Rochus Misch, perhaps Germany’s final link to Adolph Hitler, died on Thursday in Berlin after suffering a heart attack, his publicist said.
He was 96.
Misch described himself as Hitler’s bodyguard and said he was among the first to view the Fuhrer’s body after he committed suicide deep beneath a concrete bunker.
“Hitler was sitting at the table, slumped forward, and Eva Braun was lying next to him. I saw that with my own eyes,” Misch told Agence France-Presse.
He wrote a bestseller about his life with Hitler called “Der Letze Zeuge,” or “The Last Witness,” in 2008.
Among the opening lines to the book is this: “My name is Rochus Misch. I am an insignificant man, but I have experienced significant things.”
Misch was born July 29, 1917 in a small Polish town, saying he joined the SS at age 20 to battle communism and Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.
He was wounded during the Blitzkrieg through Poland, serving out the remainder of the war with a unit assigned to Hitler.
While also accompanying the Nazi leader through Germany, Misch was tasked with more routine duties such as telephone operator and courier.
He was answering phones in Hitler’s bunker in 1945 as the Soviets and allies converged on the German capital.
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After Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide, Misch remained to serve Joseph Goebbels. He was there the next day as Magda Goebbels killed her six children with morphine and cyanide, BBC reported.
“All of us knew what was going on. An hour or two later, Mrs. Goebbels came out crying. She sat down at a table and began playing patience.”
It was Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, who told Misch to flee the bunker rather than remain and die. Joseph and Magda Goebbels also committed suicide.
Advancing Soviet soldiers captured Misch soon after he fled, however, and he spent roughly nine years in a prison camp. Misch returned to his wife in Berlin after the Soviets released him.
Speaking to media after his book was released, Misch tried to portray himself as ignorant to what was happening to six million Jews in the death camps.
Misch said he never spoke to Hitler about “the final solution.”
“He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman,” Misch told the Associated Press before he died.
An English version of Misch’s book is due in stores next month.
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