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BLOOMINGTON - A rare German gun that may have belonged to Adolf Hitler already is worth $13,000 in an auction conducted by a local pawnshop.

The auction ends Thursday night, and the Krieghoff Drilling shotgun/rifle should get a flurry of late bids, said Wes Lane, owner of Midwest Exchange, the pawnshop hosting the auction at www.gunbroker.

"Most of our big bidders don't get into a bidding war in the beginning of the auction," Lane said, noting the gun has drawn eight bids so far. "They want to stay back and get it at the end for a good price."

Engraved with the initials A.H., the Drilling likely was given to Hitler as a gift by the Krieghoff gun company in the years leading up to World War II, Lane said. He said he expects the gun to be sold for more than $50,000.

There's no official proof the gun was Hitler's, but a family from Central Illinois has tried to document how it made its journey to the United States after being seized from one of Hitler's palaces in the Bavarian mountains.

A man from the U.S. Army's 506th parachute regiment supposedly sold the gun to an Army lieutenant, who later settled in Central Illinois and kept the gun under his bed for decades, taking it out only occasionally to hunt.

When the man died, his family started investigating the gun's past and learned about its notorious original owner.

Bidding opened at $10,000. Lane said he expects several bidders to try to outbid each other in the final 15 minutes of the auction.

The auction is supposed to end at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but the gun-broker Web site has a 15-minute rule that allows buyers to keep making bids.

The sale will not be final until a bid stands for 15 minutes without being exceeded, Lane said.

"I'd like to see the auction extended all night and into the next day," Lane said.


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