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BOOKS & AUTHORS / ORANGE COUNTY : 'Miracle Weapon' Built From WWII Experiences

June 27, 1995|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What if Hitler had developed a "miracle weapon" that could have changed the outcome of World War II? That's the premise of Manfred Krutein's World War II thriller, "Hitler's Last Gasp: The Miracle Weapon" (Amador Publishers; $12).

Krutein, an Irvine resident, is a former German U-boat officer who has tapped his World War II experiences in the Atlantic to write the novel, in which a U-boat commander, a ruthless SS officer who wants to become Hitler's successor and a heroic American OSS intelligence agent fight for control of the miracle weapon: bio-warfare rockets, aimed at the East Coast of the United States, that are capable of killing millions of Americans.

"My book uses the fiction of a miracle weapon in order to show what kinds of fears, emotions, anger and desperation the people had at that time," says Krutein, 78.

"I remember after World War I there was a flu going around that killed 20 million people worldwide--I think 2 million alone in the United States. So this gave me the idea that the Nazis could have developed a flu, or some bacteria, which was so much more terrible than that [and] would bring the Allied forces to a stop and give Hitler the chance to win the war. That was the basic idea of the book."

Although the idea of a "miracle weapon" is fiction, Krutein says there were rumors of a secret Nazi weapon toward the end of the war.

"These rumors kept the Germans fighting to the last moment," he says. "That's what kept them motivated, kept them fighting, hoping that, 'OK, maybe next week everything will turn around for us.' All [Allied] military experts in those times were afraid and thinking, 'Why do these doggone Germans still fight to the last moment?' "

Krutein, who was born in Konigsberg--then the capital of East Prussia and now the Russian city of Kaliningrad--joined the German navy in 1936. After fighting in the Atlantic during the early part of the war, he directed the repair of submarines in the U-boat pen at St. Nazaire on the French coast.

A naval architect who started his own shipyard in a former naval base in the North Sea in Germany after the war, he and his family moved to Chile in 1951, where he worked as a mining engineer. After moving to the United States in 1960, he became an ocean mining engineer, and in the early '70s he was involved in the secret Hughes Glomar Explorer Project, which lifted a lost Soviet submarine from the bottom of the Pacific.

Krutein and his wife, Eva, who drew on her World War II experiences for the book "Eva's War: A True Story of Survival," moved to Irvine in 1976.

Krutein will sign copies of his book from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in the Woodbridge Center, 4600 Barranca Parkway, Irvine.

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Book Signing. Taylor Smith ("Guilt by Silence") will sign at noon Saturday at B. Dalton Booksellers in the Laguna Hills Mall.

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Sci Fi. Debbie Mirek, co-author of "The Star Trek Encyclopedia," will discuss her book at the Orange County Science Fiction Club meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, at 2400 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. For further information, call (714) 552-4925.

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Hollywood Bound. William A. Gordon, author of "The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book," will narrate a slide show and answer questions at 7 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble in MainPlace/Santa Ana.

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