Adolf Hitler’s personal telephone is up for sale at a Maryland auction house.
The phone was recovered from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin by British officer Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner in 1945 and has been maintained ever since in a leather case.
"I was contacted by a gentlemen in England whose father brought this home from Hitler's bunker in Berlin. It was given to him by Russian soldiers there when he went to meet with them about establishing communications between England and Russia," said Bill Panagopulos, owner of Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md.
The black Bakelite rotary phone was made by Siemens and later painted red. A swastika, eagle and Adolf Hitler’s name are engraved on the back.
"Beside Eva Braun's bed was a black telephone, which was very appropriate as a gift as a trophy of war, but my father refused it because he knew and he saw that Hitler had a red telephone by his bed and he loved the color red," said Ranulf Rayner, son of Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner.
Hitler reportedly used it like a mobile phone and took it with him when he traveled to various command posts.
"The handset will not come off the cradle without being tilted, in other words it wouldn't shake off in the command vehicle. Also, it's most interesting that the cable here had looped ends to it that meant he could be plugged in wherever Hitler went," said Rayner. "Hitler's personal telephonist, who died in Berlin only a few years ago, confirmed that this was Hitler's personal telephone for the last two years of his life."
Rayner said he would like the phone to go to a museum or institution where the public can view it. Panagopulos called it a piece of history and real evidence of crimes Hitler committed.
"This is easily the most destructive weapon of World War II," Panagopulos said. "Hitler would've used this piece to give orders to send men to various parts of the eastern front, possibly the destruction of Warsaw, the defense of Berlin. This phone certainly relayed orders that led to the deaths of perhaps several million people, innocents, soldiers, all kinds of people. So that being the case, it is a weapon and it's a weapon of mass destruction. It's a piece of criminal evidence."
Also from the bunker and up for auction, is a porcelain Alsatian made in a concentration camp. According to the description on the auction website, the dog statue was "made by slave labor at Dachau and almost certainly personally presented to Hitler by Heinrich Himmler."
"It's just as evocative as the telephone I think and frightening," Panagopulos said.
The phone is estimated to sell for $200,000 to $300,000 when it goes up for auction on Feb. 19.
“This was not a staid office telephone used to solicit contributions to the party, or to answer polite calls at the Berghof...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,” Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md. said in the phone’s online description.
For more information on the auction and the other 1,300 items up for sale February 18-19, click here.