This remarkable 12-gauge Merkel Model 303 over-under shotgun is thought to have been a gift from Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain to Reichmarschall Hermann Göring (1893-1946). The gun, in its French gray leather case, was presented to Göring In Dankbarkeit (In Gratitude) at his famed hunting lodge Carinhall in July 1937.
Göring had been an ace fighter pilot during World War I, having flown with Manfred von Richtofen’s “Flying Circus,” and he was a recipient of the Pour le Merite, better known as the “Blue Max.” Credited with up to 22 aerial victories, Göring was in command of the “Flying Circus” by war’s end. He was an early supporter of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi party and eventually became head of the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s designated successor. Captured in Bavaria in 1945, he was convicted of war crimes during the Nuremburg trials but committed suicide before he could be executed.
This exceptional shotgun includes cased accessories, such as Göring’s field marshal epaulettes, a medallion with Göring’s profile, a sharpshooter’s badge and an embossed cigar case. One of hundreds of firearms “liberated” from various Göring estates at war’s end, this stunning Merkel was presented as a gift from General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower to General of the Armies John J. Pershing in June 1945.
Purchased at auction by Robert E. Petersen, the Merkel is now a part of the Robert E. Petersen Gallery at NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va. The museum is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is closed Christmas Day.