How the Israeli Mossad recruited a Nazi Spy

By Avi Abelow @aviabelow

Otto Skorzeny was known as the most dangerous man in Europe during WWII for his work as Hitler’s top commando. After the war, his services were sought from countries around the world. According to information uncovered by journalists Dan Ravin and Yossi Melman, he was hired to become an assassin for the Israeli spy agency Mossad in order to kill fellow Nazi scientists who were helping Egypt develop chemical and biological rockets.

Israel had to stop the Egyptians from developing these rockets in order to protect Israel. Surprisingly, they hired a Nazi, Otto Skorzeny, to help them do it. The Mossad agent who hired Skorzeny was a German born Israeli who had lost his whole family to the Nazis in the Holocaust. And now, this Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, hired one of the most dangerous Nazis, to kill fellow Germans helping Egypt prepare rockets to kill more Jews.

According to, Skorzeny was an enthusiastic Nazi, joining the Austrian equivalent of the Nazi party in 1931. When World War II broke out in 1939, Skorzeny volunteered for the SS, joining a unit called Leibstandarte, which had been set up as Hitler’s bodyguard. Ostensibly a military unit, it left a trail of burned villages, massacred civilians and murdered POWs.

Skorzeny distinguished himself through his resourcefulness, daring and deception, and soon began his commando career.

His most famous exploit was perhaps the rescue of Italy’s Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, from rebels in 1943. Skorzeny brought troops in silently by glider, landing near a mountaintop fortress, and overwhelming its defenders.

During the 1960’s, the greatest threat to Israel was the Egyptian missile project, using German scientists who helped the Nazis and Hitler during World War II.

The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, did not want to rely upon the West or the Soviet Union for rockets, since such an arrangement would be inconsistent with Egypt’s policy of Cold War non-alignment. So he developed his own rocket program in order to be able to threaten Israel. At the time, rocket technology was scarce in the Middle East, so Egypt had to look to European countries for material and expertise. Many of the West German scientists had previously been involved in Nazi Germany’s rocket program during World War II, working at Peenemunde to develop the V-2 rocket, and some had worked for France’s rocket program in the aftermath of the war.

Egypt’s rocket program came to the world’s attention when it successfully test-fired a rocket in July 1962 and then paraded two new types of rockets through the streets of Cairo, causing worldwide interest and shock.

The flow of rocket expertise from West Germany to Egypt damaged the relationship between Israel and West Germany, but did not stop the payment of reparations and the undercover supply of arms to Israel by West Germany continued.

Israel became increasingly concerned with the program after a disaffected Austrian scientist involved with it approached the Israeli secret service, and claimed the Egyptians were attempting to equip the missile with radioactive waste as well as to procure nuclear warheads.

In mid-August, the Mossad managed to obtain a document written by German scientist Wolfgang Pilz, detailing certain aspects of Factory 333 – the number of rockets being built (900), and additional, weaker evidence that there were plans to develop chemical, biological and gas-filled warheads for these rockets.

Published: February 6, 2018
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