A Historical Weapon
|Click on the image above for a more detailed picture of the drilling (1.07 Meg)|
Krieghoff drilling presentation gun of Adolf Hitler
The gun being offered for sale in this auction has received extensive media coverage from CNN, various newspapers, the Internet, and many other news sources across the globe since its arrival through the doors of Midwest Exchange in Bloomington, Illinois. This gun, believed to be the personal property of Adolph Hitler has been the target of much controversy (and understandably so) over the last few months. While many people feel that a piece like this should simply be destroyed, there are others that believe it should be preserved as a valuable piece of history from a tumultuous time. The fashion in which the current owner of the gun has decided to sell it should fit any side’s agenda. Bidders should know that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this historical weapon will be donated to The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) - a group founded in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism. The following details pertaining to this historic firearm have been derived from information passed on to us by the heirs of the estate from which it came, and from exhaustive research performed by other collectors, historians, and the world wide web.
This particular style of gun is known as a "drilling" which consists of a double barrel 12 gauge shotgun affixed to the top of the unit, coupled with a 8 X 57JR caliber rifle barrel attached to the bottom of the upper shotgun barrels. The gun was designed and manufactured by the Krieghoff Gun Company, located in Germany. The serial number inscribed on the gun is 15450, which identifies the gun as having been originally proofed in 1931, and then likely stored by the company before being later engraved for presentation. This particular model is called a "Neptune" and is covered by elaborate engravings done by a master engraver of the time. On either side, the receiver is covered in its entirety by high relief engravings, depicting woodlands with deer and stag. The gun sports cocking indicators, a pop up rifle barrel sight, and a single set trigger for the rifle barrel. The metal finish is estimated to be 90% plus, and the beautiful walnut stock is also in the 90% range -- however some of the checking on the stock could stand to be re-grooved (the checking has developed a "flat" look, but is still easily visible). The gun appears to be in excellent mechanical condition, and has excellent bores. Most interestingly, the bottom of the trigger guard is engraved with the initials "AH".
The markings on the barrel are as follows:
Sempert / Krieghoff Suhl / Krupp Lauf / Flubstahl Krupp Essen / WK / Stng / II 11 gr. / Nitro / 11 909 / 8mm 57.
According to Mr. Randall Gibson, author of the book “Krieghoff Parabellum”, and a foremost authority on Krieghoff guns, the original company that was founded in the 1880's by Ludwig Krieghoff was named "Sempert & Krieghoff." At the time of the company's inception, an American gentleman named Sempert was an associate of Krieghoff, thus the name "Sempert & Krieghoff." Several years later, in 1916, Ludwig’s son Heinrich Krieghoff formed his own firm, and named it "H. Krieghoff Waffenfabrik." In 1924 Heinrich Krieghoff took over Sempert & Krieghoff, through which he continued to produce sporting weapons and which he ran in parallel to H.Krieghoff Waffenfabrik, which continued to produce only military weapons.
History Of Ownership
The gun was first purchased by a man named Robert J. Lucas, who was a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and an Ohio resident. In the summer of 1945 Lieutenant Lucas had been managing a mess hall, which is how he came into possession of the gun. The gun was purportedly sold to him by a member of a visiting parachute regiment of the 101st airborne. It was discovered that The 506th Parachute regiment, 101st Airborne Division, was one of only a handful of units in the US military that would be transferred from the European to the Pacific Theater in order to finish the war in Japan. It is through the research of the deceased owner’s stepson by which the paratrooper was identified as a member of the 506th. The 506th of the 101st airborne was depicted in the award winning television series "Band of Brothers."
According to Lt. Lucas’s heirs, the paratrooper had been a part of the 101st Airborne, and he was being sent to Japan. It was these soldiers who overtook the Berchtesgaden without resistance, as well as the "Eagles Nest," Hitler’s mountain top retreat during the first week of May 1945. It was at this mountain retreat that the soldier who had found the Krieghoff drilling took the gun as a spoil of war. Unfortunately, he had received orders to be transferred to the Pacific Theater, and would have to leave the gun behind due to weight and space restrictions. Lt. Lucas purchased the gun from this unknown soldier. At the time Lt. Lucas was unaware of the implications of the initials A.H., and the role that the 506th had played in the gun’s capture.
Upon his discharge, Lt. Lucas brought the gun back home with him to Ohio, and kept it under his bed for almost 50 years, up to and until the time of his death. Although he had acknowledged hunting with it a few times, and often admired its art work, Lt. Lucas had no idea that he had been in possession of a gun that had once belonged to the late German dictator Adolph Hitler. Upon the death of Lt. Lucas, the gun became the property of Lt. Lucas' widow. Shortly after his death Mrs. Lucas moved to Illinois to be closer to family members, and she brought the gun with her. On several occasions prior to Lt. Lucas' death he had shared the story of the gun with his stepson Don, as he was very proud of it. He enjoyed the gun’s unusual craftsmanship and striking beauty. (To protect the privacy of the stepson, we refer to him only by his first name) Intrigued by the initials engraved on the gun, in the years to follow, Don performed some major academic research into the history of the gun. As a result, there are a substantial number of research papers and documents compiled by him, which will be passed on to the buyer completion of the auction.
Research from "The Krieghoff Parabellum"
In the book “The Krieghoff Parabellum” written by Randall Gibson (2nd printing 1988) On page 23, there are photos of the exact same model gun by Krieghoff that was presented to Herman Goering, also with elaborate engraving but having the initials H.G. engraved on the trigger guard. The basic difference between Goering and Hitler’s presentation drillings is that Hitler’s drilling has much more elaborate and prominent engraving. This makes sense as the main man at the time was Hitler, and Goering was his subordinate. On page 275 Mr. Gibson states that Heinz Krieghoff CONFIRMS that engraved presentation model lugers as well as shotguns were given to Goering because he was the head of the Luftwaffe which was responsible for H. Krieghoff Waffenfabrik obtaining contracts. These presentation models helped to get Krieghoff an order for 10,000 lugers back in 1934.
The early 30's were a period of deep depression for Germany. At the time both of these guns were made, inflation was high and almost no one could afford a gun of this type. This was not a standard stock item of the time for any gun dealers and it makes good sense that these guns were made for presentation and not general public sale. The estate also contains a personal letter from Mr. Gibson, dated Sept. 12,1994. In this letter to Don Mr. Gibson states:
“The drilling shown in my book was in the possession of a certain Ulrich Mannherz of Wiesbaden, Germany who contacted me in relation to Sempert & Krieghoff drilling number 11,909. This drilling was in 12 guage by 12 guage(sic) over rifle caliber 7mm(sic) X 57. It was elaborately engraved and bore the initials HG which Mannherz maintained represented Hermann Goring.
Your drilling, which is very similar in the proofing and engraving is number 15,450 and bears the initials AH, could very well have been prepared for and presented to Adolph Hitler. While I can not document it, I feel that this is very well likely.
While Hitler was a vegitarian and not known to be a hunter, this does not mean that such a weapon was not given to him as a gift. Heinz Krieghoff, son of Heinrich Krieghoff related to me that his father demonstrated a semi-automatic rifle at Swansee in 1934 in an attempt to secure military contracts. In attendance were Hess, Hindenberg, Hitler and Goring. Heinrich Krieghoff could very well have presented on of his much esteemed drillings as gifts to these high ranking officials, each weapon with respective attendee’s initials on it. At least we can document that Krieghoff was in the presence of Hitler and Goring during a weapon test.
I am very happy for you that you are in possession of a very valuable gun.
Very truly yours,” ( Signed Randall Gibson ).
(Once again referencing page 275 of The Krieghoff Parabellum) Mr. Gibson states that "Heinz Krieghoff CONFIRMS that engraved presentation model lugers as well as shotguns, were given to Goering because he was the head of the Luftwaffe which was responsible for H. Krieghoff Waffenfabrik obtaining contracts."
We have a letter on file from Dieter Krieghoff dated January 7, 1996 stating that they have no records whatsoever, as all records were destroyed in 1945, which counters his father’s statement to Mr. Gibson. The story remains the same today per a phone conversation to Krieghoff International: they have no record as all records were destroyed in 1945, but as we stated in Mr. Gibson's interview we get a completely different story. A copy of this letter can be viewed (here).
Before Don’s death he wrote several letters to many authors, several branches of the military, Krieghoff Gun Co, and whomever else he thought would know something more about the gun and its complete history. In a letter written to Mr. Rex Boggs of The Don F. Pratt Museum in Fort Campbell, Ky., he points key facts that he himself had confirmed:
- · That Heinrich Krieghoff, Owner of Sempert & Krieghoff Waffenfabrik located in Suhl, Germany developed a semi-automatic rifle and demonstrated the rifle to Hitler, Goering, Hess, and Von Hindenberg at Swansee, Germany in April of 1934.
- · That Krieghoff was attempting to obtain military arms production contracts in a desperate manner
- · That Krieghoff was a master engineer and machinist whose firm produced fine quality sporting arms.
- · That he could document a Krieghoff, Neptune Grade, drilling that was presented to Herman Goering at Swansee, Germany in 1934-and that it was on that occasion that Heinrich Krieghoff met with Hitler, Goering, Hess, and Von Hindenburg to demonstrate a semi-automatic rifle.
- · That Krieghoff received contracts to produce 10,000 Lugers for the Luftwaffe shortly after the meeting at Swansee.
- · That during the summer of 1945 Robert J. Lucas was stationed in Paris, France and managed a mess hall.
- · That a group of paratroopers passed through Paris from Germany enroute to the Pacific Theater to finish the war with Japan.
- · That his stepfather (Robert J. Lucas) had purchased a Krieghoff drilling from one of the paratroopers because the soldier could not take it with him due to time and space limitations.
- · That his stepfather managed to get the gun home and kept it under his bed until he died on 10-31-1993.
- · That he received the gun from the estate of his stepfather Mr. Lucas. (To do research for his mother Mrs. Lucas.)
Don's main point of writing Mr. Boggs was only to confirm that the 506th parachute regiment, 101st Airborne Division was in fact the unit that secured the Berchestgaden, to learn of other units that may have transferred from Europe to the Pacific and to find out if there was some chance that the soldier/paratrooper who captured the gun could be located. He also requested a pamphlet listing 101st Airborne’s history. Don did acquire a copy of the men’s names and addresses from Company E 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment. Whether he acquired it from Mr. Boggs is unclear, however, it may be useful in finding more out about the history of this weapon, so it also will be included among all of the other research materials that Don compiled.
Don did more than just scratch the surface here and did everything he could short of lifting fingerprints from it, and producing a picture of Hitler holding the gun--pointing to the serial number. What we know of the gun today is all credited to Robert J. Lucas' stepson -- Don. Hats off to Don.
All photos copyright Midwest Exchange, Inc.- Photographer George Lane