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Old October 7th, 2012 #1
john-connor
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Unhappy Sven Hassel dead

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/bo...t-95.html?_r=0
Sven Hassel, Novelist Who Depicted Nazi Soldiers’ Lives, Dies at 95
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: October 6, 2012

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Sven Hassel, a Danish-born writer whose pulp novels depicting grunt life in the Wehrmacht during World War II — drawn, he said, from his own combat experiences — sold millions of copies worldwide died on Sept. 21 in Barcelona, Spain. He was 95.
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“Comrades of War”/Fawcett Publications

Sven Hassel in his German Army ID photo.

His death was announced by family members on his official Web site.

Mr. Hassel’s 14 novels portrayed German trench soldiers in a misfits’ brigade of convicts and deserters — a Third Reich version of the Dirty Dozen — who, like soldiers in all wars, eat badly, sleep little, live with death and struggle to retain their humanity.

Mr. Hassel’s grunts also detest Hitler, occasionally kill their own superior officers, and engage in steamy sex with consenting local women. For the most part, though, they follow orders and kill enemy soldiers, mainly Russians, on the Eastern front.

Mr. Hassel’s publishers say that the books were translated from Danish into 15 languages, and have sold about 53 million copies worldwide since the first, “The Legion of the Damned,” was published in 1953. His novels were pulp fiction staples in the 1960s and ’70s to a male cohort that may have its equivalent today in those who sustain a billion-dollar industry in war-themed video games.

Mr. Hassel’s novel “Wheels of Terror” was made into a 1987 feature film, “The Misfit Brigade,” starring Oliver Reed. It bombed.

Mr. Hassel contended that all his books were based on personal experience: starting in 1937, when he joined the Wehrmacht at age 20 because there were no jobs in Denmark, and ending in 1945, when Russian soldiers took him prisoner.

During his Wehrmacht service, he said, he deserted, was recaptured and then assigned to penal brigade in a Panzer division, like the one he describes in his books.

War buffs complained about inaccuracies in Mr. Hassel’s military and weapons terminology. Some questioned battlefield scenarios in which his soldiers fought Russians in the morning and Free French in the afternoon, when such encounters would have meant a 1,000-mile march during lunch.

A Danish journalist claimed to have evidence that Mr. Hassel had spent the war in Copenhagen working for Nazi occupation forces. But Mr. Hassel said he had served on every front of the war and had the battle scars and two Iron Cross medals to prove it.

“We were trained to become the world’s best soldiers through the use of Prussian methods that surpassed any evil and terror you can imagine,” he said.

After the war he was determined to write books, he said, “hoping that I could contribute to never letting history repeat itself, and to show the horrors that war entails.”

He was born Sven Pedersen in Fredensborg, Denmark, on April 19, 1917, growing up in a working-class family. He joined the Danish merchant navy at age 14 and served a mandatory stretch in the Danish military before joining the German army. He adopted his mother’s maiden name, Hassel, when he began writing.

“My books are strictly antimilitary,” he said in a 2002 interview with Contemporary Authors Online. “They correspond to my personal view of what I experienced. I write to warn the youth of today against war. I am writing the story of the small soldiers, the men who neither plan nor cause wars but have to fight them. War is the last arm of bad politicians.”
 
Old October 7th, 2012 #2
andy
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In 70's England Sxen Hassel's novels were very popular among activists.As always in such cases it should be borne in mind that Hassel by his own lights was a novelist.He was a mate of Bert Trautmann and Leon Degrelle who all owned villas within spitting distance of each other in Spain.The deviant nutter who dogged Hassel claiming Hassel was not a genuine soldier got his marching orders when trying to gate crash a HAIG do in Valencia in 1988.Hassel donated much of his money to HAIG and this will be publicly reflected should his funeral be publicised
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Old October 7th, 2012 #3
john-connor
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I read all his books and i tought he against N S to,but he did get me then to read N S books.So its possible he was a johnny apple seed as they say back in the day.
 
Old October 7th, 2012 #4
john-connor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy View Post
In 70's England Sxen Hassel's novels were very popular among activists.As always in such cases it should be borne in mind that Hassel by his own lights was a novelist.He was a mate of Bert Trautmann and Leon Degrelle who all owned villas within spitting distance of each other in Spain.The deviant nutter who dogged Hassel claiming Hassel was not a genuine soldier got his marching orders when trying to gate crash a HAIG do in Valencia in 1988.Hassel donated much of his money to HAIG and this will be publicly reflected should his funeral be publicised
I never knew this but all my mates and brothers started out reading his books in fact i have them all.
 
Old October 7th, 2012 #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john-connor View Post
I read all his books and i tought he against N S to,but he did get me then to read N S books.So its possible he was a johnny apple seed as they say back in the day.
That's exactly what he was,back in the day the nsiwp used to sell copies of Hassel's books.Such books are wasted on rubes but always food for thought for inquisitive minds;Legion of the Damned gave credence to what followed.see the link for sven in action
http://www.svenhassel.net/photogallery.html
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Old October 7th, 2012 #6
john-connor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andy View Post
That's exactly what he was,back in the day the nsiwp used to sell copies of Hassel's books.Such books are wasted on rubes but always food for thought for inquisitive minds;Legion of the Damned gave credence to what followed.see the link for sven in action
http://www.svenhassel.net/photogallery.html
Come to think of it he was the only novelist that i can think about that protrayed the Reds for what they were and had good Germans in his books.After reading his books i read factual books on the third reich i remember the first John Toland Adolf Hitler.The forgotten soldier was given to me then changed me in to what i am now. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...gotten_Soldier
 
Old October 7th, 2012 #7
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http://thequietus.com/articles/10225-sven-hassel-rip Around 1980 I was at my grandparents’ house conducting my weekly routine of sifting through my grandfather’s garishly and sometimes frighteningly illustrated and well-thumbed paperbacks when I came across Wheels Of Terror by Sven Hassel.

The book that belonged to my grandfather (who we called Pops) was emblazoned with a sepia photograph of a burning tank and tattered dead body of a soldier. It also had the bold and capitalised words, ‘THE BOOK NO GERMAN PUBLISHER DARED PRINT’. I was eight and, having already been introduced to horror and fantasy genre stalwarts such as Robert E. Howard and Larry Niven, I was hypnotised by the imagery and the unforgettably pulpish tagline: “A NOVEL OF ATROCITY – as the tanks of Hitler’s Convict Regiment thunder into the inferno of the Eastern Front.”

I had no idea what the Eastern Front was, but was about to vicariously experience the hells of it for the first time. It would not be the last as, from that point onwards and up until I discovered Michael Moorcock a couple of years later (also thanks to Pops), Sven Hassel became my one and only reason to read and I tracked down the remainder of his novels. The rare power of Wheels Of Terror and his first, prototypical novel The Legion Of The Damned were not sustained by subsequent efforts that were undoubtedly and understandably churned out in a successful effort to exploit the public appetite for such books.

As they progressed they became disparate and episodic yet still maintained an energy, even the weakest efforts managing to convey a sense of emotional connection between the stalwart, apparently indestructible characters and the reader.

The wild success of Hassel’s novels did not go unnoticed and the late 70s saw the emergence of Leo Kessler. Kessler books are everything that a suspicious disdainer of exploitative war novels would assume Hassel’s work to be. Barely competently written pot-boilers that were superficial, image obsessed, humourless and in generally poor taste, Leo Kessler books celebrated the handsomely uniformed might of the worst of the Nazi war machine and reflected the worst instincts and obsessions of their author.

British war historian Charles Whiting churned out over a hundred of these dreadful books under the name Leo Kessler between the 1970s and his death in 2007, ensuring along the way that Sven Hassel’s novels, with their similar covers and marketing, rapidly became swallowed up by the turgid flood of these and other pastiches by genre novelists such as Shaun Hutson (writing under his dubiously named alter-ego Wolf Kruger).

