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Graf was an amateur wrestler and a butcher's apprentice, and became Hitler's personal bodyguard from 1920 to 1923. He was present at the Beer Hall Putsch, where, with Rudolf Hess, he cleared Hitler's way to the platform. During the subsequent march through Munich, Hitler, Erich Ludendorff, and their followers were blocked by about a hundred armed police outside the Feldherrnhalle. Graf stepped forward and shouted "Don't shoot! His excellency Ludendorff is coming." There was nevertheless gunfire, and fourteen Nazis and four police officers were killed. (Two supporters had been killed earlier at the War Ministry). Graf shielded Hitler with his body, received several bullet wounds, and possibly saved Hitler's life. Graf recovered, and rejoined the Nazi Party after Hitler was freed from prison. By the time Hitler came to power, he was a Sturmbannführer in Heinrich Himmler's SS--equivalent to a major in the Wehrmacht.
In 1936, Graf was elected to the Reichstag. In 1937, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Oberführer, and on 20 April 1943, Hitler's birthday, became an SS-Brigadeführer. On Graf's birthday, 3 July 1943, he received a book from Himmler, Vogt Bartold: The Long Train to the East, signed by Himmler, thanking Graf for saving Hitler's life 20 years earlier.
In 1948, Graf was sentenced to five years hard labor and died in March 1950.
- Heiden: Hitler: a Biography
- Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich