March BattalionChapter by chapter - Book covers - Other languages - Quotes
Introduction to March Battalion
March Battalion is the only Sven Hassel book without chapter titles. Hmm, interesting info. Anyway, it starts off with one long battle (five chapters worth) which can be a bit tiring. But we soon get back to Torgau guard duty and a whole run of wonderful stories and general doom.
Finally, we end up back in Rumania and the party at Mme Olga's brothel.
March Battalion chapter by chapter:
Barcelona tells his Spanish Civil War story. Back to Russia and the freezing cold. Plans are made for a suicidal reconnaisance mission behind Russian lines dressed in Russian uniforms and tanks. Talk about the types who joined the battalion and their past lives. Introduction to Captain Lander the Nazi. Tiny starts interrupting Lander's speech and generally irritating him. Start of patrol. Talk about Allah's garden. Contact with Russians (and the NKVD green cross). Various adventures getting through road blocks etc. Loss of one of the tanks - and Müller. Everyone starts walking. Tiny talks about No 26 Reeperbahn (a whorehouse of course). Long trek. Encounter with more NKVD. Capture of dog sled and skis.
Description of 'the Professor' - the Norwegian SS volunteer. Travel with the dog-sledge. Dig-in for the night. NKVD soldiers pass by. Arguement with the Professor.
Talk about the Legionnaire. Heide tells his life story. Reference to killing of mental patients.
. Tiny and Heide have one of their fights. Further travels through the ice and snow in the Caucusus. Encounter with camels and camel herders. Visit to a Russian village. German soldier who has survived a firing squad tells his story. Plans to escape to Turkey. Tiny discovers a hidden supply of alcohol. General drinking activity with the locals. Drunken NKVD man arrives. More merry-making. NKVD patrol approaches. Escape from the village. Three day snow storm. Return towards German lines. Running battles. Porta gets hold of a flamethrower. Anti-tank battle. The Professor tells his story. Return to German lines. Death of Captain Lander.
Story of Major Karl Ulrich Mercedes. Lugansk 14th March. Tiny jumps out of his tank to rescue a little kid. Drive through marsh. Bit of philosophy on war. Tiny's kid is killed and Tiny goes mental. Legionnaire deals with him. Refueling and rearming of tanks. More tank battle. Picking up stragglers. Back for repairs. Porta plays 'I Was Born And Brought Up In A Brothel' on his flute. More fighting. Comments about the Death's Head badge. Rescue of SS troops (but not for long).
Torgau guard duty. Hauptfelwebel Dorn. Story of Lt Heinz Berner (and his fiancée Else). Tiny visits him in his cell and Berner tries to escape... without much luck. Porta and Tiny play cards in the latreen until the Chaplain arrives. Lots of entertainment as Tiny winds the priest up.
More prison stories, including that of Kurt Schwartz, the farmer, and Gustav Dürer, the Head Warder of Torgau, and Feldwebel Hermann Lindenberg (all wonderful stories).
Execution of Lindenberg. Katz and Schröder of the RSHA arrive at the prison to investigate Dürer's death. They start interrogating Dorn. Colonel Vogel arrives and puts them in their place. Major Divalordy arrives. The Colonel sends everyone to the Eastern Front. Read this chapter here
Introduction to General von Grabach who deals with appeals. Lots of wonderful political intrigue! Story of Heinz Berner.
Return to the front via the Black Sea. Section occupy a house. Old Man goes mad at Tiny for his comments about children and war. Story of Tiny 'feeding an SS man to dogs'. Section on Rumania. Move into a deserted villa - which turns out, naturally, to have been a brothel. Wonderful scenes as Tiny etc go looking for the whores. Rumanian soldiers turn up and join in. General insane debauchery at Mme Olga's. Mme Olga is 'tried' by the Legionnaire - and hanged by the mob.
The party continues. Retreating soldiers pass by warning that the Russians are coming. Various stories of retreat. Tiny and Barcelona rescue some German prisoners - troublesome officers from a court martial. They are dealt with and Tiny helps himself to another three gold teeth. General retreat through the marshes.
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March Battalion in other languages
Selected quotes from March Battalion
"We had the odd feeling that he was not really pleased to see us. However, three days later his body was found riddled with bullets in a thicket, and it hardly seemed respectful to the dead to go on doubting him. As usual, it was the partisans who were held responsible for the murder, although some people did, indeed, raise their eyebrows in the direction of Porta and Tiny. In the end they had to take the extreme measure of attending the Captain's funeral in order to prove their innocence."