Sassounian: German Insurance Companies Should Stop Cheating Armenian Clients

German firms filed a petition for a rehearing by the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a panel of three judges of that court ruled that heirs of Armenian Genocide victims could seek payment from life insurance companies operating in the Ottoman Empire.

Rather than spending a fortune on high-powered lawyers, German insurance companies should promptly settle this case and pay the compensation owed to heirs of perished Armenian policy-holders. Many Armenian residents of the Ottoman Empire trusted these European companies and dutifully paid their premiums so that someday, when they passed away, their families would receive the proceeds of their policies.

This lawsuit has nothing whatsoever to do with genocide recognition or rights of states vis-a-vis the federal government. These German companies have violated their contractual agreements and failed to live up to their promises to Armenian policy holders. Their heirs are entitled to receive the payments owed to them, regardless of whether their ancestors were killed by genocidal maniacs or drunk drivers! The only relevant issue here is that upon their deaths, the heirs should have been promptly paid in keeping with the terms of the life insurance policies.

Instead, these German companies have avoided meeting their financial obligations for almost a century, and shamefully use Turkish denialist propaganda as their cover. Their lawyers even quote from revisionist materials posted on the Turkish Embassy’s website. If these companies had filed a similar motion denying the Jewish Holocaust and quoting from neo-Nazi websites, they would have been out of business within 24 hours!

The lawyers argue that recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. government would “cause great harm to the nation’s foreign policy interests.” It is preposterous that German insurance companies are using such irrelevant arguments in order to continue enriching themselves. Safeguarding the interests of this nation is the responsibility of the U.S. government, not that of German companies.

In their appeal, the lawyers for the German firms cleverly start their recitation of the record on U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide by citing only the last three American presidents, because during their term in office the House of Representatives did not adopt new Congressional resolutions on the Armenian Genocide.

Fortunately, U.S. history does not start with the year 2000. The lawyers conveniently ignore the fact that the U.S. government first acknowledged the Armenian Genocide back in 1951 in a document it submitted to the International Court of Justice (World Court). Since then, the House of Representatives on two occasions — 1975 and 1984 — adopted resolutions commemorating the Armenian Genocide, and in 1981, President Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation mentioning the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, 42 U.S. states and scores of American cities have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide during the past 50 years. The federal government has never objected to or expressed disagreement with any of those actions. If recognizing the Armenian Genocide is not in the best interest of the United States, as these lawyers contend, then Reagan, the U.S. Justice Department, hundreds of House members who voted for the Armenian Genocide Resolution, thousands of legislators in 42 states, and scores of mayors and governors must be anti-American.

In fact, these historic affirmations are far more relevant to this case than the politically motivated and morally bankrupt pronouncements of the last three U.S. presidents. When California adopted a law in 2000 extending the statute of limitation on insurance claims by Armenian Genocide victims, it did so on the basis of the extensive record of U.S. recognition up to that time. Since then, no new resolutions were adopted and no votes cast contradicting this historical record. No U.S. official has ever denied the truthfulness of the Armenian Genocide. In reality, that record has been strengthened considerably by the fact that during the terms in office of the last three presidents, successive House committees, on at least four occasions — 2000, 2003, 2007, and 2010 — have adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

The most ridiculous aspect of the German companies’ appeal is their attempt to justify their irresponsible behavior by citing this writer as an “authority” and quoting from one of my articles in which I criticize President Obama for referring to the Armenian Genocide as “Meds Yeghern.” Ken Hachikian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), is also listed as an “authority.” He, too, had complained about Obama’s use of that term. Obama’s choice of words has no relevance to the fact that these companies have cheated their Armenian clients and their heirs by not paying the payments owed to them.

Rather than filing an appeal, it is high time for German life insurance companies to stop playing games with the legitimate claims of their perished clients, and promptly pay what they owe to their descendants.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. All the insurance companies are thieves included german insurance companies. They still paying for (their) Holocaust mess how they would pay for turkish mess?!

  2. Mr. Sassounian,

    First of all, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco made their ruling via a 2:1 decision (it was NOT a unanimous decision, as you allude it to be!). It simply reversed the previous ruling made by the same margin. Always remember that todays ruling can be reversed yet again tomorrow! So, I would not be so quick to celebrate if I were you.  

