A WWII ship that divers believed might contain the legendary Amber Room has been found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
The wreckage of the German cruiser Karlsruhe was discovered off the Polish coast by divers exploring the area in search of the sunken ship in April 1945.
Tomasz Stachura, of the Baltictech Dive Group, which deals with the examination of the Baltic wrecks, said: “It looks like after months of searching we finally came across the wreck of the ss Karlsruhe.
World War II ship that divers say may contain the legendary Amber Room has been found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea
The Amber Chamber (pictured in Russia in 1917), which was filled with precious amber, gold and jewelry, was looted by the Nazis in 1941 and its contents mysteriously disappeared in 1945
“We have been looking for this vessel for over a year.
“The wreck was discovered at the bottom of the Baltic Sea several tens of kilometers north of Ustka.
“It lies at a depth of 88 meters (290 feet). It is practically intact. In its holds, we discovered military vehicles, porcelain and numerous crates with hitherto unknown contents.
He added that the discovery “could provide groundbreaking information on the disappearance of the legendary Chamber of Amber.
“The Amber Room was last seen in Königsberg.
The wreck of the German cruiser Karlsruhe was discovered off the coast of Poland by divers exploring the area in search of the sunken ship in April 1945.
The ship brought 1,083 refugees and 360 tons of cargo and has been 290 feet underwater for decades
Divers discovered military vehicles, porcelain and numerous crates with hitherto unknown contents
The wreck was found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea several dozen kilometers north of Ustka
From there, the Karlsruhe left on its last voyage with a large cargo.
For three centuries, the Amber Hall, sometimes referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World, stood in the Imperial Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg.
Covering over 590 square feet and containing over 6 tons of amber, it was dismantled by German troops during the occupation of the USSR.
In 1941, the amber chamber was stored in the city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), then in East Prussia, and then disappeared.
Divers found the wreckage at a depth of 88 meters and say most of it is virtually intact
Explorers say the ship was in Königsberg when the Amber chamber was last seen
Karlsruhe participated in Operation Hannibal, a German naval operation involving the evacuation by sea of German troops and civilians
The ship is not to be confused with the Karlsruhe which was also recently discovered off the coast of Norway, which was sunk in 1940
Tomasz Zwara from Baltictech added: “History and available documentation show that the Karlsruhe left the port very quickly and with a heavy load”
Today, divers believe the 196-foot-long Karlsruhe, which towards the end of the war was used to evacuate the Germans from what was then East Prussia, could be involved in the disappearance.
The ship should not be confused with the Karlsruhe which was also recently discovered off the Norwegian coast, sunk in 1940.
Stachura of Baltictech told Polish media: “The German liner Karlsruhe, which after Gustloff, Goyi and Steuben was another unit participating in Operation Hannibal, left on its last voyage from Pilawa on April 12, 1945 and was the last ship to leave Królewiec before the Russians took it.
The remains of the Amber Chamber after it was seized by the Nazis, who packed the amber panels in 27 crates and shipped them to Germany, where they disappeared and have not been seen since
“She took 1083 refugees and 360 tonnes of goods with her. She left on her last trip under a strong escort.
“Sunk on April 13, 1945 in the morning. Only 113 people were saved.
“We don’t want to get excited, but if the Germans were to bring across the Baltic to the Amber Chamber, then the Karlsruhe Steamer was their last chance….
Tomasz Zwara from Baltictech added: “History and available documentation show that the Karlsruhe left the port very quickly and with a heavy load. […] All of this put together stimulates the imagination.
The story of the missing Amber room looted by the Nazis
The Amber Room was originally a gift to Peter the Great (photo
The Amber Room was originally believed to have been an amber cabinet, a gift from Friedrich-Wilhelm I of Prussia to Peter the Great, who admired the work during a visit to his castle in 1716.
But instead of a wardrobe, it was decided to use the panels as wall coverings, surrounding them with golden carvings, mirrors and more amber panels.
The piece consisted of panels containing six tons of amber resin, took 10 years to complete and is valued at some £ 250million in today’s silver.
The 16 feet of puzzle-style panels were constructed with over 100,000 pieces of perfectly fitting amber.
In 1755 it was moved to Catherine Palace in Tsarkoe Selo, 17 miles south of the Russian imperial capital of Saint Petersburg.
In 1941, the approaching Nazi army surrounded the city, then known by its Soviet name of Leningrad. Tsarkoe Selo was one of the outlying areas occupied by the Germans.
The Russians tried to hide the walls behind wallpaper.
But the Nazis knew what was behind that mundane blanket and dismantled the room – a process that took 36 hours.
Believing that the Prussian gift was rightfully theirs, they packed the amber panels in 27 crates and shipped them to Germany.
But the contents of the room disappeared in 1945 and have not been seen again.