Adolf Hitler’s phone, which the Nazi leader used to demand the deaths of millions of Jews and scream his last instructions as the Russians closed in on his bunker, is set to fetch $500,000 at auction.
The red Bakelite telephone has an engraving of an eagle, a swastika and Hitler’s name stamped onto it. The dictator apparently used it so regularly that he took it with him when travelling around Germany during the last two years of the war.
It was removed from the bunker in which Hitler committed suicide in April 1945 by British Army officer Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner and is thought to be one of the few possessions to have survived his aides’ attempt to destroy his apartments following his death. It has spent the last seven decades locked in a safe in England.
Having retrieved it from the scene of Hitler’s death, Brigadier Rayner took the telephone back to England and, aware that British troops caught looting faced a court martial, hid it. Before he died in 1977, he gave the phone to his son, retired Army officer Major Ranulf Rayner. Now 82, Major Rayner has decided to sell it in the hope that it can go on display as a reminder of the atrocities carried out by the Nazis.
Major Rayner said: “This was Hitler’s personal instrument of death. It is a very sinister piece of equipment when you think about what it was used for. He would have used it to scream brutal orders to those running the concentration camps, to his generals on the battlefield, and everything in between.”
Auction houses including Sotheby’s and Christie’s have a policy of not dealing in Nazi memorabilia. Major Rayner said that the phone was rejected by British museums, including the Imperial War Museum, so he has turned to America.
The phone is being sold by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland next month with an estimated sale price of at least $500,000.