6 Objects You Won't Believe People Managed to Lose
In a world overrun with people and technology, you wouldn't think anything of value could remain lost for long. For instance, somebody has surely stumbled across the warehouse and the specific crate that contains the Ark of the Covenant by now.
But there are some great treasures of both wealth and knowledge that remain determinedly out of sight, despite the fact that someone has to know where they are. Such as ...
The Amber Room
Built in 1701, the Amber Room was one of Russia's greatest treasures, and had even been called "the eighth wonder of the world." A spectacular chamber constructed out of amber, gold leaf and mirrors, it is exactly the kind of thing Indiana Jones would fight Nazis to obtain.
The setting of the rap video to end all rap videos.
The entire piece changed palaces a few times until it landed in a St. Petersburg Palace, where Hitler's army stumbled across it in 1941. Unable to move it to safety, the evacuating Russians had simply wallpapered over it, hoping the Germans wouldn't ask why a room in a palace would have such tacky wallpaper. But they did and brought the entire room back home to Germany.
Once in Konigsberg, the room was set up in a castle and proudly displayed. By 1945, with the Russians advancing, Hitler personally ordered it to be taken down and sent to a secret location. The record indicates that the room was taken to a railway station, packed up and then the record screeches to a stop like someone told a racist joke at the Apollo. That was the last anyone ever heard of it.
"How many decade's worth of Argentinean hookers do you think this is?"
How exactly do you lose an entire room full of gold and amber? Some say it was put on a boat that was sunk by the Allies. Other reports place it in a hidden bunker under the city. Meanwhile, the Russians have been searching for it like crazy. Since the end of the war, several expeditions have been mounted all over Europe, with sightings supposedly in abandoned mines, lagoons and caverns. And new investigations even go so far as to say the whole room was destroyed, and the Soviets covered the entire thing up.
The Soviets covering things up? That's a reach.
The room has since been reconstructed in St. Petersburg, but certain pieces of the original pop up now and then just to keep the mystery alive, including a piece of a mosaic a German soldier took out when he helped move the room in 1945. Whoever finds it is going to be able to be rich enough to, we don't know, build a room out of freaking gold.
In 1945, with Berlin about to fall to the Soviets, Adolf Hitler decided to kill himself, his new wife Eva Braun and their dog, Blondi (he also ordered her puppies shot. What did you expect? It was Hitler.) The Soviets came in and found the bodies in a bunker about seven hours after he died. After they were buried, Stalin figured Hitler shouldn't get off that easily, so he had their burned corpses exhumed and reburied, then took a part of his skull and his jawbone, because evidently Stalin didn't think much of photographic evidence.
"That could just as easily be Charlie Chaplin."
Later, in 1970, the site that held the remains was set to be given back to East German control, but fearing a shrine or monument to their former adversary, the Soviets had a KGB team come in the middle of the night, dig up the bodies again, cremate them and spread the ashes in the Elbe River. For the Russians, the case was finally closed.
That is until 2009, when testing on "Hitler's skull" revealed it to have belonged to a woman under 40. Whoops. Either they got the wrong skull or Hitler was hiding a huge secret.
"And this is where the Fuhrer's high-heels and extra brassieres were buried."
This hastily reopened the question: What happened to his body? The jawbone, also alleged to be Hitler's, is also in Russian possession, suspiciously being guarded under the pretense that it is "too fragile." With pressure building on the Russians to release it for testing, the mystery remains open. And there's always the outside chance that we'll find a 120-year-old Hitler living comfortably in a mansion in Argentina.
He finally gave up genocide for a shot at engaging his true passion: performance art.
The From Hell Letter
In October 1888, all London was aflutter about the granddaddy of serial killers, Jack the Ripper, whose identity to this day has never been discovered. The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, an organization of volunteers, was doing its best to keep the streets safe at night (or at least a little less murdery than usual), as was the London police department.
George Lusk, president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, ready to examine the shit out of things.
One day, the head of the Committee, Dean Lusk, received an unmarked package. Inside were two things. The first was a note from Jack taunting the Committee and gloating about the other item in the box. That other item was a half-cannibalized human kidney.
Unlike the hundreds of other letters supposedly written by Jack the Ripper, many scholars believe this letter, signed "From Hell," to be one of the few likely authentic ones. Partly because it was packaged alongside a kidney, which are not exactly easy to acquire. Based on the fact that the Ripper was a known kidney thief, the letter was generally agreed to be from the killer. It was subsequently put in a file in the police station and was never seen again.
He either misspelled Mister or the killer was Sean Connery.
Today, with modern analyzing techniques with ink types, paper types and possibly even century-old smudged fingerprints, it's conceivable that we could put the mystery of Jack the Ripper to rest once and for all. At least we could let the cast of CSI give it their best shot. But with the letter and the preserved kidney both lost to terrible record-keeping procedures, we may never know.
Seriously, we understand losing a piece of paper, but a kidney?
The San Jose
In 1708, old adversaries, the British and the Spanish, were fighting the War of Spanish Succession. One fateful day in the Caribbean, the Spanish ship San Jose was going back to Spain when passing English ships casually blew it up off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, and continued on their way.
They probably just wanted to see the awesome explosion.
