Hitler’s phone used to order death of millions up for auction
Hitler is said to have travelled everywhere with the red telephone.
The item, described as “virtually unequalled in historical importance,” was recovered from the ‘Fuhrerbunker’ beneath Berlin.
Among the last calls he made on the phone was one in which he ordered the execution of his brother-in-law, General Hermann Fegelein, for treason. Another was made to instruct his aides to torch his apartments once he and his wife, Eva Braun, had committed suicide.
The phone was recovered by a British officer, Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, who arrived at the hidden bunker shortly after Hitler’s suicide in April of 1945 as Russian forces approached.
After the war, he brought the phone, engraved with a swastika and Hitler’s name, back to the UK hidden in a suitcase, as he was afraid he’d be accused of ‘looting,’ from which British troops were forbidden under penalty of court martial.
Before his death in 1977, Rayner passed the phone on to his son, Ranulf Rayner, who has now decided to sell it in the hope it is put on display as a reminder of the terrible crimes carried out by the Nazis.
Auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s have a policy of not dealing in Nazi memorabilia. Rayner said the phone has been rejected by British museums, including the Imperial War Museum.
The phone is being sold in the US by Alexander Historical Auctions of Maryland later this month.