Final yr, a workforce of Polish divers found the wreck of the Nazi steamer Karlsruhe. The wreck was loaded with china, automobiles, and different wartime cargo, and the dive workforce is ready to return within the coming days to additional examine. Particularly, they’re thinking about some unopened crates that went down with the ship. The workforce could even carry some objects to the floor.
The shipwreck was present in September 2020 by a workforce from Baltictech, a diving firm in search of a number of shipwrecks of vessels concerned in Operation Hannibal, one of many largest sea evacuations in historical past that noticed the Nazis flee Soviet forces on the Japanese Entrance. The Baltictech workforce took pictures of among the Karlsruhe wreck when it was found. Considerably confusingly, the Karlsruhe was one in all two Nazi vessels of that title that sunk throughout World Struggle II. The Karlsruhe that Baltictech is investigating is a steamer discovered some 40 miles off the coast of Poland; the opposite Karlsruhe was a Nazi warship that sunk off Norway in 1940. Each shipwrecks have been discovered final fall.
The steamer was one of many final Nazi vessels to depart the Prussian metropolis of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) as Soviet forces retook the town in April 1945. In addition to its 360 tons of cargo, the ship carried 150 troopers from an elite Nazi regiment and about 900 civilians. Two days after the ship left Königsberg, it was sunk by Soviet plane, leaving 113 survivors, according to the Associated Press. “The Karlsruhe differed from the opposite ships concerned within the operation in that it primarily carried cargo, the refugees boarded on the final minute,” stated Tomasz Zwara, a diver with the Baltictech workforce, in a press launch emailed to Gizmodo.
Now practically 300 ft underwater, the wreck is hard to dive on. Spending about half an hour at such depths requires two and a half hours of decompression. As a result of the ship was one of many final to depart the area, the Baltictech workforce thinks it could be laden with valuables the Nazis hoped to carry onto as they fled. That’s why the unopened crates aboard the wreck are of such curiosity to the workforce.
“We are going to dive and verify what’s within the crates with out destroying them,” stated Tomasz Stachura, the president of the SANTI diving firm and a technical diver who beforehand visited the wreck, in an e mail to Gizmodo. The dive workforce could carry objects to floor in the event that they deem them worthy of additional inspection and can have a consultant from the Nationwide Maritime Museum in Gdansk, Poland aboard to advise.
The crates, unopened for three-quarters of a century, might simply carry mundane objects of day by day life in Königsberg. However additionally they might comprise valuables looted by the Nazis throughout the battle. Stachura hopes that the wreck could maintain the reply to what occurred to the Amber Room, an expensive paneled room in St. Petersburg’s Catherine Palace that was looted by the Nazis and dropped at Königsberg, the place it vanished throughout the battle.
“We don’t have any exhausting proof that the Amber Room is there [in the wreck], however no one has any exhausting proof that Amber Room is elsewhere,” Stachura told Atlas Obscura last year. “The reality is that the Germans eager to ship one thing useful to the west might solely do it via Karlsruhe, as this was their final probability [to get it out of Prussia].”
Whereas a treasure hunt could show fruitless, the upcoming dive will give the workforce a greater understanding of what’s left of the Karlsruhe and what it carried on its closing voyage to the underside of the Baltic Sea.
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