September 4, 2009
The BBC marked the anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany with a story about the last survivor of the bunker in which Adolph Hitler killed himself.
The survivor is Rochus Misch, 92, a resident of Berlin, who was an SS officer serving as a body guard, a telephone operator, and a messenger. The report included an interview with Misch’s daughter, Brigitta Jacob-Engelken, who recalls the day in 1953 when her father returned from the gulag where the Soviets had confined him after the Red Army invaded Berlin. The homecoming was joyful, but father and daughter didn’t get along.
Their relationship wasn’t improved when Brigitta’s maternal grandmother informed her that her mother — Misch’s wife — had been Jewish, something Misch refused to accept.
Brigitta accepted it, learned Hebrew, spent time on a kibbutz, and used her architectural talents to help restore synagogues in Germany.
She says she doesn’t hold her father’s wartime role against him, because the work he did was “harmless.” “Harmless,” of course, was a relative term during the Nazi era. Compared to ordering and carrying out the deaths of tens of millions of defenseless people, protecting the life of the worst dictator in history may seem mild.
Misch didn’t talk about his place in Hitler’s inner circle for many years, but now he discusses it freely — including his first view of the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun.
The BBC stories are at this link: