Rochus Misch, who spent five years as Adolf Hitler's square-jawed bodyguard, courier, telephone operator and all-around attendant and was widely believed to be the last surviving veteran of the Nazi leader's bunker as the Soviet army closed in on Berlin in 1945, died Thursday. He was 96.
His death in Berlin was confirmed to the Associated Press by Burkhard Nachtigall, who helped Mr. Misch write a best-selling memoir, The Last Witness.
Mr. Misch was serving in the German army when, in 1939, he was shot in the chest during combat in Modlin, Poland. He received a commendation for bravery. During his convalescence, he was selected for duty in the SS as part of the elite guard escorting Hitler.
He rang up commanding generals at the fuhrer's request, welcomed visiting dignitaries, brought hot water bottles at night when Hitler shivered — and he laughed at his jokes. He ended the war as chief of communications, overseeing the bunker switchboard.
Mr. Misch spent years at the core of the Nazi apparatus, but he said he was ignorant of the machinery of death that defined the regime. He described being essentially walled off from news about the mass murder of Jews and the brutality of concentration camps.