Danish author (now deceased) of fourteen WorldWarTwo novels based around the experiences (both tragic and comedic) of [[TheSquad 2 Section]] -- a unit of the 27th Penal Panzer Regiment, made up of court-martialed soldiers and former inmates of concentration camps and prisons, conscripted as expendable CannonFodder for the Nazi cause.

The novels are ostensibly told from the point-of-view of the author, though some chapters are in third-person and cover other characters. Sven Hassel claims to have based them on his service in the Wehrmacht, during which he served on every front except North Africa. A journalist however claimed Hassel spent the war entirely in Denmark as a member of a collaborationist police unit, and his stories are based on conversations with ex-Dutch SS soldiers thrown into prison with him afterwards. Certainly his novels are not taken seriously by historians, containing many inconsistencies and exaggerations. Nevertheless with their unstinting mix of action, horror and BlackComedy they have proved quite popular, being translated into eighteen languages.

Although the members of 2 Section vary from novel to novel, the main characters tend to be:

* 'The Old Un' or ‘Old Man’ (Feldwebel[[note]]later Oberfeldwebel - he brags about his rank only once, when a policeman admonishes him upon entrance to a tavern-brothel[[/note]] Willie Beier) -- Former carpenter and dedicated family man. He is the leader of 2 Section and respected by both officers and men, though the antics of his section frequently drive him to frustration.
* Obergefreiter Joseph Porta -- A cheeky Berliner with a tendency to engage in rambling tales of doubtful truth. An expert [[TheScrounger scrounger]], tank driver and cook; he can talk his way around anyone and has a knack for getting along with the locals regardless of language and cultural barriers. Often engaged in black market activities, either in opposition or collusion with his rival, Chief Mechanic Wolf.
* 'Tiny' or ‘Little John’ (Obergefreiter Wolfgang Creutzfeldt) -- A huge strong brute who enjoys rape and killing with his bare hands, yet is childlike and [[DumbMuscle stupid]]. Can fly into rage with dangerous yet comedic results.
* "The Legionnaire" or "The Desert Rambler" (Corporal Alfred Kalb) -- Ex-member of the French Foreign Legion, for which he was imprisoned and later [[GroinAttack castrated by a camp commandant]]. He is a cold, cynical veteran with great skill in the use of his throwing knife.
* 'Barcelona' Blom -- A veteran of the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar, in which he fought for both sides. Carries a dried-up orange in his pocket as a reminder of Spain. Later (after his death) exposed in ''Comrades Of War'' as a fraud who invented the whole Spanish story and learnt Spanish by himself.
* Julius Heide -- A fanatical Nazi from a deprived background, obsessed with regulations and determined to advance through the ranks. Despised by the others, yet very much a member of their circle.
* Gregor Martin -- Former batman of an unnamed GeneralRipper, of whose antics he speaks quite fondly in long, reminiscent anecdotes.
* Sven Hassel -- A Dane of German descent, he joined the German army before the war as there was no work in his native country. Sentenced to a concentration camp for desertion, he is then 'pardoned' and sent to a penal regiment. With the exception of ''The Legion of the Damned'' Hassel tends to take the background in his novels, seldom portraying himself as remarkable or heroic.

!!The novels contain the following tropes:

* AdaptationDistillation: A large number of modern illustrators would depict the characters in the coolest uniforms of the Reich, from the immaculate-black uniforms of the Panzertruppen to the dotted camouflage uniforms of the post-1943 [[{{BadassArmy}} Waffen-SS]]. Even as the author strives himself to convince how ragged they were (justified, as a penal unit got the scraps of everything).
* AnyoneCanDie: Particularly in [[spoiler:the first book, ''Legion of the Damned'']].
* AllDevouringBlackHoleLoanSharks: Porta is an "80% man" (e.g. he loans money at 80% interest). Failure to pay up is unwise.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: A RunningGag is Tiny trying to quote from his school bible studies and making a complete mess of it.
* BattleCry: The Legionaire’s “Viva la mort!” (Long live death!)
