Rochus Misch, who served as Adolf Hitler's bodyguard for most of World War II, has died aged 96.
Misch died in Berlin yesterday following a short illness, Burkhard Nachtigall, who helped him ghostwrite his 2008 memoir, told the Associated Press today.
Misch, who was one of the last people in the German leader's bunker as Soviet forces descended upon Berlin in 1945, described Hitler as "a very normal man" and "a wonderful boss."
ITV News correspondent Paul Davies reports:
In an interview with ITV News in 1985, the former SS man spoke about the Nazi leader's last moments.
Misch said he was about to get something to eat inside Hitler's bunker when he heard a shot fired.
Speaking to the Associated Press in a 2005 interview, Misch said of Hitler, "He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no Superman."
Misch told the news agency, "I lived with him for five years. We were the closest people who worked with him ... we were always there. Hitler was never without us day and night."
He insisted that he knew nothing of the murder of six million Jews and that Hitler never brought up the Final Solution in his presence.
"That was never a topic," he said emphatically. "Never."
Born July 29, 1917, in the Silesian town of Alt Schalkowitz, in what is Poland today, Misch was orphaned at an early age.
At the age of 20, Misch decided to join the SS and signed up for the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, a unit that was founded to serve as Hitler's personal protection.
Misch and his comrade Johannes Hentschel accompanied Hitler almost everywhere he went - including his Alpine retreat in Berchtesgaden and his "Wolf's Lair" headquarters.