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Treasure Hunter Seeks Amber Room

April 13, 1998

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ A German treasure hunter bulldozed into an old mine on the Czech-German border Monday, resuming his long, expensive quest for the fabled Amber Room once owned by Russian czars and stolen by the Nazis.

Helmut Gaensel, 63, who said he spent $400,000 on a 1993 search for the Amber Room in another Czech town, entered the St. Nicholas mine on a new quest. The mine is near St. Catherine mountain, 90 miles north of Prague.

The ornate hall, whose walls were made from golden brown amber, was a gift to Peter the Great from Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I, but the Nazis looted it from Leningrad in 1941.

For the rest of World War II, the treasure was hidden in eastern Prussia, in the town of Kralovec.

Legend has it that the priceless collection of amber art and jewelry was then taken to Bohemia for safekeeping by troops loyal to Hermann Goering, and hidden in a mine near St. Catherine mountain so it could later be taken to Argentina.

Dozens of amateur treasure hunters descended on the Czech Republic in search of the Amber Room after communism fell in 1989. Gaensel was the best financed, but his earlier quest near Hradistko, 20 miles west of Prague, came up empty.

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