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Monday, 31 August 2015
Poland Stakes Claim in Nazi Gold Train Drama
Topic: Amber Room
The recent alleged discovery of a Nazi train filled with gold, art and other treasures has created headlines around the world. Some even speculate that the train may hold the missing Amber Room. Despite the fact that no one has yet seen the phantom train - other than two treasure hunters - has not stopped Poland and the World Jewish Congress from joining the list of claimants. If the train does in fact exist, and that the gold and other treasures originated in Russia, this historic discovery will surely ignite a new war of words, putting even further pressure on relations between Russia and its neighbours. The drama continues in the following article published in Russia Today . . .  

The Nazi gold train that made headlines last week could contain the legendary Amber Room, presented to Tsar Peter the Great by the King of Prussia, according to British author and journalist Tom Bower. Meanwhile, the Polish have lawyered up, staking a claim to the finds.

The story of the train, lost to the world for 70 years, does seem to be real, according to official Polish claims, which follow reports by two treasure hunters. The authorities have warned foragers to steer clear, claiming there is a possibility the train could be booby-trapped. Not only the fortune seekers, but the Polish authorities as well, have been on the hunt for the legendary treasure for decades.

However, the find’s authenticity remains in dispute. Despite wide accusations that last week’s claim was a hoax, Piotr Zuchowski, head of national heritage at Poland’s Culture Ministry, said he has seen a geo-radar image of what is claimed to be the discovered train. As shown in the picture, it would be more than 100 meters long. The data was presented by the lawyers of the two men who say they found it.

Local tales claim that the train vanished near Ksiaz castle, about two miles south-east of Walbrzych.

But the discovery – which already has everyone excited at the prospect of finding gold, gems and precious metal ores worth an estimated $385 million – could contain an even bigger prize, according to Tom Bower, a prominent British investigative journalist and author of several books, including ‘Nazi Gold: the Full Story of the Fifty-Year Swiss-Nazi Conspiracy to Steal.’ He is particularly known for a series of investigations into WWII topics, as well as his unauthorized biographies.

Speaking to Sky News, Bower expressed hopes that the room, which was comprised entirely of intricate amber designs, but looted by the Nazis during WWII, could be hiding inside the train. The chamber was decorated with amber panels, complete with gold ornaments and mirrors. A meticulously-restored replica unveiled in 2003 is currently housed in its rightful home – Catherine the Great’s palace in Tsarskoye Selo, south of the city of St. Petersburg. 

Referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the room – originally designed as a study – was presented by Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm I to Russian Tsar Peter the Great in 1716. It was looted by the Germans sometime in 1941, who then took it to Koenigsberg – now Russia’s Baltic exclave, Kaliningrad. All traces of it have been lost since.

A great deal of art was stolen by the Nazis in wartime Europe, so the story is not all that extraordinary, Brown says. But “If it is an art train there will be a huge amount of paintings, perhaps diamonds, rubies, precious stones,” he said, adding that it’s not entirely impossible that the fabled “amber room” could be concealed there as well.

But the Polish are not giving up so easily. Warning people that Russia was allegedly trying to lay claim to the mystery train’s contents as war reparations, Zuchowski told Polish Radio Jedynka that “The analysis we have conducted with our lawyers quite clearly states that, if the train is found, it will be owned by the State Treasury.”

Interestingly, this is the same Polish minister who earlier said that Russia could be a potential claimant.

The World Jewish Congress has also joined the list of would-be claimants, although an analysis of the allegedly found train’s contents would have to be carried out to determine if anything inside had belonged to Jews persecuted by the Nazis.

“If any of these items were stolen from Jews before they were murdered, or sent to forced labor camps, every measure must be taken to return them to their owners, or their heirs,” CEO Robert Singer said in a statement, as cited by The Telegraph. 

“In case no survivors or heirs can be found, any gold or other property that is found to have belonged to Jewish families or businesses must now inure to the benefit of Polish Jewish survivors, as they have unfortunately never been adequately compensated by Poland for the suffering they endured, and or their catastrophic economic losses in the Holocaust,” Singer said, adding that he hopes Poland will “take appropriate actions” in that event.

