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Use This Version (3) : Hitler's Last Soldier in U.S. Surrenders After 40 Years

September 12, 1985|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

"He wanted government documents and research material, if I knew of any, that would substantiate his good behavior as a prisoner if he should approach the immigration people," Krammer said in a telephone interview from Houston on Wednesday.

Krammer and Gaertner, who now is a construction consultant in Boulder, Colo., later collaborated on a book, "Hitler's Last Soldier in America," officially released Wednesday by publisher Stein & Day.

Coincident With Book Release

Gaertner sees the book as "insurance" that he will not be quickly and quietly deported, "which was why it was important for him to surrender on the day the book came out," Krammer said.

The publishing house has confirmed that Gaertner's surrender was timed to coincide with release of the book.

Gaertner was one of 425,000 German prisoners of war once held in 511 camps in the United States, Krammer said. Many of the prisoners were sent out from the camps to work in fields and factories, replacing laborers who had gone to war. Exactly 2,222 escaped, he said.

Most were free for less than a day. Few were at large for more than a few weeks.

The Army reported that all but 12 had been recaptured by the time the last repatriation ships carried the prisoners back to their home countries, Krammer said.

Those dozen men gradually surrendered or were captured in the years after the war, until on March 10, 1959, Kurt Rossmeisl--an officer in Rommel's 10th Panzer Division who had lived in Chicago for almost 14 years under the name Frank Ellis--presented himself to the FBI in Cincinnati.

Gaertner was the last one left.

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