The Amber Room
What and where is the Amber Room?
The Amber Room was the largest work of art ever made out of amber. It consisted of 100,000 pieces of carved amber accented with diamonds, emeralds, jade, onyx and rubies. These panels covered an entire room of 55 square metres and weighed more than six tons. The amber panels were backed entirely in gold leaf. It took a team of craftsmen ten years to carve, and is sometimes described as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". The amber room is believed to be worth in excess of $250m and is without a doubt the world's greatest lost treasure.
The amber room was commissioned by Frederick I of Prussia in 1701, and later presented to the Russian Czar Peter the Great.
It decorated the Catherine Palace, near St Petersburg, Russia, until September 1941 when invading German troops carried the amber room off to Königsberg in what was then East Prussia (now the Russian city of Kaliningrad). The Amber Room was then displayed in Konigsberg Castle, before being locked away in twenty six crates and stored in the castle's catacombs.
But, when towards the end of the war, the Soviet Army recaptured the city, all traces of the Amber Room had vanished. And the mystery begun.
There are many somewhat conflicting stories concerning the fate and whereabouts of the amber room. Some of the many theories include:
I - the amber room was destroyed in a bomb attack on Konigsberg in August 1944.
II - the amber room was moved to Germany on the personal order of Hitler himself, and that it remains in some unknown subterranean vault, within easy reach of Berlin. Former SS officers have hinted that it's location is 100 kilometres east of Berlin. At the end of the second world war this area became part of Poland.
III - the amber room was loaded on board the German liner the 'Wilhelm Gustloff' and torpedoed in the Baltic by a Russian submarine
IV - whilst being transported to a safe location, out of reach of the Russians, in the west of Germany, the panels of the amber room were dumped in an underground location or salt mine. This location is believed to be somewhere in what was before the end of the second world war Germany, but is now present day Poland. This location behind the Iron Curtain meant that it was not possible to gain access to the amber after the change of the Polish and German borders.
V - German Nazi officer Erich Koch (the former German Gauleiter of Koninsberg) was supposed to have been involved in the disappearance of the amber room from Konigsberg. His last words were "where lies my treasure, also lies the Amber Room."
VI - the amber room was transported south via train to Weimar on the orders of Erich Koch, and buried somewhere near Schlema, 75 kilometres for the German city of Weimar. A mass grave of 50 German soldiers has been found here, so some say that those involved in the move were murdered after putting the amber panels into storage. Thereby, keeping the whereabouts of the amber room a secret.
VII - the amber room along with other Nazi loot was moved to Germany in April 1945 and stored in an old silver mine on the German / Czech border.
VIII - the crates containing the amber panels
were spirited away by sea and unloaded in the ports of Danzig and
Stettin. Different sections of the amber room were then moved seperately
to a location unknown. The idea that different panels were moved
seperately might tie in with the fact that some minor parts of the room
have been discovered in different locations in Germany in recent years.
IX - The new 'reconstruction' of the amber room inside the Catherine Palace in St Petersburg, is in fact the original. And that no-one could admit that the amber room is a restored version of the original amber room because of the potential embarassment the story might cause to persons unknown.
X - President Yeltzin said that he had proof the Amber Room was hidden in a former Nazi bunker. He later withdrew the statement.
More Amber Room Links:
See a 1940 photograph of the amber room here.
Read a report about the 'reconstructed' amber room in St. Petersburg
Read about one possible location of the amber room in Poland: Miedzyrzecz underground bunkers
Contact the writer!
Related Link: Geocaching Treasure Hunt
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