Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Czar's Lost Gold

Two Mir submersibles have been hot on the trail of wreckage 400 meters (1,300 feet) below the surface of Lake Baikal, Russia since late 2010. The ship's three-man crew discovered "steel girders that looked like railway bridges."
Russian experts believe the recent finds might be part of the gold taken by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, which has been missing since the chaos of Russia's civil war. During a major offensive in 1919, Kolchak led the "White Guards" under his command over the Ural Mountains. Kolchak and his forces drove the Bolsheviks out of Kazan, a city east of Moscow, and took control of a major part of Russia's gold reserves.
Fearing that German troops might get their hands on it during World War I, Czar Nicholas II had had 500 tons of gold transported from St. Petersburg to Kazan. The gold, worth about 650 million rubles, reportedly filled 5,000 crates and 1,700 sacks; the "Whites" required 40 railway cars for the journey.
According to legend, members of the "White Guards" tried to cross Lake Baikal with the railway cars while it was frozen over with winter ice. But the weight of the cars caused them to crash through the ice and the gold sank into the depths. Still, historians expressed their doubts that this was the czar's gold. It was much more likely that the gold never sank, they guessed. Instead the "White Guards" might have smuggled it out of the country and deposited it into bank accounts in Great Britain and Japan. Another explanation: The withdrawing Czechs had taken it with them and it had brought about a period of unexpected prosperity in that country during the 1920s.

To this day no gold has been recovered.