22 March 2011
Lawsuit Against U.S. Federal Reserve Seeks Armenian Gold Looted by Turkey By Harut Sassounian
Comments by Sukru Server Aya In Blue
The Glendale-based nonprofit Center for Armenian Remembrance (CAR) sued the U.S. Federal Reserve on March 4, seeking information on its acquisition of a large amount of Armenian gold looted by the Ottoman government in 1915.
CAR filed the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The gold, originally valued at 5 million Turkish gold liras ($22 million dollars), is now estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently claimed they have no records of any Armenian gold in their possession.
It was not easy to trace the circumstances under which the Armenian-owned gold was transferred from Istanbul to the United States almost a century ago. The results of our research on the convoluted series of transactions are summarized below:
The Ottoman government had seized the gold and other valuables belonging to Armenians deported and killed in the 1915 genocide, expropriating their bank accounts and safe deposit boxes. The Ottoman Liquidation Commission used a complex set of bank transfers to hide the trail of this “blood money.” The Turkish Treasury placed the looted Armenian gold initially in the German Deutschebank in Istanbul. In 1916, the gold was transferred to the Bleichroeder Bank in Vienna, and from there moved to the Reichsbank (German Central Bank) in Berlin and was deposited in the account of Ottoman Public Debt.
Comment: There is no record anywhere that the Ottoman Government seized gold or other valuables belonging to Armenians or expropriating bank accounts. US Consul L. Davis speaks of Armenians leaving cash with him to be collected later. . . .
Protestant and Catholic Armenians were permitted to return and repossess what they had left behind. After the 30.10.1918 Mudros Treaty about 200 – 300.000 Armenians from Syria returned under British-French occupation to their homes. These left Turkey in late 1921 with their own will, when French armies pulled out! We know that in 1917 when the Tsarist Russian’s refugee ships anchored in the Bosporus, Greek and Armenian grocers were selling loaf of bread and bottle of water for a golden ring! Practically there were no Turkish grocers (or other artisans) and about 180.000 Armenians on the Western costs were never touched on any subject!
According to Efraim & Inari Karsh, (ISBN 0-674-00541-4) “Empires of the Sand”, p.116&134, Ottomans borrowed on Sept. 30th, 1914 from Germany 5 millions Turkish Gold liras at 6% interest, which was paid in several installments so that Turks could enter War. We also have records that Ottomans before WW1 owed a total of 142.2 millions Sterling to foreign creditors and 53% of this was payable to France, 21% to Germany and 14% to Britain. These debts were liquidated after the Lausanne Peace Treaty with the agreement dated 24.7.1923 and paid by the Turkish Republic to creditor states. To think that the Ottomans who could not even pay the salaries of army officers had a surplus of (any) GOLD and sent it to Germany is a fantasy that suits great “treasury hunt dreamers”! The demands of indemnities of US Companies and persons from the Turkish Republic were treated under a separate agreement concluded with exchange of letters in 1937 and paid thereafter with incurred interests. So, legally there is nothing that any State or Entity can demand from the Republic of Turkey for Ottoman debts (or assets) !
At the end of World War I, when the Allied Powers demanded reparations from Germany and its Ottoman Turkish ally, German officials had no choice but to comply with that request, agreeing to turn over to the Allies the Armenian gold held by the Reichsbank. Accordingly, the expropriated Armenian gold was transferred to France and Great Britain in 1921.
I have no knowledge about the gold of Reichsbank, its transfer or where it came from!
A subsequent British document confirms the true ownership of this gold. On Sept. 26 1924, leaders of the two main opposition parties in Great Britain, Liberal Party leader and former Prime Minister H.H. Asquith, and Conservative Party leader and future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald pleading for British assistance to Armenians in view of their support for the Allied cause and the great suffering they endured during World War I. The two British leaders argued that “the sum of 5 million pounds (Turkish gold) deposited by the Turkish Government in Berlin in 1916, and taken over by the Allies after the Armistice, was in large part (perhaps wholly) Armenian money. After the enforced deportation of the Armenians in 1915, their bank accounts, both current and deposit, were transferred by order to the State Treasury at Constantinople. This fact enabled the Turks to send five million sterling to the Reichsbank, Berlin, in exchange for a new issue of notes.”
Subsequently, instead of returning the Armenian gold to its original owners, Britain and France sold it to the United States government through J.P. Morgan Bank in Paris, by exchanging it for U.S. Treasury Certificates.
On Jan. 29, 1925, Senator William H. King submitted Resolution 319 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanding that the looted gold be “set aside in trust” for Armenians. The resolution stated: “The Turkish Government had arbitrarily seized and transferred to the Turkish treasury all bank accounts, both current and deposit, belonging to Armenians, by which Armenian gold in the sum of 5 million Turkish pounds, amounting to $22,450,000, was transferred to the Turkish treasury, which gold was afterwards deposited by the Turkish Government in the Reichsbank at Berlin… Said deposit of Armenian gold in the Reichsbank at Berlin was by article 259 of the Treaty of Versailles transferred and surrendered to the principal allied and associated powers, including the United States… Said deposit in equity and right belongs to the Armenians from whom the same was seized, or to their legal representatives… Said deposit should be set aside in trust to be hereafter paid over to the persons from whom said gold was seized, or to their lawful representatives.
Comment: Dr. Fridthjof Nansen, Gen. Secretary of League of Nations, on 21.9.1929 at the 16th Planetary Meeting when speaking on Armenia had confessed that the allies had promised “if you fight with us against the Turks, and if the war ends successfully for us, we promise to give you a national home, liberty and independence”. He further had complained that he went to Armenia but since the Allies did not give money, the projects for recovery were abandoned. Now let us use our logic to evaluate the truth behind many shiny words:
a. By 24.9. 1924 the Lausanne Treaty was over one year old and the British Politicians were “perfectly aware that there was no floating gold searching for pockets”. Britain knew too well that they had abandoned Armenians many times refusing to give them much smaller amounts as credit, and hence this sound like another “ hope in the air” just to cover up the solemn past.
b. As regards Senator King’s report of Jan. 1925, by that time not only the financial matters related to Turkey were settled in 1923, but there was no such indications in the report of General Harbord of 1919, nor in the Near East Relied Report, approved on 22.4.1922. Ambassador Morgenthau was the most capable and trusted man on all money matters. (His son became Secretary of Treasury to Pres. Roosevelt for eleven years). I would ask why none of these persons in bad need of money, never heard of a deposit of 5 millions Sterling or gold in Germany in 1916! How come this was not ever mentioned during the 1919 Paris Conference?
This gold is just a small portion of the billions of dollars of Armenian assets stolen by Turkey and various other countries during and after the Armenian Genocide. The restitution of all looted Armenian assets, wherever they may be, should be one of the highest priorities for those pursuing justice for the horrendous crimes committed against the Armenian nation.
The usual arrogant and slanderous language used by the writer to please the ego of his readers (already voiced in the comments) does not add any seriousness or creditability to this fantasy. An old folk Turkish proverb says: “The hungry hen, dreams of the barn full of barley”!
Sukru S. Aya