Hitler Car Sale to Help Wiesenthal Center


Adolf Hitler appears in a parade while riding in his custom-built Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagen, which will be put up for auction. Photos courtesy of Worldwide Auctioneers

A 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagen used by Adolf Hitler will be put up for auction on Jan. 17 and 10 percent of the sale price will go to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC).

“We’re quite comfortable the Hitler car is not going to be auctioned and sold to a hater, a neo-Nazi or Klansman, or a group like that, that would glorify Nazism,” the Wiesenthal Center’s dean and founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said in an interview. “We are happy with their decision that 10 percent should go to Holocaust education and we intend to use it exactly for that. Adolf Hitler would turn over in his grave if he knew 10 percent of the sale of a car that once belonged to him was donated to SWC, an organization named for the world’s most famous Nazi hunter.”

Worldwide Auctioneers in Scottsdale, Ariz., will conduct the auction.

Rod Egan, chief auctioneer at Worldwide Auctioneers, said he expects the Mercedes-Benz 770K, which is usually valued at about $5 million, to sell for more than $10 million, given its historical significance.

The vehicle, just one of five surviving vehicles of its kind in private hands, was ordered by, built for and used by Hitler, according to the auctioneer’s website. It was delivered to Berlin on July 29, 1939, and made its public debut on Oct. 6, 1939, in a large motorcade designed to maximize Hitler’s safety, the website says.

The vehicle “remain[s] quite likely the world’s greatest achievement in terms of automotive design, engineering, and construction,” the website says.

The U.S. Army seized the vehicle in 1945.

“It’s a trophy,” Egan said. “Hitler lost and we took his flagship car, really is what it comes down to.”

After World War II, the car was used in the U.S. military motor pool before the Greenville, N.C., branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars obtained the vehicle. Egan discovered the car’s existence when it was owned by Las Vegas hotelier Ralph Engelstad. In 2004, a European buyer purchased the car. Worldwide Auctioneers company obtained the vehicle for consignment after a client a couple years ago expressed interested in buying a Mercedes-Benz 770K.

Egan declined to identify the vehicle’s current owner.

“Adolf Hitler would turn over in his grave if he knew 10 percent … was donated to … an organization named for the world’s most famous Nazi hunter.” — Rabbi Marvin Hier

Rabbi Hier said the money the SWC receives from the auction would be used to record speeches Holocaust survivors deliver at schools.

“We’re going to videotape those speeches and make sure they endure for posterity, so when visitors come to the SWC, no matter what day they come, they always will be able to hear the speech of a Holocaust survivor telling them why it is important to be mindful of haters,” Hier said.

Egan said he was pleased a portion of the sale from the company’s auction would benefit SWC.

“The fact that it [SWC] has international reach was a big factor for us as well, and frankly, when you look at how we earmark funds and why we do it in the first place, the Center checked all the boxes: anti-Semitism, hate, terrorism, human rights,” he said. “In today’s world, today’s climate, it is more important every day.”

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