15 March 1942, at a meeting in Berlin, Adolf Hitler announced that by the summer of this year the Russian campaign would be successfully completed by Germany.
“We will dismember Russia and make it kneel,” the Fuehrer said, as if cutting the air with his palms. - The border will be in the Urals!
He hoped for the success of the offensive in the Caucasus, a breakthrough to the oil fields of Baku, Grozny and Maikop, access to the Volga and blockade of this major waterway of the European part of the Soviet Union, along which vessels with food and, most importantly, with oil products went in a continuous stream.
These plans did not come true, and the temporary successes of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front failed to turn the tide of the war. 26 May became aware of the conclusion of a treaty between the USSR and Britain about an alliance in the war against Germany. Heinrich Himmler closely followed the development of events and contacted Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
“I want to know your opinion,” said the Reichsfuhrer SS. - Who can become the best leader of the group on the implementation of special tasks? Are you ready to nominate?
"Faithful Henry" absolutely did not believe in the possibility of a successful completion of the military campaign in the East during this year. It may be possible to achieve individual successes, but to finally finish off the Russians, you need a lot of time and effort. Therefore, in connection with the emergence of the anti-Hitler coalition, one should prepare, through his department, for serious operations. When the Fuhrer gives the task, you must already be in all weapons. Even one successful terrorist action or intelligence operation can seriously affect the course of hostilities and the future destinies of the world.
“Otto Skorzeny will do,” said Heydrich.
“Good,” agreed Himmler. - Think about whom it can be replaced in which case.
Most likely, this was their last conversation. On the morning of May 29, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, who was riding in a car through the old narrow streets, was assassinated by English agents. 4 Jun Reinhard Heydrich died from his injuries. But the Reichsfuhrer SS did not forget his recommendation. After the ceremonial funeral of Heydrich, the Reichsfuhrer inquired from Walter Schellenberg, who led the VI Directorate of the RSHA "Ausland SS":
- Tell me, who can you suggest as the head of the created special group?
“Otto Skorzeny,” Schellenberg replied without thinking.
Himmler silently nodded and walked away. In principle, Skorzeny’s candidacy also suited him, but it wasn’t worth it to hurry: it’s always preferable to wait and see how events begin to unfold.
The development was not long in coming: on August 23, German troops launched a large-scale offensive against Stalingrad, intending to cut the Volga. At the same time fierce battles were fought in the Caucasus.
In late October, when it became clear that the Wehrmacht was stuck in Stalingrad and deep in battle, the allied Anglo-American forces under the command of General Montgomery suddenly launched an offensive near Al Alamein in North Africa. 5 November in the decisive battle, they inflicted a heavy defeat on parts of General Rommel. Literally in a day, the Anglo-Americans launched a landing operation in Africa, and on November 19, the Red Army launched a powerful counteroffensive at Stalingrad and inflicted a number of serious blows to the Wehrmacht. The situation there was becoming critical, the Reichsfuhrer understood: if he does not want to be late, it is time to begin to carry out his plans. Schellenberg received a special task from the Reichsfuhrer SS, and the coordinated machine of the "black order" quickly began to spin.
At the end of the year, thousands of prisoners from the Sachsenhausen death camp were selected to perform special construction work that was carried out without interruption, in any weather, in three shifts day and night in a row. The prisoners built a high - about three meters - solid and long stone wall around the ancient Friedental Castle, located eighty kilometers from Berlin. On the other side of the secret Nazi object, literally in a few minutes of unhurried walking, the death camp of Sachsenhausen was spread.
Upon completion, the "builders" were destroyed. Along the crest of a stone wall, several rows of a spiral of barbed wire were stretched through which a high-voltage current was passed, as in the fences of death camps. In addition, the wall was guarded by patrols and dogs, specially trained to hunt for people. What was hidden in the mysterious and so carefully guarded castle located almost in the very center of Germany?
The SS men chose the Friedental Castle to host special courses for training members of the special assignment group, which was personally led by Otto Skorzeny on the orders of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler. In fact, these courses were a secret special school for the training of super-saboteurs, ready to perform any task anywhere in the world. To train the best saboteurs personally, Skorzeny and specialists from the SS sabotage and reconnaissance units developed an extensive program approved at the highest level by the leadership of the RSHA.
Unlike many of the "educational institutions" of the Abwehr, the courses in the Fridental castle were mainly taken by the Germans and mainly by the SS members. Exceptions were made extremely rarely. And if the Abwehr relied on the mass transfer of agents, not sparing "material" from prisoners and traitors, then the people of Skorzeny preferred to prepare a unique "piece goods", where each cadet cost a dozen in all respects.
