The telephone used by Adolf Hitler during WWII to issue his most heinous orders has sold at auction for more than $240,000 in the U.S.
The phone, described as "arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time", had originally been recovered from Hitler’s Berlin bunker at the end of the war.
Painted blood red and engraved with the name ‘Adolf Hitler’, along with a crest bearing the Nazi eagle and swastika symbols, the telephone sold in an auction of historic militaria for $243,000 (including buyer’s premium).
"This was not a staid office telephone used to solicit contributions to the party, or to answer polite calls at the Berghof," said the auction house. "This was Hitler’s mobile device of destruction, used in vehicles, trains, his field headquarters, at the Wolf’s Lair, and in the last desperate days deep beneath Berlin.
"It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land, and in the end, destroy his own country and people…with effects that still menacingly reverberate today."
The telephone had belonged to Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner (1896-1977), a highly-decorated British military officer who was sent to Berlin by Field Marshal Montgomery on May 5, 1945 – the day after the German surrender.
Having made contact with the Soviet soldiers who had taken the city, he was given a guided tour of the German Chancellery and Hitler’s personal quarters, where he was presented with the phone as a souvenir.
The phone remained in his collection for decades, before passing down through his family, and had been consigned to auction by his son.
The auction also featured a second memento from Hitler’s quarters given to Rayner during his visit: a porcelain statue of an Alsatian. Made by slave labor at Dachau, and believed to have been a gift to the Führer by Heinrich Himmler, the statue sold for $24,300.