Adolf Hitler’s telephone was sold at auction in the United States on Sunday for $243,000. The winning bid was made by phone but the name of the bidder has not been released.
The phone was presented to Hitler by the Wehrmacht and was used by the Nazi leader to issue most of his commands during the last two years of World War II, according to a description in the catalog for Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland.
The phone was recovered from the Fuhrerbunker in 1945 and has been kept in a box in an English country house ever since.
Made by Siemens as a black Bakelite phone, it was later painted red and engraved with Hitler’s name and a swastika, the catalog says.
The auction house describes the telephone as “Hitler’s mobile device of destruction” and called it “arguably the most destructive ‘weapon’ of all time, which sent millions to their deaths around the world.”
British officer Ralph Rayner recovered the phone from Hitler’s bunker while visiting Berlin on the orders of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery just a few days after the end of the war, according to Rayner’s personal account and shipping documents from that time period, according to the auction house.
His son Ranulf Rayner, 82, inherited the phone after his father’s death in 1977. “My father didn’t see it as a relic of Hitler’s glory days, more a battered remnant of his defeat, a sort of war trophy,” he told CNN. “He never thought it would become an important artifact.”