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Introduction to SS-General

Definately one of my favourites. It's got all the great Sven trademarks - winter, food, drink, officer baiting etc and little sketches of history at the beginning of each chapter. I've heard that there were no SS units anywhere near Stalingrad but it makes for a good story and it's the only time in a Hassel story where the SS get any respect (only the one individual though).

By-the-way, there is only one documented record of anyone successfully walking out of Stalingrad - Sergeant Niewig, a sergeant in a flak battery... and he was killed 24 hours after reaching the German lines when a stray shell hit a dressing station. But there were groups spotted crossing the Steppe as late as mid-February 1943. That's quite a thought actually.

SS-General chapter by chapter:

1. The Bridge
Story of the SS dealing with the SA in 1934. Section travelling in tanks in the vacinity of Stalingrad. Tiny and Heide have a fight (Heide is dealt with). Contact with T34s. Description of situation in Stalingrad. Incessant rain, mud, mould. Description of recruits. Talk of Italian and Rumanian troops. Mission to blow up Russian bridge. Description of bog/marsh and adventures while crossing it. Bridge sabotage.

2. Journey By Sledge
Story of Röhm and Eike. One of the famous chapters. An Australian band even wrote a song inspired by the motorised-sledge ride. Porta and Tiny are 'imprisoned'. Mention of punishments in the German army. Old Un receives a letter from his wife Liselotte. Sledge ride. Landmine in the road. Barcelona's sledge explodes.

3. Porta's Breakfast
Himmler and Heydrich. Porta, Tiny and Sven are woken early and told to report for special duties. Porta decides to have breakfast first. Entertaining adventures behind the Russian lines... including the accidental capture of a Russian Lieutenant-General and Colonel.

4. The Battle Of Krasnij Okjabre
Heydrich, Müller and Schellenberg. Mission to knock out Russian bunker. Heide leads the attack in fanatical fashion. Russian boy attempts to adopt Tiny but then gets blown up! Porta is promoted from lance-corporal to corporal. Scheme to obtain vodka to celebrate. Porta's talk with Wilke, the fat, cheating cook. Drinking session. Porta's fat black cat.

5. The Young Lieutenant
Heydrich and Himmler. Chat about the situation in Stalingrad. Porta discovers that Sgt Wilke has gone back to Germany... Porta and Tiny try some officer-baiting on Lieutenant Pirch.

6. Farewell To The Colonel
Heydrich and Canaris. Hinka is wounded in tank battle. Porta and Sven take him to the airstrip for evacuation. Various adventures on the return journey.

7. Summary Executions
Heydrich and Canaris. SS arrive in Stalingrad. Theodor Eike confronts Paulus and others. Eike's progress through Stalingrad.

8. Generals We Have Known…
Section playing cards. Gregor tells one of his General stories. Tiny tells a General story of his own.

9. Traitors
Hitler's Stalingrad speech. A group of Austrian officers plan a deal with the Russians. Major Russian offensive starts. Tiny, Porta and Sven are cut-off from the section. They find a field hospital. Porta is arrested for eating a dying man's rations. Tiny and Sven spring him from prison. The three are picked up and put with loads of others who are to be shot for desertion. Another escape...

10. Generals' Cake-walk
Story of General Hartmann and his underground village. Russians attempt negotiations fo German capitulation. Porta does his own deal... for some porn! German generals plan their own glorious deaths in battle. They march out in full dress uniform and start shooting at the Russians. Russians attack again. Complete chaos. Sven and Gregor are cut-off.

11. Christmas On The Steppe
More SS executions. Description of the cold. SS man arrives in the bunker and takes Porta's bed. Tiny deals with him. Arrival of the SS General (this is more than half way through the book by-the-way). He takes command. Anti-tank fighting. JU52s drop 'supplies' (photos of Hitler in fact). T34s attack each day at three in the afternoon. Final retreat. Tiny and Sven are sent back to look for survivors (and to find Porta's camp bed!)

12. Retreat
Augsberg and Paulus. The stragglers start their break out/retreat from Stalingrad. Crossing the Steppe. Sven suffers from snow-blindness. In a village the section finds a barrel of Samorchonka. Porta gives us the recipe. Everyone gets stuck into the drinking. Arrival at the Don river. No sign of German lines. Discovery of PIV which still works. Porta drives across the ice. Sven's snow-blindness gets worse. Contact with Russians and running battle. Talk of attrocities.

13. Dinner And Dance With The Kalmucks
Eike's 1933 speech to his SS regiment. Arrival at Russian village during snowstorm. Lots of hospitality. Porta excels in Kalmuck etiquette! Progress from river to river with no sign of the front line. Porta tries to persuade the paymaster of the Groß Deutschland division to set up a brothel when he gets home. More contact with the NKVD. Porta shoots Russians who try to surrender. Sven's snow-blindness gets even worse. Sunglasses are 'found' for him.

14. Prisoners Of The NKVD
More about Generaloberst Paulus. Heavy winter weather. Fifty-six days march out of Stalingrad. Some of the Germans attack a Russian town but are taken prisoner. Old Man's section to the rescue. March continues towards the Donetz. Sven and Gregor are sent to scout a wood. They are captured by 'pro-German' partisans (Vlassov Army) and are then re-captured by the Russians! Various adventures in captivity. Escape and journey to the front dressed as NKVD. Crossing the HKL. SS Tigers pick them up.

15. Back In German Lines
De-briefing by secret police captain. Sven and Gregor drop the General in the shit. Reunion with the rest of the section. News that all the officers involved in the break-out from Stalingrad have been arrested as deserters. Porta and Sven steal a load of rations. Hitler visits the barracks! Tiny is not impressed.

16. The Train
The end of Stalingrad. Waiting at Russian railway station for transport to convalescent centre on the Black Sea. Chaos when train arrives. Porta tells the story of Manfried Katzenmeyer the useless train guard. Further adventures on the train. Arrival at the seaside town rest area. Discovery of nurses. Old Man deals with a bossy sergeant. Sven and Gregor visit the nurses rooms. Departure for the front after a few days 'rest' (Sven and Gregor are more exhausted than when they arrived!)

17. Executions
More on the end of Stalingrad and Paulus. The prison at Charkov. Section prepare for firing squad duties. Augsberg turns out to be the victim. Everyone aims to miss. End of Augsberg and the other officers from Stalingrad.

SS-General book covers

(Click links to view)
American cover for SS General (Bantam)
Swedish cover for SS-Generalen (Berghs)
Finnish cover for SS-kenraali (Book Studio Oy)
English cover for SS General (Corgi)
English cover for SS General (Corgi)
Italian cover for SS General
French cover for SS General
Dutch cover for Generaal SS
English cover for SS General
Italian cover for General SS
Spanish cover for General SS

SS-General in other languages

Danish:SS-GeneralenFrench:General SS
Swedish:SS-GeneralenDutch:Generaal SS
Spanish:General SSRomanian:General SS
Italian:General SSGerman:x
Turkish:S.S. Generali  

Selected quotes from SS-General

The motorised sledge ride:
"It was no joyride, being in a motorised sledge driven by Porta. The thing weighed three tons and he flung it up and down, from side to side, with the same recklessness as if he were on a car at a funfair. We shot up hills like fire-balls from the cannon's mouth and fell straight down the other side, landing with a spine-jarring crash on the ground. Porta laughed so much that he several times lost all control and we tore through the snow at seventy or eighty miles per hour, the wind cutting across our faces as we clutched the sides of the sledge and prayed, our faces green with suppressed vomit."

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