Hitler's last surviving bodyguard stops replying to fan mail

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 04:40 hrs

London, Jan 28 (IANS) German dictator Adolf Hitler's last surviving bodyguard, now 93 years old who receives a lot of letters for the position he served, has now given up on responding to fan mail, because of his old age.

Rochus Misch was by the German leader's side for five years and even saw the Fuehrer after he committed suicide as the Russian tanks closed in. He is thought to be the last remaining member of the group who hid in that famous Berlin bunker.

Misch's proximity to Hitler caused him to become a celebrity and his character appeared in a number of films.

He was even consulted by Christopher McQuarrie, the writer who made 'Valkyrie', the 2008 film about an assassination attempt on Hitler's life, the Daily Mail reported.

However, Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, who starred in the film, was not keen to talk with Misch and told the Los Angeles Times: 'I didn't want to meet him. Evil is still evil, I don't care how old you are.'

But the former bodyguard has a cult following. However, at the age of 93 and using a walking frame to move around, he can no longer deal with all the mail.

He told the Berliner Kurier newspaper that, with most of the letters he receives asking for autographs, it was no longer possible to reply because of his age.

'(The letters) come from Korea, from Knoxville, Tennessee, from Finland and Iceland - and not one has a bad word to say,' said Misch.

Misch travelled with Hitler from bunker to bunker during the Second World War. On Jan 16, 1945, following Germany's defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, Misch and the rest of Hitler's personal staff moved into the Fuehrerbunker in Berlin.

He was not to leave it for any significant period of time until the end of the war and handled all of the direct communication from the bunker. He saw Hitler's body after his suicide and then fled the bunker before being captured by the Red Army - but he was released in 1954 and has lived in Berlin ever since.

Misch told BBC last year: 'My first meeting with Hitler was rather strange. I'd been in the job 12 days when Hitler's chief adjutant 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.'

'In the Fuehrer's entourage, strictly speaking, we were bodyguards. When Hitler was travelling, between four and six of us would accompany him in a second car.'

'But when we were at Hitler's apartment in the Chancellery we also had other duties. Two of us would always work as telephone operators. With a boss like Hitler, there were always plenty of phone calls.'

Through his position his fame rose, and in the past Misch used to send fans autographed copies of wartime photos of him in a neatly pressed uniform.

Now the incoming fan mail, including letters and packages, piles up in his flat in south Berlin, less than two kilometres from the Fuehrerbunker.

His memoirs - 'The Last Witness' - were published in 2008 and are in the works to become a feature film.

In 2005, French journalist Nicolas Bourcier interviewed Misch multiple times. The resulting biography was published in French as 'J'etais garde du corps d'Hitler 1940-1945' (French for 'I was Hitler's bodyguard').