RIA: Himmler Presentation Sauer 38H for Snipers

Note: I debated whether or not to use the Nazi flag in the thumbnail image, and opted to put it in there because it was in fact the German flag when this pistol was made. It is a powerful symbol, but hiding the symbol does not do anything to change the history that has occurred, and I decided it was better to acknowledge it than to hide it.

Anyway, this pistol on display here is a Sauer model 38H (a much more common pistol in German WWII service than many people realize) that was made specially as a presentation piece. Heinrich Himmler presented these pistols to snipers who had killed 100 enemy soldiers – other prizes were offered for 50 (a leave from the front and a nice watch) and 150 (a hunting trip with Himmler himself). For 100, it appears that a sniper was given a choice of binoculars, hunting rifle, or these pistols.

How many were actually made and how many were actually awarded is not clear. The serial number of known examples are in a range from 475396 (which is this one) to 475409. Clearly, they were all made in once batch and then awarded as Himmler saw fit. An interesting artifact of the Nazi Party’s interaction with the German military!


  1. Despite unique in features like; Cocker/Decocker lever, SA/DA trigger work, Loaded chaamber indicator, quick take down and snatch free natural pointing profile. this gun has not a slide stop device even if its rivals like Walther PP and Mauser HSc having one in different constructions.

  2. I don’t know why but it makes me think of the most morbid infomercial ever, “but wait there’s more! Kill a 150 slav vermin and you get a days hunting with Heinrich Himmler himself! Submit your kill reports today!”
    (I apologize for this, there’s just something so surreal about the ‘you have a hundred kills, now you have a choice of three items’ thing).

    • Considering that few soldiers got even 20 kills before getting shot, should you be surprised by the absurdity of the fifty kill award system? And more crazy was the kill count of the American Volunteer Group flying for Nationalist China: every confirmed airplane you downed gave you about $200 bonus to your paycheck!

      • The NLF aka. Viet Cong had various awards for claiming the lives of enemies too. Other than being an “ace” and rewarding fliers who blast their counterparts from the sky, to be feted and rewarded and so on, the sniper award seems somehow more macabre because of the whole “intimacy” of “one shot one kill” type encounters.

        • Well the Flying Tigers could be considered mercenaries, so paycheck thing makes sense in that regard. And while they were celebrated, being declared an ace generally seems to have been the reward in itself and the goal technically isn’t to kill the enemy airman. So I suppose it does come down to the ‘intimacy’ aspect.

          • A German POW who worked on my grandparent’s farm, had been wounded on the eastern front, and had “the bullet” which was supposed to have been removed from him.

            He claimed that it was a female sniper who had shot him. He’d said that there was less than zero respect for soviet males, but that the females instilled absolute terror in the German troops.

            A major in the British army, who had done various things in the former Yugoslavia, during its break up, said that a lot of the snipers in the tower blocks were female. Again, they inspired a far greater terror than males.

          • @Keith: This is possible, I will not engage in psychology, but as matter of fact Soviet Union has effective female (for example Roza Shanina) and male snipers (for example Semyon Nomokonov) but more importantly snipers were trained systematically before outbreak of war, aswell equipment was developed.

    • “Heinrich Himmler”
      No one can deny he is responsible for death of many (see Einsatzgruppen), but also can very effectively use propaganda.

      “so surreal”
      Did you know that Himmler had also strong interest in occultism, but more surreal is use Aryan race is best race when himself was very far from ideal of aryan race man.

      • Bohemian castle Bousov – one time in possession of German knights was also residence (or rather retreat) of H. Himmler

        Castle itself is impressive and recommended to visit.

        I recall, when visiting it once at time of young age, the display of artifacts related to Himmler’s presence and GK heritage. In search of better word I’d say atmosphere was very Teutonic. As you pointed out H.H. Himself was just the opposite; very un-Teutonic and definitely not Aryan in appearance at all.

      • William L. Shrier’s book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is the go-to resource in the English speaking world for the history and origins of the Nazi party. Shrier was a journalist who was living in Germany up to the last minute. It would be interesting to know if it was ever translated into Russian, Polish, etc., and if so what those readers thought of it.

  3. “It is a powerful symbol, but hiding the symbol does not do anything to change the history that has occurred, and I decided it was better to acknowledge it than to hide it.”
    In fact Hakenkreuz us now directly associated with NSDAP, but this symbol is much much older and was also used in many other places, since 1918 it was used by Finnish Air Force, although it was blue rather than black.

      • One problem with embedded Full30 videos is that they often fail to display or appear on the page — unlike Youtube videos, which almost always will at least appear as a blank framed window –complete with a link to the Youtube page — even if the video itself will not play.

        Whenever I come to a ForgottenWeapons.com page, I can never be sure whether there was a video posted on Full30 that day or not (unless I pull the page source code and search for it), since it is completely invisible (in this and several other browsers).

        It would be very helpful if the ForgottenWeapons page included a URL link to the video’s Full30 page, so people can just go there and get the video if Fw’s embedded video does not display correctly.

        • Or you could register to full30.com and subscribe to the FW channel and get email notifications. Ian usually posts them a couple of days earlier there before he puts them here.

