A WWII ship which divers think could contain the legendary Amber Room has been found at the bottom of the Baltic sea.
The wreck of the German cruiser Karlsruhe was discovered off the Polish coast by divers exploring the area in search of the ship which was sunk in April 1945.
Tomasz Stachura from the Baltictech diving group, which deals with examining Baltic wrecks, said: ‘Looks like after months of searching, we finally came across the Karlsruhe steamer wreckage.
A WWII ship which divers think could contain the legendary Amber Room has been found at the bottom of the Baltic sea
The Amber Room (pictured in Russia in 1917), which was packed with amber, gold and precious jewels, was looted by the Nazis in 1941 and its contents mysteriously disappeared in 1945
‘We’ve been searching for this ship for over a year.
‘The shipwreck was found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea several dozen kilometers north of Ustka.
‘It rests at a depth of 88 meters (290ft). It is practically intact. In its holds, we discovered military vehicles, porcelain and many crates with so far unknown contents.’
He added that the discovery ‘may provide groundbreaking information on the disappearance of the legendary Amber Chamber.
‘It was in Königsberg that the Amber Chamber was seen for the last time.
The wreck of the German cruiser Karlsruhe was discovered off the Polish coast by divers exploring the area in search of the ship which was sunk in April 1945
The ship brought 1,083 refugees and 360 tons of cargo and has been lying 290ft underwater for decades
Divers have discovered military vehicles, porcelain and many crates with so far unknown contents
The shipwreck 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 Room, which is sometimes dubbed the eighth wonder of the world, stood in the imperial Catherine Palace near St Petersburg.
Covering more than 590 sq ft and containing over 6 tonnes of amber, it was dismantled by German troops during the occupation of the USSR.
In 1941, the Amber Room was placed in storage in the then East Prussian city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), and then disappeared.
Divers found the shipwreck at a depth of 88 meters and say most of it is practically intact
The explorers say that the ship was in Königsberg around the time the Amber Room was last seen
Karlsruhe took part 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: ‘The history and available documentation show that the Karlsruhe was leaving the port in a great hurry and with a large load’
Now divers believe that the 196-foot-long Karlsruhe, which towards the end of the war was used to evacuate Germans from what was then East Prussia, could be involved in the disappearance.
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.
Stachura from Baltictech told Polish media: ‘The German steamer Karlsruhe, which after Gustloff, Goyi and Steuben was another unit participating in Operation Hannibal, set off on her last journey from Pilawa on April 12, 1945 and was the last ship to leave Królewiec before the Russians took it.
The remains of the Amber Room after it was seized by the Nazis, who packed the amber panels in 27 crates and shipped them to Germany, where they vanished and have not been seen since
‘She brought 1,083 refugees and 360 tons of cargo with her. She set off on her last journey under a strong escort.
‘Sunken April 13, 1945 in the morning. Only 113 people were saved.
‘We don’t want to get excited, but if the Germans were to take the Amber Chamber across the Baltic Sea, then Karlsruhe Steamer was their last chance… .’
Tomasz Zwara from Baltictech added: ‘The history and available documentation show that the Karlsruhe was leaving the port in a great hurry and with a large load […] All 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 (pictured
The Amber Room was originally supposed to have been an amber cabinet, a gift from Friedrich-Wilhelm I of Prussia to Peter the Great, who admired the work on a visit to his castle in 1716.
But instead of a cabinet, it was decided to use the panels as wall coverings, surrounding them with gilded carving, mirrors and yet more amber panels.
The room was made up of panels containing six tonnes of amber resin, took 10 years to complete and is valued at some £250million in today’s money.
The 16 feet of jigsaw-puzzle style panels were constructed of more than 100,000 perfectly fitted pieces of amber.
In 1755, it was moved to the Catherine Palace at Tsarkoe Selo, 17 miles south of the Imperial Russian capital of St 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.
Russians tried to hide the walls behind wallpaper.
But the Nazis knew what was behind the mundane covering, and went about dismantling the room – a process which took 36 hours.
Believing that the Prussian gift rightly belonged to them, they packed the amber panels in 27 crates and shipped them to Germany.
But the contents of the room vanished in 1945 and have not been seen again.