All future members of the SS Special Tasks Group were thoroughly trained. It included classes in almost all sports and, without fail, horse riding. The cadets perfectly mastered the skills of driving all brands of cars, motorcycles, special cars and construction equipment. We learned to manage steam locomotives, motor sections, motor boats and boats. They also taught piloting of airplanes and gliders.
Particular attention was paid to the study of self-defense and attack techniques, as well as shooting training. Members of the group were trained in firing all types of weapons, including mortars, light guns and tank guns. It is not worth even mentioning the small arms of the armies of all countries and of the civilian standard. They taught us how to use knives, to jump with a parachute, to do topography, and to quickly learn foreign languages, among which preference was given to English, Russian and Spanish. All this was considered a “general training”, which was required to master perfectly in the shortest possible time. The special course involved the study of more serious things and the acquisition of skills in conspiratorial work, recruiting agents, creating underground subversive organizations, and planning and carrying out coups.
Much attention was paid to sabotage work: the training of the manufacture of improvised explosives, the use of ticking time mines and, then considered a secret novelty, plastic explosives, the choice of tactics for actions on various objects. For example, at refineries, at the docks, at defense factories, and so on. Each member of the group was obliged to be able to successfully work alone, even without anything in his hands.
Pets Skorzeny and the methods of "express interrogation" passed, learning sophisticated torture to immediately obtain information of interest to the intelligence and sabotage division. They also taught to “clean up” people by staging suicide by hanging, an “accident” on the railroad, when a person gets under a train, they were taught how to drown in water, and in various reservoirs, how to poison and so on.
It is not for nothing that the SS leadership chose the Friedental Castle, not far from Sachsenhausen, as the location for the secret “university of murderers”. The camp commandant constantly supplied the castle with “living material” from prisoners, where in the specially equipped premises the members of the Group practiced skills in possession of weapons, torture, methods of murder and interrogation.
Walter Schellenberg constantly showed a keen interest in the activities of secret courses in the Castle Fridental and personally checked the course of the learning process, as well as the knowledge and skills received by the audience. A whole team of well-trained SS specialists who participated in Operation Bernhardt to produce fake British pounds sterling and US dollars worked tirelessly to prepare fake documents for certain members of the Group that did not differ from genuine ones. A number of people who have undergone intensive training and showed excellent results, Walter Schellenberg personally selected for in-depth implementation in some countries.
The transfer of these intelligence saboteurs was carried out by various methods: mainly on submarines to South America and, through neutral Switzerland, to other countries that also did not take part in the war. For example, to Sweden. There is evidence from Western researchers that the SS agents even reached Australia and New Zealand.
Apparently, the majority of such agents were never disclosed: it was directed mainly not to Russia, but to Latin and North America. Most likely, these people later communicated to the Office of General Gehlen, who headed the post-war intelligence of the Federal Republic of Germany, and fruitfully cooperated with him: Gehlen was also a Hitlerite general. How many and where exactly such agents Walter Schellenberg managed to implement in the remaining two years of the war is still unknown.
Documentation of the secret courses of the Friedental Castle is almost not preserved, and few of the remaining ones very quickly took American intelligence services overseas. It is not even known how much "piece goods" prepared by Skorzeny. Moreover, several courses worked on the courses and, along with “ordinary” reconnaissance saboteurs, specially trained top-class spies.
Such well-known operations as “Graf” - directed against General Eisenhower, or “Mickey Mouse” can testify to the successful work of the secret courses of the Friedental Castle. It was conducted by Skorzeny in 1944, in Hungary, and was intended to kidnap the family of the dictator Horthy. The group worked brilliantly, and the losses amounted to only seven people, although I had to act in a foreign country and take a real fortress. No less successful was the operation "Ayhe" in 1943 for the liberation of Mussolini — it long ago became a textbook.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of clandestine operations in which the members of the Skorzeny Group took part remained unknown: surely, the leadership of the RSHA carried out, planned and again carried out many actions of a different nature, including the rescue of Nazi functionaries at the end of the war. And also to conceal the treasures looted by the “black order” and to destroy the documents compromising the SS men. Caches were laid, people were taken out of Germany, unnecessary and dangerous witnesses were destroyed, turnout and safe houses were prepared, shelter documents, bank accounts were opened.
In all these secret dirty deeds, Skorzeny's pets took an active part. And the list of their actions is far from complete. However, to get to the secrets of the Group and reveal all the secrets of the Castle Fridental is unlikely to succeed.
Otto Skorzeny himself survived after the war for a long time he lived in Madrid, where he wrote several volumes of memoirs, but as a true professional he did not reveal any secrets in them and presented himself in the best light. The secrets of the Castle Friedental and his curia Skorzeny, Schellenberg and Himmler took with them ...
About the work of the secret courses of the castle Fridental
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