Rochus Misch, last witness to Hitler's death, dies aged 96
Bodyguard who called Hitler 'the Boss' was with Nazi leader during his final hours in Berlin bunker
ROCHUS MISCH, the bodyguard who was the last living witness to Hitler's final hours in the Berlin bunker, has died at the age of 96 after a short illness.
Misch joined the SS at the age of 20 - "not for Adolf Hitler", he said, but because he wanted to fight communism. Injured during the German invasion of Poland he was shipped back to Berlin to recuperate. It was there that he was hand-picked to be a member of the Fuhrer's elite team of bodyguards.
Misch quickly became fond of the man he called "the boss". "He was no monster. He was no superman," he told Associated Press in 2005.
As the Russian army tightened its grip on Berlin in the dying days of the war, Hitler retreated to the Furherbunker and Misch went with him. It was there that the Nazi leader tried to rally the remnants of the shattered German army.
Misch, who was put in charge of communications, had clear memories of the day Hitler married his 33-year-old mistress, Eva Braun, in a civil ceremony attended by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann. Two days later, on 30 April, 1945, he glimpsed Hitler's body slumped over a table and Braun's corpse on a nearby sofa. They had both committed suicide.
Fearing the Gestapo would want to kill anyone who had witnessed the Furher's suicide, Misch fled the bunker on 2 May. He was captured by Red Army troops and spent nine years in a Russian prison camp. He returned to Berlin in 1954 where he was reunited with his wife, Gerda, and opened a shop.
Misch was often interviewed by film-makers involved in projects about WWII. Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie spoke to him as part of research for Valkyrie, a 2008 film about the plot to kill Hitler in the Fuhrerbunker, reports the Daily Telegraph. But the film's star, Tom Cruise, refused to meet the German, saying "Evil is still evil, I don't care how old you are."
Misch avoided reporters' questions about guilt or responsibility for the Holocaust, saying he knew nothing about the murder of Jews and Hilter never mentioned the Final Solution in his presence.
"That was never a topic," he said. "Never." ·