Adolf Hitler’s “sinister” blood-red telephone – on which he ordered the deaths of millions of Jews – is up for grabs at auction, where it may fetch more than $500,000.
For the hefty phone bill, a buyer would acquire a Nazi memento being touted as “virtually unequaled in historical importance,” the Mirror of the UK reported.
Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, a British officer, recovered the phone in the Fuhrer’s Berlin bunker, shortly after Hitler and wife Eva Braun committed suicide as Russian forces approached in April 1945. Hitler ordered his aides set fire to the premises after the suicides, leaving the phone with still-visible scorch marks.
Rayner was sent by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to meet his Russian counterparts in Berlin and was gifted the battered phone, which he hid in a suitcase and took back to the UK.
Fearing charges of looting, he refused to talk about the souvenir for decades, storing the Siemens-made Bakelite device in a safe at his home in Dawlish, Devon.
“I remember him returning from Germany with Hitler’s ‘hotline’ red telephone hidden in his suitcase,” said Rayner’s son Ranulf, who was gifted the phone before his father, who went on to become a member of Parlia , died in 1977. “Apart from proudly showing these two war trophies to his immediate family on his return, he didn’t mention them again for many years.”
Hitler — whose name and a swastika are engraved on the phone — also used it to order the execution of his brother-in-law, Gen. Hermann Fegelein, for treason.
Adolf Hitler in Munich in the spring of 1932.Getty Images
“This was Hitler’s personal instrument of death,” continued Ranulf, 82. “It is a very sinister piece of equipment, when you think about what it was used for. He would have used it extensively to scream brutal orders to those running the concentration camps and to his generals on the battlefield.
“The orders Hitler shouted down the phone’s mouthpiece, many of which are recorded in history, are a lesson we should never forget,” he added.
The phone is being auctioned Feb. 19 by Alexander Historical Auctions, based in Chesapeake City, Md.
“When Mr. Rayner first called and described the phone and the story behind it, I almost fell off my chair,” auctioneer Bill Panagopulos said. “It stopped me dead. This phone is as significant an item, in terms of historical importance, as I have ever come across relating to Hitler.
“When you consider what this was used for, this is remarkable. It is arguably the most destructive weapon of all time,” he added. “He would have used it to order that Stalingrad must be held at all costs, and to launch the deadly V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks on Britain.”
In 1990, Ranulf tracked down Hitler’s switchboard operator, Rochus Misch, who confirmed the phone’s authenticity.
A porcelain Alsatian dog taken from the bunker also is being auctioned. It is expected to fetch about $35,000.