Rochus Misch, Adolf Hitler's former bodyguard and one of the last people to see the Nazi leader alive, has died aged 96.

The former SS man died in Berlin following a short illness, his biographer Burkhard Nachtigall confirmed.

Misch was one of the last people in the German leader's bunker as Soviet forces descended upon Berlin in 1945.

He remained loyal to the Fuhrer for years during the Nazi era, affectionately referring to Hitler as "boss". In an interview in 2005, he remained unapologetic about his relationship with most reviled man of the 20th century.

"He was no brute. He was no monster. He was no superman," Misch said.

"We were the closest people who worked with him, we were always there. Hitler was never without us day and night."

When asked about Hitelr's Final Solution which resulted in the death of six million Jews, Misch always denied knowledge of the plans.

"That was never a topic," he said. "Never."

Loyal to the death

Misch and his comrade Johannes Hentschel stayed behind in the underground bunker in Berlin in which Hitler lived out his final hours.

"Hentschel ran the lights, air and water and I did the telephones - there was nobody else," he said. "When someone would come downstairs we couldn't even offer them a place to sit. It was far too small."

Misch recalled how on 22 April 1945, two days before two Soviet armies completed their encirclement of the city, Hitler said, "That's it. The war is lost. Everybody can go."

"Everyone except those who still had jobs to do like us - we had to stay," he added. "The lights, water, telephone ... those had to be kept going, but everybody else was allowed to go and almost all were gone immediately."

When the war was over, Misch spent nine years in a Soviet prisoner of war camp before being allowed to return to Germany. He later set up a shop with his wife in Berlin.