Book Unearths New Incriminating Evidence About Long-Censored Fraud and Mass Murder

Just before the outbreak of the First World War, in April 1915, the Ottoman Turks began a systematic elimination of its Armenian population. Persecutions continued with varying intensities until 1923, when the Ottoman Empire was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. More than half of the two million Armenia’s who lived in Turkey at the time perished and the rest were forced to leave the country. In addition to eliminating the Christian minority Armenia’s, the Islamic Ottoman Turks also tried to profit from their slaughter by cashing in on the life insurance policies of the dead Armenia’s – something the Nazis would do to the Jews only 20 years later. In a rallying cry for Justice, Dr. Hrayr S. Karaguezian –research scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA professor of medicine – has released Genocide and Life Insurance: The Armenian Case to unearth the unpleasant truth about the long covered-up Armenian Genocide of 1915. "My book is entirely document-based; drawing pertinent information from never-before-processed documen’s pulled from the US National Archives. It was inspired by the discovery of a highly informative letter that was declassified only in the 1980s and which proved instrumental for both the defendant and plaintiffs in the 2004-2005 class action settlemen’s in Los Angeles," Dr. Karagueuzian says. "This letter-document exposes the cunning, yet spectacular, deceit on behalf of both the insurers and the perpetrators and is the first account of life insurance policy claims in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. It traces the efforts of insurance beneficiaries, beginning with the futile attempts by the heirs of the victims over 90 years ago and ending with the symbolic recognition of the victims’ rights and partial compensation granted to the descendants of some of the insured victims only in 2004-2005 in a Los Angeles court system." Dr. Karagueuzian "spent the past twenty years investigating the history of just one of the large catalogues of losses: the unclaimed life insurance policies owned by Armenian victims of the Genocide," writes Dickran Kouymjian, Armenian Studies at California State University, Fresno, in a foreword to the book. "Since only a few of the actual policies issued have survived, it is hard to imagine that tens of thousands of them were bought by Armenia’s living in the Ottoman Empire. Since the purchasers were the heads of households, responsible for large extended families, a considerable portion of the Armenian population was affected."This book is a plea for human justice, perhaps a voice to counter the political control of knowledge," Dr. Karagueuzian says. "It is hoped that this book will help the development of more effective legal and political constructs to prevent exploitation of the victims of genocide." Dr. Karagueuzian’s study "provides the essential background for understanding the recent class action settlemen’s of Armenian insurance claims that date back to the tragedy of the last century." Dr. Kouymjian concludes in his forward. "It is powerfully suggestive of all the work, the scholarship and litigation, perhaps political activism, facing those who believe that justice can still be done for the memory of the victims of the Genocide and the nation they represented." The book also provides a comparative analysis of the victimized Jews in Nazi Germany who, like the victims of the Armenian Genocide some two decades earlier, also owned life insurance policies and were caught in a similar problem. The book lays the present-day efforts in the U.S. to let the German and European insurers expedite the return of life policy benefits to the heirs of the Holocaust victims. According to Karagueuzian the book with its rich documentation is "aimed at Universities (Departmen’s of: History, Law School, Political Science, Ethnic Studies, Sociology, Victimology and Libraries); genocide scholars, politicians, insurance companies and insurance Commissioners, various worldwide Armenian and Jewish charitable and benevolent associations and organizations. It may serve as University course material to students and for the development of effective legal-political constructs to prevent victims’ exploitation." Publication Information Date of publication October 12, 2006, Published by the University of La Verne Press, La Verne CA. ISBN, 0911707751, Library of Congress Control number, 20066906999. The book (paperback) is available by sending $20 check payable to: Health Risk Prevention P.O Box 4810, Glendale, CA 91222-0810. Introduction There are only few references in the literature that allude to the existence of Armenian life insurance policies at the outbreak of World War I. A concise and documented narrative on the number, fate and the present-day validity of these life policies is still lacking. The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau in his 1919 memoir briefly mentions about the Turkish attempts to collect the life insurance policy benefits of the Armenian victims, but does not dwell any more than that. (1) The late Shavarsh Toriguian, attorney and expert on international law, in his 1988 book entitled: The Armenian Question and International Law asserts Morgenthau’s claim of Turkish Government’s sinister scheme by producing U.S. Archival documen’s that show Turkey’s attempt to get the names of all Armenia’s insured with American and European insurers. (2) Outside these two brief reports there are no other accounts on this subject. The absence of such a narrative perhaps stems from the fact that much data about pre-genocide era life insurance policies remained classified for over seventy-five years. The declassification of State Department documen’s related to the Armenian Genocide in the late 1980s, while by no means complete, has at last made the construction of such a narrative possible and also helped importantly to bolster the recent claims against two insurance companies in California. Chapter One presents a brief overview of the history and conditions under which the Armenia’s lived on their historic homeland in Ottoman Turkey. The repeated requests made by the Ottoman Armenia’s for reforms and relief from heavy government taxation led the Turkish authorities to use lethal force as the ultimate arbiter of reforms. Intermittent and incremental massacres starting in 1862 (and ending in1923) culminated to the first major instance of a large scale massacres: the 1915 Genocide claiming the lives of more than one million Armenia’s. During the ensuing years (1918-1923), the Kemalist regime "finished" the Ittihadists’ genocidal acts leading to a complete eradication of the Armenia race on their homeland. Chapter Two analyzes the State Department documen’s discovered by this author showing that on the eve of the 1915 massacres, Armenia’s had bought thousands of life insurance policies from various European and American insurers. Given the "wartime" deaths of the insured, a legal question was raised as to the eligibility of the victims’ heirs to the policy benefits. The insurers however, found the victims "eligible" for the policy benefits. This is discussed in Chapter Three. While the survivors of the insured victims made desperate attempts to collect their policy benefits, the Turkish Government, on its part, was actively and officially engaged in efforts to collect the benefits for itself. This sinister scheme is discussed in Chapter Four. The documen’s analyzed in this book further demonstrate the "illegal" nature of the mass murders of the Armenia’s and assert their non-relatedness to war efforts or "due judicial process." However, the large and increasing number of insured victims has created a business dilemma for the insurers. Refusal to pay would create a public relations nightmare. At the same time however, the sudden increase in the number of policy claims could undoubtedly inflict heavy losses to the insurers. These worrisome turn of events led the insurance companies to hold Turkey liable. This is discussed in Chapter Five. Did the insurers have a legal basis to hold the perpetrators liable? The murderous sinking of the British civilian liner Lusitania by a German torpedo in 1915 is a case in point. Eleven of the 128 American victims held life insurance policies with American insurers who held Germany liable on charges of "act of murder," reminiscent of the Turkish "illegal killings" of the Armenia’s. This legal "mini-precedent" is discussed in Chapter Six. In an effort to avoid paymen’s, the insurers requested that their respective governmen’s craft and amend specific articles of the 1920 Svres Treaty that would explicitly recognize the Armenian life insurance policies as a Turkish liability. Such articles would have then relieved the insurers from their obligations to their insured and hold Turkey liable. These behind the scene political maneuvers are discussed in Chapter Seven. Are the unclaimed policies recoverable today after decades of dormancy? This important issue is detailed in Chapter Eight in light of the recent successful, yet symbolic, settlemen’s and is compared to the Holocaust era Jewish life insurance policy claims.


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