The stirring, little-known story of the forerunners to today's Special Forces.
The OSSOffice of Strategic Servicescreated under the command of William Donovan, has been celebrated for its cloak-and-dagger operations during World War II and as the precursor of the CIA. As the "Oh So Social," it has also been portrayed as a club for the well-connected before, during, and after the war. Donovan's Devils tells the story of a different OSS, that of ordinary soldiers, recruited from among first- and second-generation immigrants, who volunteered for dangerous duty behind enemy lines and risked their lives in Italy, France, the Balkans, and elsewhere in Europe. Organized into Operational Groups, they infiltrated into enemy territory by air or sea and operated for days, weeks, or months hundreds of miles from the closest Allied troops. They performed sabotage, organized native resistance, and rescued downed airmen, nurses, and prisoners of war. Their enemy showed them no mercy, and sometimes their closest friends betrayed them. They were the precursors to today's Special Forces operators.
Based on declassified OSS records, personal collections, and oral histories of participants from both sides of the conflict, Donovan's Devils provides the most comprehensive account to date of the Operational Group activities, including a detailed narrative of the ill-fated Ginny mission, which resulted in the one of the OSS's gravest losses of the war.
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List of Maps and Documents xi
List of Acronyms xvii
1 Office of Strategic Services 13
2 Irregular Warfare in the Early Years of World War II 39
3 The OSS Operational Groups 61
4 Special Operations in the Western Mediterranean 75
5 Rescuing Escaped Prisoners of War 102
6 Operations from Corsica 115
7 The Ill-Fated Ginny Mission 129
8 Operational Groups in France 151
9 Americans in Vercors 166
10 Mission Walla Walla in Italy 190
11 Mission Mangosteen-Chrysler 203
12 Rescue Missions in the Balkans 217
13 Mission Peedee-Roanoke 238
14 OSS Investigations into War Crimes 267
15 Swift Justice for the Ginny Men 281
16 No Justice for Major Holohan 309
Lulushi (Operation Valuable Fiend) authoritatively relates the little-known story of the actions of the Office of Strategic Services’s Operational Group (OG), predecessors of today’s Army Special Forces, behind German lines during WWII. His research materials include previously classified archives and interviews with surviving OSS veterans. The book uses major operations in Italy, France, and the Balkans to illustrate the high-risk raids, ambushes, sabotage, and guerrilla assistance operations often conducted hundreds of miles behind German lines. The OGs organized immigrant and first-generation Americans into geographically focused organizations. This gave them the language and cultural knowledge necessary to communicate with the friendly civilian population after landing by parachute or boat. Italian-Americans were prominent in OGs, operating behind German lines in northern Italy and supporting Italian partisans. OGs wore standard U.S. Army uniforms and their missions were purely military and high risk; their treatment as prisoners of war was not guaranteed. Their contributions toward harassing the German command were sufficient to get the attention of Hitler, who ordered the execution of all commandos and saboteurs. Lulushi’s engaging read will be of particular interest to those interested in the American immigrant experience and the history of special operations. (Feb.)
