Friday, February 05, 2010

The Amber Room discovered? Time will Tell

The Amber room which falls for me into the category of the Seven Wonders of the world has always fascinated me. It has even been dubbed by some as the "eighth wonder" of the world. Mysterious and alluring as it is what is it that is so fascinating about it? Besides being a whole room made completely of the precious stone Amber, it is a gem of Russian history.

To the left is a picture of the original Amber Room before WWII

It had been said that when all the candles were lit the room glowed gold. Which would not surprise me since amber is light reflective. It had to have been a sight to behold, rendering one speechless.

1716 it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. In Russia it was expanded and after several renovations, it covered more than 55 square meters and contained over six tons of amber.

Later the room was looted by Nazi Germany during WWII even after it was covered with wall paper to conceal its location. The Nazi's still found it and German soldiers disassembled the Amber Room within 36 hours under the supervision of two experts supposedly to be sent to Königsberg in East Prussia. The pieces were put into crates and from there is where the mystery begins.

Some believe the crates were seen at a railway station in Königsberg and it is possible they might have been loaded onto a boat that was sunk by a Soviet submarine. Another possible avenue might be it was taken to Weimar, the location of a "planned propaganda center". At one point later in the war Königsberg was heavily bombed and the the remains of the castle were destroyed by The Red Army in the 1960's.

The castle to the left is Königsberg before WWI.

Never to be found again the mysterious disappearance of The Amber Rooms pieces has intrigued many over the years. In 1997 one Italian stone mosaic that was part of a set of four which had decorated the Amber Room did turn up in western Germany, in the possession of the family of a soldier who had helped pack up the Amber Room

Amber which consists of fossilized tree resin, has always been prized for its natural beauty. Yes just like in Jurassic park it does contain some natural elements like animal and plant material. The uniqueness of Amber also come with a down side. If it is not properly cared for it will turn to dust. Even with modern day Amber jewelry you can not spray perfume or hairspray even possibly near it or it will develop a whitish film on it that may be permante. It is so sensitive it can not rub together like in beads, steam cleaners and ultrasonic cleaners will shatter the gem, it can not come into contact with any strong solutions, soaps, detergents, commercial jewelry cleaning solutions. Even kitchen substances such as lard, salad oil, butter and excessive heat of ovens and burners. Do not place amber art objects near heating ducts or in direct sunshine. Displays in lighted showcases should be properly ventilated. Avoid exposure to sudden changes of temperature, such as hot tubs, very cold water, and reaching into ovens, followed by a cold sink.

A recreated Amber room exist today at Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Someday I would love to see it for myself. I have been following the story of the Amber Room for some time becasue it perodically has showed up in the news. People stating that they think they might have found it but all have came back with empty hands. No Amber, no nothing. Until now a man who might be the closest to come to finding it.

"Priceless Amber Room of the Tsars, looted and hidden by the Nazis, is found by Russia treasure hunter"

"The Amber Room of the Tsars - one of the greatest missing treasures of WW2 that was looted by the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union - may have been found.
A Russian treasure hunter is currently excavating in the enclave of Kaliningrad where he has discovered a World War II era bunker that the local German high command used in the battle for the city in 1945.
If Sergei Trifonov is correct then he has solved one of the greatest riddles left over from the war - and will make himself into a multi-millionaire."

"He anticipates that he will break into the bunker by the end of the month to find the treasure."
The real issue I see is if this man really does get into the bunker and finds the original crates that the Amber panels were loaded into then what about the actual Amber. With no one around to maintain its up keep then the Amber would it not have turned to dust? Time being the enemy here would there really be anything to find or just a pile of dust and some empty crates?


Thank you to the lovely Michelle Moran for posting this wonderful news link on the search for the amber room. It just happens to be another one of my historical obsessions.

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20 comments:

Alyce said...

Thanks for sharing! I've always wondered if anyone would actually find it, but I had no idea about how fragile amber was.

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

I don't believe I've ever even heard of the Amber Room - shame on me!! This was a fascinating post Lizzy and I am anxiously awaiting what they will find when they excavate.

