The WW2 Mission that Broke Every Rule of War – Operation Greif

In the winter of December 1944, deep within the Ardennes Forest of Belgium, a massive surge of German troops, over a quarter-million strong, plowed through the snow-covered landscape. This was Hitler’s last desperate gamble, a surprise offensive aimed at splitting the Allied forces and capturing the vital port of Antwerp.

Amidst the renewed Blitzkrieg, a seemingly inconspicuous American jeep made its way through the treacherous terrain. Its tires kicked up a trail of mud and snow. The three men inside, seemingly regular GIs, were a mere drop in the vast ocean of soldiers that populated the war-torn landscape. But the Americans had been on high alert, with rumors of German saboteurs and paratroopers causing disruptions far beyond the front lines.

The jeep’s occupants, identifying themselves as Privates Charles W. Lawrence, Clarence van der Wert, and George Sensenbach, found their journey abruptly halted at a roadblock near the little bridge at Aywaille, Belgium. Their hesitant English and failure to produce the day’s password raised immediate suspicion. A meticulous search of their vehicle unveiled their true intentions. Hidden beneath the jeep’s seat were two British Sten submachine guns, a vast roll of freshly printed hundred-dollar bills, and the undeniable shade of German field grey beneath their American uniforms.

Under intense interrogation, the most nervous of the trio, the so-called “Sensenbach,” revealed his true identity: Wilhelm Schmidt, a corporal in the German Army. They were part of Operation Greif, a covert mission masterminded by Hitler’s most infamous commando, the scarred SS Lieutenant Colonel Otto Skorzeny. Their mission was not just to spread confusion but to capture one of the most important Allied generals of the war.

The revelation shocked the command. The enemy was not just at the gates; they were within, wearing the same uniforms, speaking the same language. As the Battle of the Bulge raged on, the Allies faced a new, insidious challenge: identifying friend from foe, ensuring that the imposters were rooted out, and securing a pivotal victory in the war’s final chapters.


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