BOOK: “Operation Salam”

by Kuno Gross (Author), Michael Rolke (Author), András Zboray (Author), László Almásy (Author)

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.

Reviews:

I congratulate the authors to the outstanding result of their five years lasting thorough research in official and private archives and in the desert. It obviously needed their enthusiasm to discover and publish after seventy years the really true story of “Operation Salam”. My impression is that the authors have extremely thoroughly double and triple checked the facts before making use of them – a rare quality nowadays.

This book is printed and illustrated by relevant historic and comparative present-day photos as well as maps and drawings in a way that made reading for me easy and most pleasant. I got the feeling to be part of the expedition and was most fascinated by the numerous details told in the story.

If one continues reading after the end of the story itself the contrast between Almásy´s professionalism and the amateur like behaviour of the spies and the naivety of the German signal communication becomes extremely clear and shocking. The comments of the authors on other publications dealing with the same subject seem to me who has read some of them very justified.

I appreciated this serious historic book very much because it differs well from many sensational war and spy stories having been published through out the past years.

Manfred Blume, Col. retd. and son in law of Nikolaus Ritter

Essential reading for any Sahara enthusiast

This thoroughly researched book is a must for any Sahara enthusiast.

Using every available source, including MI5 files and secret intercepted messages deciphered by Allied code breakers, the authors have pieced together the most accurate play-by-play account of one of WWII’s least known but most daring adventures.

Most people know of Hungarian explorer Laszlo Almasy from the highly fictionalized and rather imaginative account of his exploits in the Hollywood film The English Patient. He’s been portrayed as everything from a brilliant scientist-explorer to a devious Nazi spy. But I think the reality is much closer to what the authors of this book have uncovered: “He belonged to a rapidly disappearing breed, the romantic gentleman-adventurer, driven by a deep passion for the desert and the unknown.”

Operation Salam deals with what must be Almasy’s most daring expedition: a mission to drop off two German spies on the shores of the Nile, thousands of miles behind enemy lines. He set out from Italian-held Libya, evading Allied patrols near Kufra, and snuck into Egypt through a gap in the Gilf Kebir that he had discovered several years before. Along the way he snapped photos of the desert, and paused to show his companions the prehistoric paintings he’d discovered at the Cave of the Swimmers (subject of the modern English Patient movie). He crossed thousands of miles of the most arid stretch of the Sahara undetected, self-supported, carrying all his own rations, petrol and water. And his skill brought him safely to the Nile and back — right through the back yard of the British Long Range Desert Group.

It’s a gripping tale filled with excitement, danger and the wonder of the desert. And the authors have also included helpful geographical sidebars on places like the Gilf Kebir and the Great Sand Sea, and extensive historical sidebars detailing little-known feats of the desert war, like the Kufra Convoys.

This is a meticulously researched book, put together by men with extensive desert experience. And they didn’t just track down every last possible document from the archives, either. They also retracted the actual route of the journey, and the incredible collection of historic photos in the book are supplemented with modern colour prints taken in those very same remote regions.

This is the definitive account of Laszlo Almasy’s Operation Salam. And it is a fitting tribute to a brilliant desert traveler.

Ryan Murdock

1 thought on “BOOK: “Operation Salam”

  1. Pingback: BOOK: “Operation Salam” – faujibratsden

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