Could secret entrance to tunnel hidden in WWII bunker complex be hiding the Amber Room?
World War II treasure hunters say they have found the entrance to a secret tunnel which could contain the long-lost Amber Chamber.
A concrete plate covering the entrance was discovered in Mamerki in the north eastern Mazury region of Poland, where during the war the Wehrmacht built a headquarters in the forest not far from Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair.
Using specialist geo-radar equipment, staff from the site’s World War Two museum were searching nearby the site of previous searches for Nazi treasure when they discovered a 100-kg concrete slab covering a 1.5 m by 1.5 m tunnel shaft.
Museum bosses are particularly excited as the entrance is covered with a half-metre top layer of earth. Speculation that something important is hidden in the tunnel is fuelled by the fact that all other tunnel entrances found at the site have been open, suggesting that this entrance was purposefully hidden.
Bartłomiej Plebańczyk from the museum told TFN: “What makes this discovery even more interesting is that there is a tree growing partially on top of it, which suggests that the ground has not been disturbed for decades, even as far back as the end of the war. It’s as if someone especially didn’t want anyone to find it.”
To get inside the tunnel shaft, the tree needs to be cut down, but before that can happen the museum must get the required permits to open the entrance, which is expected to take place at the end of June in front of local and international media.
“The question now is, where does it lead to, and did someone specially cover it with earth because they used the tunnel to hide some kind of treasure,” Plebańczyk added.
Polish media is buzzing with excitement that the tunnel may contain the fixtures and fittings that made up the Amber Room, known before its disappearance as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The piece of art was stolen by the Germans from the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg during the war and the 450 kg of amber panels, gems, gold leaf and mirrors that made up the decorations, said to be worth as much as $500 million, were taken to the castle in Königsberg, today’s Kaliningrad. They have never been seen since.
Many theories about their fate have been put forward, including that they were destroyed when the castle in Königsberg was bombed by the RAF. Or that they were destroyed by Soviet shelling during the siege of the city.
The focus is now on the small village of Mamerki due to wartime eye-witness accounts of crates arriving in the region from further east, information which is backed up by SS archival material.
The museum team was initially looking for a secret Wehrmacht archive related to the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944, which they believe is buried in a barrack in the vast complex of bunkers.
However, the discovered tunnel entrance is unlikely to be related to this as the memoires of the German officer who buried the archive make no mention of a tunnel and say only that the archive is buried directly in the ground.
The entrance to the tunnel measures just 1.5 m by 1.5, which raises the question of whether the Amber Room would fit through such an opening, but Plebańczyk notes that a typical German crate could easily be lowered through the gap using a line.
Whether or not the Amber Room is really at the bottom the tunnel shaft will be revealed at the end of this month, but even if it isn’t, there could be other treasures.
“There may be items that were not valuable at the time, like dining sets, but after so many years anything that is in relatively good condition is a great find,” said Plebańczyk.