“Believe me or not, it’s there, 12 metres down in the sub-soil,” he said, pointing to the entrance of a bunker that sheltered the Nazi high command in the last hours of the Battle of Koenigsberg.
“This place was built (in February 1945) with two aims: accommodating the headquarters of General Otto Lasch and storing the treasures of Koenigsberg, a city under siege,” the historian turned journalist and lecturer argued.
Koenigsberg, in what was then German East Prussia, is now Kaliningrad, the capital of Russia’s westernmost region of the same name.
The Nazis removed the treasure from a palace that once belonged to empress Catherine the Great outside Saint Petersburg after invading the Soviet Union in 1941.
Once hailed as the eighth wonder of the world, the trophy was brought here and stored in the former castle of the Teutonic Knights in the centre of the city.
But its subsequent fate remains unknown amid the turmoil of war and heavy bombardment of the city by the Allies.