The Polish government is asking people not to jump to conclusions, as it will still be “a few months” before workers get to see what’s inside, according to Zuchowski.

It also remains to be seen who would take part in determining the value of the contents. Sputnik cited Russian human rights lawyer Mikhail Joffe, who believes Russian representatives “should undoubtedly be involved” in the assessment, and says the evaluation must involve “international experts.” 

International law has it that the contents belong to the territory from which they were taken, according to Joffe.

Whatever the contents or their value, the finders can expect a 10 percent fee, as per Zuchowski’s promises, and should be reimbursed by either the ministry or the owners, he said. 

However, premature speculations about the Amber Room may well turn out to be a case of counting your chickens before they hatch. Unfortunately, there is a good chance the room – if it was indeed smuggled out of the burning Nazi city of Koenigsberg – has not survived, as amber is very fragile and needs proper climate control. Lacking this, the fine-crafted jewelry could easily have been damaged beyond repair. 
© Russia Today / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 31 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:58 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 31 August 2015 6:21 PM EDT
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Saturday, 29 August 2015
Nazi Gold Train Could Contain Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room

The Amber Room as it looked in 1932
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 29th, 2015 edition of the Daily Mail. Flora Drury own the copyright of the text presented below. 
The recent claimed discovery of a Nazi gold train is not only stirring hope in western Poland, but it has also rekindled theories on the fate of the long-lost Amber Room panels that were plundered by a Nazi army force from the Catherine Palace outside Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, in 1941. The panels were taken to Koenigsberg Castle and reassembled within weeks, but Adolf Hitler ordered all valuables removed from the Reich's eastern edge in January 1945.

The Nazi gold train could contain an ornate room crafted out of amber, gold and precious jewels which has been missing since it was looted during World War II, it has been claimed.

Journalist Tom Bower, who wrote Nazi Gold: the Full Story of the Fifty-Year Swiss-Nazi Conspiracy to Steal, has said he believes there is a high likelihood the hidden locomotive is filled with art and precious jewels, rather than bars of gold.

But what he really hopes to find in the train discovered abandoned in a tunnel underneath a Polish mountain is the Amber Room, stolen from the Catherine Palace, near St Petersburg, in about 1941.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Bower said: 'If it is an art train, there will be paintings, there will be perhaps diamonds, there will be rubies and precious stones and also, the one thing that's always been missing, the Amber Room.
'I think it is far more exciting to think perhaps that is in the train.'

The Nazis dismantled the room - thought to be worth about £250million - when they arrived at the Russian palace in October 1941.

The Russians had tried to conceal the grand room, a gift to Peter the Great by the King of Prussia in 1716, by covering it in wallpaper, but their plan was foiled.

The room was then taken by the Germans by rail to Koenigsberg Castle, in what was then East Prussia. Now, the castle is found in the city of Kaliningrad. 

But it disappeared In January 1945, after air raids and a savage ground assault on the city.

While some claimed it had been destroyed in the raids, others reported seeing 40 wagons moving away from the castle under a cloak of secrecy after the city fell to the Red Army.

To Mr Bower, it is entirely possible the train may have made the almost 400-mile journey across Poland to Walbrzych, on the border with the Czech Republic. 

'As the Russians advanced and the Allies came in from the west, there was a huge movement as the Germans sought to keep it for themselves,' he explained.

Initially taken with a grain of salt, the story has gained credibility after a culture ministry official said he saw a ground-penetrating radar image of the alleged train on which he could make out platforms and cannons.

'I'm more than 99 percent sure such a train exists, but the nature of its contents is unverifiable at the moment,' Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski said Friday.

