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  1. #1
    Utopian Expat Chittychangchang's Avatar
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    Finished my Sven Hassel collection today

    Finished reading and collecting all of Sven Hassel's books, just in time for the 100 year Armistice day...

    What a roller coaster of reads!

    Took this from the official website..

    Sven Hassel was born in 1917 in the small Danish town of Frederiksborg. He was raised in a poor Danish working-class family, and it was these conditions that drove him to join the merchant navy at the early age of 14, as a ship-boy. Five years later, a now 19-year-old, Sven had completed the compulsory Danish military service with hopes of a brighter future.
    However, despite his efforts he found himself in the midst of a spreading economic crisis, and surrounded by increasing unemployment. This led him to seek fortune and relocate to neighboring Germany in anticipation of finding employment there.
    But even in Germany, Sven was unable to find a job and had to revert back to what he had already come to know: the military. He chose to join the German army (Wehrmacht) as a volunteer in 1938. He initially enrolled in the 2nd Panzerregiment, and later the 11th and 27th Panzerregiment (both in the 6th Panzer Division). In fact, it was an unsuccessful attempt to desert the army (you’ll find this story in the books) that got Sven to serve in the penal battalion of the 27th. It was amongst this special group of individuals, Sven encountered and befriended the colorful comrades that would later motivate and inspire his novels.
    Throughout the war, Sven Hassel had gone from the very bottom of the barrel, enlisting as a volunteer, to making the ranks of a lieutenant and earning the Iron Cross, both first and second class.
    One of the repercussions of fighting on the German side, once the war ended in 1945, was that he had to serve time in various prison camps as a Prisoner of War. These included short confinements at Russian, American, and French prison camps. Once released, and upon returning home to Denmark, Hassel’s German citizenship was revoked and he was initially condemned to serve 10 years for treason in a Danish prison. Finally, in 1949, amnesty was granted to a majority of political prisoners, thereby seeing their sentences reduced.
    It was while serving his sentence at one of these prison camps that Hassel began to write his first book. The Legion of the Damned was first published in Denmark in 1953. However, the book was not well received by the publishing industry at the time and it was rejected by a total of 12 publishers, prior to its first release. Remarkably, and to this day, it is the only Danish novel that has been sold consecutively for more than seven decades since its first edition.
    Initially post-war, Hassel had the intention of joining the French Foreign Legion, like many of his comrades, which seemed to be the only option for a soldier and the only trade he knew. Fate, however, would have it otherwise as he met his future wife prior to enlisting and decided against it. This small change of fortune drove him to eventually become the writer we know of today. Hassel married Dorthe in 1951 and together they had a son a year later.
    Despite having released his first novel, Hassel continued his employment at Copenhagen Free Port as a Coordinator to support his family. Authorship was still not in the cards and certainly not a reliable means of income.
    In 1957 Sven fell seriously ill from a rare disease that doctors were not able to diagnose. His symptoms became gradually worse until he suffered from a near total paralysis. He had lost a dramatic amount of weight and was merely a shell of the person he had once been, only weighing 38 kg. He was forced to leave his job at the time, which in turn, left the family without earnings.
    It wasn’t until he was admitted to the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, in Hamburg, Germany, (at the advice of his doctors in Denmark) that they were able to discover the source of his illness – an unusual fever originating in the Caucasus region – and thereby treat it. It was believed he somehow acquired the dormant virus while deployed to the area as a soldier in the German Army. It was because of this, that he was able to seek treatment free of charge (on an otherwise very costly and unaffordable course of medical care). Hassel made a full recovery one year later.
    Shortly thereafter, his wife encouraged him to start writing again. Hassel took on the task of continuing the series with Wheels of Terror, his second novel. A few years later he wrote Comrades of War, and so it continued. He found initial success in Denmark, which led to international publishing deals. His work was translated and sold worldwide and he became a best-selling author.
    In 1964, with the means now available to him, Hassel and his family moved to Spain inspired by the Spaniard Arturo Barea, one of his favorite writers. He had evoked his interest and love for Spain and its people, not to mention the better climate. From here, he completed the series.
    Hassel went on to create a series of 14 World War II inspired novels, drawing from his own encounters and experiences of the war. The books take the reader on a journey following the trial and tribulations of Hassel and his comrades from the penal battalion: Porta, Tiny, the Legionnaire, Old Man, Heide, Gregor Martin, Barcelona Blom and the author himself. Amongst these, the few to survive the war were Sven, Tiny, the Legionnaire, Heide, and Gregor Martin.
    Sven Hassel’s 14 novels include: The Legion of the Damned, Wheels of Terror (also a motion picture), Comrades of War, March Battalion, Assignment Gestapo, Monte Cassino, Liquidate Paris, SS General, Reign of Hell, Blitzfreeze, The Bloody Road to Death, Court Martial, O.G.P.U. Prison, and The Commissar. These novels have seen worldwide success with over 53 million copies sold; are translated into 25 languages and published in more than 50 countries. In Great Britain alone, the books have sold more than 15 million copies.
    Hassel’s antiwar novels portray the ordinary soldier – showing us the backside of the medals and heroics. These soldiers are not men who provoke wars, but instead are used as pawns forced to fight them. The novels are based not only on the author’s own experience fighting in WWII, but also incorporate fictional elements and plotlines, accentuated with a tremendously witty sense of humor. It should be noted that the books while based on Hassel’s experiences and those of his battalion should not be considered autobiographical nor historical documentary pieces. His hopes are to warn younger generations against the atrocities of war, stressing that war is the last resort exploited by flawed politicians.
    Sven Hassel peacefully passed away on September 21st, 2012, in Barcelona, Spain, where he had been residing since 1964.


