Rochus Misch, the last surviving member of Adolf Hitler’s entourage in the Berlin Bunker, has died in Berlin at the age of 96.
Misch remained proud to the end about his years with Hitler, whom he never stopped referring to as the “boss” (chef in German).
In a 2005 interview with the Associated Press, Misch recalled Hitler as “a very normal man. He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch said.
In May 1940, he was selected as one of two SS men who would serve as Hitler’s general assistants, helping the German leader with all day-to-day tasks not covered by his direct administrative personnel. These tasks included answering the telephone, delivering personal messages, and the like.
Misch accompanied Hitler almost everywhere, including Berchtesgaden, the “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters, and the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
“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.”
He recalled 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,” Misch said. “The lights, water, telephone … those had to be kept going but everybody else was allowed to go and almost all were gone immediately.”
Hitler “still believed in a union between West and East,” Misch said. “Hitler liked England — except for (then-Prime Minister Winston) Churchill — and didn’t think that a people like the English would bind themselves with the Communists to crush Germany.”
On April 28, Misch saw Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and Hitler confidant Martin Bormann enter the bunker with a man he had never seen before.
“I asked who it was and they said that’s the civil magistrate who has come to perform Hitler’s marriage,” Misch said. Shortly afterwards, Hitler and Eva Braun were married. Two days later, Misch saw Goebbels and Bormann talking with Hitler and his adjutant, SS Maj. Otto Guensche, in the bunker’s corridor.
“I saw him go into his room … and someone, Guensche, said that he shouldn’t be disturbed,” Misch said. “We all knew that it was happening. He said he wasn’t going to leave Berlin, he would stay here.”
“We heard no shot; we heard nothing, but one of those who was in the hallway, I don’t remember if it was Guensche or Bormann, said, ‘Linge, Linge, I think it’s done,'” Misch said, referring to Hitler’s valet Heinz Linge.
“Then everything was really quiet … who opened the door I don’t remember, Guensche or Linge. They 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 on his hands on his living-room table.
“And Eva lay like so on the sofa with knees up, her head to him.”
Misch ran up to the chancellery to tell his superior the news and then back downstairs, where Hitler’s corpse had been put on the floor with a blanket over it.
“Then they bundled Hitler up and said ‘What do we do now?'” Misch said. “As they took Hitler out … they walked by me about three or four meters away. I saw his shoes sticking outside the sack.”
An SS guard ran down the stairs and tried to get Misch to watch as the two were covered in gasoline and set alight. “He said, ‘The boss is being burned. Come on out,'” Misch recalled. But instead Misch returned to speak to his fellow assistant Johannes Hentschel.
Misch stayed in the bunker until until May 2, when Joseph Goebbels told him to leave.
Goebbels, he said, “came down and said: ‘You have a chance to live. You don’t have to stay here and die.'”
After trying to get back to his house in south Berlin — where he lived once again until his death after the war — Mich was arrested by the Soviets and spent nine years in a Communist camp.
In all the interviews he gave after the war, he was asked repeatedly about the holocaust. He said in all the time he worked as Hitler’s personal assistant, from May 1940 to April 1945, he never heard a word about it.
“That was never a topic,” he said emphatically. “Never.”
With Rochus Misch’s death, the last witness from the Führerbunker has been silenced.