© Flora Drury & The Daily Mail / Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:49 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 29 August 2015 1:59 PM EDT
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Saturday, 7 March 2015
Treasure Hunters Resume Hunt for Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room

Members of a group on a quest to locate the infamous Nazi-looted Amber Room in the northern German
The hunt for the fabled Amber Room is still on, 70 years after its disappearance. Three rival digs are getting underway in Germany, each confident of finding the valuable treasure - if it still exists. The latest information for the search for the fabled Amber Room was published in the March 6th edition of Deutsche Welle.
Click on the link below to read the full article and view the colour photographs:
© Deutsche Welle. 07 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 7 March 2015 7:03 AM EST
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Thursday, 5 March 2015
German Pensioner On Treasure Hunt for Russia's Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room

The Amber Room, Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo
A pensioner has started digging in Germany's western Ruhr region for the Amber Room, a priceless work of art looted by Nazis from the Soviet Union during World War II and missing for 70 years, but says he needs a new drill to help him.

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Amber Room was an ornate chamber made of amber panels given to Tsar Peter the Great by Prussia's Friedrich Wilhelm I in 1716.

German troops stole the treasure chamber from a palace near St. Petersburg in 1941 and took it to Koenigsberg, now the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, before it disappeared.

Conspiracy theories abound about the whereabouts of what some say is the world's most valuable piece of lost art. Some historians think it was destroyed in the war, others say Germans smuggled it to safety.

Now 68-year-old pensioner Karl-Heinz Kleine says he thinks the chamber is hidden under the town of Wuppertal, deep in western Germany's industrial Ruhr area.

After analyzing the evidence, Kleine has concluded that Erich Koch, who was the Nazis' chief administrator in East Prussia, may have secretly dispatched it to his home town.

"Wuppertal has a large number of tunnels and bunkers which have not yet been searched for the Amber Room. We have started looking in possible hiding places here," Kleine said.

"But the search is very costly. We need helpers, special equipment and money," Kleine said, adding that a building firm that had lent him a drill had asked for it back.

"I only have a small pension, a new machine is too expensive for me. But whoever helps will get his share of the Amber Room when we find it," he said.

"I am optimistic. I just need the tools, then it could go quickly," he said.

Even Communist East Germany's loathed Stasi secret police tried and failed to find the Amber Room. Hobby treasure hunters have launched expensive searches for it across Germany, from lake bottoms to mines in the eastern Ore Mountains. But in vain.

Historians say Erich Koch, convicted of war crimes by a Polish court, amassed a hoard of looted art and had it transported west from Koenigsberg in the final months of the war as the Soviet forces drew closer.

Russian craftsmen, helped by German funds, have recreated a replica of the Amber Room at the Catherine Palace from where the original was stolen. 
© The Moscow Times. 05 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:36 AM EST
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Inside the Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 14th, 2014 edition of The Daily Mail. The author Sanya Burgess owns the copyright presented below. All photographs © Alamy.

Take a close-up look at the stunning interiors of the Amber Room, located in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Click on the link below to view a beautiful collection of 16 colour photographs. 

The Amber Room is the subject of a new episode of The Treasure Hunters on BBC One in the United Kingdom. Watch a short video in English of the documentary, hosted by Ellie Harrison, who investigates the Amber Room - a room so bejewelled with amber that it was thought to be the eighth wonder of the world - but its fate is surrounded by mystery.  


© Sanya Burgess @ The Daily Mail. 15 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:11 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 April 2014 4:24 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Nazi Art Cache May Lead to the Lost Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room

The Amber Room as it looks today in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Photo Credit: EPA
The source for the information in the following article is condensed from an article which appeared in The Daily Mail on November 6, 2013. The article was written by Guy Walters and Tom Kelly, both of whom own the copyright to most of the information in this article, with additional information by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia.
Last week, a raid by police on a Munich apartment uncovered a cache of artwork confiscated by the Nazis during World War II. Authorities estimate the paintings to be worth more than $1.4 billion USD.

The owner of the apartment, Cornelius Gurlitt claims to know the whereabouts of the famed Amber Room panels from the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. 

According to Cornelius’s cousin Ekkeheart Gurlitt, 65, who lives in Barcelona: ‘He has always said: “I can tell you where the Amber Room is.” 'He has told us this all his life — “before I die, I will tell the public where it is, but not before”.’

If the claim is true, then it will shock the art world even more profoundly than the announcement of the discovery of some 1,500 artworks in Cornelius Gurlitt’s flat — whose existence was revealed last week, two years after they were discovered by German authorities during a tax investigation.

