Mystery of Königsberg Castle
Treasures of the Third Reich in the dungeons of Kaliningrad. What hides the former City of Kings Königsberg?
The German historian Dr. Gunnar Strunz recently visited Kaliningrad, the former capital of East Prussia, Koenigsberg. He visited this city with a series of lectures about the ancient order of the castle of Königsberg, destroyed by British bombings during the Second World War. This castle is rich and interesting. историяthat started back in 1257. During his visit, he made a proposal to restore the most beautiful premises of this building, which the locals call the Castle of the Three Kings - the church, the “Muscovite Hall” and others. In his opinion, this will contribute to attracting tourists to Kaliningrad and increase their interest in the historical heritage of this city.
Some historical data. The castle of the three kings, or Royal Konigsberg, was built in the 13th century. In 1944, the building was severely damaged during the bombings conducted by British aviation, and at the beginning of the 60-ies of the twentieth century by order of the Kaliningrad Regional Committee of the CPSU, the ruins of this castle were finally demolished. In 2010, the Kaliningrad authorities announced preparations for a referendum on the restoration of Königsberg Castle. It was planned to hold it in March 2011, in order to combine its holding with elections to the local regional duma. However, the referendum was never held. This is not the first unsuccessful enterprise to research and restore this architectural monument, as will be seen later.
However, the idea of the restoration and reconstruction of the castle was not rejected and forgotten. She did begin to get practical implementation, although in a different way than originally planned. The government of Kaliningrad agreed to the proposal, which came from the German side, to perpetuate in bronze the architectural appearance of the old Koenigsberg. Funds for the implementation of this project - the layout of the historic center of Königsberg as it was before the massive bombardment of the British aviation in 1944, completely changed his face - were collected by former residents of the capital of East Prussia. The project is a bronze copy of the architectural ensemble of the old city with a diameter of 3 meters, where the Castle of the Three Kings will be made. Install the layout is planned on the island of Kant near the restored Cathedral.
But this is data only about the outer part of the castle. There are also numerous dungeons and passages under the Castle of the Three Kings. They are fully walled up and well preserved. And, in the opinion of the Moscow archaeologist Ivan Koltsov, they will not require much effort and money when recovering. In addition, they can bring tremendous profits to the treasury of Kaliningrad. What is the basis of this statement?
Reporting to the CPSU Central Committee
Russian journalist Sergei Turchenko, studying archival documents in the Central State Archive of the Russian Federation, which contained information about cultural property stolen by the Germans in the former USSR, found a memorandum from a biolocation engineer Ivan Koltsov sent to the Central Committee of the CPSU and dated 8 May 1982. This note indicated that his research allowed him to chart the main underground passages and structures of Koenigsberg. There is reason to assume that they contain tremendous values, stolen by the Nazis during the Great Patriotic War. By assumption, this is a large amount, amounting to tens of tons of gold, silver, amber, and precious jewelery. Perhaps there are fragments of the Amber Room, paintings, books and much more. The network of underground passages and structures, in which valuables are hidden, was built at different times, beginning from the 13th century, located at different depths from 16 to 68 meters. It has several main directions, diverging from the city center, that is, the former Royal Castle. Also in the memorandum it is mentioned about a certain special room where plans-schemes of all Konigsberg dungeons are stored. The same note contains information that the central entrance to the Konigsberg dungeons, which was located on the territory of the Three Kings Castle, was blown up and littered with debris to a depth of at least 16 meters. But the author of the note believes that at greater depth the corridors are in a condition suitable for research, and are not flooded. He also believes that there were other entrances to the dungeons.
Sergey Turchenko was able to find the author of this note - Ivan Evseevich Koltsov, who in the 80 of the last century was an employee of the "closed" biolocation bureau under the USSR Council of Ministers. In the 1982 year, Ivan Evseevich Koltsov as part of the expedition examined the ruins of the former Koenigsberg, at the same time he drew up detailed schemes of the dungeons under this city and sent his report with the above-mentioned memo to the CPSU Central Committee.
But the reaction that followed his report was, in Ivan Yevseyevich’s opinion, at least strange. He was excluded from participation in the State Historical and Archeological Expedition, which after some time completely ceased to exist. As far as he knows, the schemes he compiled were not used in any search operations in the area.
The conversation with Koltsov left more questions than answers. Can you trust his data on the dungeon system near Kaliningrad? If so, how much? Do these data confirm other sources? Sergey Turchenko decided to look for answers in Kaliningrad itself.
At the beginning of his journey, while still in the train compartment, he heard the story in which the dungeons of this city appeared. A fellow traveler told him that the son of her friend once brought home a large section of synthetic fabric. He said that he had found her in the basements of one of the flooded forts, where he climbed with friends. From the fabric, her friend sewed a shirt to her son, surprised that the fabric, despite the fact that she was lying in water for a long time, looks like a new one. When the mother began to iron this shirt, the fabric flared under the iron, like gunpowder. Frightened woman turned to the police. Divers were sent to the indicated fort and they found such rolls in it. In this form, the Nazis produced gunpowder. The history of further searches in this direction remains unknown. As will be seen from further eyewitness accounts, the authorities continue to show surprising indifference to such facts. What caused such a lack of interest? Perhaps, in the internal affairs bodies simply did not believe the frightened city woman?
The researcher decided to turn to other sources.
Some references to the Konigsberg dungeons include post-war literature. In particular, Stanislav Garanin, in his book “The Three Faces of Janus,” wrote about eighty-sixty-two blocks in the city, each of which was connected to the other with a single defensive system. Transitions connected the basements of houses. Under the ground were power plants, ammunition depots, hospitals.
Also in the same literary work described the situation in which some heroes, descending into the dungeon through the sewer, saw the underground hall, along the wall of which was a pier. This pier was a small, four meters long, submarine.
But it is a literary work that cannot claim to documentary accuracy. The data presented in it amazes the reader, but raises questions about their authenticity. It was necessary to find evidence of real eyewitnesses.
The former head of the underwater technical works department, Mikhail Matveevich Lif, said that even though he does not know the underground communications of Kaliningrad completely, but only in the part that concerned his works, he can say that in the area of the former palaces and under fortifications there are two and three-story dungeons. Most of them are flooded or littered with stones. Some of them are used for warehouses and at the present time. So these dungeons do exist? But are they available for visiting tourists? Perhaps this is just warehouse space partially destroyed during the bombing and nothing more. But Mikhail Matveyevich mentioned a kind of underground aviation plant. But this plant is also flooded and littered with stones. He also told the story of some homegrown "treasure hunters", which once had circulation in the circle of his friends. As if these people had found a grotto of artificial origin in one of the lakes, the entrance to which was closed by a German anchor mine.
One of the treasure hunters soon died under unexplained circumstances - he fell from the fifth floor. Another asked for help from a familiar warrant officer, a sapper, who did not give much attention to this request. But after the “treasure hunter” went missing, having gone on one of his travels, the sapper got worried and filed a petition with the police. Unfortunately, the search for the police did not give any result. Leaf also spoke about one of his colleagues and comrades, Grigori Ivanovich Matsuev, who was in Konigsberg from the year 1945. After retiring from military service, Matsuev remained in the underwater-technical detachment. On his account dozens of dives in the river Pregol and in the lake. He just said that at that time the upper floors of the cellars of the Royal Castle had not yet been flooded. This is very interesting and echoes what Koltsov said. Could these floors have been flooded later, after a study conducted by a historical and archaeological expedition that included Koltsov?
But let us return to the story of Mikhail Matveyevich Lif about his comrade. Particular attention is one story. Grigory Ivanovich once told that one day a large manhole was found near the old city gate in the floor of a fortification. When it was opened, they saw that the tunnel, the entrance to which he was closing, was completely flooded with water. Matsuev dived in there and saw a large room with a large number of shelves, on which lay many rolls of unknown material. Several of them were raised to the surface. Further analysis showed that it was gunpowder. Perhaps Germany, bound by the Versailles Peace Treaty, did not have the right to issue weapon and explosives more than the allowable amount. Therefore, gunpowder, which was made in Königsberg, and camouflaged under the fabric. But again, not a single mention of the treasure. And that these moves may be available for visits. The researcher found it necessary to continue his search. What were Koltsov's statements based on?
This information was not enough for Sergey Turchenko, and he decided to return to the archives and continue his search there. The many-month and painstaking work in the Central Archive of the Russian Federation was not slow to bear fruit. He found several documents there that caught his attention and confirmed the presence of extensive dungeons near Kaliningrad.
They discovered the historical information of the authorship of the German researcher F.Lars about the Royal Castle. It said that the construction of the castle began in the 1257 year and lasted until the 1810 year. During this long six-century construction, the castle was rebuilt several times. There were also extensive underground work. Professor Geidekk, who carried out geological excavations under the Royal Castle in 1889, mentioned the 7-8-meter strata of “cultural” sediments. He also mentioned the ancient dungeons, which stretch under the Castle Church, the former home of the Convention and the restaurant Blütgericht (The Last Judgment). But all these researchers mentioned only the dungeons of the first tier. For some unknown reason, no deeper excavations were carried out. Perhaps prevented by the limited technical capabilities of the period.
