Age catching up with Hitler’s last bodyguard
Adolf Hitler’s last surviving bodyguard has stopped responding to the flood of fan mail the 93-year-old receives, citing old age.
Rochus Misch, who uses a walking frame to move around his apartment, told the Berliner Kurier that with the deluge of letters he receives asking for autographs, it was “no longer possible” to reply because of his age.
“They (letters) come from Korea, from Knoxville, Tennessee, from Finland and Iceland – and not one has a bad word to say,” said Misch, who is believed to be the last man alive to have seen Hitler and other top-ranking Nazis in the flesh.
In the past Misch used to send fans autographed copies of wartime photos of himself in a neatly pressed SS uniform, according to Reuters. Now the incoming fan mail, including letters and packages, piles up in his flat in south Berlin’s leafy Rudow neighborhood.
Misch joined the a predecessor of the Waffen-SS in 1937. After the outbreak of World War II, Misch was badly wounded in Poland. As the last surviving member of his family, his company leader recommended him for service in the Führerbegleitkommando, the bodyguard unit that protected Hitler, rather than a return to frontline service.
Misch served as a junior member of Hitler’s permanent bodyguard, traveling with the Nazi leader throughout World War II. When not serving as a bodyguard, Misch and others in the unit served as telephone operators or couriers.
On Jan. 16, 1945, following the German 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 end of the war. Misch handled all of the direct communication from the bunker.
Following the suicides of Hitler and Joseph Goebbels near the war’s end, Misch was one of the last people remaining in the bunker. He had witnessed the discovery of the bodies of Eva Braun and Hitler after their suicide, and was present in the bunker complex during the time the Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children.
Misch fled the bunker on May 2, only hours before the Red Army seized it, but was captured a short time later by Soviet forces. Misch was then tortured as the Soviets attempted to extract information regarding Hitler’s exact fate.
Misch then spent nine years in Soviet labor camps.
His memoirs, “The Last Witness,” were published in 2008 in Germany and are in the works to become a feature film.