Medal of Nazi Bodyguard Who Took Six Bullets For Adolf is Sold at Auction

George Winston
 
CREDIT: HANSONS AUCTIONEERS
CREDIT: HANSONS AUCTIONEERS
 
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In 1923 Ulrich Graf, one of Adolph Hitler’s bodyguards, took six bullets five of which were possibly meant for Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Germany.

For his bravery, he was awarded the Blutorden Medal which was auctioned off in Etwall in Derbyshire, England by Hansons Auctioneers’ Militaria Auction and brought over forty four thousand dollars, nine times what was expected and beat the world record.

The medal, translated to Blood Order, is known as the Decoration in Memory of the Munich Putsch of November 1923 and was the most significant medal a Nazis could receive.

Ulrich Graf joined the Nazi Party not long after the first World War.  He was one of the earliest members of the Sturmabteilung, the Storm Detachment, whose job was to protect important Nazi Party members, deal with opposing parties and intimidate Jews; he was handpicked by Hitler as a bodyguard.

After only two years as a member, Hitler was elected to be the leader of the German Workers’ Party which subscribed to the ideas of racial purity and nationalism in July of 1921.  He had learned the art of public speaking and met many powerful people.

He was addressing packed crowds in town beer halls where most town business was conducted promising Germans a better life.  Immediately after his election he changed the name of the party to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or National German Socialist Workers’ Party – more commonly known as the Nazis.

The Germans were disillusioned with their government and the dire monetary situation caused by the country’s agreement to the Treaty of Versailles which forced the German government to pay inflated reparations to the Allied nations.  Hitler took advantage of the situation and along with some close associates devised a plot to overthrow the republic starting with the Bavarian state government.

Ulrich Graf, a fanatical bodyguard who saved Hitler’s life by taking five bullets meant for the Nazi leader. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1982-1213-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Ulrich Graf, a fanatical bodyguard who saved Hitler’s life by taking five bullets meant for the Nazi leader. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1982-1213-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

The State Commissioner of Bavaria, Gustav von Kahr, was scheduled to speak at the Bürgerbräukeller, one of the largest beer halls in Munich, on November 8, 1923.  Hitler and hundreds of Nazis surrounded the building and broke into the meeting with Hitler declaring a “national revolution”, according to history.com.

Von Kahr and two of his men were put into a back room and waited until the Bavarian leaders gave in to Hitler.  The Nazis were instructed to take over the government buildings but once Hitler left the whole takeover dissolved and von Kahr and his men were released.

The next day Erich Ludendorff, a member of Hitler’s inner circle, rallied members of the Nazi party for a protest march on the Bavarian Defense Ministry.

When the Nazis were confronted by state police officers, gunfire broke out.  Sixteen Nazis and four police officers were killed.  If not for Graf jumping on him, Hitler would most likely have been killed but only suffered a dislocated shoulder when he hit the ground.

Hitler was whisked away to a friend’s house where he hid for two days before he was arrested on November 11th.  Hitler was convicted of treason and sent to a comfortable prison where he began dictating his manifesto, Mein Kampf, to Rudolf Hess.

There are some who are critical of the auction house for dealing in Nazi memorabilia including Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock.  She told the telegraph.co.uk, “It has long been our view that it is not appropriate for items like this to be on the market for personal profit or macabre interest but rather placed in archives, museums or in an educational context.”

The reply from Hansons was, “We fully respect and understand Karen Pollock’s viewpoint. However, we also fully respect the historical importance of the objects we sell.

It’s impossible to ignore history or brush away the past. This item was sold purely as an historical object…Militaria items are collected worldwide by people who have a passionate interest in wartime history. Museums or educational establishments are free to obtain these items if they wish.”

The countries of Austria, Germany and France have already outlawed the sale of Nazi and Holocaust artifacts and memorabilia but Adrian Stevenson, the militaria expert at Hansons believes banning the sale of these items “does a disservice to the victims of the Nazis, it is almost like sweeping it under the carpet.”

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