Unit 1 Cultural Relics IN SEARCH OF THE AMBER ROOM Frederick William I, the King of Prussia, could never have imagined that his greatest gift to the Russian people would have such an amazing
history. This gift was the Amber Room, which was given this name because several tons of amber were used to make it. The amber which was selected had a beautiful yellow-brown colour like honey. The design of the room was in the fancy style popular in those days. It was also a treasure decorated with gold and jewels, which took the country’s best artists about ten years to make. In fact, the room was not made to be a gift. It was designed for the palace of Frederick I. However, the next King of Prussia, Frederick William I, to whom the amber room belonged, decided not to keep it. In 1716 he gave it to Peter the Great. In return, the Czar sent him a troop of his best soldiers. So the Amber Room became part of the Czar’s winter palace in Petersburg. About four metres long, the room served as a small reception hall for important visitors. Later, Catherine II had the Amber Room moved to a palace outside St Petersburg where she spent her summers. She told her artists to add more details to it. In 1770 the room was completed the way she wanted. Almost six hundred candles lit the room, and its mirrors and pictures shone like gold. Sadly, although the Amber Room was considered one of the wonders of the world, it is now missing. In September 1941, the Nazi army was near St Petersburg. This was a time when the two countries were at war. Before the Nazis could get to the summer palace, the Russians were able to remove some furniture and small art objects from the Amber Room. However, some of the Nazis secretly stole the room itself. In less than two days 100,000 pieces were put inside twenty-seven wooden boxes. There is no doubt that the boxes were then put on a train for Konigsberg, which was at that time German city on the Baltic Sea. After that, what happened to the Amber Room remains a mystery. Recently, the Russians and Germans have built a new Amber Room at the summer palace. By studying old photos of the former Amber Room, they have made the new one look like the old one. In 2003 it was ready for the people of St Petersburg when they celebrated the 300th birthday of their city. A FACT OR AN OPINION What is a fact? Is it something that people believe? No. A fact is anything that can be proved. For example, it can be proved that China has more people than any other country in the world. This is a fact. Then what is an opinion? An opinion is something that someone believes is true but has not been improved. So an opinion is not good evidence in a trial. For example, it is an opinion if you say “Cats are better pets than dogs.” It may be true, but it is difficult to prove. Some people may not agree with this opinion but they also cannot prove that they are right. In a trial, a judge must decide which eyewitnesses to believe and which not to believe. The judge does not consider what each eyewitness looks like or where that person lives or works. He/she only cares about whether the eyewitness has given true information, which must be facts rather than opinions. This kind of information is called evidence.
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