This is the same Sven Hassel that I read for the first time when I was 12 years old, falling in love with war stories and the sheer amount of ways you can tell said stories.
Having now read one of these books, the latter story is almost certainly the case: the combat sections in this book read like a toy soldier's wet dream. Six of these with their crews sit patiently in a shooting gallery row waiting to be knocked out by Tiger tanks, despite Hassel's own comment that a stationary tank is mince and having had plenty of notice the German tanks are coming. Hassel inserts incidents of German compassion as a counter to the allied narrative of un remitting brutality: thus wounded British soldiers are comforted and Jewish resistance workers are saved from the firing squad. Hassel also includes vignettes that seem to relate to real life incidents of resistance and also the brutality against the general population. Although at times Hassel presents a real rollercoaster, at times this disjointed story can get rather tedious.
E' il secondo libro che non è fine a se stesso, per Argberg, ma una trama sbiadita inizia a sorgere ( a mio avviso quello che prima faceva voltare pagina dopo pagina al lettore, erano le sole gesta dei personaggi descritti con forza carismatica da Hassel ) quando Himmler ordina a Von Cholvitz di radere al suolo Parigi secondo gli ordini di Hitler. In questo libro, come in tanti altri, la guerra e la società tedesca e delle nazioni soggiogate, sono presentate nel modo più naturale ma al contempo curioso, possibile. Il valente generale, il giovane senza paura e abile nella guerra, l'ufficiale capace, eccetera, tutti sono soltanto pedine in un gioco più grande di loro, mosso dalle alte sfere, che servono una causa che non appartiene loro e per la quale possono e devono morire.
I discovered Sven Hassel's many books back in the 1970's. A month or two ago while looking for a new book on my Kindle I came across Sven again.
I read so gorgerous and excellent character and environment descriptions in the scenes in that book.
British tank attack. Porta talks about whores. Porta, Tiny and the Legionnaire take revenge. Section has to set up billets in a French village. Sven meets French girl. Talk about Sven's origins and German nationality. Porta comes to get Sven when the regiment pulls out of the village. Tanks attack. Section goes on reconnaissance patrol in Puma and stop in a French village. 6. A Lost Machine Gun Section takes over posh French house. Old Man's section again given rearguard role. Sven uses MG42 (long description of its use etc). Sven loses control of his machine-gun and shoots Tiny in the leg. Himmler decides to destroy Paris. Plans to destroy Paris... and plans to save Paris. Sven's section arrive to relieve the guard and cause all sorts of trouble. Barcelona remembers one of the Gestapo men from his time in Spain. Sven's girlfriend from Normandy turns up, much to Heide's disgust. Start of plans to smuggle the pig across Paris. One of the great Sven Hassel chapters and possibly Porta's finest hour. Story of mysterious bomb attack.
As always Hassel excels at showing the brutalizing nature of the war.
He served with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment and later the 11th and 27th Panzer Regiments (6th Panzer Division) on all fronts except North Africa and was wounded several times. He began to write his first book Legion of the Damned while he was interned.