390G.115 Singer Sewing Machine Company/7: Airgram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

A–25. Reference:

(1)
Legation’s despatch no. 1938, June 2, 1942,2 regarding the difficulties in obtaining compensation for American losses during the looting of June 1941 in Iraq.Iraq
(2)
Legation’s despatch no. 2003, September 24, 1942,2 describing method by which British subjects in Iraq received payment from Iraqi Government for their losses during the period of looting.
(3)
Legation’s despatch no. 66, November 11, 1942,2 regarding payment by Iraqi Government for Jewish losses in pogrom and looting of 1941.

As the Department was informed in the final paragraph of third despatch under reference, on November 13, 1942, Legation again addressed a note to Ministry for Foreign Affairs, requesting a reply to its previous note of June 2, 1942 which asked what arrangements had been made for the compensation of American citizens and firms for their losses. After long delay, in a note dated March 31, 1943, the Ministry asked for a list of the names of American nationals whose property was looted, with details of this property “in order that the Iraqi appropriate authorities may investigate the matter.” The Ministry suggested that if the Legation preferred, it might ask the persons concerned to report directly to the Investigating Magistrate, Judge Murad Al-Shawi, “in accordance with the procedures adopted in this respect.”

The Legation replied in a note dated April 5, giving all the information desired, and also wrote to each American claimant suggesting that he approach the Investigating Magistrate directly. However, Judge Al-Shawi disclaimed all responsibility for compensation of their claims, saying that he was empowered only to prosecute looters, [Page 501]if the complainants had any evidence or witnesses to produce. The matter thus stands that after two years of correspondence between the Legation and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, there has been no success in the Legation’s efforts to obtain compensation of these claims, although British and Jewish claims in much larger amounts have been settled.

The Legation hesitates to press the matter without the Department’s instructions, which have been requested in each of the despatches under reference. The total amount involved in personal claims is I.D.661.610, with I.D.16,236.498 in commercial claims.3 The Legation feels that the Iraqi Government should at least settle the personal claims unless it wishes to render itself liable to accusation of discrimination against American citizens. The Department’s instructions in this matter are again requested.

Wilson
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  4. One Iraqi dinar was equivalent to one British pound sterling.