Born in 1917 in Fredensborg, Denmark, Sven Hassel joined the merchant navy at the age of 14. He did his compulsory year's military service in the Danish forces in 1936 and then, facing unemployment, joined the German army. He served throughout World War II on all fronts except North Africa. Wounded eight times, he ended the war in a Russian prison camp. He wrote LEGION OF THE DAMNED while being transferred between American, British and Danish prisons before making a new life for himself in Spain.
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