The Amber Room has long been considered the world’s most valuable piece of lost art after its six tons of amber panels were looted by the Nazis during World War II. Although it is widely believed the panels were destroyed in a fire at Konigsberg Castle in April 1945, there has never been any definitive proof of this. Over the decades, there have been countless investigations into the whereabouts of the room. One of the most outstanding pieces of art ever created, today it would easily be worth more than $300 million USD. 

The Amber Room after it was plundered by the Nazis in 1945. Photo Credit: Rex
Designed by sculptor Andreas Schlüter, it was started in 1701, and originally installed in Charlottenburg Palace, home of the kings of Prussia. But during a state visit, the room caught the eye of Peter the Great. The Prussian monarch, Frederick William I, keen to cement a union with Russia, decided to present the room as a gift to the Russian Tsar. It was moved to the Winter House in St Petersburg, then installed at the Catherine Palace in 1755. 

After some renovations, it remained undisturbed until the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Despite the best attempt by the Russians to hide the exquisite panels behind flimsy wallpaper, the Germans soon found the Amber Room, and tore it down within just 36 hours, before shipping it to Konigsberg Castle on Germany’s Baltic coast, where it is said to have met its fate.

Now, we are faced with the tantalising prospect of the continued existence of one of the world’s most wonderful treasures. As the owner of his own impressive — albeit secret — art collection, and with a father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, who acted for the Third Reich as an art dealer, it is entirely plausible that Cornelius might know what became of it. Last week, many more details emerged about the mysterious Mr Gurlitt, who is now missing. However, Ekkeheart, a photographer, would not reveal if he knew if his cousin was still alive. If Cornelius Gurlitt is in fact dead, then he has left behind one of the most extra-ordinary mysteries of recent times — for surely the story of what became of the Amber Room would have died with him.
© The Daily Mail and Royal Russia. 12 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:23 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 12 November 2013 11:36 AM EST
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Saturday, 13 July 2013
Amber Room Welcomes 10 Millionth Visitor
Topic: Amber Room


The Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum Reserve announced this week that it had acheived an historic milestone that it has been looking forward to for the past few months. The Amber Room in the Catherine Palace has welcomed its 10 millionth visitor. 

Andrei Tebryaev, a businessman from Chelyabinsk, Siberia received a commemorative plaque, a copy of the book Three Centuries of the Amber Miracle, and a bouquet of flowers from the greenhouses at Tsarskoye Selo.
The Amber Room opened to the public on May 31, 2003, it is now considered by many as the "eighth wonder of the world."

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:47 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 July 2013 8:12 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Russian Craftsmen to Recreate Parts of Lost Amber Room
Topic: Amber Room


A colour autochrome of the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace taken before the Second World War 

Russian craftsmen in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad are to recreate parts of the legendary Amber Room, a Tsarist-era antiquity which was looted by German forces at the end of World War II.

The restoration plan by the regional government of Kaliningrad, the Russian Baltic exclave with the world's largest known amber deposits, is part of a campaign to stop illegal mining in amber-rich areas near the Baltic coast.

Experts estimate that 60-100 tons of amber is mined illegally every year in the Kaliningrad Region, which is believed to hold more than 90 percent of the world's total known amber reserves and is home to the world’s only strip-mined natural amber deposit.

King Frederick I invited German craftsmen to decorate the main hall of his palace with amber panels shortly after his accession to the Prussian throne in 1701. But after the king’s death in 1713, his son Frederick Wilhelm I put an end to the expensive work, and put the amber panels on the walls of a small room of the Large Royal Palace in Berlin.

Three years later, he gave the panels as a present to Russia's Tsar Peter I, who stored them in the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg. It was only in 1743 that Empress Elizaveta Petrovna decided to use the amber panels to decorate one of her main chambers in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

The original decorations were enlarged and were eventually turned into the legendary Amber Room, often referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world."

The decorations were looted during World War II by Nazi German forces, and taken to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) where they were lost in the fierce fighting and air raids there at the end of the war in 1945. Only two small parts of the room's decoration were eventually rediscovered and returned to Russia.

