The Amber Room Mystery

The Amber Room was the most beautiful and elaborate artistic creation in amber that the world had ever known. This entire room built of specially selected pieces of amber had been commissioned by the German king Frederick I in 1701, had taken almost ten years for countless craftsmen to make, and was eventually installed in the Main Palace in Berlin.

In 1716, Frederick William I, son and successor of Frederick I, signed the Prussian-Russian Alliance with Czar Peter I. To commemorate this occasion, Frederick presented the czar with the Amber Room. It was then installed in the old Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, but in 1755 was moved to the Catherine Palace in Zarskoje Selo (now Pushkin), During World War II, the German advance on Leningrad was so rapid that the Russians had no time to remove or conceal the Amber room. Although the Germans never reached Leningrad, whose inhabitants defended themselves gallantly, they did reach Pushkin and there they found the amber treasures. Just as many fine works of art were confiscated by the advancing troops, so was the Amber Room destined to change hands again.

The entire room was dismantled and packed in crates, and awaited shipment to Königsberg. The crates were loaded aboard the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff, which left the Leningrad harbor at night. But before it could reach Germany the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a Russian submarine. Thus the Amber Room settled to the bottom of the Baltic Sea in no-man’s-land. Of course, nothing could be done about it until the war had ended. Several months later, a group of Russian divers found the sunken ship and launched a large underwater expedition to recover the Amber Room. When they finally entered the boat, they discovered that a large hole had been cut into the hull and all of the crates containing the Amber room were gone.

To this day, nobody knows what happened to the Amber Room or where it is now…

The Quest for Life in Amber, 1994, George and Roberta Poinar