Adolf Hitler salutes, standing in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle as SA troops parade past him in Nuremberg, Germany, 1935.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CHARLES RUSSELL COLLECTION NARA)
A rare, luxury 1939 Mercedes-Benz ordered by and specially built for Adolf Hitler is to be sold at auction in January, with 10% of the sale price going towards Holocaust education.
Described by auctioneers as the “most historically significant automobile ever offered for public sale,” the Mercedes-Benz 770K is the product of the detailed demands of Hitler and his primary chauffeur, Erich Kempka. It is one of five surviving Offener Tourenwagen models, of which three are in private hands.
The world famous handcrafted “Super Mercedes,” an expression of German pride in its engineering capabilities, was equipped with bullet-resistant laminated glass and armor plating, in order to provide maximum protection for its passengers. Its primary role was as a guest car for visiting heads of states.
“We are acutely aware of the responsibility attached to presenting such an impactful piece of history for public sale,” said Rod Egan, Worldwide Auctioneers’ principal and chief auctioneer.
“It is an artifact that continues to stand and serve as a singular piece of irreplaceable living history – and as a reminder that the evil which is a part of its history must never be permitted to recur,” Egan said.
The vehicle, which made several high-profile appearances from its public debut in December 1939 until May 1941, was seized by the US Army in 1945 following the conclusion of World War II and used by US Army Military Police stationed in Le Havre, France.
A private owner acquired the vehicle in 1946 and transported it to the US, where he donated it for use in parades involving the groups Veterans of Foreign Wars and Gold Star Mothers. The vehicle, however, subsequently fell into disuse and was moved into storage.
In 2004, the Mercedes-Benz was sold to a European owner along with 21 other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, becoming the most valuable private transaction in the world of classic cars; the record still stands today.
Ahead of the vehicle’s January 17 auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, the auctioneers announced that 10% of the car’s auction price will be donated towards Holocaust education.
“Our hope is that [the car] will be used in a setting such as a public museum or collection where it can be shown and used to continually educate generations to come,” auctioneer Egan said.
A number of items associated with Hitler have also been sold at auction in recent years.
In March 2016, Hitler’s personal copy of his autobiography Mein Kampf,
bearing the signatures of the American soldiers who found it, sold at auction
for more than $20,000. Three months later, a pair of socks belonging to the Nazi leader sold for approximately the same amount.
In 2011, two pieces of Hitler’s personalized bed linen, complete with embroidered swastikas and Hitler’s initials, brought in
$3,000 at auction in Britain.