Adolf Hitler's most devoted bodyguard, and the last remaining witness to the Nazi leader's final hours, has died aged 96.
Rochus Misch, who was born 29 July, 1917 in a small town in south western Poland, joined the SS in 1937 at the age of 20 – an organisation he admired because of its resistance to Stalin.
“It was anti-communist, against Stalin — to protect Europe,” Misch said during an interview in 2005. “I signed up in the war against Bolshevism, not for Adolf Hitler.”
But it was not long before Misch was drawn in to Hitler’s inner circle. In 1940 he was selected as one of the two SS guards responsible for assisting Hitler personally. His duties included answering telephones, greeting top officials and carrying out personal errands for Hitler – including, in one instance, delivering flowers from the Nazi leader to one of his favourite actresses.
Misch, never reneged on his loyalty to the dictator that he affectionately referred to as 'boss,' even commenting in 2005: “He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman.”
“I lived with him for five years,” said Misch. “We were the closest people who worked with him ... we were always there. Hitler was never without us day and night.”
The bodyguard also denied he had any knowledge of the Holocaust during his five years of service in the SS, insisting that Hitler never discussed the Final Solution in his presence.
“That was never a topic,” he said. “Never.”
Even after the war, Misch appeared to have little empathy for the victims of the Holocaust, yet in 2005 was nearly moved to tears when probed on Joseph and Magda Goebbels’s decision to kill their six children in the Berlin bunker, before committing suicide themselves.
Misch was present for the last ten days of Hitler’s life, and was one of the group who discovered the dictator’s body on 30 April 1945, having elected to follow him underground to the Berlin bunker, or – as he called it - the “coffin of concrete”.
He remembered that on 22 April - eight days before the Nazi leader’s suicide - Hitler’s despair at the news that two Soviet armies had completed their circumference of Berlin.
“That’s it,” Hitler reportedly said. “The war is lost. Everybody can go.“
But Misch stuck to his post even after Hitler was dead – taking and directing phone calls from Goebbels for days afterwards.
He eventually fled the bunker on 2 May and, following the German surrender, was taken to the Soviet Union, where he spent next nine years in prisoner of war camps.
In 1954 he was allowed to return to Berlin to be reunited with his wife Gerda, with whom he opened a shop.
Still resolutely defiant in 2005, he boasted of the large amount of mail he received from “fans”, saying he responded by sending a signed picture of himself in full SS uniform outside the famous “Wolf's Lair” complex on the eastern front.Reuse content