Lot 3442: Historic 1943 Dated Bronze Eagle Trophy, Insc
|Historic 1943 Dated Bronze Eagle Trophy, Inscribed to SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny by the National Socialist Alumni Association for the Liberation of Benito Mussolini, with Documentation|
|Estimated Price: $15,000 - $25,000|
|Description||Measuring 8 1/2 inches tall and 5 inches wide across the base, this trophy is of two-piece construction with a 4 1/2 inch tall rendering of an eagle landing on a proportionally tiny branch mounted to a cylindrical base, which is inscribed around the bottom "Dem Sieger vom Gran Sasso und Befreier des Duce SS Stuf. Otto Skorzeny, Der NS-Altherrnbund 'Otto Sennhofer' 1943" (translated "The Victor of Gran Sasso and Liberator of Il Duce to SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny from the National Socialist Old Men's Association Group 'Otto Sennhofer' 1943"). The Old Men's Association was the Nazi Party's answer to/replacement for the various independent alumni associations. "Otto Sennhofer" was associated with a technical school in Vienna, Austria; Skorzeny himself was a fraternity man at a Vienna university, and picked up a number of distinctive scars from academic fencing. The included letter from Sennhofer hails Skorzeny as a Bundesbruder (association brother). A civil engineer by trade and a member of the Austrian Nazi Party, Skorzeny attempted to join the Luftwaffe in 1939, only to be told that at 31 years old and 6 foot 4 inches tall he was too old and too tall to take to the air. This is undistinguished beginning for a man who would a few short years later be branded "The Most Dangerous Man in Europe" by the Allied forces. After joining the Liebstandart-SS Adolf Hitler, Skorzeny impressed his superiors with both his skills as an engineer and as a combatant, and saw action in the Netherlands, France, and the Eastern Front, where a head wound suffered during a rocket attack forced him to convalesce in Vienna (his original strategy of slapping a bandage on the back of his head and washing some aspirin down with schnapps was not very effective). On light staff duty in Berlin following his release from the hospital, he set out to make himself an expert on unconventional warfare by studying all available information on partisan and commando activity and, by all historical accounts, succeeded quite well. In addition to being given command of a number of the SS's sabotage and commando warfare schools, he was also a critical figure in a number of famous raids, abductions, and liberations. One of these operations was Operation Oak; the liberation of Benito Mussolini. The big man in Fascist Italy, Mussolini aka "Il Duce" (The Leader, not unlike Der Fuhrer) was subjected to a vote of no-confidence by his own government and imprisoned in the hopes that Italy could reach a separate peace with the Allies in July of 1943. While Mussolini was kept on the move to make a rescue more difficult, radio intercepts and on-the-ground intelligence were able to locate him at the Campo Imperatore Hotel in the Gran Sasso region. Launching a glider attack with a mixed team of Fallschirmjaegers and SS Commandos on 12 September 1943, the Germans were able to take Mussolini from the 200 men guarding him with zero casualties. While Skorzeny was technically only an observer on the Luftwaffe-led raid, he was the one who walked Il Duce into Berlin, resulting in his men getting the lion's share of the credit. This raid was critical in the establishment of the Italian Social Republic, a Nazi puppet state in Northern Italy with Mussolini as the figurehead leader, which continued to be belligerent long after Italy surrendered. Without the legitimacy Mussolini provided, the Germans would either lose the entire peninsula to the Allies or become an explicit occupying force in their former Axis partner's territory; with him in place, they preserved Italy as a bulwark against Allied operations directed at Southern Germany and Austria and drug out combat action on the peninsula clear into 1945. As mentioned above, the trophy comes with a letter from the "Otto Sennhofer" group, dated 2 October 1943, informing him of the award and inviting him to a small party on the 19th to receive it, as well as a small modern display sign.
|Condition||Very fine with an attractive well aged patina overall, and especially dark in the low areas of the eagle. The higher points show a bit of rubbing, providing nice highlights and contrast, and a few light dings are present. The letter is in good form showing light folding and edge wear. This is tangible connection to one of the critical points of the European Theater and World War II as a whole.|
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