The Umbrella Man, Otto Skorzeny, and the Assassination of JFK

Michele Metta’s book, Accomplishing Jim Garrison’s Investigation on the Trail of the Assassins of JFK, contains highly interesting elements on a possible connection linking the Nazi Otto Skorzeny, the so-called Umbrella Man, and the assassination of JFK. I publish this excerpt by Metta’s kind permission.

Despite his collaboration with Eichmann and Schacht, the Mossad did not hesitate to recruit Skorzeny for military operations against Egypt. But this link between Skorzeny and the Mossad offers also the opportunity to examine another very enthralling aspect about Skorzeny.

Let’s start by the fact that the film by Abraham Zapruder and several other films and photos taken on that fateful day, November 22, 1963, all clearly show a too strange bystander situated extremely close to John Kennedy. This figure is popularly known as The Umbrella Man because, despite it being a sunny day, he not only was the only person with an umbrella, but he opened it in front of JFK who, immediately after, reacts by clutching his own throat in pain.This really too unusual conduct provided the assassination scholars Sprague and Cutler with an excellent reason to make an analysis and reach the conclusion that this umbrella was used to fire a dart with a paralyzing agent at John Kennedy to restrain his muscles and make him an immobile target which would be absolutely much easier to kill. [1] This very senseful explanation was fully endorsed by Colonel Fletcher Prouty, one of the most relevant whistleblowers on the assassination.

That said, let’s now focus on a CIA document written in December 1944. [2] It reveals convergent testimonies, given by an impressive number of Nazi soldiers, about an evidently failed plan by Otto Skorzeny to kill Dwight Eisenhower in France. What is so interesting is that these Nazi soldiers all declared that poisoned ammunition would have been used to reach the goal. Actually, when Otto Skorzeny was eventually captured at the end of WWII, a bullet inside his sized pistol drew immediately the attention of his jailers due to the very weird presence of a red cross on its top. This circumstance became the subject of an interview [3] now among the MI5 papers at the United Kingdom National Archives. Let’s read this meaningful passage:

At Skorzeny’s request the Kriminal Technisches Instut der Sipo, Berlin, manufactured special 7.65 caliber pistol bullets containing poison. The poison was an aconite compound and escaped through slits in the sides of the bullets. The bullets were supplied to Skorzeny at Friedenthal. […]. Skorzeny at first tried to persuade the interrogators that these bullets were manufactured and issued solely for suicide purposes. […]. He finally admitted that they were intended for assassinations. He claims that they were not to be used without special orders.

The Kriminaltechnisches Instut der Sipo was the institution where the Nazis studied the utilization of very dangerous chemical agents against the Third Reich’s enemies. The making of chemically poisoned bullets was actually one of its objectives. Aconite, a highly toxic western and central European flowering plant, was just perfect for this purpose, because it produces almost immediately a severe, pronounced motor weakness and numbness, and a paralytic action. Very cruelly, once poisoned the subject is completely conscious and clear-minded to the last. At a first sight, the only post-mortem signs are those of asphyxia.

A second very meaningful document by the Central Intelligence Agency, this one written at the beginning of February 1963, adds these pieces of information: [4]

The following background information on the arrest order issued by the Austrian Government against Otto Skorzeny, former Nazi SS colonel, has been received:

The arrest order was issued on the basis of new evidence procured by the Jewish community of Vienna from East Bloc countries. This evidence had been recently turned over to the Austrian authorities.

Headquarters Comment: According to a Washington Post article of 4 February 1963 Skorzeny is now a real estate dealer in Madrid. According to the Austrian press of 2 February the arrest order against Skorzeny was issued by the public prosecutor’s office on the basis of documentary testimony that Skorzeny tested a “poison pistol” on inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. See CS-3/515,312. in which it was reported that Dr. Eduard Rabofsky, a resident of Vienna, Austrian Communist Party member, who was in close contact with the East German regime, collected information on neo-Nazism and war crimes, and that in May 1962 he called at the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna where he tried to interest the leaders in cooperating with him in the exposure of war criminals.

Now, if we go back to Colonel Prouty, we discover that he stated his direct knowledge of a weapon indeed able to fire a poisoned bullet. It was made — Colonel Fletcher Prouty explained — at Fort Detrick, the top center for the US biological weapons program from 1943 to 1969. [5]

Prouty’s claims are completely corroborated by Charles Senseney. He was a former member of the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick. Heard by the Church Committee, [6] the US Senate select body which investigated in 1970s the abuses made by the CIA, the NSA and the FBI, Senseney talked about the elaboration of a secret system called M-1, able to fire a poisoned dart from anything. When asked about the effects, he so answered:

It depends on the agent. If you are using a lethal agent, it would probably kill. If it was a debilitating thing, it would just make you sick for a while.

And when asked to give more details, Charles Senseney made this very clear statement:

Yes; an M-1 projectile could be fired from a cane, also an umbrella.

But there is another testimony which is certainly worth reporting here, and it is the one offered by Doctor Pierre Finck, a pathologist present during the President’s autopsy. Pierre Finck gave this testimony during the trial of Clay Shaw, when the member of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale was accused by Garrison of conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. In that occasion, Doctor Finck astonishingly said that he did not dissect the track in the neck. Asked to explain why by Alvin Oser, the then Assistant District Attorney, his testimony incredibly went on like this: [7]

Col. Finck: As I recall I was told not to, but I don’t remember by whom.

