Assignment GestapoChapter by chapter - Book covers - Other languages - Quotes
Introduction to Assignment Gestapo
God, what a depressing book! Even Legion Of The Damned has its lighter moments but this is really doomladen with the "trial" and eventual fate of Lt. Ohlsen as the main theme.
The English translation uses lots of war film army clichés and has the officers speak in snappy upper-class accents but there's still a pretty heavy atmosphere to most of the book.
By-the-way, in Assignment Gestapo Porta uses infra-red night sights on his sniper's rifle. Is that right? In WWII?
Assignment Gestapo chapter by chapter:
1. The Informer
Bit of scene setting action. Arrival of new recruits. Story of raid to get sausages. Porta reminisces about France. Tiny tells the story of his eleven brothers and sisters. Schnapps production. Oberfeldwebel Huhn gets on the wrong side of Tiny and The Legionnaire. Section moves out taking cooking pot of schnapps with them. various anecdotes and stories. Heide, Sven, Tiny, Porta and Barcelona check out a farmhouse. Various incidents at the farmhouse. Russian girl warns Tiny and The Legionnaire about NKVD plans.
2. Special Mission
Discovery of slaughtered German garrison. Arrival at mountain chalet and meeting with Lt Col von Veigil. Ohlsen is ordered to hang Russian prisoners. Heide gives a long talk about what a wonderful soldier he is. Company dig in at the front line. Porta does some sniping (using infra-red night-sights??) Ohlsen is summoned to see the Lt Col. Story of 49th Infantry Regiment and their (lack of) front line experience. Lt Col berates Ohlsen for his non-regulation appearance. Dilemma of how to avoid hanging the Russian prisoners. Eventually the officers ask Porta for ideas and he comes up with a cunning plan. Heide deals with a panicky recruit. Fake attack (Porta's plan) starts up. General organised chaos. Aftermath. Another mission behind Russian lines. Russian prisoners' fate. The Lt Col still insists on an inspection. Porta starts cursing Tiny for being dirty. Description of inspections and pointless missions. Fate of the Lt Col and his staff. Gruesome hand to hand fighting. Story of the honourable Sanitätsgefreiter Berg.
Train journey back to Hamburg. Drinking in a canteen. Porta picks a fight with a Dutch SS man (no luck) and an SD man (more entertaining). Barcelona arrives with news that the section is to do guard duty at the Gestapo. Various banter between Heide, Porta, Tiny etc. Porta plans to take beers on duty. Steiner has a fight with the waitresses in the canteen... and comes off worst! Story of Porta and Tiny's attempts at acrobatics. Porta cracks a seagull's egg into his beer then tells the story of the girl who Porta nearly asked to marry him (includes long section about attempts by Porta at the beginning of the war to stay in hospital and avoid fighting.
4. On Guard At The Gestapo
Story of anti-Nazi youths (based on fact). Sven and Porta on guard duty. Porta starts a row with an SD man. General discussion of the war. Tiny and Heide turn up complaining about Feldwebel Brandt. Heide talks about how he is the best turned out soldier in the German army. Plan to bump off Brandt on the firing range. Porta confronts Heide over his gambling debts and starts some sneaky dealing. Discussion of Tiny's feats of strength. Bielert starts purge on his own Gestapo men. Porta decides he can cash in on the situation and volunteers to help Pretty Paul. He starts searching prisoners and helping himself to their belongings - reefers, opium etc. Talk about the Dirlewanger Brigade. General taunting of prisoners by Porta and Tiny. Heide and Porta fight over game of cards. Description of disfigurements among section members (Tiny has lost an ear, Sven has a broken nose, Barcelona has a glass eye, Legionnaire has his scar... only Heide is untouched). Old Man breaks up the fight just in time. Old woman is brought in as a prisoner and starts lecturing the guards. She is convinced she's about to be released. Tiny "reasures" her (very funny). Porta and Heide play dice (this is the episode where Heide predicts that he will throw six aces). Old lady explains her crime of insulting the Führer. Rest of old lady's story.
5. Porta And The SS
Porta starts some dodgy dealing with an SS driver (this turns out to be Rudolph Kleber). Lt Ohlsen is arrested (having been denounced by his wife). Various incidents with SS and Gestapo as Hinka tries to prevent the arrest. Porta continues his deals with the driver. Tiny pisses against an electric fence.
6. In Preventive Detention
General reminiscence about past executions. Ohlsen is interrogated by Bielert. Comments about assassination of Heydrich. Ohlsen eventually signs his 'confession'. He is taken for a drive through Hamburg with Gestapo men to prison. Reception by Stahlschmidt, Stever and Greinert. Ohlsen act completely indifferent and is put through a heavy drilling session till he eventually breaks. More about Stahlschmidt. Description of prison routine. Legionnaire and Old Man come to visit. Legionnaire puts the shits up Stever. Stever tries to bribe Ohlsen to get the Legionnaire off his case. Stahlschmidt decides to check up on their visiting pass which has been signed personally by Paul Bielert. Very entertaining description of Stahlschmidt getting deeper and deeper into the shit. Frantic search of Ohlsen's cell... but they don't find the poison the Legionnaire brought in. Story of Aunt Dora and the source of the 'forged' pass. Excellent exchange with Bielert.
7. Prison Discipline
Description of Stever and his way with the ladies. Story of prison governor Major Rotenhausen. He visits the prison and 'interviews' Ohlsen. Various tales of prison discipline. Prison guards discuss 27th Panzer (thrid-party view we don't normally get... quite entertaining.)
Description of court procedings. Lt Ohlsen is accused of desertion and cowardice. He is sentenced to death by decapitation. Preparation for execution. Ohlsen's cell is searched again and the poison is found. Death of Ohlsen.
9. A Birthday Party
Huge party at 'The Three Hares' in Davidstrasse which is owned by 'Bernhard the Boozer' (it's his 42nd birthday party). Porta and everyone else gets incredibly drunk. General riot before return to barracks.
10. Departure For The Front
Story of how the Legionnaire came to join the Legion in the first place. Death of Feldwebel Brandt. Tiny offers to go and visit his widow (so he can jump in bed with her - "That's a very lovely idea," says Porta). Recruits arrive - including Stahlschmidt and Stever from the prison and the SS trumpeter Kleber. Legionnaire is put in charge of their training by Colonel Hinka. Revenge on Stahlschmidt. Porta and Kleber climb the Landungsbrücke and sit on a bench at the top of the hill. Kleber plays his trumpet (excellent scene). Leaving Hamburg and heading for Monte Cassino
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Assignment Gestapo in other languages
Selected quotes from Assignment Gestapo
"He pulled a small folder from his pocket and selected a picture. Porta stared down at it coldly, apparently unmoved. Only the glittering of his small eyes betrayed his eagerness to lay hands on the photographs, and this did not pass unnoticed by their owner. Slyly he pushed back the photograph and drew out another, depicting a scene of such pornographic boldness that it took even Porta by surprise. Unable to control himself any longer, he stretched out a hand towards it. The SS man grinned and at once moved it out of reach. 'Not bad, eh? And that's one of the milder ones...'"
"'Hang on,' said Kleber. Don't rush me.' He was the artist now. He had them in his power and he knew it. He made them wait. And the old blues melody caught them all and held them, and they heard the compulsive rhythm of the slaves, the beat of a million marching feet, the pounding of horses' hooves across the hard ground, the throbbing advance of tanks and motorized vehicles on their way to meet the enemy... Kleber stopped playing. He was out of breath. He turned again to Porta. 'Now what do you think?' Porta looked at him. 'Heard worse,' he admitted. 'I have heard worse.'"