Saturday, August 1, 1998 Published at 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
On the trail of the Amber Room
An exquisite room made entirelty of carved golden tree resin
The BBC Europe correspondent David Shukman reports:
The mystery of what is generally considered to be the greatest of the missing treasures of Europe may be about to be solved.
The Amber Room - often described as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" - is currently valued at about $250m.
It consisted of 100,000 pieces of carved amber panelling covering 55 square metres.
It decorated the Catherine Palace, near St Petersburg, until September 1941 when invading German troops carried it off to Königsberg in East Prussia (now the Russian city of Kaliningrad).
But, when towards the end of the war, the Soviet Army recaptured the city, all traces of the Amber Room had vanished. And the mystery begun.
Hidden in a silver mine
But now, the German investigator Helmut Gaensel says he has found the spot where the treasure is hidden.
Former SS officers, living now in Brazil told him it was buried in a silver mine, 100 km south of Berlin and locals talk of great activity around the mine in April 1945.
Gaensel hopes that a tunnel he will open later this year will lead him to the Amber Room.
Buried in a lagoon
However, other investigators believe the Nazis did not remove the treasure from Konigsburg, but hid it on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
He says the SS were seen towards the end of the war trying to hide wooden crates on the shoreline. The rise in the water level eventually covered the hiding place.
Both research teams are intensifying their search, hoping to have by the end of the year the solution to a 50 year-old mystery.