        • It is just weird. No matter what i use i cant get any of the videos from the email to work or the ones on this site to work. Internet explorer, chrome, or firefox. Nothing.

  4. Just goes to show how much an interesting backstory can add to the value of an otherwise unremarkable item. The think with Nazi relics is that so much of them were destroyed after the war during the “Denazification” era that pretty much anything that survived has value to collectors. Like all relics, they have a way of making the history become more than just a photo or a film clip, the only trouble I see is that some people continue to believe in the ideology that spawned these relics in the first place….

  5. “hunting trip with Himmler himself”

    Wait! Himmler was vegetarian and animal rights activist. He thought hunting was simply murder and hated it. According to Guido Knopp, he gave special police rights to animal rights organizations. (I don’t know exactly, what kind of special police rights.)

      • as was Churchill
        but he certainly had no problem with a strategically stupid but highly vindictive and life destroying strategies of trashing Italy and terror bombing Germany.

        • Churchill a vegetarian? Are you sure? It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I know he liked a steak and kidney pie, and they didn’t make them with Quorn back then.

    • That is kind of weird. Perhaps it was more of a photo safari?

      Similar personal audiences, though, were apparently a common form of special award in the Reich — Awards of Oak Leaves and higher orders of the Knight’s Cross were generally done by Hitler himself. Otto Carius’ book, Tigers in the Mud, describes how his award was delegated to Himmler, and included a private meeting wherein Himmler briefed him about the various “secret weapons” that were supposed to salvage the war effort, and encouraged him to “speak freely” about his own experiences at the front.

    • I suppose Ian would strip the gun if he had BOUGHT the gun. If you lose any of the parts, you had better fork over $500,000 to the auctioneers just for the “insult.” There are plenty of other Sauer 38H pistols, so why not strip one without Himmler’s name on it?

  6. Military collectibles should be enjoyed for what they are–IMHO there should be no more hesitation to display/collect/shoot Nazi produced
    firearms/insignia than there is to do the same with Italian. Imperial Japanese, North Vietmanese or Soviet arms—

    The Nazi regime and the mad men behind it were atrocious–collecting Nazi
    arms does not make one a Nazi–

  7. Thank you Ian for deciding to stick with the proper flag for your presentation. History is history, and it sickens me when people try to rewrite or erase it. Well done.

    Here is another little known fact about the swastika — Up until the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930’s, the 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma National Guard, U.S. Army patch was a red square turned on point (like a diamond) with a yellow swastika. This was to a common symbol to Native Americans. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/45th_Infantry_Division_(United_States) about 1/2 way down page on the left.

  8. The 45th liberated Dachau and were so enraged at what they found. They herded a group of SS from the camp next door in front of a coal bunker and machine gunned 346 of them. Read “Dachau the hour of the Avenger” by Howard Buechner. Sorry but the truth is important.

    • “Sorry but the truth is important.”
      Dwight D. Eisenhower (after visit in liberated camp):
      I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.(…)I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.

    • A lot of the news reel footage of bodies being bulldosed into pits in the concentration and extermination camps in the east

      are showing the Soviets tidying the camps up ready for them to be re-filled

      Perhaps not with Jews and Gypsies, but with people who the soviets considered race and class enemies.

      The Soviet exterminations and deportations were at least an order of magnitude larger in scale than the national socialist ones.

      Two wrongs never make right

      The symbols of the NSDAP are rightly held in contempt
      but on the argument of the scale of the attrocities being enabled, then the symbols of the alliance (conspiracy even) which enabled the soviet attrocities should be regarded with ten times the contempt.

  9. They say that ‘time heals all wounds’ — but when it comes to anything Nazi-related, it seems the exact opposite has proven true. Today, it’s hard to imagine that way back in the 1970s, there was a popular TV comedy show about WWII Nazis, as well as another show about a car with a giant confederate flag painted on it, another modern-day taboo of increasingly-ancient symbology. And speaking of cars, Volkswagen sold a reproduction of Germany’s WWII military vehicle, the Kübelwagen, in the ’70s. And yet there was little if any protest from anyone at the time — while today, such actions would be unthinkable due to the avalanche of protest they’d unleash. Who would have imagined that a cluster of buildings on a California Naval base that never “triggered” anyone for half a century are now considered so highly offensive due to their arrangement resembling a swastika that they must now be rebuilt?

    It’s unfortunate that the “do your own thing”/ “live and let live” ideals that people fought for in the 1970s have morphed into this kind of oppressive neo-fascist “Cultural Marxism” whose goal is to restrict the freedoms of everyone else and punish those who dare to offend this hyper-sensitive cult of cry-babies. It’s become virtually impossible to do anything today without somehow trespassing on someone’s feelings and ending up in deep trouble over it.

    Actor Clint Eastwood hit the nail on the head with his recent comment:

    “We’re really in a pussy generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells.”

    … and about the gun, I don’t understand why so little is stated about the gun’s and owner’s individual history, Nazi military records being what they were. It’s hard to believe that it was actually captured, as claimed — as if the recipient would have taken such a prized possession onto the battlefield. A more plausible story might have been that it was sold sometime after the war, when many Germans were impoverished and desperate for money, or possibly that the occupation authorities tracked down the owner and forced him to surrender it.

