Photo: The last known photograph of Adolf Hitler, taken in April 1945 during a troops inspection in Reich Chancellery garden in Berlin, shortly before his suicide
Rochus Misch was one of the last surviving members of Adolf Hitler’s entourage. He served as the Nazi dictator’s bodyguard and described what happened during the last dramatic hours of Hitler’s life in his Berlin bunker in April 1945.
In his autobiography, Misch stated that Hitler said all soldiers were “released” from their oaths of loyalty, and that he had given specific instructions how to destroy his body. Hitler requested his body to be burned, in order to prevent his remains from falling into Soviet hands.
Misch, a telephone officer in the Führerbunker, was on the switchboard on the faithful day (April 30, 1945) when General Keitel messaged in to say the army failed to break the Soviet encirclement in Berlin, which effectively meant that Germany’s defeat was inevitable.
“Shortly afterwards, Misch heard Hitler talking quietly to [Nazi party official, Martin] Bormann and others. He looked and saw Hitler walk into his study. Eva, now Mrs Hitler, followed him in,” said the Martin Mace, a commissioning editor of Misch’s book.
“He saw Otto Günsche, the Führer’s adjutant, close the door behind the newly-married couple. Güsche told Misch that the boss was not to be disturbed. Hitler shook hands with Günsche and told him that all soldiers were released from their oath of loyalty.”
“Hitler had already told his adjutant that he did not want his body to be publicly abused as Mussolini’s had been and that he wanted his corpse to be burned. Everyone in the bunker waited nervously. Then there was some commotion. The study door was opened and Misch looked inside.”
Misch then provided a detailed account of what he saw when he opened the door of Hitler’s apartment:
“My glance fell first on Eva. She was seated with her legs drawn up, her head inclined towards Hitler. Her shoes were under the sofa. Near her … the dead Hitler. His eyes were open and staring, his head had fallen forward slightly.”
After the fall of Berlin and the end of World War II in Europe, Misch was captured by the Red Army and imprisoned in Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison. He spent eight years in Soviet labor camps, but was eventually released and returned to Germany.
Misch, who died in 2013, aged 96, was thought to be one of the last surviving members of Hitler’s inner circle.
He persisted in his portrayal of Hitler as a “wonderful boss” and “no brute”. “He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman”, “…very normal. Not like what is written”, and “[h]e was a wonderful boss”, he said during one of numerous interviews about his days as Hitler’s bodyguard.
Source: The Independent