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Caliber
06-27-2005, 09:30 PM
this mans books are really good. he used to be an ss officer, and now writes bout his expericences. checkit out

BDL
07-01-2005, 04:26 AM
He wasn't SS mate, he was a Dragoon (IIRC), then he deserted and got sent to a Penal Battalion.

There's a lot of debate as to whether all of the books are true or whether he made them up. He (of course) strenously denies it, although there's another Danish guy who says he has proof of the claims (I can't remember the exact details). If you do a google for "Porta's Kitchen" I think I read it on there.

Great books either way though, can't believe that only three of them survived the war (Sven, Heide and one other that I can't remember).

Caliber
07-01-2005, 12:35 PM
i have 6 of his books, ive only started to read 1 of emhowever. i thought he was ss... :(

Dani
07-01-2005, 03:53 PM
I have all his books and I read them many years ago.
A brief description on Sven Hassel (I 'd say universe :lol: ) could be found on:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A379406

Rinx
03-09-2006, 01:43 AM
I have all of his books, except the fourth one. Better buy it from somewhere.
I think Sven Hassel is a great writer, and his books are realistic and a little bit funny, because he adds a little bit of black humour in it.

I'm now in the fourth, when i get it lol

Cheshire Yeomanry
05-05-2006, 12:06 PM
I would treat them as a decent work of fiction and no more.

Digger
09-26-2006, 02:36 AM
Hi,
I read Hassel's books many years ago and found them entertaining, if not a bit far fetched towards the end of the series. Perhaps my thinking was coloured by the fact in the late 70's I was working with an ex panzer gunner, who painted a far grimmer picture of fighting on the Eastern Front. This guy had burn scars covering his entire torso and definately knew what he was talking about.

Hassel's books never seemed the same.

Regards to all,
Digger.

bluedonkey99
05-08-2007, 12:58 PM
I agree with most of the comments here, there does seem to be some controversy over the roles and experiences portrayed in the novels.
.
the first book came closet i feel to portaying the life of a foreign volunteer in the whermacht ans subsequent penal battalions.

the other books to seem to greater or lessor degrees "inspired by" possible events and stories and others seem to have more "artistic license" - but then nothing is stranger than fact!? especially in wartime and is ensuing turbulance.

i have friend who tells of some of his experiences of his time with KFOR in Bosnia, you wouldnt necessicerily belive them either unless perhaps you new the individial pretty well....

I havent gone back and reread the sven hassell books recently, but i do have an enduring memory of them not quite being consistant across the books, i cant quote examples (apart from peoples names changing from book to book?) but there seemed to be disjoints in time lines, battle, promotions and deaths.

still not a bad escapist read, and as someone mentioned a dark sense of humor is required.

of course the funniest thing of all, would be if it was his wife that is writting these as some commentators and critics have alledged!?

1000ydstare
05-08-2007, 03:16 PM
Sven Hassels character in the books was NOT SS. He was a Tanky in a Penal Bn. As is explained at least once in the books, the Tankies wear black and have deathshead capbadges. Similar to the SS uniform, with which they could be confused.

I believe this was factual.

The three the survive were Sven, the one armed (?) coy commander? and, if above posters are correct, Heide.

Sven eventuallly becomes an officer.

Porta disappears, tiny is killed, the Old Man is gutted. And I can't remember what happens to the rest.

A fair bit is true (or at least based on it), although i recall someone working out that one character should have been invalided out early on on accounts of having no limbs in workin gorder anymore. Likewise numbers of tanks and what not tend to be exagerated.

And of coures the technical details tend to be very detailed such as the numbe of cylinders in the Maybach engines, etc.

pieandmash
10-19-2007, 08:26 PM
Sven Hassels character in the books was NOT SS. He was a Tanky in a Penal Bn. As is explained at least once in the books, the Tankies wear black and have deathshead capbadges. Similar to the SS uniform, with which they could be confused.

I believe this was factual.

The three the survive were Sven, the one armed (?) coy commander? and, if above posters are correct, Heide.