    His books are an eye opener into the horrors of war, read if you have not done so!

    Novels ? Sven Hassel Official Site



    Lest we forget.

    CCC


  2. #2
    Pedantic bastard
    nidhogg's Avatar
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    Legion of the damned particularly worth a read.

  3. #3
    Utopian Expat Chittychangchang's Avatar
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    My first and favourite.

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Sven Hassel was a fraud.Read all his books in the early 70's onwards. Apparently his wife wrote the books.

    Version one - that most appropriate to the books - runs: Sven escapes unemployment in Denmark before the war, emigrates to Germany (because it's not as far as England), joins the German army, deserts, gets caught, ends up in terrifying SS-penal battalion on the Russian Front (and France, Poland, Italy, the Balkans and every other theatre of the war) and survives to write a mighty tribute to his fallen comrades. Massive literary success follows. The first novel published under the name of Sven Hassel was The Legion Of The Damned in 1957, which lays the basis for much of the above. It is a shocking but quite human story and many believe this book to be at least based in fact, even if the rest of his oeuvre may be little more than a cash-in.

    Version two has been put about by a Danish journalist named Erik Haaest, who seems to have a visceral dislike of our man. According to Haaest Hassel spent the war at home in occupied Denmark, indulging in a penchant for dressing in Gestapo uniforms and pretending to be Himmler and other high-ranking Nazis. He also stole bicycles from the citizens of Copenhagen and donated them to the grateful Nazis. He spent a couple of years in prison after the war and met loads of Danish SS veterans (it is well known that the Germans accepted large numbers of recruits from practically every country in Europe, and there were even Irish and British SS units) from whom he picked up very detailed accounts of the war in Russia. He then got a ghost writer to pen Legion of the Damned and, when that took off, got his wife to write the rest of the books when she wasn't busy running her porn business.

  5. #5
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    A lot of controversy over who actually wrote the books, and if they're fact or fiction, but great reads anyway. I think "Legion Of The Damned" was my first as well.

  6. #6
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    Apparently his wife wrote the books
    based on her experiences in the second world war maybe ?

    I have read them all as a teenager - great books

  7. #7
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    I've never heard of him. I'll have a peak when I see one of his books in a bookshop.

  8. #8
    Pedantic bastard
    nidhogg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    I've never heard of him. I'll have a peak when I see one of his books in a bookshop.
    In all honesty, stick to legion of the damned. They start to get a bit tedious after a while, churned out to the same formula to make money.

  9. #9
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=nidhogg;3852298], stick to legion of the damned. They start to get a bit tedious after a while

    Certainly start with that one.

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat
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    Sounds interesting. I had a WW2 phase - watched Band of Brothers and learned a lot about the Euro side of WW2. (In PI schools, the emphasis is on the Pacific War and Japan's involvement).

    Any of his books in free ebook form? If yes, links please? Thankee!

  11. #11
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    One of his books, "Wheels of Terror", was made into a movie "The Misfit Brigade". IMDB 6.2. I watched it years ago, and recall it as nothing special. Kind of generic WW2 action movie.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    They start to get a bit tedious after a while, churned out to the same formula to make money.
    I got somewhat confused with the books when he changed the names of his comrades in different books. It'd have been a little more believable if he'd used the same names in all the books. That is if he did write them? Which I don't think he did. I'm a believer in the fact he was a collaborator and never left Denmark until after the war.

  13. #13
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
    I'm a believer in the fact he was a collaborator and never left Denmark until after the war.
    The wikki site on him goes that way.

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    The wikki site on him goes that way.
    There are many forums that show Sven Hassel to be a fraud. This is a translation of a thread from one.

