The Last Witness Recalls: I Saw Hitler Dead | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 30.04.2005

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The Last Witness Recalls: I Saw Hitler Dead

Rochus Misch still remembers the sight as if it were yesterday: 60 years ago on Saturday he looked through a doorway and saw Adolf Hitler had committed suicide.

Hitler's death came as no surprise, says Misch

Hitler's death came as no surprise, says Misch

Misch, 88, is the only person still alive today to have seen the Nazi leader and his wife Eva Braun dead in their bunker deep under the shattered city of Berlin.

"Hitler was sitting at the table, slumped forward, and Eva Braun was lying next to him. I saw that with my own eyes," Misch told AFP from his home in the German capital. "But we had been expecting it. It didn't come out of the blue. We had been waiting for the end."

On April 30, 1945, with Soviet forces just 300 meters (yards) from the bunker and his armies beaten, Hitler bade farewell to his staff and went into his private rooms. There, the man who had plunged the world into conflict and sent millions of Jews to their deaths in the Holocaust poisoned a willing Braun and shot himself in the head. Historians believe their bodies were then soaked with fuel and burned.

"My work room was opposite the entrance to Hitler's rooms," recalled Misch, who was a 28-year-old staff sergeant in the Nazi SS with responsibility for maintaining the telephone lines in the bunker.

Hitler's suicide no surprise

"I remember that he said goodbye in the corridor and went into the rooms. He said he didn't want to be disturbed. I don't know how long it took, maybe one hour, maybe two. I didn't hear the shots myself because I was working on the telephones. But then I heard someone shout 'Linge, Linge, I think it has happened.' (Heinz Linge was Hitler's servant). We waited maybe 20 minutes. Then we opened the door to his office and the one to the living room. Hitler was sitting at the table, slumped forward, and Eva Braun was lying next to him. It wasn't a surprise. The commanders had all wanted to evacuate Hitler, but he said no, he was staying in Berlin."

Nine days later Germany surrendered and the guns of World War II fell quiet in Europe.

Filmszene - Der Untergang

Scene from "The Downfall" with Juliane Köhler (Eva Braun), Bruno Ganz (Adolf Hitler) and Heino Ferch (Albert Speer)

Hitler's final days were portrayed in great detail in "The Downfall," a big-budget German film which came out in Germany last September and has been a success worldwide. But despite having cooperated with the director Oliver Hirschbiegel on the making of the film, Misch now says it was riddled with inaccuracies.

Not like in the movies

"It was just operetta, dramatic operetta. That is how the Americans wanted the death of Hitler to look," Misch said.

He said one of the biggest mistakes in reconstructions of the suicide is to show Hitler's bunker as a giant complex of rooms.

Führerbunker als Parkplatz in Berlin

Nothing in this parking lot in central Berlin recalls the bunker, once underneath, where Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide

"People confuse the Führer's bunker with the upper bunker or the bunker at the Reichs Chancellery. In fact the bunker we were in was so small. We were not a whole company, there were just five people. Only five of us could have witnessed the death, no more."

The site stands today a few hundred meters from the glitzy shopping center and office complex which now fills Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin. There is no plaque to mark the location.

On May 10, a national monument to the victims of the Holocaust will open just a few steps from the spot where Hitler ended his life.

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