A painted red telephone that belonged to Hitler— described as “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time"— sold at an auction on Sunday for $243,000.
The phone, which carries the words “Adolph Hitler” on it in capital letters below a swastika and an eagle, was used to send “million to their deaths around the world,” according to Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md.
With a 40-inch braided cord, the phone had a rotary dial and was just 6 inches wide and tall and shows its age with chipped red paint on the handset. The phone, made by Siemens out of a Bakelite (a type of plastic) body, was designed to be mobile-- the handset needed to be rotated to be removed, to keep it securely on the phone during train travel, for example.
“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,” the auction house said in its description of the item, “used in vehicles, trains, his field headquarters, at the Wolf's Lair...and in the last desperate days deep beneath Berlin.”
The fascinating relic comes originally from a British officer, Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, who died in 1977.
Rayner came into possession of the phone in 1945, during a tour of Hitler’s bunker. “On entering Hitler's private quarters, Rayner was first offered Eva Braun's telephone, but politely declined claiming that his favorite color was red,” the auction house said. “His Russian hosts were pleased to hand him a red telephone…”
The phone sold for $200,000, with a buyer’s premium of 26.5 percent.
Hitler’s phone was not the only item out of his bunker that sold at the auction that day.
The same British officer, Rayner, also took a Porcelain model of an Alsatian dog with its paws crossed with him. The dog model, which was “made by slave labor in Dachau,” according to the auction house, sold for $24,300, including buyer’s premium, to a different person than the buyer who purchased the phone.