During World War II, Turkey remained neutral until February 1945. In November 1942, the Turkish government imposed on its citizens a capital tax, known as « Varlik Vergisi ». Officially, the tax was devised to fill the state treasury that would have been needed had Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union invaded the country. It was supposed to be paid by all Turkish citizens, but in fact, the way the tax was
implemented revealed its true meaning: to reduce the influence of non-muslims over the country’s trade, finance, and industries by bringing severe discrimination against Greek and Armenian Christians, Jews, Levantines…
In practical terms, the tax was imposed on landed estates, building owners, real estate brokers, businesses, and industrial enterprises of all citizens, but the non-muslim population was taxed with higher rates that could not be challenged in court. It had to be paid 15 days later. All non-Muslims who could not pay this excessive tax were exiled to the interior of Turkey (Erzurum) where they were forced to work in labor battalions. Muslims who could not pay received lighter sentences. Estimates mention the figure of 5000 exiled citizens, all non-muslims.
Thanks to relentless international criticism the law could not sustain for a long time. Under pressure from the United Kingdom and the United States, it was repealed 18 months later, on 15 March 1944, although by then, much harm had been done. This documentary looks at the case of one of those exiled persons, the ethnical Greek citizen Konstandinos Kiourktsoglou, and reveals for the very first time, with the help of his Diary, the actual circumstances of this unfortunate chapter in contemporary History.