It stood at the top of the hill, dominating the Russian landscape - menacing, impenetrable - the O.G.P.U Prison. They were told to take it anyway they could, with machine guns, flame-throwers, entrenching tools, their bare hands. They were used to war, to blood, death, the vilest savagery that man could devise. But the O.G.P.U. Prison was something different - a hell they hadn't met before, a bastion, an inferno that rained blood and butchery on Porta, the Legionnaire, Tiny, Barcelona, the men of the Panzer battalion who no longer had tanks, only a creeping barrage of death.
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Born in 1917 in Fredensborg, Denmark, Sven Hassel joined the merchant navy at the age of 14. He did his compulsory year's military service in the Danish forces in 1936 and then, facing unemployment, joined the German army. He served throughout World War II on all fronts except North Africa. Wounded eight times, he ended the war in a Russian prison camp. He wrote Legion of the Damned while being transferred between American, British and Danish prisons before making a new life for himself in Spain.Review:
Hassel's books of war are the most powerful I have ever read
The story shudders from page to page while the devoted friends live precariously from year to year, until only the one survivor is left to write this book. And a gripping book it is―CHICAGO SUNDAY TRIBUNE
In essence this is an expose of the absurdity of war, and a moving plea for peace. As such, it takes its rank with far milder books, such as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT―NEWSDAY
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