Hitler’s bodyguard and last surviving witness to the Nazi leader’s final days hidden away in a bunker, Rochus Misch, died on Thursday at the age of 96.
SS Staff Sgt. Misch remained by Hitler’s side even through the darkest hours–namely, hiding in a small concrete bunker–and was forced to remain there after Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide as the Allies closed in, and never wavered in his loyalty to the man responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews. Before his death, Misch claimed to have no knowledge of those deaths.
“He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch said. “He was a wonderful boss. I lived with him for five years. We were the closest people who worked with him … we were always there. Hitler was never without us day and night.”
Misch was captured by Soviet forces as he tried to make an escape from the bunker two days after Hitler and Braun killed themselves, and was taken to a prison camp in the Soviet Union, where he spent the next nine years. It was 1954 before he was allowed to return to Berlin, and the world was a very different place. He reunited with his wife and they started a business together; she died in 1997, and he lived out his remaining days in Berlin.
The man who knew Adolf Hitler perhaps better than anyone remembered him fondly and said, while flipping through a scrapbook of photos, that he and Braun were “very normal” and “not like what is written”.
Image: Wikimedia Commons