There may have been a faint note of poetic justice to this as Sven Hassel’s novels had themselves overshadowed the substantial works of former war correspondent Heinz G Konsalik and confirmed Eastern Front veteran Willi Heinrich, whose novel The Willing Flesh would later be filmed as, and subsequently retitled, Cross Of Iron. Sven Hassel was a pseudonym, and the Sven character, narrator of the books, an alter ego of the Dane Sven Pederson. Like Heinz G Konsalik and Willi Heinrich, Pederson lived through the war, but unlike those two the exact nature of his involvement in the conflict has been the subject of debate.

His harshest critic, Danish journalist Erik Haaest, has argued ceaselessly that Pederson never left Denmark and his only service was as a member of the much hated, Nazi supporting police force. As the credibility of this Haaest himself has been brought into doubt due to his holocaust denial the mystery around the real history of Sven Pederson will remain unsolved, although the numerous technical inaccuracies inherent to his tales do betray him somewhat in the eyes of history buffs and WW2 hardware nerds.

Nevertheless the novels of Sven Hassel are compulsive page turners and were in no small part responsible for an acute re-evaluation of the nature of the German soldier in the minds of a voracious readership, particularly in the 1950s and 60s. At that time the power of his descriptions of not only atrocities, but also the daily hardships of the Eastern Front charnel house, also struck a chord so far un-plucked by novelised accounts from allied soldiers turned authors. In the case of his second book Wheels Of Terror the very first chapters detail first-hand an experience of the fire-bombing of a German city by the RAF that lives long in the memory. On his experience with Hassel’s book British writer Alan Silletoe, author of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner wrote:

“This is a book of horrors, and should be left alone by those prone to nightmares. Sven Hassel’s descriptions of the atrocities committed by both sides are the most horrible indictments of war I have ever read.”

Critic Alistair MacRae had a similar reaction:

“It may be that this is a book that will make you sick. If so, my advice to you is to read it and be sick, for such sickness is humanity’s only hope for a sane and healthy world.”

Time, criticisms, deconstruction and another twelve increasingly diluted novels may have reduced the literary and historical credibility of Hassel’s novels but their graphically violent covers ensured their discovery of a new generation of readers in the 1980s. The cover of Court Martial is often quoted by fans, and even by people who have never read Hassel, as standing out so eye-poppingly from the other books in their local newsagent that buying cola cubes instantly took on a more harrowing dimension than when that rack space was occupied by Doctor Who And The Giant Robot only a week earlier.

To this day I never cease to be impressed by the number of other men of my generation who were touched one way or another by the books of Sven Hassel. Even more impressively I worked with a chap a number of years ago who would become a close friend over time. Although English Alan has a Danish father, speaks the language fluently and lived in Copenhagen for many years. Inevitably the subject of Sven Hassel came up one night when we were severely worse for wear and Alan said, quite blithely, ‘Oh yes, he’s well known in Denmark. My dad says he used to go the same swingers' club.’

Casual car key swapping antics aside, sensationalism and marketing were only partly responsible for the longevity of Hassel’s appeal. It was his grip of adventure writing and sharp characterisation, a dark streak of gallows humour and a talent for brief but vivid descriptions of extremely harrowing events that made the books live up fully to those lurid covers. In addition Hassel created, in the forms of Joseph Porta, Tiny, Julius Heide, The Legionnaire and The Old Man, a truly memorable, vicious, hilarious and deeply human band of misfits that resonate with readers all over the world and, in my case, over 25 years after I last picked up one of his books.

When I heard of his death I picked my old copy of Wheels Of Terror from the shelf, the very same one that my Grandfather gave me over thirty years ago, and re-read the first two chapters. Now I have to read it all. Thanks Pops.
 
Old October 8th, 2012 #8
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When I was about ten years old I found Wheels Of Terror among my dad's books. I read it and was mesmerized. Then I read all of Hassel's book's over the next 20 years or so. They are good, although it is possible they were all made up.
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Old October 9th, 2012 #9
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You are much better off reading non-fiction like Degrelle.
 
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