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Sven Hassel Books In Reading Order

Sven Hassel, who died at the age of 95, was the author of 14 hugely popular novels about life in the German army during World War II. His novels, which include Legion of the Damned, Monte Cassino, and Liquidate Paris, have been translated into 25 languages, with the United Kingdom serving as his most successful market, with readers purchasing 15 million of his total worldwide sales of 53 million books.

The double s in Hassel’s name was printed as the double lightning-flash symbol of Heinrich Himmler’s SS on the lurid covers of the later paperback British editions, which were published in the 1980s. The books, which are billed as “worm’s-eye views of warfare from the German perspective,” contain some crude humour as well as a great deal more cruelty and brutality – they are war comics without the pictures, and they are particularly popular with teenage boys.

The events of Hassel’s own life are shrouded in mystery, not least because he appears as a character in his own works of fiction. Sven Pedersen was born in Fredensborg, Denmark, and later changed his surname to his mother’s maiden name, according to his own account. He began working as a cabin boy in the Danish merchant marine when he was 14 years old, and he later served a year in the military during World War II. Following his demobilisation, he relocated to the neighbouring country of Germany and enlisted in the Wehrmacht in 1937, when he was only 20 years old. He claimed that after being turned down as a foreigner, he was eventually accepted by a cavalry (armoured) unit after six months, on the condition that he become a German citizen.

Hassel was a tank driver during the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. He attempted, but failed, to desert and served in two different panzer regiments. He took part in all of the major German campaigns, with the exception of the campaign in North Africa. His eight wounds helped him rise through the ranks to lieutenant and be awarded the Iron Cross in first and second classes, respectively. During one of his recuperation periods, he was stationed in Denmark with the Abwehr (military intelligence).

He was taken prisoner by the Red Army after the fall of Berlin in the final days of the war and became a prisoner of the Soviet Union. He was transferred from a Soviet to an American prison camp, then spent time in the custody of the French and the British, before being released in 1949. When he met his future wife, Dorthe Jensen, he decided to abandon his plans to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. They were married in 1951.

His first and most well-known novel, Legion of the Damned, was written while he was imprisoned and published in Danish and English translations in 1953 and 1957, respectively. As a result of its success, he was able to hire his wife as an editor and rewriter. Hassel was a victim of a rare paralysing disease in 1959, from which he recovered completely after nearly two years and was able to resume his writing career the following year. The family relocated to Barcelona five years after that.

There was one film that was adapted from his work: The Misfit Brigade (1987), which featured an outstanding performance by Oliver Reed as a general and was widely panned by critics and audiences alike. Hassel was extremely disappointed and hoped against hope that he would have better luck at the movies.

Historians discovered flaws in Hassel’s novels, particularly in his depictions of German military units. According to popular belief, the 27th Panzer regiment was not a punishment unit nor was it a German version of The Dirty Dozen, as previously stated. There have also been some who have questioned Hassel’s account of his own life – and in particular, his wartime experiences – including the journalist Erik Haaest. There were allegations that Hassel had ties to the Danish Nazi party and that he spent the majority of the war in Denmark, picking up combat stories from veterans of the Danish Waffen-SS. Hassel was eventually expelled from Denmark after the war. According to Haaest, who was himself accused of denying the Holocaust, Hassel’s wife wrote the books, which she claimed were written by Hassel. A retraction followed after Hassel provided documents in response to similar allegations made on Danish radio.

Sven Hassel Books In Reading Order

Legion of the Damned

Legion of the Damned - A comic book adaptation: Book One (Sven Hassel WWII Series)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 46 Pages - 09/16/2019 (Publication Date) - MHAbooks (Publisher)

Wheels of Terror

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Wheels of Terror (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 05/29/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Comrades of War

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Comrades of War (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 05/29/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

March Battalion

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March Battalion (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/29/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Assignment Gestapo

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Assignment Gestapo (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 06/19/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Monte Cassino

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Monte Cassino (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 06/19/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Liquidate Paris

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Liquidate Paris (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 06/19/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

SS General

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SS General (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 06/19/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Reign of Hell

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Reign of Hell (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 07/17/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Blitzfreeze

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Blitzfreeze (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 07/17/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

The Bloody Road to Death

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The Bloody Road To Death (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 07/17/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Court Martial

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Court Martial (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 07/17/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

O.G.P.U. Prison

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O.G.P.U. Prison (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 08/21/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

The Commissar

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The Commissar (Sven Hassel War Classics)
  • Hassel, Sven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 08/21/2014 (Publication Date) - W&N (Publisher)

Hassel’s books are written in the first person, with Hassel himself appearing as a character, though not always as the main character, in each book. The adventures of the 27th (Penal) Panzer Regiment, which was made up of expendable soldiers such as convicted criminals, court-martialed soldiers, and political undesirables, are chronicled in the books. Along with Sven, they include Alfred Kalb, a “Legionnaire” (ex-member of the French Foreign Legion); Wolfgang Creutzfeldt, a giant of a man ironically named Tiny (variously Little John in some of the books); barracks fixer and shrewd thief Joseph Porta; older sergeant Willie Beier, “Old Un” or “Old Man”; Julius Heide, a Nazi fanatic; Gregor On a variety of fronts, including northern Finland, the Soviet Union, Italy (Monte Cassino), Greece (The Bloody Road to Death), the Balkans, and France, they fight for their country (Liquidate Paris, set during and after the Normandy Invasion). The majority of the action takes place in the Soviet Union. Because of a clerical error, the regiment is forced to fight in several locations hundreds of kilometres apart at the same time, causing confusion. Several books depict the 27th Regiment performing guard duty for the Gestapo in Hamburg (Assignment Gestapo) as well as at the Torgau military prison (March Battalion). Hassel has stated that, while his novels are primarily works of fiction, the characters are based on real people, and some events are connected to historical events, among other things. [a citation is required]

Hassel’s perspective on war is harsh. Soldiers on the Eastern front fight only to survive, and the Geneva Convention is only rarely observed, according to his writings on the subject. People are killed by accident or for very insignificant reasons. Pleasant events and peaceful meetings are brutally cut short on an as-needed basis. Angry Prussian officers repeatedly threaten their men with court martial and then execute them without a moment’s thought for their well-being. Soldiers who are dissatisfied with their superiors will occasionally kill their own officers in order to get rid of them. It has been suggested that Hassel’s books contain an anti-war message because they depict war as violent and hopeless in such a graphic manner.

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