The last witness to Adolf Hitler’s death has revealed what happened in the Fuhrer’s final moments as well as clues as to his relationship with wife Eva Braun and the truth behind Rudolf Hess’s peace mission to the UK.
Hitler’s personal bodyguard Rochus Misch has also offered an intimate look into the private lives of the German dictator and those close to him.
Candid pictures show Hitler and Eva Braun, among others, relaxing on the terrace at the Berghof residence, inside one of Hitler’s many studies and homes and Misch standing guard.
The details of Hitler’s last minutes and other details about his private life have been revealed in Rochus Misch’s, who died in 2013, book, Hitler’s Last Witness, which is available to English readers for the first time and is published by Pen and Sword.
“On 30 April 1945, Rochus Misch was at the switchboard in Hitler’s bunker,” said the book’s commissioning editor, Martin Mace.
“He received the message from General Wilhelm Keitel that he had failed to break the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, and that the end was both close at hand and inevitable.
“Shortly afterwards, Misch heard Hitler talking quietly to Bormann and others. He looked and saw Hitler walk into his study, Eva, now Mrs Hitler, followed him in. He saw Otto Günsche, the Führer’s adjutant, close the door behind the newly married couple.
“Güsche told Misch that the ‘boss’ was not to be disturbed. Hitler shook hands with Günsche and told him that all soldiers were released from their oath of loyalty. Hitler had already told his adjutant that he did not want his body to be publicly abused as Mussolini’s had been and that he wanted his corpse to be burned.
“This had already been arranged by Günsche with an SS Reichssicherheitsdienst man who assisted Misch on the switchboard. Everyone in the bunker waited nervously. Then there was some commotion.
“The study door was opened and Misch looked inside: ‘My glance fell first on Eva. She was seated with her legs drawn up, her head inclined towards Hitler. Her shoes were under the sofa. Near her … the dead Hitler. His eyes were open and staring, his head had fallen forward slightly.’”
After being seriously wounded in the 1939 Polish campaign, Rochus Misch was invited to join Hitler’s SS bodyguard. There he served until the war’s end as Hitler’s bodyguard, courier, orderly and finally as Chief of Communications.
From his close contact with the German dictator Misch could observe many things and believed Hitler and Eva Braun were lovers long before it was revealed.
“For instance, Eva was introduced to staff and visitors as the ‘housekeeper’ at the Berghof,” said Mr Mace.
“But her room and Hitler’s had private communicating doors. ‘One soon had one’s own ideas about this’, Misch commented.
“He also saw Eva in ‘a flimsy nightie’ in the guest room when he was on his way to deliver some despatches to Hitler. Eva put her finger to her mouth to tell Misch to say nothing.
“Misch shot out of the room, fully expecting to be dismissed from Hitler’s bodyguard (or worse!) but Eva, seemingly, said nothing to Hitler about it.
“He also states that he heard both Eva and Magada Goebbels declare their determination to die with their respective men. ‘We have lived with them. We shall die with them,’ they said.”
Misch also confirmed that Rudolf Hess did not have Hitler’s permission to go to the UK to negotiate terms of surrender.
“He saw how the news was given to Hitler by Hess’s adjutant, Karl-Heinz Pintsch as Hess had arranged,” said Mr Mace.
“Hitler was outraged, tirelessly repeating to himself: ‘Why did he do this to me?’ Anyone who had knowledge of Hess’s flight to Britain was arrested and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
“There can be no doubt, therefore, that Hess did not have Hitler’s permission to go to the UK.”