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"Operation Salam"

László Almásy’s most daring Mission in the Desert War

15 May 1942: The day before, the operation had met nearby catastrophe and failure at the early beginning. Ladislaus Almásy had reconsidered the planning as a whole and calculated a new route during that night. One of his vehicles was broken, another one damaged and two men of his group suffered serious health problems. All were completely exhausted. Then he decided to send the two men with the damaged truck back to the base and to continue the operation on a new route. There was maybe enough fuel and water to reach the target but not to return – and there were the desert-patrols of the enemy!

30 December 2008: After some correspondence, the three authors of this book thought, that it is high time to present the full content of “Operation Salam” and to set a long deserved monument to Count Almásy.In addition, it was the intention of the Authors to review or where necessary to refute a lot of rumours and legends in regard of Almásy and his activities.

This is the story of one of the most daring secret operations during the Desert Campaign of the Second World War. A mission far behind the enemy lines, thousands of kilometers through the driest corner of the Saharan desert. The higher command realisticly did not believe in a success – but they did not count on Almásy’s endurance and experience!

The book provides the full details about this operation based on all known written accounts. The photographs taken by the authors of this book took along the route provide the reader a vivid impression of the dramatic landscapes “Operation Salaam” had to cross until it reached its target.

This book is intended as a monument to Count Ladislaus Almásy. To Almásy as an Aviator, Sportsman and one of the greatest Desert Explorers of the 20th Century.

Content of the Book

The full story of “Operation Salam” from the first days of planning to the successful completion.
The failed “Operation Kondor”
The setup of the German “Abwehr” in North Africa and its ambitious missions.
Operation el-Masri
Operation Kondor (the first one)
The Allied Forces efforts to catch Almasy.
Description of vehicles, radios, weapons and other equipment.
Route map of “Operation Salam”.
Historical photos of “Operation Salam”.
Color photos of the re-traced route on the Libyan and the Egyptian side. “Then & Now” photos of “Operation Salam”.
Sonderkommando Dora / Unternehmen Dora.
“Kufra Tragedy” (15 Sqn SAAF)
Transcript of Almasy's diary.
Transcript of Sandstede's memoirs.
Transcript of all intercepted W/T messages.

The authors have paid a high attention to the details of the narrative and also to the maps which show the routes of “Operation Salam” in the highest possible accuracy.

Some impressions of the content

The below sample pages shall give some impressions about the layout and the content of the book. Naturrally, there are also pages with only text but most pages contain a photo or an illustration.

Photos of the printed book
This book would not have become true without the help of many people and institutions. Therefore: THANK YOU!

1. Churchill Archives, London, UK
2. Imperial War Museum, London, UK
3. National Archives, Kew, UK
4. Das Bundesarchiv / Militärarchiv, Freiburg and Koblenz, DE
5. Family Almásy-Bernstein for their kind permission to publish Almásy’s Salam diary and to use passages of his book Rommel seregénél Libyában.
6. Dorothea Auer, Embassador of the Republic of Austria in Tripoli, Libya, for her kind assistance.
7. Karin und Manfred Blume for the photos to Sonderkommando Ritter.
8. Ian Chard for the provision of his father’s photos of Cairo and the careful and very valuable review of the manuscript.
9. Roberto Chiarvetto for his never ending assistance in all matters during the research.
10. Brendan O’Carroll for his assistance regarding the Long Range Desert Group.
11. Peter Clayton † for his help and advice.
12. Francois De Wet for the information regarding the 15 Squadron, South African Air Force.
13. Urs Ernst, Festungsmuseum Reuenthal (Switzerland), for his assitance regarding German weapons.
14. Tim Farnden for the photographs of his late grandfather Leonard Elsey of his journey to Kufra.
15. Jean Howard (Alington) †, for the provision of her transcribed and corrected version of the Salam diary.
16. Peter Gierlach and Ragnar Otterstad for their assistance in regard of the Agentenfunkgerät SE.99/10.
17. Stephan Kröpelin for his assistance and the provision of the Eppler photographs.
18. Selina Küst, Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe, for finding out von Steffens whereabouts after the seventies.
19. Titan Honner for information and photographs about Almásy in Graz.
20. Saul Kelly, Author of The Hunt for Zerzura for the permission to use and quote parts of his outstanding book.
21. Rudolph Kuper for his invaluable assistance, writing of the foreword and the contribution of correspondence and documents.
22. Dal McGuirk for the provision of photographs of German equipment and the original photographs of Operation Salam and for the provision of explanation about German equipment.
23. Rolf Munniger for the photographs of his late father.
24. Franz Nitzsche, “Rheinpfalz”, Ludwigshafen, for their assistance regarding the Kaps reports.
25. Jonathan Pittaway for his always available help and assistance.
26. Walter Rummel, Landesarchiv Rheinland-Pfalz, Speyer, for helping to find information about Eppler’s postwar life.
27. John D. Salt for the proofreading of the manuscript.
28. Oskar Seubert for the provision of the photos of his late father.
29. Dimitris Skatsilakis for the photos of Kampfgeschwader 26.
30. Uncounted other persons who gave small hints, advice and encouragement while doing the research for the book.