    • I did not say the ruling was unanimous. Please do not distort what I wrote.

  3. The German insurance companies, endeavoring to avoid meeting their obligations to the beneficiaries of the victims of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation now, shamefully, these Germans too, come across as of the perpetrators of Genocides – as a Turkey – for lying to the world, and thus lying to themselves – for denying the historically recognized Armenian Genocides.  Further, for a turkey even lies that ‘muslims do not commit Genocides’!  Are not now, these German insurance companies in a sense, too,  in ‘denials’ of the historically recognized Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation? Sad, a need to liken Germans to muslim Turks… Manooshag

  4. the forthcoming documentary “Aghet” should raise some eyebrows and get people’s attention…very enlightening

  5. Michael,

    I never attacked you. Your comment, being insultive with obvious deragatory conotations, was completely uncalled for! All it shows is that you can not even accept the possibility that you could be wrong and that the tides may indeed be turning. You feel threatened because of this. Thus, you decide to lower yourself by lashing out at me! But it doesn’t really matter, for all you’ve accomplished is to show everyone what your character is truly made of, and in an interesting way, have also proven my point!

  6. Sassounian is absolutely correct that, when it comes right down to it, the insurance companies and banks stole Armenian money, and it should not matter whether the Armenians were killed by Turkey in a genocide, massacres, or an auto accident.

    If you read the original decision (which was reversed, thankfully), the utter ignorance of the judges is there for all to see.  The judges could not even get their facts straight on whether the US had acknowledged the Genocide. 

    This is not unusual nowadays in American jurisprudence.  Judges decide cases less on the law and the facts than on their personal opinions and how their opinions will fly in the minds of special interest groups.

    A judge that can decide a case based solely on his personal opinion is also a judge who can, for example, decide that Armenians have committed a “hate crime” toward the poor darling Turks and libelled Turks when Armenians say that Turkey or “Turks” committed genocide.  The University of Minn. case shows that the Turks will use any tactic or argument, no matter how absurd.  Turks will shop around for a judge – and all they need is one – who will rule the way the Turks want.  Armenians may wish to consider countersuits. 

    This is coming.   American judges have become self-appointed arbiters of political correctness, and there are few elected officials who will restrain them.

  7. Is it just me or is has the tone and vocabulary of Robert changed recently.  Perhaps a new poser is doing the job of instigating on this website under that name.

  8. Ananoon,

    Nope, it’s still me!! Perhaps my tonal inflection may have changed just a tad, possibly because I just acquired a beautiful new puppy who is showing me that the true path to one’s inner peace is by making, and being at, peace. My vocabulary hasn’t changed though. BTW, if you’re interested, he (the puppy) is an adorable Bichon Frise.

  9. Robert —
    “The true path to one’s inner peace by making, and being at, peace” is through repentance for heinous slaughter of millions of human beings that Turks, by their “civilizational” definition, lack…

  10. Robert
    All I said was “Perhaps we can find a way to reverse YOU [Robert]” Why the extreme reaction? Where do you get your paranoia? Lighten up! I would really like to find a way to change you from your constant denialist attitude. But somehow I don’t think that’s possible. Unlike you, I don’t have a problem signing my name to what I write. How about it Pal, just once sign off with your surname. I suspect you are a Turk, but that’s OK, I’ll still read your preposterous dark comedic naysayer comments.

    Have I been wrong before? Of course. But not on the matter of the Turkish Genocide of Armenians! The evidence is overwhelming and you know it too! Just how much are you being paid to blog the nonsense that you do on these pages? Is a Turkish pac group paying your tuition? You are right about one thing though — the tides are indeed turning, more and more countries are acknowleging what Turkey has done, more and more Turkish citizens are beginning to question their own government’s interpretation of the events of 1915. It’s coming Robert, get ready. I’m more convinced than ever before! 

  11. I believe that everyone should get a puppy! They open your heart to God’s love and help give one guidance. Though I love all animals, a dog is truly special (their love is unconditional). Also, dog spelled backwards is God!


    Your statement cuts both ways my friend!! Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying/implying that ONLY Turks were/are bad/evil, while Armenians have always been innocent/pure victims and never committed any “negative” acts to anyone. My recommendation to you Arsen is to get a puppy! Once you do, you’ll discover that the love just pours forth hence. Try it and you’ll see for yourself. I have and I’m so glad that I did! Peace.   