* {{Bears Are|BadNews}} [[InvertedTrope Good News]]: Rasputin in ''The Bloody Road to Death'', a Russian bear that can drink beer and throw hand grenades. His death causes a HeroicBSOD on Porta's part. Rather [[{{Irony}} ironically]] based on the RealLife [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojtek_%28soldier_bear%29 Wojtek]], who served for the ''other'' side in the war ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Armed_Forces_in_the_West Free Poles]], Nazis' sworn deadly enemies).
* BerserkButton: Do ''not'' sneer at the French Foreign Legion, or General de Gaulle, in front of the Little Legionnaire. While you're at it, making cracks about his castrated state is highly unwise. Tiny also has a tendency to flip out from time to time.
* BlackVikings: Stabsgefreiter Albert Mumbuto, a German Negro who's a member of 2 Section in ''O.G.P.U Prison'' and ''The Commissar''. While this can seem implausible to modern audiences it has to be remembered that from the late 1880s up to 1918 Imperial Germany had African colonies (Kamerun, Namibia, Tanganyka) and some Africans which served under the German flag emigrated to their "Vaterland" after WWI. Some married and had children, who happened to live and come to age under the Third Reich; there are historical accounts of some of these men reporting for draft duty and usually being rejected or posted to out-of-sight positions. Given Hassel's notorious inaccuracy is still hardly probable, but not completely unfeasible.
* BlackAndGrayMorality
* BlindIdiotTranslation: The people translating the novels from Dutch, French or German etc are often unfamiliar with the military, leading to such howlers as grenades being fired from tank guns (German WWII terminology: ''Panzergranate'' = anti-tank shell) or "Tiny fired a burst from his revolver" (revolver = pistol = machine-pistol = submachine gun).
* BloodlessCarnage: Averted as plenty of characters die in gory, unheroic ways.
* BoxedCrook: The whole point of the penal regiments, which were TruthInTelevision in the Nazi and Soviet armies.
* CoolPet: Porta has a habit of adopting animals as unit mascots -- ranging from Stalin the cat to Ulrich, a 'friendly' black panther who gives everyone heart attacks.
* CunningLinguist: Porta's magical ability to communicate with anyone they come across has saved their skins on several occasions, especially when they unexpectedly encounter enemy soldiers while TrappedBehindEnemyLines. In a subversion of the trope Porta's Russian is actually atrocious, but as the Soviet army had a large number of minorities who spoke little or no Russian this doesn't seem unusual.
* CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon: Notable examples include "I'll pull your arsehole up over your ears", "I'll have you shaved with the big razor" (sentenced to decapitation), or the crowning one:
-->"He's going round telling the world you're nothing but a cleaned-out rabbit's head, stuffed with sauerkraut, and if you're lucky enough to get back from the front he's going to see to it you get deported to a cowshit-stinking hole in South Bavaria where the entire population consists of village idiots!"
* DepravedDentist: Porta and Tiny both collect gold teeth from dead soldiers.
* DieselPunk: Sometimes the story abandons the mask of WorldWarTwo realism and delves into Diesel Noir / Diesel Weird War, from the [[HPLovecraft Lovecraftian]] character of the Colonel who played cards each evening with Devil and Death (''Reign Of Hell''), through the dashing raid into the heart of the Soviet Union to steal a few tonnes of gold (''The Commissar'') ..
* DirtyCommunists: A lot of the action takes place in the USSR during JosefStalin's reign, and the Soviets are portrayed as being just as evil as the Nazis themselves.
* DrillSergeantNasty: Portrayed as sadists more interested in breaking men than turning them into good soldiers.
* DrivesLikeCrazy: Porta, whether driving a tank or the most powerful general in the army (fortunately General Burgdorf is more amused than alarmed).
* {{Epigraph}}: Each chapter begins with short prose, sometimes involving the main characters but usually an unrelated story or historical ancedote about the brutality of the Nazi or Soviet regimes.
* EnsignNewbie: Any time a young, inexperienced lieutenant is mentioned, you know he might as well be wearing a RedShirt.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Several times the heroes find out about things that other Germans, or the Soviets, have done that repulse even these hardened killers. When they get a chance to show their disapproval in concrete form, it gets...messy.
* AFatherToHisMen: Oberst Hinka (commanding officer of 27th Panzer), Lt Ohlsen, and of course The Old Un.
