QUIRKY WORLD ... Pensioner wants public to dig deep for Nazi loot

GERMANY: A pensioner has started digging in Germany’s western Ruhr region for the Amber Room, a priceless work of art looted by Nazis from the Soviet Union during World War Two and missing for 70 years, but says he needs a new drill to help him.

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Amber Room was an ornate chamber made of amber panels given to Czar Peter the Great by Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm I in 1716.

German troops stole the treasure chamber from a palace near St Petersburg in 1941 and took it to Koenigsberg, now the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, before it disappeared.

Conspiracy theories abound about the whereabouts of what some say is the world’s most valuable piece of lost art. Some historians think it was destroyed in the war, others say Germans smuggled it to safety.

Now 68-year-old pensioner Karl-Heinz Kleine says he thinks the chamber is hidden under the town of Wuppertal, deep in western Germany’s industrial Ruhr area. After analysing the evidence, Kleine has concluded that Erich Koch, who was the Nazis’ chief administrator in East Prussia, may have secretly dispatched it to his home town.

“Wuppertal has a large number of tunnels and bunkers which have not yet been searched for the Amber Room. We have started looking in possible hiding places here,” Kleine said.

“But the search is very costly. We need helpers, special equipment and money,” Kleine said. He said a building firm had lent him a drill but asked for it back.

“I only have a small pension, a new machine is too expensive for me. But whoever helps will get his share of the Amber Room when we find it,” he said.

Peed off

GERMANY: Residents of Hamburg’s St Pauli’s nightclub district are getting their own back on late-night revellers who urinate on public buildings, with a new hi-tech paint that sends the spray bouncing right back at them.

A local interest group has applied the special water- repellent paint, also used in shipbuilding, on two especially frequented buildings in the renowned nightclub district near the port to deter “Wildpinkler”, as Germans call them.

“This paint job sends a direct message back to perpetrators that their wild urinating on this wall is not welcome,” said Julia Staron, who organised the group.

“The paint protects the buildings and the residents and most importantly it sends a signal this behaviour is not on,” he said.

In a video posted on YouTube that drew 181,000 viewers on its first day alone, Staron is shown putting up signs in German and English that say: “Hier nicht pinkeln! Wir pinkeln zurueck” (Do not pee here! We pee back!).

The special hydrophobe paint is, however, expensive.

Staron said it costs about €500 to paint a six-square metre area, but it was worth the effort and was already having a positive effect on newly protected walls.

“If you compare the work involved for daily cleaning of the mess and the awful smell, as well as all the collateral damage involved, it has definitely been well worth it,” she said.

Staron said that her community group came up with the idea after realising conventional methods were not having the desired effect.

“We tried to analyse the problem and come up with a solution,” she said.

“We were especially interested in coming up with an idea that would be suitable for this quarter,” she said, referring to St Pauli’s famous redlight and nightclub district.

Reluctant welcome

USA: The flashing, portable sign along the Julia Tuttle Causeway on Tuesday read: “Welcome visitors! Prohibited.”

It was supposed to flash this message on three different screens: “Welcome visitors! Prohibited on the beach: glass, metal, alcohol and Styrofoam.”

By Tuesday evening, city officials had apologised for the error and the sign was removed to be corrected.

City spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez told the Miami Herald that Miami Beach certainly welcomes visitors.

She offered apologies to anyone who was offended.

Windy relationship

USA: An ecstatic New Mexico couple who got engaged on top of Sandia Peak had to curtail their celebrations after getting stuck for hours because of high winds.

KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports that Arthur Edelhoff and Lindsay Duncan of Corrales took the tram up the mountaintop early on Sunday evening.

After taking engagement photos, the couple were told that they had to wait for the 64km/h wind to die down before they could return.

Jay Blackwood, the manager of the Sandia Peak Tram, says 140 people were stranded for four ours. Edelhoff says they didn’t get off the mountain until 10:30pm.


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