Sven eventuallly becomes an officer.

Porta disappears, tiny is killed, the Old Man is gutted. And I can't remember what happens to the rest.

A fair bit is true (or at least based on it), although i recall someone working out that one character should have been invalided out early on on accounts of having no limbs in workin gorder anymore. Likewise numbers of tanks and what not tend to be exagerated.

And of coures the technical details tend to be very detailed such as the numbe of cylinders in the Maybach engines, etc.

I'm sorry, but the very idea of a penal panzer unit is laughable... punishment units were used for mine clearance or as cannon fodder, not highly trained elite troops.

If you read the books in the order they were written the earliest Legion Of the Damned from the 50s has a certain ring of truth, whether Hassel's or that of other Danish SS men he met in prison (as has been alledged) who knows? anyway, after Wheels Of Terror they read like increasingly far-fetched fiction: to be true his unit would have fought in Barbarossa, even penetrating Moscow on one of the brandenburg style sabotage missions they're recruited to carry out when they're not fighting in panzers, then fought at Stalingrad, escaped the encirclement and returned to German lines, then fought at Kursk, then at Saerno and Monte cassino but somehow simultaneously arriving in Normandy before D-day and fighting in France until the liberation of paris, before somehow getting back across Europe to fight the Warsaw uprising, before fighting a retreat across Rumania... basically it just didn't happen.

But as a 13 year old boy I certainly enjoyed their adventures.

1000ydstare
10-20-2007, 04:37 AM
Obviously the charachters, or unit, couldn't have got around like that. They are merely the vehicle of the story. If you read Sharpe, it is also highly unlikely that a soldier of the time would have been able to serve in so many theatres, but they are still factually accurate.


I'm sorry, but the very idea of a penal panzer unit is laughable... punishment units were used for mine clearance or as cannon fodder, not highly trained elite troops.

Your points about the nature of the unit are slightly off. I am not saying the unit is in any way real. But.

The Penal Bns that most are aware of on the Eastern Front are as you say, units of expendable men. These were formed on, and only on, the Eastern Front. Both sides created them. Should any unit disgrace it's self or an individual, it/they could be transfered to such units for Mine Clearance, suicidal charges to break lines for the troops behind or even used as cover for other troops, the Russians for example would dress them in dark unifoms (in winter) to attract fire, allowing other units to close with the enemy.

This could be where the confusion comes in to it.

The unit described in Sven Hassle ARE penal units, but are made up of various undesirables in the rear areas, ie Germany mainly, and sent forward. Some were formed prior to the War by emptying the prisons, it was glossed over as the service would rehabilitate them, in reality (certainly the later Dherlwinger Bde and the Totenkopf Div) it just allowed them to commit more crimes whilst protected by the very highest of officers in the Nazi/SS hierachy.

999 Bns (as they were known not neccesarily numbered) were "penal" units where personnel who had been charged of various crimes could be sent. These are the units referred to when a German is threatened with a "transfer" to the Eastern Front in war films/books (usually by a blonde SS type :D )

The following units were classed as "penal" units, but were definitaly not used for mine clearence. They had their own tanks etc. and were made up of "naughty boys". 999 Bde/Div had it's own PanzerJagers and Artillery, manned by "naughty boys".

Hardly laughable.

Dirlwingers Bde (originally a special recce type unit made up of convicted Poachers but soon full of rapists, theives and murderers) the initial thinking being that poachers had the various skills required of such a role.

The infamous Totenkopf Division, originally a street fighting unit, then death camp guards thena fighting unit. Doesn't quite fit in to the role of Penal unit, due to role and make up, but has similarities.

999 Afrika Bde (later Light Div) was made up of criminals (and a fair springling of naughty boys) with NCOs and Officers sent to look after them. It served in France and North Africa.


These were the known units. Mainly for their crimes during the war, others were not neccesarily recorded as Penal units.