    The biography of the
    Danish War Criminal
    Sven Hassel

    who swindled the whole world

    and still does

    told by

    Erik Haaest


    - - -


    ERIK HAAEST tells of his motives for the book about of Sven Hassel:
    - I will never accept that the story of the Danes in the Second World War should only be told to the world by a former
    Nazi, a several times convicted swindler, a man who after the Second World War was disclosed as one of the worse
    gangsters of the Gestapo torture-chambers, a traitor to his own countrymen, sentenced to death but later reprieved
    because of being a lick-spittle by working for the police as cell-informer among his fellow prisoners.
    That is how that man really is who for a decade has hided himself under the cover name of 'author Sven Hassel'!
    The thing is, that very big political and economic interests were in danger, if 'mister Hazel' was disclosed.
    The first trying was made in 1963, when a Danish journalist Georg Kringelbach tried to disclose the truth.
    He was stopped, fired from the State-radio and threatened to stop! In 1976 continued his work.
    I published a book, which went even longer than him. I had no job they could get me fired from, but 'they' did what
    they could to stop me, first by dirty tricks, then by suppressions.

    Now I will use the Internet to tell the world the dirty truth, which the Danish authorities till now has prevented me in -
    maybe because the disclosure of the man could cause disclosures of even worse things going on in Denmark before,
    during and after the Nazi-occupation 1940-45.

    - - -

    From Danish police files 1945.
    Břrge Villy Redsted Pedersen, alias today’s 'Sven Hassel'',
    photographed when arrested as a war criminal.

    Condemned to death, the sentence later commuted to life
    imprisonment.
    1951 pardoned and released.
    Then he started the Hassel/Hazel ravings.


    - - -

    Preface

    Thousands of Danes took an active part in World War II. I pay my respects to almost all of them:
    * Those who fought as volunteers with the Allied: In the American or British Army, Navy or Air Force or as sailors on
    civilian or military transports.
    Some 4,000 Danes lost their lives on different battlefields in the fight to free the world from Nazism.
    * Those thousands of Danes (my father was one of these) who risked their lives as members of the Danish Resistance
    Movement and were described by the British Field marshal Bernard Montgomery as 'second to none'.
    Some 250 gave their lives in fighting with the enemy or in his torture-chambers, concentration camps, prisons or in
    front of firing-squads after court-martial.
    * 12.000 Danes served as volunteers with the Germans against Communism with full acceptance of the Danish authorities.
    1941-43 they were organized as a Danish unit ('Frikorps Danmark') under the Waffen-SS, later
    'SS-Regiment 24 Dänemark'.
    They considered Communism worse than Nazism. 4.000 of them lost their lives and I pay my respects to these too,
    as I will pay respect to anyone who is willing to give his life for his native country - though his ideals may differ from mine.

    But I will pay absolutely no respect to the few hundreds who joined Denmark's enemies as collaborators.
    And I pay absolutely no respect to those who earned money as informers (We Danes named them 'stabbers'!)
    to the Gestapo.
    One of these was 'Lieutenant Pedersen', years later known as the world famous author 'Sven Hassel' -
    (in his homeland Denmark using the name of 'Sven Hazel')
    This book will show, that the name is a pen-name, covering himself and his wife.

    It has always seemed strange to me that the only writer to inform the world of our Danish participation in World War II
    should be a man who belonged to the group most hated and looked down upon by his fellow countrymen.
    But it is so - and has been for more than 40 years.
    His image is totally based on huge lies: he never risked his life for anything but simply swindled his way through life,
    even at the cost of people who considered him a friend.
    He was never a soldier, neither in the Danish Army, nor the German Wehrmacht or the SS.
    During the war years he never left Denmark and was hardly ever outside Denmark's capital, Copenhagen -
    although he maintains his books to be based on personal experiences as a press-ganged German soldier during WWII.
    On Denmark's Liberation Day, May 5th 1945, he was arrested by the resistance movement and later condemned to death
    for informing on his fellow countrymen to the German Gestapo and for torturing arrested Danes to make them confess
    their membership of the Danish resistance movement.

    Let me start here, translating and updating my documentary book "Who is Hassel?".
    It is the truth about the man who made himself a WW-II historian - because nobody protested.
    You can download it all free and you are welcome with questions and comments to me by e-mail or snail mail.
    My address is.:
    Erik Haaest, Ristinge Halevej 8, DK-5932 Humble, Denmark.

    If you do not believe me, write to 'Mr. Swindler' himself.
    The man is now 84 years old, still an illiterate, but his wife knows how to read and write.
    But do not expect any truth from the dirty couple.
    Not either from their son Mr. Michael Arbing, who since years run the family-business.
    The couple are both full time swindlers and liars.
    Their son always knew the truth, and accepted to live the rest of his life as the heir of the parent's dirty smoking fortune.
    Could that bee told more clearly?

    Here the addresses of the dirty couple:

    'Sven Hazel' - Jungfrauenthai 18 - D-2000 Hamburg - Germany (Phone Germany 40/486481)
    'Sven Hazel' - Grankogle Allé 12 - DK-2670 Greve Strand - Denmark (Phone Denmark 42 90 01 50)
    Sven Hassel fan club - Index Fórum

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat cyrille's Avatar
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    I avoided his books as a teenager because of the highly dodgy looking font used for his name.



    Who allows their name to be written in the style of the Nazi SS?

    Not somebody whose living I wanted to contribute to.

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