Sun, Sep 08, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Hitler’s personal bodyguard dead at age 96

‘LAST WITNESS’:Rochus Misch had described Hitler as a ‘good boss,’ saying that his first impression of the Nazi leader was not of a monster, but of a ‘normal gentleman’

AFP, BERLIN

Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard, the last surviving witness of the Nazi leader’s final days in the bunker toward the end of World War II, has died, his agent said on Friday.

Rochus Misch died aged 96 in Berlin on Thursday after failing to recover from a heart attack, Michael Stehle, who owns the rights to a book written by Misch, told reporters.

“He was a good boss,” Misch said of Hitler in the 2005 documentary film The Last Witness by Israeli Yael Katz Ben Shalom.

Misch was among those who joined the Nazi leader in his bunker where Hitler committed suicide days before Germany’s surrender.

In a 2005 interview with the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Misch described how he had seen the Nazi leader and his wife, Eva Braun, dead in their bunker deep under the shattered city of Berlin.

“Hitler was sitting at the table, slumped forward, and Eva Braun was lying next to him. I saw that with my own eyes,” Misch said. “I remember that he said goodbye in the corridor and went into the rooms. He said he didn’t want to be disturbed.”

Hitler poisoned a willing Braun and shot himself in the head. Historians believe their bodies were then soaked with fuel and burned.

“The commanders had all wanted to evacuate Hitler, but he said no, he was staying in Berlin,” Misch said.

Two days later on May 2, 1945, Misch, then aged 27, was one of the last people to flee the bunker, where he had worked as a telephone operator, as Soviet troops stormed the chancellery in Berlin.

He was taken prisoner by Soviet forces and held captive in Kazakhstan and Siberia until 1953.

His 2008 book Der Letzte Zeuge (The Last Witness) made it onto the bestseller list and brought Misch much attention.

An English translation is to be published next month, Stehle said.

Born in Silesia in today’s Poland, Misch trained as a house painter before joining the SS and was part of Hitler’s personal guard from 1940.

He told news site Der Spiegel online in 2007 that at his first meeting with the Nazi leader, he had thought: “He wasn’t a monster, he wasn’t an Uebermensch [Superman], he stood opposite me like a perfectly normal gentleman and spoke kind words.”

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