Secret network of tunnels found at former Nazi German army HQ raise speculation they could contain legendary Amber Room
Five entrances to a secret network of tunnels have been discovered at the site of Nazi Germany’s eastern army headquarters in what is now north-east Poland.
The previously undiscovered system of underground corridors is now fuelling speculation that they may contain the lost Amber Room or other wartime treasures.
The find, which was made by staff from the Mamerki museum and a group of volunteer historical searchers, is described as the biggest discovery ever made at the 200-hectare forest headquarters.
Bartłomiej Plebańczyk from the museum said: “At the moment based on how the entrances are spaced out, it looks like the tunnel is about 50 metres long, but it could be longer.”
He added: “Some of them have been filled in, perhaps in order to hide them, so we will have to remove a lot of material before we can see what is inside the tunnel.”
Plebańczyk suggested that the tunnel could reveal interesting artefacts from World War II that the Germans wanted to hide.
Theories have been put forward that the Amber Room, known before its disappearance as the Eighth Wonder of the World, may have been hidden under the ground in Mamerki.
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 destroyed by Soviet shelling during the siege of the city.
Plebańczyk said: “The tunnel is part of a hitherto unknown system of underground corridors that requires careful penetration. It may be an ideal place to hide treasure.
“Will it lead to the Amber Chamber? So far nothing can be ruled out.
“First we need to prepare the formal legal opinions necessary to carry out this operation and get permission from the local heritage protection office.”
The concrete bunkers in Mamerki cover an area of about 200 hectares. Even though 75 years have passed since the end of the war, Plebańczyk believes there is still much to be found.
The museum often carries out archaeological work at the site in the spring before the main tourist season.
This year’s find is not the first one at the site to fuel speculation that the Amber Room may be hidden underground there.
Last year, what was thought to be another tunnel entrance was discovered. However, it turned out to lead nowhere.
The complex of bunkers from the time of the Third Reich is the best-preserved site of this type in Poland.
During World War II, Mauerwald was the headquarters of the Oberkommando des Heeres, the Nazi High Command of Land Forces.
Around 1,500 soldiers, including generals and officers, were stationed at the Wehrmacht quarters in Masuria during World War II.
In total, the Mamerki complex consisted of more than 250 military objects of various types, but only the large bunkers have survived to this day. The largest has walls 7 metres thick.
Many of the surviving bunkers and their connecting tunnels are now open to the public and form part of a museum telling the story of the war.
However, very few artefacts of the war have been found at the site. Museum officials are confident that further searches will lead to their discovery.
The opening and exploration of the tunnel is planned for the second half of June.