The last remaining witness to Adolf Hitler’s final hours, his own bodyguard, has died at the age of 96.
Rochus Misch, who served as Hitler’s devoted bodyguard for most of World War II, died Thursday, according to the Associated Press. His biographer, Burkhard Nachtigall, confirmed that Misch had passed away after a short illness.
Misch was proud of his service to Hitler throughout his life, affectionately referring to the Fuhrer as “boss.” In a 2005 interview, he said that Hitler was a “very normal man.”
“He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch said.
Despite this, he said that he joined the SS at the age of 20 to stand against the rise of the left in Europe.
“It was anti-communist, against Stalin — to protect Europe,” Misch said. “I signed up in the war against Bolshevism, not for Adolf Hitler.”
During the 1939 invasion of Poland, Misch was shot and nearly killed. He was sent back to Germany to recover, and it was there that he was recruited (along with Johannes Hentschel) as one of two personal bodyguards and general assistants to Hitler.
“He was a wonderful boss,” Misch said of Hitler. “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 accompanied Hitler until the end of the war, and was dismissed personally just before the Fuhrer’s suicide. Misch was tken to the Soviet Union, and spent the next nine years of his life as a POW. He returned to Berlin in 1954, reunited with his wife, and opened a store, according to The Guardian.
During the 2005 interview, he shied away from questions regarding Hitler’s war crimes, the Holocaust, and the brutality of Nazi forces. He said that such things were never discussed in his presence.
“That was never a topic,” he said of topic like the infamous Final Solution. “Never.”
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]