The Netherlands’ National Military Museum has unveiled a new display including the pistol carried by Adolf Hitler’s right hand man in the Netherlands during World War Two.
The pistol was owned by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, an Austrian Nazi politician who was appointed as Reichskommissar of the Netherlands by Hitler in late May 1940. He directed the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands for nearly 5 years until he was arrested by British and Canadian troops in Hamburg as he tried to flee across Germany on the 7th May, the day the war in Europe ended.
Seyss-Inquart’s pistol is an Sauer 38H, chambered in .32 ACP (7.65×17mmSR Browning). The 38H was a popular pocket pistol produced by J. P. Sauer & Sohn and extensively used as a side arm by Nazi officers and officials. The pistol discovered in Seyss-Inquart’s back pocket during a search and was kept as a souvenir by a Dutch interpreter who was with the allied troops who arrested the former Reichskommissar. The interpreter kept the pistol for decades, stored in a cupboard in his attic, until his death when his family rediscovered it and decided to gift it to a museum.
The family originally donated it to the Zeeland Liberation (Bevrijdingsmuseum) Museum but it was subsequently decided to transfer it to the Netherlands’ National Military Museum (Nationaal Militair Museum). The museum’s curator Mathieu Willemsen told Dutch newspaper Soester Courant that the pistol is “a nice acquisition, a testimony of this guy. It is still the most important German leader we had here during the war. He was first stadholder, later state commissioner of the occupied Netherlands, so to speak a cross between a king and a prime minister.” The pistol is now on display alongside two of Seyss-Inquart’s SS uniforms, worn while he was Reichskommissar.
Seyss-Inquart was imprisoned following his arrest and was one of several dozen Nazi officers and officials put on trial by the Allies at Nuremberg. The former Reichskommissar was tried for war crimes and executed in October 1946.