Hitler's Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler's Bodyguard by Rosch Misch
After being seriously wounded in the 1939 Polish campaign, Rochus Misch was invited to join Hitler's SS-bodyguard. There he served until the wars end as Hitler’s bodyguard, courier, orderly and finally as Chief of Communications.
On the Berghoff terrace he watched Eva Braun organize parties; observed Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer; and monitored telephone conversations from Berlin to the East Prussian Headquarters on 20 July 1944 after the attempt on Hitler's life. Towards the end Misch was drawn into the Fuhrerbunker with the last of the faithful. As defeat approached, he remained in charge of the bunker switchboard as his duty required, even after Hitler committed suicide.
Misch knew Hitler as the private man and his position was one of unconditional loyalty. His memoirs offer an intimate view of life in close attendance to Hitler and of the endless hours deep inside the bunker; and provide new insights into military events such as Hitler’s initial feelings that the 6th Army should pull out of Stalingrad. Shortly before he died Misch wrote a new introduction for this English-language edition.
Born in 1917, Rochus Misch was recruited into Hitler’s SS-bodyguard in 1940. He served as a bodyguard, courier and telephonist for five years. After Hitler’s death he was held in Russian captivity for nine years. He died in 2013.
Hitler's Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler's Bodyguard 4.8 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of Hitler's Last Witness, by Rochus Misch, from NetGalley. In exchange, I offer this, my fair and honest review.
Few people had ready access to the Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler. Few who did lived to tell stories of the man and his actions from the inside. Rochus Misch, a member of Hitler’s staff and later, in charge of the telephones where Hitler stayed from time to time, was the last surviving member of this small group.
Misch tells his story of how he came to his position. He insists throughout that he knew nothing, and heard nothing, of the millions of deaths in the concentration camps while serving Hitler. Indeed, he writes that he only ever saw one report on the camps, and that from an International Red Cross report that “contained nothing disturbing.” At the outset, I found this idea . . . highly difficult to believe. Yet, when I read Misch’s story, I found he was able to reiterate the smallest of details of Hitler’s daily life and moves, yet he seemed rather uninterested in larger affairs. His concerns were simply to “do his job” for the Third Reich, and not to cross any lines that might get him in trouble as he had seen others do, only to find themselves on the front line—or killed. He barely noticed when a colleague “went away” (which meant he went to a concentration camp or was sent to the front). One example was of a guard who, failing to keep a mosquito from Hitler, was sent packing. For his part, Misch stuck to the rules. He wouldn’t even dance with Eva Braun when Hitler was away and she threw a spontaneous party, because “she was the Fuhrer’s girl.”
It was the little details of Germany before and during WWII, of the lives of Hitler and his associates that I found most intriguing in this read. I noted Misch’s descriptions of the places where they stayed, of the people and personalities of Hitler and his associates, and the “rules” the staff followed so as not to bother “the boss” (such as not to wear boots that made “deep impressions on the thick carpet”). (Really?)
Risch met Hitler’s siblings (and half-siblings), Eva Braun, and so many others. He tells of how Hitler and Eva Braun acted publicly (that he never saw any intimacies between them, nor did his colleagues) and of their last hours together when the two were married. Does it matter to anyone that Hitler knew all his staff on sight and by name, or that he had a “first-class” memory, or that he rarely showed anger? Does it matter that he knew who would attend a dinner? That he never carried a weapon or that those who surrounded him often did—and that it seems he had no fear of that? Does it matter that Misch never saw Hitler laugh out loud? That the Fuhrer had a favorite dog—Blondie—who performed tricks for him? That he joked about always being the last to know anything that was going on around him? That he had poor vision, but did not want others to know because he thought it showed weakness? Does it matter that we know the type of car Hitler preferred to ride in? Or that he liked to bowl or to watch films? Perhaps not. From an historical perspective, Hitler is a monster. But Misch’s account does show that even monstrous people are—people. This “humanizing “ does not make Hitler a sympathetic character, but it does show me what people can be capable of doing.
More than 1 year ago
Rochus Mish's story reminded me of what I observed throughout my 46 year career working in the Nuclear Industry both as a Federal & contract employee.
1. People in power maneuvering for more and not caring who they stepped on.
2. What was considered an ideal employee in the Third Reich, never questioning one's boss, being careful to always say the right thing, being aware that there are severe penalties for even a small misstep & try to get along with everyone!
Hopefully, many who read this will realize that we are all human and face making choices that we may later regret.
As far as I'm concerned, The only reason most Americans would look down on Herr Misch, would be due to the fact that Germany lost WW-II!
It is my hope that young people who read this will learn from what happened, and make some wise choices in their careers!
More than 1 year ago
This book deals more with the personal side of Hitler and the people around him daily. Found it very interesting.
More than 1 year ago
A very unique view of the Third Reich. Insights into Hitler as a man and leader of Germany during WWII.
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