With an interest in World War II, I have long been fascinated by the story of the Amber Room. I posted a news story on it back in October, and it is still the MOST widely read post in the history of this blog.
Below is a second news article by the United Kingdom's Daily Mail on the Amber Room from January 2010 - absolutely fascinating stuff. In it, a historian claimed that he found the Amber Room somewhere in Kaliningrad, Russia, which used to be German East Prussia. I will see if I find an update on this article as well as more current news articles on the Amber Room. Stay tuned!
'Priceless' Amber Room of the Tsars, looted and hidden by the Nazis, is 'found' by Russian treasure hunter
By Allan HallThe Amber Room of the Tsars - one of the greatest missing treasures of WW2 that was looted by the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union - may have been found.A Russian treasure hunter is currently excavating in the enclave of Kaliningrad where he has discovered a World War II era bunker that the local German high command used in the battle for the city in 1945.If Sergei Trifonov is correct then he has solved one of the greatest riddles left over from the war - and will make himself into a multi-millionaire. He anticipates that he will break into the bunker by the end of the month to find the treasure.
Crafted entirely out of amber, gold and precious stones, the room made of numerous panels was a masterpiece of baroque art and widely regarded as the world's most important art treasure. When its 565 candles were lit the Amber Room was said to 'glow a fiery gold'. It is estimated to be worth around £150million, but many consider it priceless. It was presented to Peter the Great in 1716 by the King of Prussia. Later, Catherine the Great commissioned a new generation of craftsmen to embellish the room and moved it from the Winter Palace in St Petersburg to her new summer abode in Tsarskoye Selo, outside the city.
The room was seized by the marauding Germans during their onslaught on Russia in 1941. Prussian count Sommes Laubach, the Germans' 'art protection officer' and holder of a degree in art history, supervised the room's transport to Koenigsberg Castle in what was then East Prussia.
In January 1945, after air raids and a savage ground assault on the city, the room was lost. Ever since the Amber Room has become the new El Dorado, a quest that enthralled the wealthy and the poor alike. The Maigret author Georges Simenon founded the Amber Room Club to track it down once and for all. Everyone had a different theory of what might have befallen the work. The German official in charge of the amber shipment said the crates were in a castle that burned down in an air raid.
Others think the room sank to the bottom of the Baltic Sea in a torpedoed steamer used by the Nazis, or that it was hacked up by Red Army troops and sent home like sticks of rock as souvenirs of their conquest. Historian Trifonov, however, believes he has solved the riddle and that the treasure lies in the bunker 40 feet down in the soil of Koenigsberg. 'Believe me or not, it's there, 12 metres down in the sub-soil,' he said, pointing to the entrance of a bunker that sheltered the Nazi high command in the last hours of the Battle of Koenigsberg.
'This place was built in February 1945 with two aims: accommodating the headquarters of General Otto Lasch and storing the treasures of Konigsberg, a city under siege.'Königsberg, in what was then German East Prussia, is now Kaliningrad, the capital of Russia's westernmost region of the same name.
To test his theory, Trifonov has begun to probe the soil under the bunker using a ground-penetrating radar and has started to pump out water. He has already unearthed a brick-lined room. The bunker is 1,000 yards from the site of the castle that demolished in 1967. He says he has 'information' from archives that this is the repository of the fabled room, but he isn't saying where his sources are. The governor of Kaliningrad appears convinced and has provided financing for the dig. But many remain sceptical.
'He's a good storyteller but he can't prove anything,' said Vladimir Kulakov, an expert at Russia's Institute of Archaeology, who has also dug in the soil under the bunker in the search for the Amber Room. Anatoly Valuyev, deputy director of Kaliningrad's History and Art Museum, which takes in the bunker, was more hopeful. 'It's good that people think that the treasure is there. They have energy and the museum gains from this,' he said. 'We still hope that the Amber Room is somewhere in Kaliningrad,' he said. 'There are plenty of underground sites left to explore. If they don't find it here, they'll look elsewhere.'