By Sandra Birungi
The man who served as the late Nazi leader’s bodyguard, Rochus Misch has died.
Misch was Hitler’s bodyguard for the most part of World War II and was the last remaining witness to the Nazi leader’s final hours in his Berlin bunker. He died aged 86 on Thursday in Berlin after a short illness. His death was announced by Burkhard Nachtigall, who helped him write his 2008 memoir. He confirmed the death to The Associated Press in an email on Friday.
Despite the negative backlash against Hitler, Misch remained a proud servant to Hitler, whom he affectionately called “boss.” According to an interview with The Associated Press in 2005, Misch recalled Hitler as “a very normal man”. “He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch said.
Born July 29, 1917, in the tiny Silesian town of Alt Schalkowitz, in what today is Poland, Misch was orphaned at an early age. He signed up for the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, a unit that was founded to serve as Hitler’s personal protection. “It was anti-communist, against Stalin to protect Europe,” Misch said. “I signed up in the war against Bolshevism, not for Adolf Hitler.”
After being shot and nearly being killed, Misch was chosen in 1940 as one of two SS men who would serve as Hitler’s bodyguards and general assistants. Misch, together with comrade Johannes Hentschel accompanied Hitler almost everywhere. “He was a wonderful boss,” Misch said. “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.”
Recalling, Misch said that on April 22, two days before two Soviet armies completed their encirclement of the city, Hitler said: “That’s it. The war is lost. Everybody can go.’ Everyone except those who still had jobs to do like us we had to stay. The lights, water, telephone … those had to be kept going but everybody else was allowed to go and almost all were gone immediately.”
After Hitler’s death and the German surrendering on May 7, Misch was taken to the Soviet Union, where he spent the next nine years in prisoner of war camps before being allowed to return to Berlin in 1954. He later reunited with his wife Gerda, whom he had married in 1942 and who died in 1997, and opened up a shop.