According to the region’s Culture Minister Svetlana Kondratyeva, the recreated room will be installed in the 1899 building of the Konigsberg State Amber Factory following its renovation, which will then be transferred to the city’s Museum of Amber.

Museum visitors will be able to watch the craftsmen at work replicating the room through a glass pane.

© RIA Novosti (Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia). 15 May, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 May 2013 6:35 AM EDT
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Friday, 13 April 2012
Hunt for Amber Room to Begin Again in Germany
Topic: Amber Room


The governor of Germany’s Nobitz municipality Hendrik Labe announced plans to search for the legendary Amber Room, looted by Nazi Germany during the World War II, in a local forest, the Bild newspaper said on Tuesday.

Labe said the search would be conducted on the border between the eastern German states of Thuringia and Saxony. Digging is due to begin this spring.

He sited research by amateur historian Thomas Kuschel, who collected wintesses' statements about the last days of the war. He also conducted a geoelectric sounding of the area, which revealed cavities measuring 70 by 40 meters deep in the ground.

“I’m sure we will eventually find something here,” Bild quoted Kuschel as saying.

Labe is not the first German official to announce a search for the legendary treasure, housed at the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg and looted during WWII by Nazi Germany. It was brought to Konigsberg (Kaliningrad) and its further whereabouts were lost in the chaos at the end of the war in 1945.

The Amber Room is also being searched for by Heinz-Peter Haustein, the mayor of Deutschneudorf in Saxony. The search is being conducted in an abandoned copper mine in the Ore mountains, where a radar screening revealed a large amount of metal, believed to be too dense for copper.

Haustein said that the search in Nobitz is unlikely to yield any result. He added that the treasure hunting in the Ore mountains will resume after Easter.

The Amber Room is the 18th century chamber of amber panels, which was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to Russia's Peter the Great as a gift in 1716.

The six-ton treasure, dubbed the "eighth wonder of the world," is decorated with pure amber panels, mirrors and precious stones.

Only two small elements of the room's decoration were eventually rediscovered and returned to Russia.

A partial replica of the Amber Room has been recreated according to available blueprints at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg.

© RIA Novosti. 13 April, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:32 PM EDT
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Friday, 30 March 2012
Historian Sheds Light on Germany's Amber Room Hunt
Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 6 minutes, 41 seconds
Topic: Amber Room

A German historian has made some remarkable discoveries about the missing "Amber Room” – an art collection dubbed the eighth wonder of the world.

­Studying declassified intelligence files, Mario Morgner found out that East Germany was devoting huge amount of time, energy and money trying to locate St. Petersburg's missing "Amber Room."

The Amber Room, once located outside St. Petersburg, was designed by German Baroque sculptor Andreas Schlueter in 17th century as a present for Russian tsar Peter the Great from King Friedrich Wilhelm I. The room was lavishly decorated with amber panels, golden ornaments, mosaics, and gems.

During World War II, it was dismantled and shipped by German troops to Koenigsberg, now Kaliningrad. The room was put on display in the royal palace, but soon it was damaged by a fire and subsequently disappeared.

There have been many rumors and theories about where the Amber room went. In his new book “Geheimsache Bernsteinzimmer” (“Secret File Amber Room”), Morgner reveals previously unknown data on an East German intelligence operation called “Pushkin” that lasted for decades.

According to Morgner’s findings, the intelligence spent millions of marks to find the treasure. They thoroughly searched the mountains of East Prussia, where they thought they might find the remains of the room.

“There were about 120 locations that were opened up – old mines, depots, etc., mainly in the Ore Mountains,” Morgner told BusinessWeek. “But nothing much was found except for old rubber boots and rusting weapons. No trace of the Amber Room.”

Still, Morger insists that the room still exists.

“It would probably be a huge 3-D puzzle, interesting for art historians to look at to see the craftsmanship, but probably impossible to put back together again,” Morgner said. “The amber itself is indestructible. It can burn and it darkens with time, but it doesn’t decay.”

© Russia Today. 30 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 March 2012 1:46 PM EDT
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