unit and that the name Skorzeny would not be applied to the unit. Skorzeny took active command of the brigade on December 14, 1944.

On December 16, the Ardennes Offensive was commenced. The operational plan was for the combat groups of the brigade to march behind the combat groups of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division (LSSAH) and the 12.SS-Panzer-Division of the 6.SS-Panzer-Army; the first Combat Group commanded by Wulf, behind the 12.SS-Panzer-Division; the second Combat Group commanded by Scherf, behind Kampfgruppe Peiper; a special organized combat team formed from units of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division and the third Combat Group commanded by Hardieck, behind Kampfgruppe Hansen also of the 1.SS-Panzer-Division. Kampfgruppe Peiper formed a spearhead or point of the 6.SS-Panzer-Army into the offensive. The direction of the march was to be initially directly westward and later in a northeasterly direction. The area was divided into strips. The northernmost of these strips was assigned to the first Combat Group, its goal being the Meuse River Bridge at Engis; the second strip was assigned to the second Combat Group with the Meuse River Bridge at Amay as its goal; the southernmost strip was assigned to third Combat Group, with the Meuse River Bridge at Huy as its goal. The teams of the Commando Company (Einheit Stielau), were divided among the combat groups of the brigade and the combat groups of the armored divisions.


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