* FreudianExcuse: When we find out about [[spoiler:Julius Heide's]] home life and background, or [[spoiler:Tiny gets a letter from home hoping he'll die soon so that his mother can collect on the government insurance on him]], it's hard [[{{Tearjerker}} not to feel sorry for them]], even though one is a JerkAss and the other is often a bully.
* FriendlySniper: Porta's a crack shot and loves a chance to show off.
* TheFunInFuneral: The funeral of Gregor’s general is described as being "more like a battle course with all the trimmings!” The highlight was the coffin being dropped whilst carried up a muddy hill in the rain, and running down a load of Nazi bigwigs. The pallbearers are all [[ReassignedToAntarctica sent to the Russian Front]] for this cock-up.
* GeneralFailure / GeneralRipper: Most high-ranking officers are portrayed as either Nazi fanatics who consistently underestimate their "subhuman" opponents, or corrupt cynics willing to advance themselves [[WeHaveReserves at the cost of thousands of lives]].
* GermanicEfficiency: Inverted. The Nazi war machine is portrayed as [[FascistButInefficient incompetent and inefficient]], though 2 Section seem to manage quite a few OneSidedBattle moments.
* GloryHound: Several of the [=COs=] whom the 27th get fit this trope. Others like Hauptmanns’ Meier and von Pader are more TheNeidermeyer type, along with Hauptfeldwebel Hoffman.
* GotVolunteered: This happens several times, once taking the soldiers all the way to [[spoiler:Moscow on a commando mission]].
* IfYouDieICallYourStuff: In the Old Un's unit the possessions of a dead colleague always belong to his fellow soldiers, with wills being drawn up over particularly valued items. Sometimes a soldier near death will have his pistol removed, as it would only be stolen by a medical orderly, but as the soldier is often aware of this happening it only hastens his demise. In a (somewhat) more humorous example, Heide collapses after a fight and Tiny eagerly goes to salvage his gold teeth, but is so disappointed when Heide turns out to be still alive that he has to hand over everything in his pockets to avoid being beaten up.
* InsertGrenadeHere: The protagonists seldom have a panzerfaust or anti-tank gun when they need one. There are frequent references to tying bundles of hand grenades or Molotov cocktails together for this purpose.
** The standard German "potato-masher" hand grenade was in fact designed for this. Six grenade heads could be fitted to a complete seventh to make a single "supergrenade" - and there was an established drill for this purpose.
* KangarooCourt / HangingJudge: 'Special courts' in the field give hasty decisions condemning civilians of being partisans and German soldiers of being deserters, often just for being in the wrong place without proper papers. Also seen on the TheHomeFront where those accused of 'cowardice' or 'defeatism' are judged by tribunals whose sentence has been decided in advance.
* KarmaHoudini: Heide, despite his fanatical Nazism, ended up a general in the East German army.
* LegionOfLostSouls: As members of a penal unit, the main characters get handed the dirtiest, most dangerous, most thankless tasks the army can find for them to do.
* TheMedic: Subverted in ''OGPU Prison''. A medical orderly robs the wounded, demands a huge bribe for getting Sven onto a hospital train and brutally kicks a crawling amputee out of his path. On an earlier occasion another orderly is shown abandoning a truckful of wounded and making off with a submachine gun and a Red Cross bandolier on each arm (knowing that at least ''some'' Russian soldiers won't shoot at him). Though 2 Section wishes the orderly a well-deserved death, Porta cynically comments: "[[KarmaHoudini That kind lives through any war]]."
* MildlyMilitary: Many of the soldiers are very indifferent to things like military courtesy. This does not mean that they are not very good at fighting, which is why their superiors often turn a blind eye.
* MilitaryMaverick / RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The penal soldiers often fit this trope in various ways, as do some of the people they meet.
* MoodWhiplash: Drunken parties are often interrupted by the enemy attacking and the celebrants suddenly dying in brutal ways.
* TheMovie: ''Wheels Of Terror'' (AKA ''The Misfit Brigade'') was made in 1988 with American actors. Has some good scenes, but not regarded by fans as having the quality as ''Cross of Iron'' or ''Film/{{Stalingrad}}''.
* NaziGermany: Who they're ostensibly fighting for, no matter how unenthusiastic or cynical they are about the cause.