    I can answer all of your questions by just one simple statement…you too should get a puppy! By doing so, you’ll “lighten up” and realize that all is right with the world. You see Pal, before I got the little guy, I would have responded to your comments in kind, saying things that I no longer feel, but still keeping in line with your type of thought processes (e.g. your intent was exactly as I stated, etc.). However, I feel that I’m beyond that now! Nothing you can say can provoke me to your level. I now have a different outlook on life since my new addition came into my life. My goal now, even stronger than before, is to promote peace through understanding, intellectual dialogue with injections of humor, finding commonalities and thus building on them towards a positive outcome to close/bridge the gap/rift between us. I’m exploring different avenues to accomplish this goal. One day Mike, we’ll all be looking back together on this as we once again share the milk of human kindness, moving forward and toasting to a brighter future. That day is coming, you’ll see!! Now, about getting you a puppy….

  12. Dear Robert,
    Good luck with the puppy.  Thanks to you I’m thinking of getting one, too.  Just one question on puppy care:  When he poops on the Oriental rugs, should one lock him up in a cage for insulting Turkishness?

  13. Too funny, ‘Robert’, a helpless puppy that can’t talk back to you or ask questions of you, but relies on you for food and water has changed your life. How nice. Maybe you should also adopt an Armenian, a la Ataturk, and see how it works when you extend that level of kindness  and thoughtfulness to another human being?  Armenians have done that for thousands of other Armenians, orphaned, destitute, starving and earthquake or soldier battered for at least 100 years now. As you must know from your puppy, it is not easy. Just imagine doing this for the remnants of a people massacred and subjected to genocidal ethnic cleansing by their own government, who should have been taking care of them – not murdering them in cold blood!  THAT is a monumental task and the scars still remain, not just in Turkey, but all over the world. So yes, adopt an Armenian – just as Ataturk did.  

  14. Dear Mr. Sassounian, another well-written article.  The attorney’s are trying to muddy the water.  As you stated the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a smoke screen and has nothing to do with the insurance company’s payment on the policy.  If the claim was an isolated incident then the insurance companies would have gladly paid the amount and moved on.  However, they know the potential and extent of the damage.  They have a better idea how many Armenians they had insured and have not paid on their policies.  Their fear is to create a precedent and have to pay far more to the rest of the insured Armenians.  I highly recommend for all the parties involved pursuing this course of action to continue and try to find additional policies to demand payment.  The more money Armenians get the bigger their influence.

  15. Robert –
    Please be corrected, since you’re wrong in saying/implying that Armenians ever committed negative acts to Turks or anyone else on the scale, magnitude, and irrecoverable damage that Ottoman Turks did to us. Armenians did not annihilate your race on government orders and steal two-thirds of your ancestral homeland in the Altay mountains and Mongolian steppes. They did not forcibly convert the multitude of Turkish children to Christianity. They did not forcibly huddle scores of Turkish virgins into “harems.” They did not desecrate, demolish, or transform to churches and sheepfolds Turkish mosques. Turks did all that to Armenians and other indigenous Christian nations inhabiting Asia Minor long before the invasion of nomadic Seljuk tribes. The only negative acts that I admit Armenians have committed were the part of intercommunal, interethnic clashes that were inevitable in the multinational, multiconfessional, and discriminatory towards non-Muslims Ottoman empire. If you fail to appreciate the difference between a state-sponsored full-scale annihilation of a particular race (coined “genocide” by Raphael Lemkin after his study of the Armenian case) and isolated intercommunal clashes and national liberation acts, ask for help from your puppy…

  16. To Robert:
    First you get a puppy and now you’ve become a clinical psychologist — incredible! You have absolutely no idea who I am or what my status in life is (unless you’ve Googled me) yet you offer an analysis of me — off a blog! Amazing! You’ve outdone Freud, congratulations. Too bad you never answered the questions I asked of you. You know, your surname, your ethnicity, whether you are paid to blog these pages by some Turkic organization or sponsor. Why do you always avoid those questions and change the subject? What do you master psycologists call that — avoidance syndrom?
    Frankly, I’m beginning to get a little concerned about your unusual relationship with your poor puppy.I really have no desire to have a puppy, I do have a large fish tank with several colorful tropical fish though.

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