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article imageHitler’s suicide bunker: sole survivor gives first-hand account

By Kay Mathews     Sep 3, 2009 in World
When Adolf Hitler committed suicide at the Führerbunker in 1945, SS Oberscharfuehrer Rochus Misch was there. Misch, 92, is the sole survivor of Hitler’s inner circle present at the “death bunker” that day.
Rochus Misch, 92, sat down with Steven Rosenberg of BBC News, Berlin and shared a first-hand account of what it was like to be at Hitler’s bunker on the day the Fuehrer committed suicide.
In the Sept. 3 BBC story, Misch tells Rosenberg that he was part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle for five years. Misch served as a courier, bodyguard, and telephone operator for Hitler. Misch described to BBC how he first met Hitler:
My first meeting with Hitler was rather strange. I’d been in the job 12 days when Hitler’s chief adjutant, a man called Bruckner, started asking me questions about my grandmother, about my childhood. Then he got up and walked towards the door. Being an obedient soldier, I flung myself forward to open it, and there was Hitler standing right behind the door. I felt cold. Then I felt hot. I felt every emotion standing there opposite Hitler.
Misch was a bodyguard to Hitler when the Fuehrer was traveling, but once settled-in at the destination, Misch would serve as a telephone operator. Mish told BBC news, “Two of us would always work as telephone operators. With a boss like Hitler, there were always plenty of phone calls.”
The Allies were advancing in January of 1945 and Hitler, along with his entourage, eventually made their way to the Führerbunker (the “Führer's shelter" or “Führer's bunker") in Berlin. At the Berlin bunker, Misch served as a telephone operator and he described to the BBC what it was like there:
I worked in a small room with a telephone and teletype machine with outside lines. There was only enough room to shelter one extra person in my room in the event of an air raid. The bunker really wasn’t that big. It contained small rooms of only 10 to 12 square metres.
Misch is sole survivor of the Hitler bunker, and according to the BBC, “the final witness of the drama that took place there on 30 April 1945. It was the day Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.”
Misch told the BBC that others began shouting after hearing a gunshot, but Misch did not hear it. While others were whispering, Misch said, “I was speaking on the telephone and I made sure I talked louder on purpose because I wanted to hear something. I didn’t want it to feel like we were in a death bunker,” he told the BBC.
The next events witnessed by Misch seem to be very clear in his 92-year-old mind. He told the BBC:
Then Bormann ordered Hitler’s door to be opened. I saw Hitler slumped with his head on the table. Eva Braun was lying on the sofa, with her head towards him. Her knees were drawn tightly up to her chest. She was wearing a dark blue dress with white frills. I will never forget it.
The Red Army seized the bunker, but Misch had already fled. The Red Army captured him and he spent nine years in Soviet labor camps.
Rosenberg asked Misch if he “knew about the horrors that Adolf Hitler had unleashed across Europe. Did he know about the Holocaust?” Misch told Rosenberg:
I knew about Dachau camp and about concentration camps in general. But I had no idea of the scale. It wasn’t part of our conversations. The Nuremberg Trial dealt with crimes committed by the Germans. But you must remember there was never a war when crimes weren’t committed, and there never will be.
The story by Rosenberg is part of a BBC series acknowledging Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany 70 years ago today.
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