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Confiscation and Destruction .pdf

Original filename: Confiscation_and_Destruction.pdf
Title: 9781441135780_Prelims_txt_Prf.indd
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9781441135780_Prelims_txt_Prf.indd i

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Confiscation and Destruction
The Young Turk Seizure of
Armenian Property

Uğur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel

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Published by the Continuum International Publishing Group
The Tower Building
80 Maiden Lane
11 York Road
Suite 704
New York
NY 10038
Copyright © Uğur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel, 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission
from the publishers.
First published 2011
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978-1441-13578-0
Designed and typeset by Newgen Imaging Systems Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India
Printed and bound in Great Britain by

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‘Mal sahibi mülk sahibi, hani bunun ilk sahibi?’
––– Yunus Emre (1240–1321)
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the French President Charles
de Gaulle, and Stalin are showing off their expensive gifts. Churchill displays
an expensive snuff box with an inscription reading, ‘To dear Winston, from
your loving wife.’ De Gaulle has a distinctive pipe that reads, ‘To our beloved
De Gaulle, from a patriotic Frenchwoman.’ Then Stalin pulls out a gold
cigarette box encrusted with diamonds with an inscription that reads, ‘To
Count Uvarov, from Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich.’
––– Evgeny Andreevich, Kreml i narod

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Illustrations and Maps
1 Introduction and Problematization


2 Ideological Foundations: Constructing the Turkish
‘National Economy’


3 Legal Foundations: Using the Justice System for Injustice


4 The Dispossession of Ottoman Armenians


5 Adana: The Cotton Belt


6 Diyarbekir: The Land of Copper and Silk


7 Conclusion


Appendix 1


Appendix 2




Select Bibliography




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This book is a study of the mass sequestration of Armenian property by the Young
Turk regime.1 It details the emergence of Turkish economic nationalism, offers
insight into the economic ramifications of the genocidal process, and describes how
the plunder was organized on the ground. This book will shed light on the interrelated nature of property confiscation initiated by the Young Turk regime and its
cooperating local elites. It will also offer new insights into the functions and beneficiaries of state-sanctioned robbery. This study builds upon the work of other scholars
who have worked on partly overlapping subjects such as the fate of Ottoman
Armenians during World War I, Turkish economic nationalism, genocide theory,
and local histories of Ottoman towns and Turkish cities.
There are two boundaries that delimit the scope of this book in time and space.
Geographically, the book will address the confiscation of Armenian property in two
major provinces, Adana and Diyarbekir. These choices were not arbitrary: these
provinces are situated in the eastern provinces and share certain characteristics.
None of these provinces were a direct battlefield during World War I; Armenians
historically played important roles in their economies, and in both of them Armenian
popular resistance against the genocide was negligible. Even though each of these
provinces had disparate economic contexts, they were affected in similar ways by
Young Turk persecution: disruption of commerce, stagnation of economic output
and pauperization of the victims. Similarities and dissimilarities will be discussed in
the respective chapters. Chronologically, this book will refer to ‘the Young Turk era’
as an operational periodization but will exclude the Young Turk confiscations of
non-Muslim property under the Wealth Tax during World War II and the fate of
Armenians’ property during the Istanbul pogrom of 6–7 September 1955.
Quantitatively, there are clear restraints on this study as well. Estimating
Armenian wealth quantitatively has proven to be impracticable without systematic investigation of the proprietorship certificates at the land register office, in
church records, local archives or the records of the Ottoman Bank. Most important, the highly politicized archive of the land registers (tapu kayıtları) remains
closed due to Turkish fears of potential Armenian material claims. These records,
stored at the Land Register General Directorate (Tapu Kadastro Genel Müdürlüğü),
contain the (presumably) highly detailed account books of confiscated Armenian

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