FAQ in English
Some answers to the most popular questions about Sven Hassel and the Porta's Kitchen website.
- Is Sven Hassel still alive?
Yes. At the time of writing, Sven Hassel is alive and well and living in Barcelona, Spain.
- Will there be any new stories from Sven Hassel?
In recent interviews (1997 and 1999) Sven Hassel has said that he is writing a new book, possibly titled "The Glorious Defeat" and based on events surrounding the 1944 assassination attempt on Grofaz. However, he does emphasise that he's getting a bit old and doesn't write very quickly.
- Have you seen Erik Haaest's web site?
Certainly have. Please see next question.
- Is Sven Hassel a liar? Are his stories true?
There are numerous posts to newsgroups and discussion forums across the internet which supposedly 'expose' Sven Hassel as a 'liar'. However, it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what is being exposed - the novels or the man's claims.
- The novels are clearly fictional, brilliantly written as they are. Sven Hassel has said as much himself (though he does claim them to be based on real events). The whole premise of a 'penal panzer regiment' is bizarre, but it's a brilliant situational opportunity. Elite troops, but anti-Nazi at the same time. Why people need to jump on the stories and claim to expose them as 'lies' is beyond me. They are stories - a large number of anecdotes strung together in the most entertaining, and shocking, way.
- Now we come to Sven Hassel's biography and personal claims which are a little harder to defend. For many years, since the early 1970s, a Danish journalist named Erik Haaest has been hard at work revealing the 'truth' about Sven Hassel. His book has been partially translated into English and put up on a website. There may well be truths and lies in both the official biography and Erik Haaest's version. My feeling is that Sven Hassel has built up a unique myth around himself and his comrades and that it would be very difficult to backtrack on that myth. Meanwhile, Haaest's version is written in such an hysterical, tabloid newspaper, style that it has become a standing joke itself. What will the next exposure be!!?? But people will continue to quote his wild assertions on the internet at every opportunity.
- Did the characters really exist?
Sven Hassel has repeatedly insisted that all of his characters existed. He has even put some pictures of them on the web. (You can decide if these are genuine or not.) Most of his comrades died in the war but he has revealed that Tiny and The Legionnaire survived and joined/re-joined the Foreign Legion, Heide is supposed to have become a general in the East German army (!) and Gregor is said to have become a very rich businessman in partnership with an American sergeant. Well, I don't know, but it's a nice story.
- Where can I get the books?
The Sven Hassel series of novels has been out of print in English for more than a decade. Most of us have managed to pick up a full set in various second-hand and charity shops although they do appear to be disappearing fast now. The good news is that four of the novels (The Legion Of The Damned, Wheels Of Terror, Comrades Of War and SS General) are to be published in 2003 by Cassel Military Paperbacks. There will be extra information here as soon as we hear more.
- What is the correct order for reading the books?
Sven Hassel's stories are really a long series of anecdotes and there is no correct chronology, but we've tried. See the historical chronology article here, or try reading the books in their order of publication here.
- Where can I get the movie?
The film of Wheels Of Terror, starring Bruce Davison as Joseph Porta, has also been deleted. I found my video copy a few years ago through a dealer advertising in the small ads in Empire magazine. I've not been able to find it on the web so far. Please note that there is another film named "Wheels Of Terror" (about a possessed car or something) which is readily available and not to be confused (though it's probably a lot better than the Sven Hassel film).
- How did Porta's Kitchen come about?
No one's ever asked me this question but I'm sure they wanted to. When I first started using the web (1996) I found active and detailed web sites already existing for every interest I had - except for Sven Hassel. The only page around at that time was run by Risto in Finland, and he'd only just started. Check it out (that's what most web sites looked like then!) So, we got together and pooled our resources. Risto came up with the name Porta's Kitchen (he was planning a section of the site dedicated to Herr Superchef Porta's classic recipes). As soon as the site was put up on Geocities the emails started trickling in and more information was exchanged and book cover scans added. And it's still expanding now. Which is nice.
- What about the mailing list?
The Sven Hassel Mailing List was set up in 1997 and is currently hosted by Yahoo. It goes through cycles. Lots and lots of messages - then nothing. Kind of like being in the war I suppose. If you have joined the list and not heard anything, don't worry. One day you will find a rush of messages. Meanwhile, you can always read the archives. Sign up right now!
- Are there any other Sven Hassel web sites on the web?
There are a few, and I've stolen lots of content from them (book covers etc), so Porta's Kitchen is really a compilation of all the smaller local sites out there. Only Erik Haaest's site had much original (if a bit sensational) information, but it seems to have been removed from the web recently (probably by Geocities). If anyone does come across a good SH related site then let me know won't you.