What the British didn't know was that the San Jose was carrying six years of accumulated treasure on board the ship, including 344 tons of silver and gold, 116 chests of emeralds and pretty much the entire life savings of the Viceroy of Peru. All in all, it is worth about $2 billion in today's market, and some estimate that collectors might cough up as much as $10 billion to secure it. Despite many desperate searches in the area they're pretty sure it went down, nothing has been found.
As the years have passed, more and more people have been trying to find this elusive treasure. By the 1980s, actor Michael Landon and former Nixon aide John Ehrlichman got in on a few expeditions to find it. But since 1984, legal expeditions have dropped dramatically ever since the Colombian government dropped the finders share slightly, from 50 percent to, well, five percent.
And if 70s television star Michael Landon can't do it, what hope is left?
However, there is one imposing nonlegal hurdle to all this: We still don't know where the hell the wreck is. The Colombian government doesn't really allow things like SONAR and other remote methods of searching, so all treasure hunters really know are vague descriptions given by a few British sailors who helped deep six the boat, as well as a few murky videos from 1982 that may or may not be the San Jose. So the $2 billion is still out there, waiting to be rediscovered.
"Once we find that ship, we'll be filling our oxygen tanks with caviar."
The 18 1/2 Minute Gap in the Watergate Tape
If there is one thing that defines the Nixon presidency, it's the Watergate Scandal.
If there were two things, it would be that and getting to meet Tom Hanks.
Richard Nixon resigned as president in 1974, after it was discovered he kinda knew and approved of breaking into and bugging democratic party offices. This was due in part to the fact that Nixon was so chronically obsessed with bugging things that he recorded all his own conversations to later be used in his memoirs. The tapes were then listened to, and evidence piled up, including one tape where Nixon asked his aides to tell the FBI to stop its investigation, which for those of you who don't know, is obstruction of justice -- a severe criminal offense.
This is the most innocent we've ever seen Nixon look, and we're still pretty sure that piano is filled with strangled puppies.
While the taped evidence sealed Nixon's fate, there were several noticeable missing gaps in the tapes, including an almost 19 minute gap in a tape of Nixon talking to his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. His same chief of staff who helped orchestrate the break-ins and who was later arrested and imprisoned for 18 months.
No word what his hair got.
When the commission in charge of the case asked why over 18 minutes had been erased, many weak excuses were given, including putting the blame on Nixon's secretary. Since the tapes were probably not "accidentally" erased, it is generally viewed that something unlawful was recorded. But what was it? Nixon giving the orders to bug the offices? Nixon ordering an assassination? Nixon telling Haldeman to follow the clues to lead him to the treasure? We'll never know, as they are lost to history.
We're forced to assume it was the location of the San Jose treasure.
Or maybe not. While the exact words are still lost, they may not be for long. The National Archives is currently trying to find the exact point in the tapes where it was erased and, with the aid of future technology, maybe restore it. Several attempts have already been made. They know where it is, but not how to find it. Someday, we may get to hear what Nixon did not want us to hear.
Militaries are very good at hurling bombs at each other, but not so good at cleaning them up. This is why, for instance, 90 years after WWI over 900 tons of unexploded bombs are still being found around Europe. Even with today's advanced remote-sensing technology, many bombs are not found until a farmer clips one with a plow. And because bombs sank into the soil over time, they appear each spring after the frozen earth pushes them back to the surface. This is what the locals call the "Iron Harvest," as each year brings a new "crop."
WARNING: Do not stir-fry.
And these are not the simple "hit them and they explode" bombs, either -- many of them contain mustard gas and other dangerous chemicals that can murder you from a distance. The bombs are still so dangerous that sometimes entire towns have to be evacuated. But still, you know, it's not like there are nukes laying around out there.
Are we the only ones who think this would make a badass kitchen table?
Ah, about that ...
The United States has officially acknowledged 11 nuclear weapons lost over the years, while the Russians have had several weapons just go missing, with hundreds of attempts to steal weapons from their facilities. But according to several watchdog organizations, including Greenpeace, there are about 50 nuclear weapons currently unaccounted for, most of them at sea. That's basically misplacing an apocalypse.
"So ... should we just keep this thing in Steve's storage shed, or what?"
In case you are thinking of making an expedition to find one of these, most of them are in areas that humans cannot easily get to. One such place is in British Columbia, where a bomb was lost on the way to a simulated strike of San Francisco. Another bomb, accidentally lost when a U.S. Air Force B-52 crashed in 1968, is in the middle of Greenland, so we can't find it until global warming kicks in.
But then, a lot of these missing bombs, lovingly termed "broken arrows" by the U.S. military, are lost at sea and eerily close to civilization. One bomb was lost in 1965 when the jet it was attached to simply rolled off the loading elevator into the ocean, only 80 miles off the coast of Japan. Then there is the case of the hydrogen bomb lost in 1958 in the ocean less than half a mile off the coast of Georgia. As in the U.S. state of Georgia.
Odds are, a few of you live within miles of this bomb.
But not to fret, the military powers that be say that most do not have sufficient material for a nuclear blast. So don't worry, most won't explode probably!
For more things lost to the ages, check out 7 Insanely Advanced Weapons History Somehow Forgot About and The 6 Most Important Things Humanity Just Plain Forgot.