Praise for Donovan's Devils
"Finally, thanks to Albert Lulushi, the Operational Groups of the OSS get their due. Along with the Jedburghs, the OGs were the forerunners of today's Special Forces. Lulushi’s thoroughly researched and excitingly written narrative gives them their proper place in the history of the OSS.” David Robarge, chief historian, CIA
" Donovan's Devils left me spellbound by the tales of bravery contained in its pages. Every reader will have his favorites; mine were the fates of the Ginny Men and General Anton Dostler and the campaign in the Vercors. Lulushi has given us background essential to our understanding of today’s Special Operations Forces." Frank Wisner, former ambassador, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs
"Lulushi has produced a must-read book for any student of the OSS and for the general public at large. It is full of fascinating details about the little-known trials and tribulations of World War II OSS operations. It's definitely worth adding to anyone's intelligence library." Jack Devine, former deputy director for operations, CIA, and current president, the Arkin Group
"This book is an important contribution to our knowledge of the OSSGeneral Donovan's unusual experimentand mandatory reading for anyone interested in learning about one of the most fascinating and little-known aspects of the war." Charles Pinck, president, OSS Society
"Lulushi ably delineates these specific campaigns, from Corsica to Vercors, France, to the Balkans, and focuses on the appalling treatment of POWs by the Germans. . . . A proficient, well-wrought work that emphasizes the actual fighting men, their deeds, and their fates." Kirkus Reviews
"Lulushi's engaging read will be of particular interest to those interested in the American immigrant experience and the history of special operations." Publishers Weekly
"An outstanding treatment of wartime heroism, determination, and risk taking as the newly created OSS and its resistance partners found and played their role in fighting a brutal and clever enemy. The detail contained in each operation of the OGs covered in Donovan's Devils almost brings the reader into the operations themselves." David Cohen, former deputy director for operations, CIA, and depute commissioner for intelligence, NYPD
"Lulushi's rare descriptions demonstrate how bits of humanitynicknames, hobbies, favorite drinks, sports, or musiccan bring these heroic men to life." Historical Novel Society
Praise for Operation Valuable Fiend
"In Operation Valuable Fiend , Albert Lulushi has told a fascinating story well and made excellent use of untapped archival resources." David Robarge, CIA chief historian
"[For the operation's dismal failure, h]istorians have blamed Soviet mole Kim Philby, who worked in British intelligence and knew of the operation, but Lulushi disagrees. His lively, detailed account of Hoxha's viciously efficient intelligence service, the exiles' terrible security, and CIA naivete make a convincing case." Publishers Weekly
"[Lulushi's] is the most complete account to date and well worth close attention." Studies in Intelligence
"An important and well-researched account of one of the Cold War's less known and often misunderstood clandestine operations . . . The book tells a lively and well-written if discouraging story. Any reader has a treat in store, and any student of the history of America's role in the Cold War will find the book indispensable." Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, former ambassador to four countries, under secretary of defense for policy and under secretary of state for international security affairs
"In Operation Valuable Fiend , Albert Lulushi has done a splendid job in updating our knowledge of the clandestine activities that CIA and its partners conducted in Albania in the late 1940s and early 1950s." Nicholas C. Pano, professor emeritus of history, Western Illinois UniversityFrom the Publisher
Thorough research into the American military's special arm for guerrilla warfare, which helped undermine the Axis effort during World War II. In this valuable study, Lulushi (Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain, 2014, etc.) finds harrowing and inspiring incidences of both bravery and recklessness among the special forces arm of the wartime precursor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services. The guerrilla arm, called Operational Groups Command, was inspired by the British Commandos under the Special Operations Executive, which had in turn been instigated upon the successful use of the German K-Truppen (combat troops)—these soldiers operated independently from the regular army and provided a key strategic advantage in the Nazi military campaigns at the beginning of the war. As head of the OSS, which was a civilian agency placed under the Joint Chiefs of Staff (amid much controversy in the War Department), William "Wild Bill" Donovan, a World War I hero and friend of President Franklin Roosevelt, created the Operational Groups Command to collect intelligence and to aid the partisan and resistance groups in enemy-controlled areas. The trial run of the OSS was Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa under Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's leadership in November 1942. In these and subsequent maneuvers in Italy and the western Mediterranean, the special foreign language-speaking soldiers, trained in commando tactics, parachuted into enemy-occupied territory and became valuable tools in harassing the enemy and in bolstering support of local resistance groups. Lulushi ably delineates these specific campaigns, from Corsica to Vercors, France, to the Balkans, and focuses on the appalling treatment of POWs by the Germans—e.g., the capture of the 15-man Ginny mission in Genoa-La Spezia in February 1944. A proficient, well-wrought work that emphasizes the actual fighting men, their deeds, and their fates. A good complement to Douglas Waller's Wild Bill Donovan (2011).