The Gun That Killed Hitler: Walther PPK
On the 30th April 1945, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Third Reich shot himself in the temple using a Walther PPK 7.65mm. Terrified of falling into the hands of the Soviets, who were fighting their way through Berlin, he first swallowed a hydrogen cyanide capsule and then put a single round into his temple. He was found alongside his new wife Eva Braun who had also swallowed a cyanide capsule slumped on the sofa seen in the first photograph.
It is believed that Hitler owned several PP & PPKs but the pistol he used on the 30th April is long lost, possibly taken as a trophy by a Soviet soldier or kept and hidden by one of the last people to leave the Fuhrerbunker before the surrender of Berlin and the final collapse of the Third Reich on 7th May.
The PPK is world famous as James Bond’s weapon of choice, however Bond’s first weapon was the Beretta 418. It was only when a fan suggested the PPK as a more manly weapon did Ian Fleming rearm his famous character. It was initially developed from the slightly larger Walther PP (Police Pistol) in 1931 by Carl Walther Waffenfabrik. PPK is short for ‘Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell’ (Police Pistol Detective Model) and was extremely popular throughout mainland Europe with police and civilians. During the war Walther provided the P-38 as the standard sidearm of the Nazi armed forces, however the PPK was issued to police, high-ranking officers, members of the Luftwaffe and intelligence services.
Arguably it is one of world’s most successful double-action blow back pistols and is incidentally still in production after 80 years. Famous and infamous in equal measure it is also one of the most copied pistols in the world with the Russian Makarov being of the most widely manufactured copy.
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This post is part of the ‘The Gun That Killed…” series, you can find the other posts from the series here.