Hitler’s bodyguard, 96-year-old SS Staff Sgt. Rochus Misch, died Thursday in Berlin. In a candid Sept. 6 profile report from The Associated Press, Misch is painted as a true Nazi – devoted and loyal, yet arrogantly proud and rigidly unapologetic.
Misch aided World War II war operations as a courier and telephone operator, but is perhaps best known for his time spent with Adolf Hitler in the Führerbunker in the war’s final days. The bodyguard handled all direct communication with the German Chancellor from within the bunker.
During the early winter months of 1945, following Germany’s defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, Misch and the rest of Hitler's personal staff moved into the subterranean bunker complex that would serve the Führer in his final days. It was there that Hitler and wife Eva Braun would commit suicide. While not seeing the act, Misch was one of the first to witness the discovery of the bodies.
Describing the day that Hitler took his life, Misch previously recounted what he saw: “They [fellow SS] opened the door, and I naturally looked, and then there was a short pause and the second door was opened… and I saw Hitler lying on the table like so,” Misch said, putting his head down with his hands spread out on his living room table.
“And Eva lay like so, on the sofa with knees up, her head to him,” Misch said.
For days after the suicide, the loyal SS officer remained in the air raid bunker – dubbed the “coffin of concrete” – before escaping while Soviets stormed Berlin. Misch was later captured and tortured for information regarding Hitler’s fate. He would thereafter spend nine years in Soviet Labor camps.
In a 2005 interview, Misch, still bearing the look of one of Hitler’s schutzstaffel guards with his stiff posture and precisely combed white hair, spoke highly of the villainous Hitler.
“He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch said.
The AP report calls Misch “one of the last of a generation that bears direct responsibility for German brutality during World War II.” In the interview, Misch refused to discuss questions regarding guilt or responsibility regarding the slaughtering of millions of Jews, Slavs, Poles and Jehovah’s Witnesses, offering no hint of remorse. Misch conveniently yet incredulously claimed he “knew nothing of the murder of six million Jews,” stating that Hitler never discussed his Final Solution plan to annihilate the Jewish people.
“That was never a topic,” Misch said emphatically. “Never.”
Misch was however visibly shaken when speaking of the murder and suicide of the Goebbels family. Misch was present in the bunker when Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda and one of Hitler’s closest associates, killed his six children before committing suicide along with his wife Magda. Goebbels was known for his virulent anti-Semitism and was one of the chief proponents of Hitler’s Final Solution.
Describing Hitler, Misch said, “He was a wonderful boss. I lived with him for five years. We [Misch and SS comrade Johannes Hentschel] were the closest people who worked with him. We were always there. Hitler was never without us day and night.”