OK. Say you're Friedrich Wilhelm I, and your super good buddy Tsar Peter the Great has a birthday coming up. So what do you get him? Maybe an impossibly ornate room made totally out of amber, which in 1716 is 10 times more expensive than gold? Sure! Why the hell not.
Here's another one. Say you're a megalomaniacal, homicidal psychopath who has risen to power in post WWI Germany, conquered Europe, and totally stripped it of all its art and culture including the Amber Room. Where do you hide it? Maybe in a tiny, economically depressed German village near the Czech border called Deutschkatharinenberg?
That's what local Mayor Hans-Peter Haustein is hoping. New papers recovered from a deceased former Luftwaffe (aka "The Washington Generals of the History Channel"...thank you, Homer Simpson) Signalman Paul Hanisch. From the Guardian:
The notebooks support local historical reports of how, as part of "Operation Sundown", German military convoys delivered heavy sealed caskets and hid them in a network of copper and silver mines in the Ore mountains on the Czech-German border on April 9 1945, in the final weeks of the war.
For my money, Deutschkatharinenberg is a great place to hide stolen war booty. With 20 letters in its name, you can be damn sure some lazy mapmaker is leaving it off maps. Which may also explain why the area is economically depressed.
Anyways, it would be pretty cool of they found the Amber Room after all this time. And lucrative, too. It's estimated worth is well over $500 million bones. Of course, if they do find it, it will be make the German-Russian team that painstakingly re-created the original feel pretty sheepish.
But Mayor Haustein isn't interested in the loot:
"It's not a case of finders keepers. It would belong to the state but the resulting tourism would be a gift. I would love to see it handed back to the Russian people and maybe in return they would give the village just enough reward money to build a new school."
Awwww. Man, with an attitude like that, Russia should just build him the school anyways. Treasure-Hunter with a heart of gold, he is.
Photo: The original Amber Room. Spend too much time in it, and you will actually go blind.