Castle Wildenhoff, 25 miles south of Königsberg

destroyed by a fire...



There had been extensive plans to evacuate art treasures, saying that in case Königsberg would be in danger, objects of art and culture have to be brought to estates and castles of the East Prussian Junker.

Two objects are named as destinations. The estate "Domäne Richau", 25 miles east of Königsberg, and Castle Wildenhoff, about 25 miles south of Königsberg. Witnesses say that boxes had been brought to  Wildenhoff and stored in the cellars in 1944. Former Polish war prisoners talked about a train wagon, which was unloaded in Landsberg, 3 miles away, then brought to Wildenhoff and walled up.

From the art collection in Kiew, 11 boxes with paintings of West European artists, 6 boxes with paintings of Russian artists, 15 boxes with Ikonen and 16 boxes with Ikonen and paintings had been brought to Wildenhoff. Each box contained between 10 and 134 pieces.

In Richau, the Ukraine art scientist Polina Arkadijewna Kulshenko was responsible for the treasures, but in Wildenhoff, there was only the family Schwerin. That is why the East Ministry recommends in July 1944, to move both deposits to Central or South Germany.

However, Erich Koch heard about these plans and made Mrs. Kulshenko move from Richau to Wildenhoff with the art treasure. Gräfin Schwerin could remember very well that at the end of October/beginning of November 1944 the treasure had arrived in Wildenhoff under supervision of a Russian lady, a very educated historian”.

Dr. Alfred Rohde had visited Wildenhoff before the move. He says is a letter: ,,Dear Earl! I plan on visiting Wildenhoff on coming sunday to inspect the rooms which are supposed to hold our paintings. Do you think I make it in one day? May I be there by train at 9.33 am? Königsberg, October 17, 1944.  Dr. Alfred Rohde.”

The transport arrived at the end of October in Wildenhoff. Mrs. Kulshenko later on remembers that on November 14, 1944 other trucks arrived under supervision of the SS with machine guns. Transport leader was Dr. Alfred Rohde. Also the content of this transport was brought to the castle but Mrs. Kulshenko did not know any details. It is very strange that Dr. Rohde brought looted art to a place south of Königsberg between October and November 1944 because the Russian army was only about 60 miles Wildenhoff.

We know for sure that such a storage was only supposed to protect from the danger of air attacks, not to return the treasures. Rhode moved towards the front line and some people beleive he wanted to deposit the looted artwork at a save place for their true owners.

When the Schwerin family had left the castle in January 1945, Mrs. Kulshenko brought some of the boxes into the cellars with the help of Polish forced labourers. At the end of January the castle burned down. One says, a unit of the SS had started the fire after burrying the treasure near the castle and dumping boxes in the lakes.

In 1960, the Polish governement started to search for the Amber Room and other artwork. The ruins of the castle had been examined and experts of the museum and of archeology and crime took part at the excavations.

They had some rich finds among them a copper plate made in Prussia in 1776, nine medaillions and plaquetes from the 15th and 16th Century by Italian artists, but everything was much damaged from the fire and the humidity. They also found a package with burned drawings by Lovis Corinth, old chinese porcelaine, a japanese ivory art and a lot of ceramics. Not the slightest trace of the Amber Room, not even of the iron parts holding the pieces together...

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