Rochus Misch

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Rochus Misch
Rochus Misch.jpg
Rochus Misch as a Unterscharführer
Born 29 July 1917
Alt Schalkowitz, German Empire
Died 5 September 2013(2013-09-05) (aged 96)
Berlin, Germany
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Schutzstaffel
Years of service 1937–1945
Rank SS-Oberscharführer Collar Rank.svg Oberscharführer
Unit SS-Verfügungstruppe
1. SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler.svg 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
Battles/wars Battle of Modlin
Awards Iron Cross
Wound Badge
DRL Sports Badge
Spouse(s) Gerda (m. 1942 - died 1997)[1]
Relations daughter Brigitta Jacob-Engelken[1]
Other work home decorating[1]

Rochus Misch (29 July 1917 – 5 September 2013) was a German Oberscharführer (sergeant) in the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) during World War II. He served as a courier, bodyguard and telephone operator for German leader Adolf Hitler from 1940 to 1945. He was the last surviving occupant of the Führerbunker when he died in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Misch was born in Alt-Schalkowitz near Oppeln in the Province of Silesia (now Stare Siołkowice, Poland).[2] His father, a construction worker, died of wounds sustained in World War I. His widowed mother died of pneumonia when he was three, and he grew up with his grandparents.[1][2] He worked as a painter. Misch married his wife Gerda on New Year's Eve, 1942.[3] They had a daughter, Brigitta Jacob-Engelken, who later in life worked as an architect and supported Jewish causes.[4] After he returned from the Soviet Union, Brigitta learned from her maternal grandmother that Brigitta's mother was Jewish, making Brigitta Jewish as well (according to Jewish tradition). Misch refused to acknowledge it.[4]

Nazi career[edit]

In 1937, Misch joined the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), the predecessor to the Waffen-SS. The SS-VT trained alongside Hitler's personal bodyguard unit, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH).[2] Misch was badly wounded while negotiating the surrender of Polish troops during the Battle of Modlin. For this act he was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class. As Misch was the last living member of his Lower Silesian family, his company leader recommended him for the Führerbegleitkommando (FBK). This was made up of SS members, including men from the LSSAH who no longer had to serve on the front lines.[5]

Misch was transferred to the LSSAH. As a junior member of Hitler's permanent bodyguard, Misch travelled with Hitler throughout the war.[2] When not serving as a bodyguard, Misch and the others in the unit served as telephone operators, couriers, orderlies, valets, and waiters.[5][6] On 16 January 1945, following the Wehrmacht's defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, Misch and the rest of Hitler's personal staff moved into the Führerbunker in Berlin. He did not leave it for any significant period of time until the war ended in May 1945. Misch handled all of the direct communication from the bunker.

Hitler committed suicide on 30 April. Misch witnessed the discovery of the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun,[2] and was present (in the bunker complex) during the time when Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda poisoned their six young children and committed suicide on 1 May 1945.[2][6] Misch and mechanic Johannes Hentschel, two of the last people remaining in the bunker, exchanged letters to their wives in case anything happened to either of them. Misch fled the bunker on 2 May only hours before the Red Army seized it.[6] He was captured shortly thereafter. Misch was brought to the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, where he was tortured in an attempt to extract information regarding Hitler's exact fate.[1][7] Misch spent nine years in Soviet forced labour camps.[2][6]

Later life[edit]

After his release from captivity in 1953, Misch returned to Berlin, arriving home on New Year's Eve 1953, where he lived 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) from the Führerbunker.[2][4] Following the rediscovery of the bunker in the 1990s, Misch stated publicly that the bunker complex should not be completely destroyed, being an important part of world history.

Misch struggled for several years with what to do with his life after captivity. He was offered various odd jobs, among others as a bodyguard and as a driver. While he entertained these offers, which for the most part were through his wartime contacts, all early offers would entail moving away from Berlin, which his wife refused unconditionally. He finally obtained credit backed by wealthy German philanthropists to buy out a painting and wallpaper business from a retiree in Berlin.[8] He ran this modest business successfully, and during the early Allied occupation of Berlin also became involved in the making of peanut butter for American troops.[citation needed] This sideline became so successful that he considered leaving painting. His wife intervened and he remained in the painting business until retirement. His memoir in German, Der letzte Zeuge (The Last Witness), was published in 2008.[9]

With the deaths of Bernd von Freytag-Loringhoven on 27 February 2007, Armin Lehmann on 10 October 2008, and Siegfried Knappe on 1 December 2008, Misch became the last survivor of the Führerbunker.[2][10] Misch was loyal to Hitler to the end, saying "He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman", "...very normal. Not like what is written", and "He was a wonderful boss".[2]

After the release of the 2004 German film Downfall (Der Untergang) in France, French journalist Nicolas Bourcier interviewed Misch on multiple occasions during 2005. The resulting biography was published in French as J'étais garde du corps d'Hitler 1940–1945 (I was Hitler's bodyguard 1940–1945) in March 2006, ISBN 2253121541. Translations were released in South America, Japan, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Germany in 2006 and 2007.

Misch served as consultant to writer Christopher McQuarrie on the 2008 film Valkyrie, a depiction of the 20 July plot.

Misch lived in Berlin in the same house he moved into when he was released by the Soviets.[2] The house is in the district of Rudow in South Berlin. Misch regularly received visitors who wished to speak to or interview him.[6][11]

Misch died in Berlin on 5 September 2013 at the age of 96.[12][13]

Portrayal in the media[edit]

Rochus Misch has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.[14]

Books[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Bernstein, Adam (8 September 2013). "Rochos Misch, 96. Hitler attendant believed to be last survivor of dictator's bunker". Washington Post. p. C8. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rising, David (6 September 2013). "Hitler Bodyguard Rochus Misch Dies at 96". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  3. ^ Chawkins, Steve (6 September 2013). "Rochus Misch dies at 96; Hitler's bodyguard was unrepentant". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  4. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Steve (4 September 2009). "My father was Hitler's bodyguard". BBC. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  5. ^ a b O'Donnell 1978, p. 101.
  6. ^ a b c d e Rosenberg, Steven (3 September 2009). "I was in Hitler's suicide bunker". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  7. ^ "The Hindu: 'I heard Hitler shoot himself'". Hinduonnet.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  8. ^ Margalit Fox, "Rochus Misch, Bodyguard of Hitler, Is Dead at 96," The New York Times, 2013-09-07, National Edition, page B8.
  9. ^ Misch, Rochus (2008). Der Letzte Zeuge. Munich: Pendo Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3492257350. 
  10. ^ "Last Hitler bodyguard Rochus Misch dies". BBC. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  11. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (2008-12-27). "Cruise, Singer and McQuarrie discuss 'Valkyrie'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  12. ^ "Hitlers Hofstaat : Der letzte Zeuge aus dem Führerbunker ist tot – Nachrichten Geschichte – Zweiter Weltkrieg – DIE WELT". Welt.de. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  13. ^ Adolf Hitler's bodyguard Rochus Misch dies, smh.com.au, 7 September 2013
  14. ^ "Rochus Misch (Character)". IMDb.com. Retrieved May 8, 2008. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]