Questioning the Authenticity of ‘Hitler’s phone’ from World War II

This is the story of what is believed to be the phone used by Hitler in the bunker during World War II. The phone was recently sold at an auction by the family of British veteran Sir Ralph Rayner for the amazing price of $243,000, sparking interest in the history of the item, and debate as to its authenticity.

Following the capture of Berlin by Soviet forces in 1945, many artifacts were taken by advancing forces, some of the most valuable being discovered in the Fuehrerbunker where Hitler spent his final days.  Amongst the prized relics found was the phone discussed in this article, a red phone with a Nazi eagle and swastika emblem and the name Adolf Hitler inscribed upon it.

Hitler’s private office. Photo Credit
Hitler’s private office. Photo Credit

The phone came into the possession of Sir Ralph Rayner as a gift from a Soviet officer when he attended the Fuehrerbunker in the aftermath of the battle to capture Berlin. As one of the first Allied soldiers to have been inside the bunker, Sir Ralph Rayner was lucky enough to obtain the phone. The fact that he had taken home the phone as a trophy remained secret for many years due to the threat of court martial hanging over those who were thought to be looting Berlin. The phone did not resurface in the public eye until 1963 when Der Spiegel magazine ran an article about it, BBC News reported.

There are now some doubts which have been raised regarding the phone’s authenticity. The doubt which holds most weight relates to the fact that the phone was manufactured in Britain rather than in Germany by the established telecommunications company Siemens. There is not a satisfactory answer to why Siemens would not have produced the phone other than that Siemens did not produce a red phone at the time. This relates to a second doubt which questions why the phone was painted red rather than made of red plastic. If the phone was painted red after production anyway then why couldn’t Siemens have made the phone and then painted it.

No number of explanations will appease the skeptics, and there will always be questions surrounding the authenticity of the phone. The best argument in favor of the phone’s authenticity is the testament provided by Sir Ralph Rayner of how he obtained it.  Would such a respected, honorable man lie about such a thing?  We will all have to draw our own conclusions.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE