The Führer With the Golden Gun
Who would have thought that Adolph Hitler was the original man with the golden gun? That’s one thing I love about the internet, endless amounts of useless information.
This .32 caliber gold-washed pistol (sporting floral engravings and Hitler’s initials on the ivory grips) was given to the Führer as a 50th birthday present on April 20th, 1939, by Carl Walther and his family. That’s right, the PPK people. It was one of the hundreds of ornate gifts the German dictator received that day.
Fast Forward to the Final Days of the Third Reich
Our story picks up six years later in Munich when US Army Lieutenant Ira Palm was on a mission with a small group of men to capture or kill the German leader.
Palm, a member of Company B of the 179th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division, had, with his men, fought his way across France and into the heart of Germany, aided by a small group of German soldiers who were revolting against the Nazis.
Palm burst into Hitler’s apartment to find it empty. The date was April 29th, 1945. The Führer was in his bunker many miles to the north in Berlin, just hours away from suicide. A more mundane weapon, and not the golden gun, was used in that act.
Lieutenant Palm made his way into Hitler’s office, where he found the gilded pistol in the top drawer of a desk. He put it in a jacket pocket, and he and his men left the abandoned apartment.
Coming To America
A few hours later, Palm was wounded in a firefight, and by September of 1945, he and his prize were on their way home to Palm’s wife in Salisbury, NC. For a reason lost to history, he gave the golden firearm to Reverend Charles Woodbridge in Savannah, GA. Woodbridge was a dear friend of Palm. The two were like brothers.
Woodbridge enjoyed showing off the weapon to friends and members of his congregation. However, he didn’t end up having it for very long. It was stolen during a burglary of the Woodbridge home in 1947.
The curiosity was missing until the mid-1950s when a Wichita, Kansas, police detective saw it for sale at a gun show and was allowed to take it to the local crime lab to have it photographed. Unfortunately for him, the detective didn’t have enough money to pay the asking price for the pistol, so it was returned to its owner.
The Cover of Argosy
Fast forward to 1966 when the March issue of the men’s magazine, Argosy, featured a color photo of the pistol on its cover. The article on the weapon said it was being offered for sale by a gun dealer in Cleveland.
Perhaps as a result of the publicity brought on by the magazine article, the gun was sold. It was bought by one Mr. Andrew Wright. Mr. Wright was a Canadian gun and Nazi memorabilia collector from Swift Current, Saskatchewan. On his farm, he had built a museum as a showcase his vast collection of Nazi artifacts. The golden gun was meant to be the star of the show.
As it turns out, the crowds that Wright envisioned never materialized, and he sold the piece at auction in 1987 for $114,000. At that time, it was the largest amount ever paid for an item of military memorabilia. The buyer, perhaps learning a lesson from Reverend Woodbridge, decided to remain anonymous.
When the anonymous buyer tired of it, it was sold to Warren Anderson, a construction magnate in Australia, for an undisclosed amount. Anderson later sold it to a firearms dealer in Georgia.
I think we need a map with push pins to keep track of all of this.
The Georgia dealer sold the pistol to an anonymous buyer on the west coast of the US, and that is where the gun is presumed to be today.
As far as Hitler’s missing globe goes, that’s a story for another time.