* NiceHat: Porta's top hat and Tiny's grey bowler.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Porta is a master at this. And while Tiny ''is'' stupid, he uses the technique quite successfully during his one-man war with Hauptmann von Pader in ''The Bloody Road to Death''.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: At some times, the heroes come across things that even they find repulsive.
** An aversion of this trope actually, because ''everyone'' commits atrocities in these novels (even on the Western front), rather than one obligatory war crime scene to avert accusations the creator is “glorifying war”.
* APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy: Food, sex and booze is naturally an obsession to soldiers deprived of all three, and the unit shamelessly indulge themselves in wasteful bacchanalias whenever they have the opportunity.
* {{Plagiarism}}: ''The Commissar'' rips off ''KellysHeroes'' (Tiny even uses Donald Sutherland's line: "Cut out those negative waves"), while ''Liquidate Paris'' has a chapter in which a black market pig is smuggled across occupied Paris, clearly taken from the French film ''La traversée de Paris'' (1956). Lines from ''A Farewell to Arms'' by Creator/ErnestHemingway can be seen in ''Monte Cassino''.
* PlayingPossum: This tactic is used so often that veteran soldiers never pass an enemy corpse without putting a bullet in it.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: Hassel clearly states that the soldiers he serves with have commited rape, although (no doubt because the author realises it would be crossing the MoralEventHorizon for most readers) we never actually see it committed by the main characters. Instead the Old Un averts Tiny's attempts to molest any woman they come across.
* RasputinianDeath: Whenever Porta et al decide to murder someone as a result of their black market activities, there invariably follows an entire chapter of bungled attempts which end in the victim either dying by accident or just going insane.
* RightHandAttackDog: Wolf's pair of wolfhounds which he uses for protection, and to eat those who annoy him.
* RoyalWe: Gregor Martin always describes his [[TheUnnamed unnamed]] GeneralRipper this way (e.g. "my general and our monocle") right up to the moment the general commits suicide ("And then we shot ourselves!") after which he's described normally.
* ScrewTheWarWerePartying: Sometimes the soldiers manage to get their hands on huge supplies of food and booze. The result is usually APartyAlsoKnownAsAnOrgy.
* ShotAtDawn: 2 Section carries out several executions, including one in which they're forced to shoot the only general they've come to respect.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: ''SS General'', ''Court Martial'' and ''Assignment Gestapo'', in which dedicated officers end up being executed -- usually after long periods of mistreatment in prison -- for refusing to throw away their soldiers' lives in a meaningless LastStand.
* TheSpartanWay: In ‘'Monte Cassino’' 27th Panzer is commanded by Major Mike Braun, a German-American ex-US Marine.
-->He turned to Hauptfeldwebel Hoffman. "Two hours special drill in the river. Anyone who kills a comrade gets three weeks leave. Every tenth cartridge and every twentieth grenade will be live. I want to see at least one broken arm. Otherwise, four hours extra drill."
-->Then began one of Mike's usual exercises. We hated him because of them, but they made us hard and inhuman. If you are to be a good soldier, you have to be able to hate. You have to kill a man as if he were a louse.
* SuicideMission: Since Sven and his crew are part of a disciplinary battalion sent on the most dangerous of missions, this trope gets a lot of use.
* TalkativeLoon: Porta loves to entertain his friends and confuse officers with tall stories that ramble on for ages. He also has an annoying habit of babbling on about the best way to prepare meals when his companions are starving.
* ThoseWackyNazis: The horror and stupidity of the Nazi regime is shown in full force.
* TrappedBehindEnemyLines: Happens often -- either because they're sent on a [[strike:suicide]] commando mission, overrun by the enemy during a 'strategic withdrawal', or just get lost.
* UnfriendlyFire: The movie actually ends with 2 Section gunning down their superiors, and it's the fate of several [[TheNeidermeyer Neidermeyer]] in the novels.
* WarIsHell: This is taken UpToEleven; the Geneva Conventions and laws of warfare are treated as dead letters by both sides, and torture and murder of prisoners happens repeatedly.
* WorldWarII: The setting. At various times, the heroes are on nearly every front on which the Germans fought, save only North Africa. (And they would have got there too, had their ship not been torpedoed). Sometimes they're on two different fronts hundreds of miles apart. At the same time.
* ZergRush: Soviets. Also Germans.