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Rochus Misch and the Death of Hitler.

July 29, 2017

misch

Rochus Misch would have been 100 years old today.  This is not an anniversary to celebrate especially, and Misch is not particularly worth commemorating.  He wasn’t a war criminal in the sense of making executive genocidal decisions, but he was the loyal functionary of a genocidal regime.

From 1940 onwards, he was close to Adolf Hitler, serving as bodyguard, switchboard operator, and general factotum.  He stayed close until the final moments.

He became moderately famous in old age as one of the last survivors (and then very last survivor) of Hitler’s bunker and he made ample use of this fame to appear on as many documentaries as he could.  He never denounced his old boss and appears to have been a loyal Hitler supporter to the end of his days.

After the deaths of Hitler, Braun and the Goebbels family, he was one of the last to try to escape from the bunker.  Captured and identified, Misch was taken to the Soviet Union and interrogated by the NKVD, repeatedly, using methods that can only be described as “very thorough”.  Stalin was prone to indulge paranoid fantasies involving ways and means whereby the western allies might have been complicit in facilitating Hitler’s escape.  He was desperate to extort some testimony from the bunker prisoners that might corroborate those fantasies.  No such account emerged from any of the prisoners.  They all presented basically the same account, no matter how many times they were asked or how may painful ways they were asked to present it.

In 1953, after Stalin’s death, Misch was repatriated to West Berlin.  Over the course of decades, he learned to exploit the fame his almost unique perspective conferred.  You will have seen him on television many times.  He was a major source for the Downfall movie.  He was a petty and vain individual who relished attention.  It is reported that when he was a very old Berliner, well into the twenty-first century, if he saw visitors clearly trying to identify the site of the bunker he would jump up and say

“Hello! Hello! Don’t you know me?” … “I’m Misch! I was there!”

The only point to remembering someone like Misch is his value as a witness.  And it’s notable that having failed to change his story under Soviet custody, he equally failed to change his story, when every financial inducement was available from investigative western journalists.  If Misch had had any evidence that Hitler had someone grabbed hold of a plane trip to South America – then he would have had countless opportunities to present that evidence.

I regard Misch as a fairly decisive way of refuting the Hunting Hitler conspiracy theorists. He was a dull, unimaginative and self-interested man – someone with every interest in telling powerful people what they want to hear.  And if someone like Misch continually asserts that he saw Hitler’s dead body in the bunker at the end of April in 1945, I can think of no explanation for him continually saying it other than the fact that that’s actually what happened.

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