A medal awarded to a fanatical bodyguard who saved Hitler's life by taking five bullets meant for the Nazi leader has sold for a world-record price.
The medal swept to nine times its estimate of £3,500-£4,000 to reach £36,500 when the gavel fell in Hansons Auctioneers’ July Militaria Auction. (July 26) With buyer’s premium and VAT, the overall price paid was £47,450.
Hansons’ militaria expert Adrian Stevenson said: “It’s a world-record price for a medal of its type - a phenomenal result. Interest in this medal was high right from the start. It’s a remarkable historical piece with a huge story to tell.”
The Blut Orden Blood Order Medal was awarded to Ulrich Graf who helped protect the dictator when he tried to seize power in Bavaria in November 1923, an event known as The Beer Hall Putsch. A bloody battle with police ensued ending with 16 party members and four officers killed.
Amid the chaos, Graf, a former wrestler, threw himself on Hitler and was shot five times but survived. Had he not done this, Hitler could have been killed, the Nazis may never have come to power and the Second World War could have been avoided.
Hitler's bodyguard Ulrich Graf (Wikipedia image) and the medal sold for £36,500.
Mr Stevenson said: “We know that in the 1950s Ulrich Graf's family sold everything of his. They wanted no connection with his Nazi past.
“Our vendor was a British doctor who had a large collection of German Third Reich medals which are among the most popular genres of medals.
“Some countries like France ban the sale of Third Reich but I think that does a disservice to the victims of the Nazis, it is almost like sweeping it under the carpet.”
Graf was one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party after it was founded in 1920. He was a member of the Hitler's personal protection squad and linked arms with the dictator during the Beer Hall Putsch.
Mr Stevenson said: “The Nazis were walking to a monument that honoured the Bavarian Army when they met a police cordon across the road. Police opened fire and Graf took a bullet to the shoulder before throwing himself on Hitler and taking five bullets.
“Now Graf was a big, burly wrestler and obviously Hitler was slightly built. Would he have survived those five bullets? Who knows? But what Graf did potentially changed the course of history. His name has faded into obscurity since but he is still known in the collectors' market.'
'There has been interest in this medal from all over the world Germany. You’re allowed to collect Third Reich material there but it is illegal to show it in public.
The silver medal which bears the Nazi eagle on one side and an image of the Munich monument, sold in Hansons’ Militaria Auction on July 26. Items are now wanted for Hansons next militaria sale. For a free valuation, email [email protected]