“Possibly the most historic Walther factory engraved pistol that we ever offered for sale,” so says the blurb in the auction catalog from Rock Island Auction Company in Illinois. What is the weapon they are speaking about? It is 1939 gold-plated Walther PPK that belonged to the notorious Nazi Commander of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring (anglicized as Goering).
Göring, who loved his life of luxury as one of Hitler’s top commanders, looted many treasures from the Jewish people and was famous for his love of bling.
Göring had the gun gold plated and engraved with the oak leaf and acorn pattern as well as his initials and family crest – a fist holding a ring. Included in the lot with the Walther are several items of jewelry, including a signet ring engraved with Göring’s family crest and a pair of his gold cufflinks.
This lot is among 3,000 others, mostly antique guns, which will be auctioned between the 9th to 11th September. It is estimated that the gun and accompanying items will fetch between $250,000 and $400,000.
Hermann Wilhelm Göring was a prolific fighter pilot in WWI, scoring a total of 22 victories in the air, and went on to become the head of the Luftwaffe from 1933 until the end of the Second World War. His close friendship with Hitler helped him to secure this position, along with a number of others, and he had a great deal of political clout in the Nazi regime.
Göring’s standing with Hitler was reduced by the beginning of 1943, when the Luftwaffe failed to stop the Allied bombing of German cities and was unable to resupply German forces trapped in the Battle of Stalingrad. Göring largely withdrew from the military and political scene and focused on the acquisition of property and artwork, much of which was taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Informed on 22 April, 1945, that Hitler intended to commit suicide, Göring sent a telegram to Hitler requesting permission to assume control of the Reich. Considering it an act of treason, Hitler removed Göring from all his positions, expelled him from the party, and ordered his arrest.
After World War II, Göring was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials. He was sentenced to death by hanging, but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide the night before the sentence was to be carried out.