A US auction house is selling one of Adolf Hitler's telephones at an estimated cost of $200,000 to $300,000. The auction house said bidding would start at $100,000 this weekend.
Russian officers occupying Berlin in 1945 gave the phone to Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner during a visit to Hitler's Berlin bunker, said Bill Panagopulos of Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Maryland. It had been found in the Holocaust mastermind's infamous bunker upon Germany's defeat.
Originally a black Bakelite phone, it was later painted crimson. Rayner's son is now selling the phone with a Nazi party symbol and Hitler's name engraved on the back.
Panagopulos said the phone is a "weapon of mass destruction," noting that the orders Hitler gave over the phone "had taken many lives."
"People who see it really understand what extreme fascist thinking can bring about," Panagopulos said.
The auction house said the handset of the phone must be rotated almost 60 degrees before it can be lifted out of its cradle for use, according to an online catalog. The feature kept the handset from shaking loose while being transported in vehicles and trains as well as Hitler's field headquarters and in his so-called "Wolf's Lair" on the Eastern Front.
Andreas Kornfeld of Alexander House told the French news agency AFP that the estimates are set based on a number of factors, including "rarity and uniqueness," with the expectation that sale prices will exceed opening bids.
"It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history," the auction house said in a statement. "This was not a staid office telephone."
jbh/kl (AP, AFP, dpa)