IS THE SVEN HASSEL SERIES BASED ON FICTION, REAL EVENTS, OR BOTH?
Both! The books are based on Sven’s own experiences as a soldier in the Wehrmacht during WWII, where he became a lieutenant. They are, however, not autobiographies and should not be read or viewed as historical or documentary pieces. They are novels. Sven wrote about his own encounters and those of others, but also included what he calls “the authors legitimate right to the use of free fantasy.” Nevertheless, all the main characters are (or were) real people. On a side note, Sven Hassel’s experiences are based on both characters “Sven” and “Lieutenant Löve” throughout the series.
WHAT ORDER SHOULD THE BOOKS BE READ IN?
The books can be read in whichever order as they do not follow each other chronologically but they were written as follows:
The Legion of The Damned
Wheels of Terror
Comrades of War
Reign of Hell
The Bloody Road to Death
WHEN WILL SVEN HASSEL PUBLISH A NEW BOOK? ARE THERE ANY UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS?
Hassel did begin to write the 15th novel. Unfortunately, he passed away before completing it. The title would have been The Marvelous Defeat.This last book in the series takes place during the final days of the war and talks of the defeat of Berlin. As of now, there have been no decisions made as to what will happen to this unedited script.
WHAT WAS SVEN HASSEL’S WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
Hassel would write his drafts in the afternoons, and the following day he would dictate these to his wife. Once this was done they would go through the drafts together. After school, his son would then likewise go through the drafts and add his comments. Hassel’s wife was his editor at the time, so to speak. They were a team. Chapters and excerpts would also be read out aloud to friends and family for feedback. When this first round of edits was completed, he would go back and rewrite the book with his handwritten comments. It was all done on the old and trustworthy typewriter. This process would be repeated numerous times until he was satisfied and ready to turn in his manuscript. It took 2-3 years to write each book back then.
WILL THERE BE AN OFFICIAL SVEN HASSEL BIOGRAPHY, A NON-FICTION VERSION OF HIS LIFE?
This is an idea that has been toyed with in the past, but that’s all it’s ever been, an idea. Hassel is a storyteller and a novelist and his catharsis of his time during the war, so to speak, is comprised of the novels he wrote, not an autobiography. He has left us with the 14 novels based on his experience in WWII and that remains his heritage. For the time being there will not be a biography released. We did, however, write a small biography on the site.
IS HASSEL A PEN NAME?
His given surname at birth was Pedersen, but later on in life, he adopted the pen name Hassel as it was difficult to use your given name being on public record and especially admitting to having been on the German side in post-war Denmark. Later on he acquired the name Hassel for good.
WHAT IS THE TRUTH BEHIND THE ALLEGATIONS THAT SVEN SPENT MOST OF THE WAR IN DENMARK AND NOT ON THE GERMAN FRONTS?
As written in the bio section of this site, Sven enrolled in the German army (Wermacht) in 1938, and fought on multiple frontlines. He was wounded 8 times during the war, and under one of these periods, he spent a few months in the Abwehr (espionage) in Denmark.
Nonetheless, Sven’s war-experience has been disputed by a late Danish journalist, saying that Hassel was a member of the Danish nazi party and that he spent most of the war in Denmark, picking up his combat stories from Danish SS veterans and that he was a member of the HIPO corpse (an auxiliary Danish police consisting of collaborators and also of SS). These allegations are not only untrue but also completely absurd. More so, when similar accusations about his years during the war were made on the Danish National Radio (DR) in the 60’s, Hassel provided documented evidence, which led to a retraction and public apology. This retraction was then printed on the back-cover of his novels in the years to come to further prove and show the public and readers that these statements were false.
Furthermore, Hassel is not and has never been listed in the public Danish Bovrup Kartotek, a file of all (28.000) Danish citizens that were members of the Danish nazi party.
On the other hand, the same above-mentioned journalist also claimed that the concentration camp gas chambers never existed and that the Diary of Anne Frank was a forgery, which alone should discredit most of his work.
Sven Hassel, thereby, made the conscientious choice to ignore these and other untruthful allegations, and instead focused on his family, his novels, and the many readers that continue to enjoy his work to this day.
DOES SVEN KEEP IN TOUCH WITH OTHER COMRADES FROM THE WAR?
Sven was in touch with Tiny and the Legionnaire after the war, but they both passed away. Presently, none of his fellow comrades are alive.
WHEN AND WHERE DID TINY DIE? JULIUS HEIDE? THE LEGIONNAIRE?
They all survived the war. Tiny and the Legionnaire died in a hospice for ex-legionnaires in France and Julius died in East Germany. For more information on these or other characters, please visit the character descriptions on this site.
WILL THERE BE AN ANIMATED SERIES OF THE BOOKS?
This is also another idea we have been toying with, but for now it is on the shelf for a future project to be. But if you, or someone you know, are an established artist, we would love to hear from you and see your portfolio. You can contact us here.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CHIEF MECHANIC WOLF?
He tried to sell a Gauleiter (nazi party civil servant) to the Americans, but was caught and ended up in prison.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF ODIN’S PIG?
His name was Serimer.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO PORTA’S CAT, STALIN?
Porta explained that his red-haired cat, Stalin, tried to desert to the Soviets due to his communist conviction but was ran over by a train.
WHERE WERE SVEN’S COMRADES BURIED? CAN I VISIT THEIR GRAVE?
All there would be left of their graves would maybe be a wooden cross long gone and rotten. As countless other graves of the time, they would have most likely disappeared quickly. It was not a time for tombstones.
WHEN WAS THE FILM MADE AND WILL THERE BE A NEW MOTION PICTURE IN THE FUTURE?
Wheels of Terror was produced in 1986. Presently, the film rights are available. In the past there have been projects on the table, but nothing came of it. We, as much as Sven’s readers, I think, would love a proper cinematic representation of the books, but no news of that yet.