But such work was not carried out in the 1945 year. Although to search for cultural property that may have been hidden in Koenigsberg, a special commission was created under the leadership of General Bryusov. His diary was kept, in which he kept a detailed account of the activities of this expedition. From this diary we managed to find out the following interesting detail. A certain Dr. Alfred Rode, who was the keeper of the Koenigsberg museums and did not have time to leave the city when he was liberated by Soviet troops, actively dissuaded the expedition from the excavations in the south wing of the castle.
Rode argued that during the war there was a hospital there, which suffered from bombing and was littered with stones. And nothing in these rubble, except for the corpses, is not found.
After the mysterious disappearance of Rode, his deception was revealed. Military experts who investigated the characteristics of the blockage of the southern wing of the castle proved that the explosion did not occur from above, as it should have gone, get into this wing of the castle aerial bomb, but from below, which makes us think about its artificial origin. Dr. Strauss, who arrived in Königsberg at the call of the commission and was a former assistant to Rode, categorically denied the presence of a hospital in the south wing of the castle. He stated with confidence that museum values were always concentrated there. Why did Rode have to arrange such a hoax? To hide valuables? So that they do not fall into the hands of the Soviet expedition? For whom did he save them, and where did he disappear?
Such a contradiction alone should have attracted increased attention to the excavations in the castle area. But, surprisingly, they were carried out superficially. Having conducted a study of only parts of the first-tier dungeons, the Bryusov commission found more 1000 museum exhibits stolen by the Nazis from the museums of Leningrad and Moscow. These were priceless works of silver, bronze, porcelain, paintings and furniture. Perhaps, if the excavations were continued and made more carefully, would it be possible to return more values?
Also in the archive, the researcher managed to find records of the testimony of the former Soviet and foreign military, which were related to Koenigsberg, the competent authorities about the fascists' burial of cultural values.
Prisoner of the Warsaw prison A. Vitek told the following: during the war he was sent to forced labor in Königsberg. From the working camp where Vitek was placed, the Germans took people to work every day. The interrogated person got into a group that removed equipment from houses and institutions and brought him to Wilhelm Castle (Kaiser’s - author’s note) on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße. There things were sorted for subsequent shipment to Germany. The prisoner helped to pack requisitioned equipment in boxes. He showed that he saw a large number of boxes marked with the same numbering. These boxes were in the right wing of the castle. The boxes were strictly guarded. Their safety checked himself Gauleiter Erich Koch. After that, the prisoner saw how a brick was brought into the castle palace and the masons were summoned. The prisoner testified that the boxes had disappeared, but Vitek does not recall that the boxes had been removed from the castle grounds. He suspects the drawers were hidden in the cellars of the castle.
Professor G.Klumbis, a colleague and former associate of Dr. Rode, recalled that there was an old mine not far from the wine cellar of the palace. It is closed and has not been used for several centuries. There were no signs of her existence, but Dr. Rode knew about her being in that place. In his opinion, the mine is the best place to shelter various values in wartime. If necessary, their transportation could be quickly carried out by small forces and unnoticed. It was precisely on this that his assumption was based that cultural values exported from the USSR were kept in the cellars of the castle.
This point of view is also shared by the former chief architect of the city of Kaliningrad, D. Navalihin. He believes that deeper mines are possible.
He himself descended into the dungeons of the castle and saw a shaft tilted at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. This event occurred in the 1948 year.
In 1973, researchers came across yet another confirmation of the existence of dungeons under the Royal Castle. It consists in the fact that during the construction work, which consisted in the construction of the pile foundations of the House of Soviets, four piles were made under the ground to the full depth of 11 meters. Above the surface, no more than 4 centimeters of pile were visible. Based on this, construction participants considered that there might be a bunker or an underground passage under this building. They admitted the possibility that the Amber Room or other valuables stolen by the Nazis could be stored in this bunker.
But the memorandum of S. Kuleshov, who noted this fact, was followed by a strange reaction. The piles were ordered to be removed, the holes from them were poured with concrete, and the construction work was carried out elsewhere.
These facts seemed to the researcher enough to treat the words of Ivan Koltsov with confidence. The existence of dungeons can be considered proven. But do they contain the same values that the Nazis exported from the occupied territories? The results of the expedition of Bryusov give sufficient grounds to consider this to be true. But the presence in these basements of the main Nazi warehouse of stolen valuables and finding the Amber Room there still remains a mystery.
Ivan Koltsov gives a fairly clear answer to this question. According to him, special equipment can establish what is underground - water, oil, ore or metals. And in this case, he believes, the equipment was not mistaken. He is now ready to show several entrances to the dungeons of the Royal Castle and the places in which, according to him, there are warehouses with mothballed equipment, cars, quartermaster property. Then the stubborn inaction of the authorities to this information and the cessation of any work related to research of the royal dungeons of the Königsberg castle is surprising. Perhaps the legendary treasures of the Third Reich are still hiding there and waiting in the wings.
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