The Mysterious History of the Amber Room: Part 3

Originally, it was believed that the room had been very well-hidden – the Soviet Union even launched massive searches. However, the room was never found. Some think that the room was sunk by allied forces while being transported by ship. But, most historians believe that the Amber Room never left the grounds of Königsberg Castle.

Königsberg Castle was burnt to the ground when the Russians invaded – although no one is sure who started the fire. One theory suggests that the Germans hid the Amber Room in the catacombs below the castle, which were lost in the castle’s collapse. Not wanting to be seen as the destroyers of the precious Amber Room, the Soviets covered up evidence of the room’s destruction, they held “pretend” searches for the room, and blamed the Nazis. However, the Russian government vehemently denies this.

A theory common in present-day Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) is that the Amber Room survived in the catacombs, but went undiscovered until after the war. Amber dries out and crumbles when it is not properly cared for. The theory goes that the Russians later discovered the Amber Room’s resting place, but it had long since crumbled away. It surely would have left large amounts of gold foil, but it may have been too cumbersome to salvage. This would explain why the ruins of the castle were highly restricted through the 1960s, then demolished in 1968 to make room for a new building, the House of Soviets.

Despite the disappearance of the Amber Room, its memory persisted. Eventually, construction efforts for a new Amber Room went underway in 1979, backed by at least $3.5 million of financial assistance from Germany. Russian craftsmen worked from old photographs of the original Amber Room and had it fully recreated in 2003. The new Amber Room adorns Catherine Palace in Pushkin – a mere 25 kilometers from where the original once stood in St. Petersburg.

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