      • It’s also banned in Germany apart from historical contexts. It’s okay on documentaries, history textbooks and even on fictional movies and TV shows that take place during the interwar and Nazi era, but banned in for example video games which have little to do with real history.

      • Hahahahaaaa….

        I remember clearly the guy (government employed official) giving me important interview, while being a refugee in Austria, wore spectacular ring – black stone with silver swastika on it. This was something like mid-70s.

  10. The use of the Nazi Era flag of Germany, Swastika and all should not frowned upon in my opinion. History is history, and the Swastika instantly evokes images of suffering and despair as it rightly should, with any luck people will learn from history and vow never to let the same awful events occur again.

    Furthermore, I have never seen any hesitation to use the hammer and sickle flag of the Soviet Union, a party which is known to have killed many more (of its own) people than the Nazi’s ever did during the purges and mass starvation.

    • Very good observation. I follow public events in current Russia such as military parades and public events with top officials present and man-oh-man I wonder what I see: communist era symbols about. What a phuc is going on? Did they denounce communism or not?

      • Yes they did, but Putin wants to make Russia great again, and the communist era is arguably the last time Russian was great the last time. So, while they are not bringing back the communist (or rather socialist, one should say) economic system or formal Marxist-Leninist ideology, the symbols of the Soviet era are still powerful especially in the minds of the 45+ years old, who still remember it well.

        Putin himself is said to be a fan of the 18th and 19th Century imperial era rather than the Soviets, but that era is “ancient history” and therefore less useful for propaganda purposes. Many older people also remember the communist history teachings, which branded the Czars as reactionary exploiters of the people.

  11. As far as I know, the swastika was actually Buddhist in origin, and stood as a visual symbol of the many aspects of virtuous living espoused by Buddhism, including peace and charity towards all regardless of creed, race or ethnicity. The Buddhist swastika is a reverse ( backwards-facing ) image of the Nazi one, however. Like so many symbols intended to represent good, it has been twisted to suit the purposes of those who may have darker ambitions while claiming to stand for high principles.

    • You may be talking about the sauwastika, but in any case, the sad thing is that the symbol’s “right facing” counterpart has been tainted by the racism and the fanaticism associated with Adolf Hitler and his cronies. Adolf became so hated that all his relatives changed the family name just to get away from revenge-seekers.

      • Hitler’s Brother had a proper job, and I think he tried to get adolf a proper, productive job too;

        he was a waiter in Liverpool, and after that he was a waiter in one of the top hotels in Dublin. AFAIK he retired there.
        I don’t know whether there are still descendants living in Dublin.

  12. As always a very interesting video…I don’t remember you ever having made a bad one .
    I have to hit “donate” when I finish paying for my car. I was surprised it weas not more profusely engraved I wonder if it was finnished to a better degree than standard issue Sauers ? Interestingly. I know of a pistol presented to William Joyce from Goebbles that was buried in a block of parifin wax near the house where he foolishly came out and started chatting up some English soldiers leading to his capture.-This told by his widow long after the war – good metal detector job for someone -if they can legally get the cursed thing out of Germany.

    • Very true but the flag existed prior to the radicals in the Imperial Japanese Army. The sad part of it is that most of the horrible treatment of prisoners was implicitly instituted by said radicals in order to keep all soldiers in line (Japanese soldiers were abused during training and taught to view themselves as worth only a penny). “If you don’t obey, you shall share the prisoners’ fate!” To make matters even worse, communications in Japanese held territory was constantly edited by “politically correct” censors… Did I mess up?

      • No, you are quite right. The Japanese war machine knew exactly what it would take to ensure almost complete obedience from the ordinary soldiers and people, even against their better conscience. The concept of implicit “disgrace” to self and family, which was inculcated as an inherent cultural and historical tenet from long before, was exploited wholesale and emphasized as part of the invaluable contribution to the greater good, regardless of humanitarian considerations. Add to that the usual clauses for the death penalty for desertion in the face of the enemy, ingrained cultural obedience to authority plus the implied penalties that would be visited upon one’s family, and we have the almost perfect formula for ensuring conformity, particularly if a convincing dose of propaganda were thrown into the mix.

        Before anyone starts rationalizing that this sort of sheep-like obedience is merely something that applied to the Japanese and Germans ( as well as the Russians and numerous other groups ), we had better take a long, hard look at our own set of supposed values here in the “free” West. We have smugly made certain assumptions about ourselves and our wonderful systems of democratic freedoms for far too long when in reality we have only been “better off” as a matter of degree that suits our specific context, and not in terms of real equity or substance.

        • Very well put!

          In terms of treatment of prisoners, An old gentleman who I knew (I’m still friends with his son), fought in Burma.

          He’d seen the abuse of prisoners by the Japanese forces, and he said that there were no end of Japanese soldiers who surrendered to them, and he and other British soldiers shot them on the spot.

          If his account can be generalised, it looks like the refusal to surrender story, may be a myth.

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