Mr. Oser: You were told not to but you don’t remember by whom?

Col. Finck: Right.

Mr. Oser: Could it have been one of the Admirals or one of the Generals in the room?

Col. Finck: I don’t recall.

Mr. Oser: Do you have any particular reason why you cannot recall at this time?

Col. Finck: Because we were told to examine the head and the chest cavity, and that doesn’t include the removal of the organs of the neck.

Mr Oser: You are one of the three autopsy specialists and pathologists at the time, and you saw what you described as an entrance wound in the neck area of the President of the United States who had just been assassinated, and you were only interested in the other wound but not interested in the track through his neck, is that what you are telling me?

Col. Finck: I was interested in the track and I had observed the conditions of bruising between the point of entry in the back of the neck and the point of exit at the front of the neck, which is entirely compatible with the bullet path.

Mr. Oser: But you were told not to go into the area of the neck, is that your testimony?

Col. Finck: From what I recall, yes, but I don’t remember by whom.

The terrible, awful implications — to say the least — of Colonel Pierre Finck’s assertions was very strongly emphasized by Jim Garrison himself during his Final Argument of that same trial. These are his words:

A plane landed from Washington and out stepped Dr. Finck for the defense, to counter the clear and apparent evidence of a shot from the front. I don’t have to go into Dr. Finck’s testimony in detail for you to show that it simply did not correspond with the facts. He admitted that he did not complete the autopsy because a general told him not to complete the autopsy.

In this conflict between power and justice — to put it that way — just where do you think Dr. Finck stands? A general, who was not a pathologist, told him not to complete the autopsy, so he didn’t complete it. This is not the way I want my country to be. When our President is killed he deserves the kind of autopsy that the ordinary citizen gets every day in the State of Louisiana. And the people deserve the facts about it. We can’t have government power suddenly interjecting itself and preventing the truth from coming to the people.

Doctor Pierre Finck failed the very same way another scrutiny, in 1996, this time before the Assassination Records Review Board, and since we have now a series of evidence about the support given by former Nazi criminals to the development of the experiments at Fort Detrick [8] and Abraham Zapruder’s film clearly shows the very first wound to hit JFK as the one in the neck and the president’s complete paralysis from that moment on, this matter would certainly deserve a further investigation, also considering what was exposed by the Hearings of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research into the top-secret Project MKULTRA, which is this:

Under an agreement reached with the Army in 1952, the Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick was to assist CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery systems. By this agreement, CIA acquired the knowledge, skill, and facilities of the Army to develop biological weapons suited for CIA use.

That said, there is then another aspect to put into consideration. Let’s start by saying that Skorzeny’s personal papers were auctioned in 2012 in the United States. It is how this archive, which ranges from 1947 to around the period of Skorzeny’s death, is now in the hands of Ralph P. Ganis, a veteran of three services: the USMC, the US Army, and the United States Air Force. Among this material, there is a photo. It portrays Skorzeny with CIA officers David Atlee Phillips and Cord Meyer, the divorced husband of Mary Meyer, a John Kennedy’s mistress murdered in 1964 for having information on the network that killed JFK. The trio in the picture is on a Learjet, and it is very relaxed and friendly to each other.

We already had the opportunity to recount of a memorandum autographed by Cord Meyer about the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Centro Mondiale Commerciale. We also stressed what also highlighted by the son of RFK, Robert Kennedy, Jr., in one of his books, which is that investigators of the House Select Committee on Assassinations which in the 1970s reopened the inquiry into the killing of his uncle, considered David Atlee Phillips and his then boss, William Harvey, as central suspects in the murder. [9] As we explained, William Harvey was actually part of the anti-JFK front along with the CMC-linked Italian spymaster Renzo Rocca, of whom he was a direct accomplice.

Because of all the above facts, it is now undoubtably time to immediately talk about how Skorzeny takes us back to Giuseppe Pièche, a CMC member who was also, as we have seen in another section of this book, a NATO stay-behind top agent. Let’s proceed.

[1] GALLERY: Sprague, Cutler, The Umbrella System: Prelude to an Assassination, June 1978

[2] CIA, Special Collection, Skorzeny mission against General Eisenhower, Document Number (FOIA)/ESDN (CREST): 519bdece993294098d514475, December 27, 1944

[3] United Kingdom National Archives, KV 2/403 (Skorzeny)

[4] CIA, Special Collection, Arrest Order Against Otto Skorzeny, Former Nazi SS Colonel of Austria, Document Number (FOIA)/ESDN (CREST): 519bdecd993294098d5143d1, February 2, 1963

[5] GALLERY: Sprague, Cutler, The Umbrella System: Prelude to an Assassination, June 1978

[6] Report of the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Vol. 1

[7] State of Louisiana vs. Clay L. Shaw, Criminal District Court, Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, 198–059 1426(30) section C

[8] Carroll, Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ; Loftus, The Belarus Secret

[9] RFK, Jr, American values. See also FAIR PLAY MAGAZINE: Christopher Sharrett, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy as Coup D’Etat, May-June 1999. See also: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations, Alleged assassination plots involving foreign leaders, November 1975



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store