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National Minorities Tax, Which Ruined Jews, Called “shameful” in Turkish Parliament

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The question of the Levying of a discriminatory tax on Jews and other minorities in Turkey in 1942 has been raised in the Turkish Parliament by a deputy of the Democrat Party, which recently upset the 30-year-rule of the Republican People’s Party. The tax spelled economic ruin for many Turkish Jews.

The deputy, Sinan Tekelioglu, asked the Democrat Finance Minister, H. Ayar, to report on the discriminatory tax, known as Varlik, and its effect. The Minister refused to speak of the effects of the law, terming them “shameful” but said that the measure itself embodied concepts of justice which did not jibe with the traditions of the Turkish state. Mr. Tekelioglu has insisted that the Minister reply more fully, and Mr. Ayar has asked for more time.

Under the terms of the 1942 law, commissions of Turkish citizens were authorized to prepare secret estimates of the wealth of their neighbors who were members of national minorities. The commission did not have to use any proviously prepared government tables of taxation and in most cases the taxes levied were enormous. Many members of minority groups, including Jews, were forced to liquidate their businesses and other assets to meet the tax. These who could not pay the levy were deported to forced labor camps.

Observers in Ankara do not believe that the present investigation into Varlik is apt to result in restitution of assets confiecated by the Turkish Government in 1942.

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