These would have been hard men (in the main) treated with hard discipline and harsh punisment. They would have been the units to send in to harsh conditions to get the job done no matter what the cost (although not neccesarily squandered).

I don't think anywhere the unit in Sven Hassal is regarded as in any way elite. The characthers in it, are certainly capable of the extraordinary, but in the main, that is because of their criminal backgrounds and flexible morals than their soldiering abilities.

The Heer Panzer Troops wore Black (as many Tankies do the British Royal Tank Regt does) and for whatever reason wore skull and cross bones insignia.

more here.
http://www.panzerworld.net/uniforms-heeruniform.html

They would appear to look similar to SS, and would probably attract the same attentions.

alephh
10-20-2007, 05:55 AM
Good books, and even people who do not care about WWII read them and like them.

I think that many (if not most, but not all) the things he wrote about happened - not to him, not to his unit - but they happened during WWII. So it's like a reading summary of best WWII-stories from hundreds of veterans - all neatly summed to "one story".


_

pieandmash
10-22-2007, 08:38 AM
Obviously the charachters, or unit, couldn't have got around like that. They are merely the vehicle of the story. If you read Sharpe, it is also highly unlikely that a soldier of the time would have been able to serve in so many theatres, but they are still factually accurate.



Your points about the nature of the unit are slightly off. I am not saying the unit is in any way real. But.
.

But thats all I'm saying. Its fiction. Don't try and read too much into it or think its especially representitive of real life.

None of those units of 'naughty boys' you mentioned were Panzer units - by their very definition I think you could describe a tank unit as a trained elite but if you disagree on the semantics thats fine by me.

They were very popular books when I was at school in the early 80s, and I certainly enjoyed reading them myself.

1000ydstare
10-22-2007, 01:41 PM
The way I look at it mate, is that you believe that a "naughty boys" unit could not be a panzer unit.

A 999 unit could be a Panzer/Arty or anyother type of unit, if there was enough naughty boys already trained in such activities prior to their infraction.

I am not argueing sematics, a bog standard tank unit is not a trained elite. That there are fewer tankies does not make the elite (although the cav side of it may claim ot be in teh British Army). If he claimed the Penal Panzers were a recce unit then maybe I would support your view. But standard line panzers aren't elite.

bas
10-22-2007, 10:46 PM
Just wanted to share that while the works themselves are fiction, the author was a volunteer that served in the SS Wiking Division. I don't believe that he was a tanker though. If you read Folke Mannings book on the MG.34 and MG.42 universal machineguns there is a translation of a letter Sven Hassel wrote on the virtures of the M.34 over the MG.42

Edit:
http://www.dansmith.info/hassel/biography.asp

Looks like I was wrong on the SS Wiking service. I'll try and see who the text was from.

kev0253
02-03-2008, 04:32 PM
they are a good read but historically monte cassino and d day were not far apart i don think he was in two places at the same time.however german penal battallions did exist but would the german army trust convicts with there rareest and most valuable weapon ? i dont think so .

Schallburg
01-22-2009, 06:55 AM
Sven Hassels books are fiction.
Sven Hassel was in Denmark sentenced for treason after the war!
He was a member of HIPPO, which were danes in the pay of the Gestapo.
He was never really at the front (any of them).

Richie B
01-22-2009, 10:37 AM
Antonio Munoz in ”Hitler’s Green Army Volume 1” devotes a page to Mr Hassel.

He was apparently an informer for the SD and Gestapo in Copenhagen. He called himself Larsen and dressed in a uniform with many medals and decorations. He was fond of telling war stories in bars and cafes.

He was arrested by the Germans for impersonating an SS NCO and imprisoned.

His real name was Borge Villy Redsted Pedersen.

Hassel's photo on one of his books was recognised as Larsen by the former girlfriend of Obersturmfuhrer Lorenzen the Hilfspolizei officer who had arrested him. She was familiar with Hassel having seen him "in action" in a Copenhagen cafe.

Make what you like of that.

Richie

BTW – I enjoyed reading the books when I was younger