An iconic telephone used by Adolf Hitler during World War II has just sold at a US auction for $243,000 (£195,744).
Auction house Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, USA, described the phone as being ‘arguably the most destructive weapon of all time, which sent millions to their deaths’. Of course, the horrors encountered by so many people on the command of Hitler are well documented and extensive to say the least. Once Hitler and his Nazi soldiers were defeated, many relics were given as gifts to members of the armed forces. This telephone is one such item.
The red Siemen’s phone has been engraved with the Nazi leader’s name and a swastika. Many militaria enthusiasts seem to have a natural fascination with ‘enemy items’, so it is perhaps no surprise that the telephone was sold to a North American buyer. The high price was commanded by the story that comes with it, which is an integral part of the militaria market. The story goes as follows.
The Germans surrendered on 4th May 1945 and the following day British soldier Sir Ralph Rayner was ordered to make contact with the Russian presence in Berlin. He was initially offered a different telephone that had belonged to Eva Braun, but after joking that he preferred red he was offered this Siemen’s telephone. The item was ultimately handed down to his son, Ranulf Raynor, who stated that his father saw the item as ‘a battered remnant of [Hitler’s] defeat’, rather than something that glorifies his actions. He added that his father had never imagined that it would become such an important artifact.
Included with the telephone is a letter confirming it is authentic, as well as a newspaper article with an image of Rayner with the phone.
Another item Rayner acquired was a small dog figurine made by slave labourers at the first German concentration camp, Dachau. Although this camp was originally created to hold political prisoners, it eventually extended its purpose to include forced labour, the holding of foreign prisoners and the imprisonment of Jews. This item sold for $24,300.