A telephone owned and used by Adolph Hitler, considered to be his personal instrument of death during the Second World War is to be auctioned in America next month.
The chipped, red, rotary, bakelite telephone which has an engraving of an eagle, a swastika and Hitler’s name stamped onto it is being auctioned by Alexander Historical Auctions, after its British owner failed to find a museum in the UK willing to take it on.
The handset was taken right from the German leader’s bunker following the capture of Berlin in 1945 and is expected to fetch at least $500,000 (£400,000). from a specialist collector.
Adolph Hitler apparently used it so regularly that he took it with him when traveling around Germany during the last two years of the war.
The telephone was removed from the bunker in which Adolph 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.
Brigadier Rayner having retrieved it from the scene of Hitler’s death, 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.
His son Major Ranulf Rayner who is now 82 years old has decided to sell the one-of-a-kind artifact in the hope that it can go on display as a reminder of the atrocities carried out by the Nazis.
Ranulf, is auctioning the telephone off because the insurance costs for it have become too great. He believes it is a very sinister piece of equipment saying Adolph Hitler would have used it to scream brutal orders to those running the concentration camps, to his generals on the battlefield, and everything in between.
After the phone was rejected by British museums, including the Imperial War Museum, Ranulf turned to America, with the hopes that a museum will purchase it and preserve it for posterity.
While most people might shy away from items owned by history’s most notorious war criminal, especially such as this phone which is one of the most macabre historical pieces in the world, some like an off-beat, creepy vibe with their collectibles. And there’s no denying that this is an important piece of history.
In recent years, several items connected to the Nazi leader have been sold off to collectors for thousands of dollars.
Last year, Alexander Historical Auctions sold Adolph Hitler’s personal copy of his autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” which was captured by an American field artillery unit during World War II, for $20,655. The auction house also sold one of Hitler’s rings several years ago for more than $60,000.
In November, a pair of underwear belonging to Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun, sold for more than $3,000. Reports said a UK auction house sold other personal items belonging to Braun, including black and white photographs featuring the dictator.
In 2015, a collection of 14 paintings and drawings made by Adolph Hitler went for $440,000 at a German auction.