Germany’s peculiar post-World War II identity, stretched uncomfortably between self-awareness and denial, is well-illustrated by Rochus Misch and his relationship to the German media.
Among the last living relics of the Nazi era, the 87-year-old Misch served as bodyguard, courier and telephone operator in the direct service of Adolf Hitler from 1940 to 1945. And recently he’s been rediscovered — the character of Misch is portrayed in Oliver Hirschbiegel and Bernd Eichinger’s movie “Downfall,” nominee for a best foreign-language Oscar and the most talked-about German film of the decade. The film’s impact, both positive and negative, cannot be understated: It’s the first time German cinema has dared to portray Hitler as a complex character rather than a cardboard monster and allowed the fall of the Third Reich to be the stuff of conventional melodrama.
In the film, Misch is depicted only briefly; his status in the bunker was low. But with the death of the few other remaining members of Hitler’s entourage over the past 10 years, he has gained a new significance: He’s now the last living man from the Führerbunker. Still, “The last man from the Führerbunker” has not received quite the level of media attention one would expect in the wake of the hugely successful film. If he is quoted, it is in short sound bites, or he is passed over entirely.
Der Artikel gibt einige Einblicke in die Abläufe im Führerbunker, aber lässt auch vermuten, dass der Interviewte die Vergangenheit durchaus verklärt sieht.