During the excavation works at the site of the castle of the Teutonic Knights in the Polish town of Pasłęk last year, archaeologists discovered the traces of an underground tunnel. It supposedly connected the fourteenth century castle with the nearby Gothic Church of St. Bartholomew in the Middle Ages.
"Four meters below ground level, and thus still below the level of the basement we found a room. The tunnel, which can connect the castle with the church," Dr. Jacek Wysocki from the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw, who led the archaeological work, told Polish TVN24 news channel.
The archeologists had read about the existence of the tunnel in historical studies, but until now there was no conclusive evidence that it actually existed.
The excavation revealed that the dungeons do in fact exist, and are in a good enough condition to be shown to visitors. The authorities have already agreed to new works in the hope it can become another tourist attraction, according to city Mayor Wieslaw Śniecikowski.
According to different legends of the town, there might have been a much longer tunnel which could have led from the castle towards the river and the village of Robity. However, current geophysical surveys have not confirmed its existence.
The archeologists suggest that the corridors might hide the treasures of Russia's mythical Amber Room, as well as many other secrets.
At the end of World War II, due to the dire situation on the eastern front and threats of Allied Forces' air raids, the Germans evacuated from the city of Königsberg (a city in the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, the Duchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia and Germany until 1946; after being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied Forces, it was then transferred to Russia and renamed Kaliningrad) many valuable museum collections and documents.
Part of the relics were deposited or concealed in the East Prussian estates, also in the vicinity of Pasłęk. Most of the post-German collections were taken away or destroyed in the late years of the war.
Polish TVN24 says that the Polish government failed to save, among others, nearly 20 thousand manuscripts and ancient prints of Königsberg, hidden near Pasłęk. Among the most valuable element of the library was the so-called Silver Library of Prince Albrecht of Prussia, dating back to the sixteenth century. A monument to Renaissance goldsmiths, it was considered unique in the world.
Just a few years ago, when there were excavations on the site, archeologists found various items and ceramics with the signatures of the museum of Königsberg.
As to why the legendary Amber Room would be also hidden in Paslek, Dr. Wysocki said that there are known eyewitness, who in autumn of 1944 saw the trucks loaded with boxes enter the courtyard of the castle at night and leave empty.
Paslek is also associated with Erich Koch, Gauleiter of East Prussia, convicted by the authorities to the death penalty. However it had never been implemented as, due to reports, he had managed to convince the authorities that he knew the whereabouts of the Amber Room and other treasures.
Koch however died in prison back in 1986, taking all his secrets with him.
There have been various attempts to discover the Amber Room since the end of the Second World War.
There are at least 15 theories regarding its location, with experts suggesting that the Amber Room may be hidden somewhere in Russia's Kaliningrad region, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and even at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. None of these have ever been confirmed.
The Amber Room, a chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, was originally built for the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg.
The chamber was constructed in the 18th century and was lost during World War II after being looted by Nazi German forces – the Amber Room that is currently available on display is in fact a reconstruction which was only completed in 2003.
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