The Amber Room

The Amber Room

The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasure

Book - 2004
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The history of art has produced few works as ambitious and as valuable as the Amber Room. Famous throughout Europe as "the eighth wonder of the world," its vast and intricately worked amber panels were sent in 1717 by Frederick I of Prussia as a gift to Peter the Great of Russia. Erected some years later, they quickly became a symbol of Russia's imperial might.

For more than two hundred years the Amber Room remained in its Russian palace outside St. Petersburg (Leningrad), but when the Nazi army invaded Russia and swept towards Leningrad in 1941, the panels were wrenched from the walls, packed into crates, and disappeared from view, never to be seen again.

Dozens of people have tried to trace the whereabouts of the Amber Room, and several of them have died in mysterious circumstances. Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark have gone further along the trail of this great lost treasure than anyone before them, and have unraveled the jumble of evidence surrounding its fate. Their search catapulted them across eastern Europe and into the menacing world of espionage and counterespionage that still surrounds Russia and the former Soviet bloc. In archives in St. Petersburg and Berlin, amid boxes of hitherto unseen diaries, letters, and classified reports, they have uncovered for the first time an astounding conspiracy to hide the truth.

In a gripping climax that is a triumph of detection and narrative journalism, The Amber Room shows incontrovertibly what really happened to the most valuable lost artwork in the world, and why the truth has been withheld for so long.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Company, 2004.
ISBN: 9780802714244
0802714242
Characteristics: xxx, 386 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.
Additional Contributors: Levy, Adrian 1965-

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isaacsj Aug 31, 2013

On pg. 62

z
zipread
Sep 18, 2011

Amber, of course, is that semi-precious jewel produced of the petrified resin of prehistoric trees. It is most commonly found along the shores of the Baltic Sea. The Amber Room was a room paneled in amber and given as a gift by a German King to the Empress of Russia who had it installed at one of her estates near Saint Petersburg. Needless to say, it was priceless. During the Second World War, it was taken from Saint Petersburg by the Germans who were determined to keep it out of Russian hands. As the Russians were advancing west after having liberated Leningrad (formerly Saint Petersburg) the retreating Germans, who had sent the Amber Room to Koenigsberg for safe-keeping, found it imperative to ship the treasure further west in order to, once again, keep it out of Soviet hands.
That’s the history. What about the book? Desperately dull. It doesn’t fly, it doesn’t soar. It plods and disappoints. The reader is bounced between the GDR and the Waffen SS, the KGB and the NKVD. Not many will have the stamina to see this book through to its end. There just isn’t a lot of excitement to this book, to the solving of this puzzle: there is no chase; just a lot of waiting, standing in line, and grey dossiers and files that have had all the guts censored out of them.
So what happened to the Amber Room? Was it stolen by the retreating Germans who took it west with them as the Russians bore down on them from the east? Was it lost during the waning days of the Third Reich. Was it hidden in some deep salt mine or in the dungeon of a medieval castle? Was the whereabouts of the room forgotten by those charged with keeping it safe? Or is it sequestered away in some schloss in the Black Forest. According to the book, probably the Russians were the ones who looted the room. Perhaps, in bit bits and pieces or as one room, it’s somewhere in Russia. Or maybe it’s for sale on eBay: search under Amber, room.

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