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    Amber Room

    German Researcher Says Knows True Location of Lost Amber Room, Vows to Return It to Russia

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    Earlier this week, interest in the priceless 18th century Imperial Russian artefact, plundered by the Nazis during the invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, was renewed after Polish treasure hunters said that they had made a breakthrough in the search for the lost treasure.

    The Amber Room is not in Poland, and is almost certainly situated inside a secret underground bunker in a city in western Germany about 65 km from the Dutch border, Karl-Heinz Kleine, amateur historian and founder of the amber-room.org website says.

    Kleine and his team have spent about a decade searching for the Czarist treasure in the city of Wuppertal in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, basing their efforts on research into Erich Koch, a high-ranking Nazi administrator and Wuppertal native who served as the head of administration for the city of Konigsberg, where the Amber Room was kept during the war.

    "Koch was probably the richest Nazi. He had the opportunity to plunder all the museums of Eastern Europe," Kleine explained.

    "In mid-1944, the Amber Room was sent from Konigsberg in the direction of [western] Germany. Koch was a railway man. There's no question that he would ever use trucks to transport such a large and valuable cargo. It was done exclusively by train," the researcher added, noting that all the claims about eyewitnesses spotting SS officers and trucks carrying some mystery boxes had "nothing to do" with the Amber Room.

    "Koch wanted to use the loot. He did not yet know that the war was lost, and that he would never again see his prize. He saw it as his personal property. So why would he send them to Poland or some other place? I am certain that the Amber Room is located in Wuppertal," Kleine insisted.

    Earlier this week, a group of researchers from a museum in Poland said that they had "made a breakthrough" in the search for the Amber Room, claiming that they had zeroed in on a secret bunker located near the town of Wegorzewo in northeastern Poland, where they believe the treasure may be hidden.

    According to Kleine, Koch was far more likely to have stored the loot in Wuppertal, with the city containing an elaborate network of as many as 170 fortified air shelters, underground factories and bunkers.

    Kleine and his team have been busy searching these structures, although finding them has been a slow and difficult process, since about half of the city was leveled by Allied bombing during World War II, and clues about the locations of many of these bunkers often limited only to the street names where they were situated. The search has been further complicated by the reluctance among some local homeowners to cooperate with the treasure hunters.

    In any event, Kleine promised that if he and his team ever do find the Amber Room, they will consider it Russian property. "Of course we will reach an agreement about it being exhibited for the first time in Germany. But Russia is the owner," he stressed.

    The Amber Room, a royal chamber decorated with gold leafs, mirrors, and panels of over six tonnes of real amber, was created by German craftsmen during the 18th century and presented as a gift to Peter the Great from Prussia's King Frederick William I in 1716, and eventually installed at the Catherine Palace south of St. Petersburg. During World War II, as the Nazis advanced, palace curators tried to hide the artefact. However, German troops found the room, dismantled it and took it to Konigsberg. In early 1945, as the Red Army advanced on East Prussia, the room mysteriously vanished, just as Konigsberg administrator Erich Koch fled the city.

    In 1979, Soviet (and later Russian) and German craftsmen began the painstaking and expensive process of replicating the work of art, with the process lasting 24 years, being completed in 2003. The original Amber Room, estimated to be worth over $500 million, remains missing, with treasure hunters often speculating on its possible location.

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