Hitler’s personal telephone sells for $243K at auction

Adolf Hitler's personal traveling telephone is displayed at Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md., Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The phone, given to British Brig. Sir Ralph Rayner by Russian officers during a visit to Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1945, sold at auction for $243,000 Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Adolf Hitler's personal traveling telephone is displayed at Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md., Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The phone, given to British Brig. Sir Ralph Rayner by Russian officers during a visit to Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1945, sold at auction for $243,000 Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

An anonymous bidder paid $243,000 on Sunday for the traveling telephone that Adolph Hitler used during the height of his reign during World War II.

The telephone was part of a weekend auction of war memorabilia conducted by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, which described the phone in its auction catalog as "arguably the most destructive 'weapon' of all time" because it "sent millions to their deaths around the world."

The telephone, a black Siemens Bakelite that was painted red and engraved with a swastika and Hitler’s name, was used by the Nazi leader to issue most of his commands during the final two years of World War II, according to the auction house.

"It would be impossible to find a more impactful relic than the primary tool used by the most evil man in history to annihilate countless innocents, lay waste to hundreds of thousands of square miles of land and, in the end, destroy his own country and people, with effects that still menacingly reverberate today," the auction house wrote.

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The phone was consigned to the auction house by Ranulf Rayner, the 82-year-old son of the British officer who recovered the telephone from Hitler’s bunker in the days after the war ended. Rayner inherited the relic in 1977, when his father died.

Rayner told CNN that he was glad to be rid of the phone, which Hitler used during his travels during the war.

"It's a fairly sinister bit of kit and I've always lived in fear of someone trying to steal it," Rayner told the news network. "I've also been told it'll bring me bad luck."

Rayner’s father, Brigadier Sir Ralph Rayner, was a signals officer under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery on May 5, 1945, the day after the German surrender. According to the auction house, Montgomery ordered Rayner to go to what remained of Berlin and establish contact with Russian officers there.

He was likely the first non-Soviet soldier to enter Hitler’s bunker, where the Nazi leader had taken his own life, the auction house said. When Rayner arrived, the Russian soldiers gave him a tour of Hitler’s private quarters, which he shared with girlfriend, Eva Braun.

Rayner was first offered Braun's black telephone, but he "politely declined, claiming that his favorite color was red," the auction house wrote in the catalog. The Russian officers gave him the red phone that was found next to Hitler's bed.

The British soldier smuggled the telephone and a porcelain figurine of an Alsatian out of Germany in a suitcase and brought both back to his home in western England. The dog figurine was found on Hitler’s desk.

The auction house said the figurine was created by prisoner labor at Allach, the largest subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp. According to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, more than 41,000 people were killed at Dachau.

The dog figurine, also offered at auction this weekend, sold for $24,300, CNN reported.

Ranulf Rayner said he hoped the items would ultimately find a home in a museum.

"I don't want them to be hidden again," Rayner told CNN. "I want them to remind the world of the horrors of war."

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