The Mystery of the Amber Room

natural amberThe Amber Room in the Summer Residential House of the Russian Royal family, not far from St Pteresburg has been considered as an 8th Wonder of the World, and for a good reason.

The construction of the room started in 1701 by German and Dutch architects and craftsmen and in 1716 it was presented by Prussia to its then ally Russian King Peter the Great.   6 tones (13000 lbs) of  amber of 350 different shades covered 55 square meters (590 sq ft) of the room.

During the WWII St Petersburg remained under Nazi siege  for almost two years, and just before the attack the curators of the Room tried to conceal the panels with the ordinary wallpaper. But Nazis knew exactly what to look for and where, so the wall panels were taken down and sent to Koenigsberg, at that time part of Germany, today Kaliningrad on the territory of Russia. Koenigsberg is the last place where this room was seen.

In 1945 the Koenigsberg castle was heavily bombed and attached by the soviet artillery. And the room vanished. Since then, even until now the enthusiasts and professionals refuse to acknowledge the fact that this amazing treasure has been lost to the mankind and the search continues.

Konigsberg1

koenigsberg-1945

Right after the war Russian KGB together with Eastern German Stasi (Secret Police) started looking for the room independently from each other. There were hints that led nowhere but created more hints. The two secret services were competing with each other in hope to find the room first but to no avail.

The Koenigsburg Castle search gave no results, even if there were found some minor traces of 3 out of 4 mosaic panels.

amber 4In 1968 Brejhnev, at that time the leader of the USSR gave the orders to demolish the remnants of the Koenigsburg castle, despite the global academic protests. The Communists have habitually demolished and destroyed cultural values in their own countries before, but this seemed to be a little bit extreme. Demolishing ancient churches took place in the name of Atheism, Royal Palaces were robbed of treasures in the name of Communism itself. From 1917 the entire country survived on these treasures. But demolishing a Castle in order to build a new administrative building on it’s place was decided just like that, with no obvious reason behind it. Sounds like a cover up to me.

By the way the construction of the new administrative building was almost finished, but it sank, because the dungeons of the old Castle collapsed underneath. Typical soviet way of building grand structures without any proper knowledge. The exterior of the building was nicely covered up for the visit pf the President Putin in 2005. Just bad old habit, covering up a façade to pretend that everything is wonderful, even now. I guess it’s just so hard getting rid of useless old habits.amber1

So the search of the Amber Room continued until the 80-ies. Some enthusiasts haven’t given up yet, but in my opinion they should. Apparently the search of the Room started immediately after Nazis left Koenigsburg in 1945, on the orders of the Soviet State. The Red Army general reported to the headquarters after the investigation that after the castle suffered heavy bombing and artillery attack, the Russian troops have burnt the castle, symbolically, as the end of the war and Nazism. But it sounded that the famous Amber Room was destroyed by Soviet troops. Again this report was tucked away on a far shelf and probably KGB was charged with the order to start the search together with Stasi, to make the general population, especially in eastern Germany, that the room still exists. It was more convenient to blame Nazis in the disappearance of the national treasures. My guess is, this is exactly why it was decided to build a new Administrative building in the place of the old Castle in late 60-ies.

The Black and White photo of the original Amber Room

The Black and White photo of the original Amber Room

Finally in 1979 the decision was made to recreate the precious Amber Room. The project required skills and financial means which exceeded the capacities of both countries. Amber craftsman were too few left, so was amber itself. Besides the only photos of the original were black and white and it was extremely hard, or almost impossible to recreate the color palette of the room. Apparently there were several panels which were destroyed and created over and over again, until the satisfactory final version. With no skills and no money the work was going very slow. But in 1989, after the Berlin was demolished, the German Energy company E.ON contributed 3.5 million dollars for the completion of the project, as a gift to the USSR in gratitude for reuniting Germany again. This I call loving your enemies. Can not stop admiring this deed.

In 2003 the new Room was finished and reinstalled in the Ekaterininsky Dvorets (Catherine’s Palace), it’s old home. But still, as beautiful as it is, it is still far from the original version, as the knowledgeable people say.Amber_for_website_thumb

As a matter of fact, again the Germans, this time the German “Spiegel” financed the search of the dungeons of the Koenigsberg Castle and to the excitement of the archaeologists some part of the treasures have been recovered. The research continues and who knows, maybe the mystical Amber Room is still somewhere there. I doubt it.

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One thought on “The Mystery of the Amber Room

  1. Pingback: The Mystery of the Amber Room | Apparently Great

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