Otto Skorzeny was born at June 12, 1908 in Vienna, Austria to a middle class family with a history of military service. Once he complained to his father about the modest lifestyle his family lived during Austria's depression following the disastrous World War I, only for his father to reply "There is no harm in doing without things. It might even be good for you not to get used to a soft life."
As a university student, Otto was known to be an excellent fencer within the German Burschenchaft and fought fifteen combats, the tenth of which permanently scarred his face.
He eventually became part of the Austrian Nazi Party in 1931 and later became a Nazi SA member. In March 12, 1938, Otto played a role in saving Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas from a Nazi attempt at his life.
World War II
Skorzeny tried to work as a Luftwaffe civil engineer but was turned down for being to tall and too old. Instead, he became a cadet in Adolf Hitler's bodyguard, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.
Throughout 1940, Otto fought in Netherlands, France, and the Balkans as an SS Untersturmfuhrer (second lieutenant) and achieved distinction for driving out a large number of Yugoslav fighters. He also impressed his superiors by designing ramps to load tanks into ships and was promoted into the rank of Obersturmfuhrer (first lieutenant).
The Eastern Front
Otto was in charge of the 2nd Panzer Division Das Reich and was assigned to capture important Soviet buildings during the Battle of Moscow in 1941. However, this never happened because German forces had been routed by the Red Army.
He was notable for an incident in 1942 in which he was hit at the back of the head by a shrapnel from Soviet artillery rockets, but refused to be treated by medical officers except for some aspirin and a few bandages so he can rush back into battle. However, this proved detrimental later when Otto experienced continuous stomach pains and headache despite being able to rejoin his unit. He was eventually taken for proper medical treatment, although this event contributed to his fame later when Hitler awarded him an Iron Cross for bravery under fire.