The picture is simply breathtaking...and I can't imagine seeing it in person.

Thanks for posting about this!

Pricilla said...

Amber is an amazing gem. I can only imagine what a whole room of it must have been like.
What a shame it was stolen and not saved.
I don't want to get started on what war hath wrought on the art of the world...

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Thank you for sharing such an interesting story! I had never heard of it before. It's sad to imagine that these things might not have been kept properly, hopefully time won't have done too much damage.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Thank you for sharing such an interesting story! I had never heard of it before. It's sad to imagine that these things might not have been kept properly, hopefully time won't have done too much damage.

NurseExec said...

My mother has several pieces of pre-WWII amber jewelry that my Oma (grandmother in German) brought out of Poland in 1945 when they escaped ahead of the Russian army. They are beautiful pieces, and mean so much to my family. I've followed the story of the Amber Room through the years, and often wonder if it will ever be found...

Muse in the Fog said...

I also read this on Michelle Morans blog. It has always been an interest of mine, I hope they really did find it!

Rheanna said...

I've always been fascinated with the Amber Room too! I just bought an excellent historical-fiction mystery on it. The authors Steve Barry and it's called what else "The Amber Room". I'll be reviewing it soon but if your interested you should check him out.

librarypat said...

Wonderful post. Thank you!

lizzy J said...

Alyce, I had always heard bits and pieces about amber but I too had no idea how serious it was until I researched it.

Amy, Shame on you but now you know and your going to be like me and now always look for more on it. HA I got you hooked too.

Pricilla, It is hard to imagine the beauty of it, overwhelmingly beautiful. I am so in agreement with you so so many greats works of art disappeared because of the war.

Kay, Honestly I would be happy if they just found the original crates. Then they would be able to put it to rest. That yes it was here and yes it is gone because no one cared for it. It would give some sort of closure. But I guess that is why I lump it into the seven wonders because there is basically nothing left of them either.

NurseExec, OOOOH I bet they are to die for. I love family history it is so interesting to hear other peoples history. What a cool family heirloom.

Muse, you saw it too! I actually first heard of this recently bunker awhile ago on yahoo news but I had not heard anything for a loooong time until Michelle posted about it. It is a cool story, Indiana Jones worthy.

Rheanna, I so will check into it thank you for sharing it. I wish someone would make like one of those large coffee table books on it, that would be cool. I love art books like that.

Libary Pat, Thank you I am glad you enjoyed it this has been one of my favorite posts besides St Anges Eve and the last Tsar's family post. It was fun to do but it was hard to weed out the facts.

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

Awesome post, Lizzy, and very well-written! SO interesting - I learned so many new things here!

lizzy J said...

Thank you Allie, this was a fun one to write. I am super happy you made it by to check it out.

Dean J. Baker said...

very interesting to see... thanks

lizzy J said...

Very interesting indeed. Glad you enjoyed it.

4everQueen said...

Wow--this is fascinating! Amber is such a precious stone and I can only imagine being in that room with all the candles lighted and the room taking an atmophere and aura of its own... something to behold!

lizzy J said...

After taking in all the stuff I red on amber I realized how luminescent it would have been. Amber has a rare thing where it is light reactive.

I read about a blue amber which is the rarity it was made by a prehistoric tree in Dominican Republic. Under sunlight it glows florescent blue. Under UV light it turns bright white. Crazy just imagine the yellow amber under thousands of candles.

Mystica said...

Thanks for all the information. By an absolute coincidence one day after reading this I was able to pick up a copy of the book in a second hand booksale. Will come back with a review.

lizzy J said...

Lucy Mystica I added it to my Amazon list. I have been checking every local goodwill for books the past few days and I have not found one yet.

Defiantly let me know how it goes.

Charleybrown said...

Interesting article! I've never heard of the Amber room. Thanks for posting!

lizzy J said...

I actually was surprised that more people have not heard of it. Some people really surprised me. I am glad you enjoyed it now you wont be able to leave it alone.

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