Amber was once much more valuable than gold. It was so expensive because they had to be painstakingly fished out of the Baltic sea (see my past post on The Amber Fishermen).

In 1701, one of the world's greatest treasures was commissioned by Frederick I of Prussia (1657-1713). Huge panels were constructed with intricate amber designs and were later sent as a gift to Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725) Those panels became an integral part of the legendary Amber Room under the reign of Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796). She had them installed in her palace near St Petersburg. Such was the beauty and fame that one visitor wrote in 1866, "The eye is amazed and blinded by the wealth and warmth of tints - from smoky topaz up to a light lemon." It was even once considered the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Amber Room remained there until the Second World War. When the Nazi armies invaded the Soviet Union and advanced towards major cities, Russian curators were ordered to pack up millions of their precious objects and send them for safekeeping elsewhere. But the curator decided the Amber Room was too fragile and too complex to take apart so they hid it by constructing another room over it using muslin and cotton padding. But the Nazis did find it and dismantled it in just 36 hours! They packed it into crates and took them to Königsberg Castle in the German town now called Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast. No one has seen the Amber Room since.

Many people have spent fortunes trying to find it and many are still at it. Both the Soviet Union and Germany have accused each other for stealing each other's art treasures. So what did happen to the Amber Room?

Acclaimed investigative reporters, Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy did some pretty exhaustive research and believe they have discovered the true fate of the Amber Room (see reference below). In the dying months of the Second World War in 1945, the German army surrendered Konisberg to the Russian Red Army. At that point, eyewitnesses said that Konisberg Castle was not burnt. However, by the time Soviet curators arrived later on to try and recover their treasures, the castle was a charred ruin.

The fact that one of Russian's greatest treasures was accidentally torched by its own vengeful soldiers was suppressed for decades. An alternative and shaky theory was proposed by the curator, Anatoly Kuchumov, who did not want to be thought negligent for not dismantling the room in the first place. He claimed that the Amber Room was moved somewhere else. The Russian leadership at the time went along with it for the truth would have been embarrassing.

All that is really left of the Amber Room are 28 small pieces which fell off the walls before the Second World War and have been kept stuck on a piece of cardboard. The Soviet Union have since built a replica which was inaugurated in 2003. But that will not assuage the many teams still looking for the Amber Room. To this very day, there are theories upon counter-theories. If Scott-Clark and Levy are right, it will never be found.

Pre WWII photo of Amber Room
Catherine Scott-Clark & Adrian Levy (2004) . The Amber Room : The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasure. Viking, Canada.
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM