Dive in to put an end to eighty years of secrecy.
This is what researchers from the Baltictech Group, a diving company looking for several wrecks of ships involved in Operation Hannibal, face.
It was one of the largest sea evacuations in history that saw the Nazis flee from Soviet forces on the Eastern Front.
On September 24, 2020, Baltictech came face to face with the almost intact remains of the SS Karlsruhe.
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On April 12, 1945, this steamboat disappeared from radar.
On board, more than 300 tons of cargo and 1,083 passengers including 913 civilians, according to historical documents.
But the convoy will never complete its mission.
Bombarded by a Soviet aircraft, the ship is shattered in two, accelerating its sinking.
Only a hundred passengers could be saved.
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The body of the freighter is now lying 88 meters deep in the Baltic Sea, a dozen kilometers from the city of Ustka, Poland.
After three days of searching in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea, Baltictech divers observed a minute's silence in memory of the German refugees and Soviet airmen who died in the bombings.
The company specifies on its site that a
"rainbow appeared at this precise moment".
The mystery of the Amber Room finally solved?
Built in 1905 at the shipyard of G. Seebeck Bremerhaven in Germany, the ship is imposing by its size (66 meters in length, 10 meters in width, 897 tons) but all the more by the mystery that it raises.
"We dived towards the wreck twice and examined its remains,"
said Tomasz Stachura, the diver at the head of the operation, at the Baltictech site. Military vehicles, porcelain but also ten still sealed crates were recovered. Beyond these finds, divers desperately hope to unearth a key relic from WWII: the Amber Chamber.
With an estimated value of over 400 million euros, this sublime 55 square meter room dating from the 18th century is renowned for its walls lined with amber sculptures.
Initially located in Berlin Castle, seat of the Prussian King Frederick William I, the latter offered it to the Russian Czar Peter the Great in 1716. The room then joined the Catherine Palace near Saint Petersburg.
Panels covered with gold leaf, statues and mirrors were added during multiple renovations.
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The notoriety of the Amber Room arouses the envy of German officers.
During the Second World War, some of its ornaments were also stolen in still unexplained circumstances.
In 1997, a chest of drawers and a stone mosaic belonging to the iconic room reappeared in Germany.
They have since been returned to Russia by the federal government.
The carcass of a military vehicle found in the heart of the Karlsruhe wreck.
In 1941, St. Petersburg fell to the German army, as did Catherine Palace. The Nazis moved the panels from the Amber Room to Königsberg Castle in East Prussia. Between August 1944 and March 1945, Königsberg was ravaged by bombardments. Its historic center, its port, the residential districts are destroyed. The Germans decide to capitulate. This is when the Amber Room disappears.
If some historians consider that it disappeared in the explosions, others support the theory of dismantling: the Nazis would have actually transported the six tons of amber to a safe place.
The SS Karlsruhe, the last freighter to leave Königsberg, is said to contain the remains of the said Chamber in its holds.
We had been looking for the wreck for a year when we realized that the most interesting unsolved mystery could lie in the bottom of the Baltic Sea
," said Tomasz Stachura in a statement in 2020.
At 88 meters deep, the company Baltictech probes the bottom of the Baltic Sea to uncover the mysteries of the Nazi ship.
However, there is no evidence that amber lies in the Baltic Sea. It will be necessary to wait for a next submarine expedition to definitively rule out this hypothesis. To date, no dive date has yet been confirmed. “
We hope this long-awaited expedition will help solve several mysteries, including the most important: What did Hitler's last ship carry from Königsberg?
Asks Tomasz Stachura. Without a doubt, the operation will lift the veil on the mysteries of this ship. Another diver of the group, Tomasz Zwara, thinks he comes across
"tools, expensive war equipment, personal effects of the fugitives
". But prefers to remain cautious about the possibility of leaving the waters a treasure:
"The imagination suggests to us that these could be historical relics, including the most valuable."
A reconstruction of the Amber Room is also open to the public.
On May 31, 2003, as part of the tercentenary of St. Petersburg, it was inaugurated in a ceremony presided over by German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Poutine.
The only known color photo of the Amber Room, taken in 1917, at Tsarskoye Selo Palace, near Saint Petersburg.