Lot 1657: Walther - PP
|Exceptionally Rare, Documented and Historic Factory Engraved and Gold Washed "H. Himmler" SS Presentation Walther PP Semi-Automatic Pistol Captured from Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff's Headquarters|
|Estimated Price: $90,000 - $160,000|
|Type||Pistol||Gauge||7.65 Mm Auto||Catalog Page||284|
|Barrel||3 7/8 Inch Round||Finish||Gold||Grip||Original|
|Stock||Class||Curio & Relic Handgun||Rating||See Condition|
|Description||This is a beautiful, all original, and "brand-new" to the collector market, Walther full factory engraved "H. Himmler" signed Model PP presentation pistol. This beautiful, and certainly rare, pistol is consecutively numbered to the matching pistol housed in the West Point Academy (WPA) Museum that was captured from General Wolff in the last days of the Italian Campaign. The West Point Museum pistol is pictured in the book "Walther Vol II: Engraved and Presentation Pistols" by Rankin on page 36. The WPA pistol (321231P) is identical in the level and detail of the engraving and has the same presentation grips as this pistol (321232P). Although the caption of the WPA pistol in Rankin's books lists that serial number as "221231P", the serial number is actually "321231P" as can be seen in the picture, and thus, it is consecutively numbered to this pistol. Staff Sergeant John Rielly (also spelled Riley, Reilly, and Reilley in some of the included source material) captured this pistol during the Italian campaign. He enlisted on September 25, 1942, and was a member of the 88th Reconnaissance Division of the 88th Infantry Division “Blue Devils.” His unit was the first to enter Rome. Included are copies of pages from "The Blue Devils in Italy: A History of the 88th Infantry Division in World War II" by John P. Delaney and "Operation Rome" by Lawrence Cortesi which discuss Rielly’s unit’s entry into Rome. A six man squad of the 3rd Platoon of the 88th Reconnaissance Troop entered Rome at 7:15 am on June 4, 1944, and was credited as being the first Allied troop element to enter the city. Their glory failed to gain much attention because the D-Day Invasion at Normandy took place just two days later. In the second book, Rielly is pictured with his men on a tank. He is quoted in both books. A handwritten statement from Sgt. Rielly (written in 1985) is included and notes that he liberated this Walther PP pistol in Bolgano, Italy, directly from the "SS-General (Obergruppenführer) Karl Wolff's" SS headquarters in early March 1944. He notes that even after the German surrender in Italy, which Wolff had recently returned from organizing in secret meeting with the OSS in Switzerland, the situation on the ground was complicated and many German soldiers continued to walk around in uniform carrying their weapons much to the unease and disgust of the Americans. Finally, General Kendall of the 88th Division ordered the 88th Recon troop to raid General Wolff’s headquarters to capture the weapons and round up the men for detainment. During the raid, Rielly “chased all the German personnel out of the building and threw all guns out the windows to awaiting Recon men. In an upper bedroom, I pulled the pillows off a bed and in a plain leather holster, I found the gold gun.” General Wolff was captured nearby while celebrating his 45th birthday at a grand party. His long career in the SS thus came to an end on May 13, 1945. Wolff was born in 1900 to a privileged family. He became a commissioned officer in 1918 and served in the Hessian Infantry Regiment. In 1931, drawn by Hitler’s promise of a reborn, and once again powerful Germany, Wolff joined the Nazi Party and also applied for membership in the SS. He was accepted as a member in July of 1931 and assigned the SS number 1423. He had an impressive military career and quickly rose to the rank of Captain. In 1931, Wolff was personally recruited by the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler to head the new office of the Reichsführer's Personal Staff, and in June 1933, he became Heinrich Himmler's personal adjutant. By the start of 1937, Wolff had risen to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer (Lieutenant General) and was considered as third in command of the entire SS. He was only overshadowed by Reinhard Heydrich, the number two man in the SS, until his death, and Himmler. In 1942, Wolff was made a full SS-General (Obergruppenführer) but was dismissed by Himmler as Chief of Staff to the Reichsführer. Later, he was personally given the equivalent general's rank in the Waffen-SS by Hitler and assigned him as an SS adjutant to the Italian government in 1943. When Italy surrendered to the Allies later that year, Germany occupied the country and Wolff became the Supreme SS and Police Leader of Italy. He remained in this position until 1945 when he negotiated the secret surrender of Italy to the Allies. He escaped the hangman’s noose in the Nuremburg war crimes trials and only served approximately 15 years in prison. During the trials he claimed he had disobeyed an order to kidnap the Pope. This outstanding pistol has remained in the Rielly family since it was captured and was passed on to Rielly’s son after Sgt. Rielly and his wife's deaths. A copy of Shirley M. Rielly’s will is included and mentions the pistol. The pistol itself is absolutely a masterpiece of Walther engraving and as would be expected of a "H. Himmler" signed presentation pistol. It has 98% of the metal surfaces fully engraved in the deep, traditional chisel engraved, Germanic "oak leaf and acorn" style with geometric designs and borders with a cross-hatched pattern over the chamber area of the barrel. The only smooth section is the upper curved area of the front grip strap. Several of the presentation pistols pictured in "Walther Volume II: Engraved, Presentation and Standard Models" by Rankin have very similar designs. Both it and its consecutively numbered match are only marked "WALTHER" inside a banner on the left side instead of the traditional two-line legend. The right side of the frame, slide, and barrel all carry the traditional "eagle/N" Nazi era commercial firing proof. It is fitted with a set of wonderfully aged grips that feature a beautiful medium/brown aged color overall with wonderful grain pattern throughout. The upper left grip has a wonderful small black enameled "SS" (Schutz-Staffel) insignia inlayed into the grip panel, and the lower area has a gold washed inlayed rectangular plate signed/inscribed "H. Himmler". The right grip also carries a small gold washed Nazi spread winged eagle emblem. These latter features also match the WPA museum pistol, and some of the other presentation pieces had the same eagle emblem. This wonderful fully factory engraved presentation pistol is complete with two original gold washed magazines; the first has its original Walther white finger rest base plate marked on the lower right side with "WALTHER" inside a banner. The spare magazine has the standard engraved flat base plate marked with "WALTHER" inside a banner over "PP 7,65 m/m".
|Condition||Extremely fine. 75% plus of the original factory gold washed finish remains showing wear and finish loss on the grip straps, edges, and high spots overall. The engraving is beautifully executed and in fabulous condition. The markings and proofs are distinct. The grip panels and finger rest are all in very fine condition. The right grip shows a small age crack running through the grain line which starts just above the grip screw going down to the bottom edge of the grip. The left grip also shows an old age crack on the lower rear edge of the grip that extends to just above and below the signature plate. The right grip presentation plate and "SS" emblem are both in very fine condition. This is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity to get your hands on an historic factory engraved Walther pistol that was captured from SS General Karl Wolff's headquarters in Italy!|
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