Historian files lawsuit for return of WWI starboards from Russia
Ümit Topal, a local historian, has submitted his petition to the Erzurum 1st Civil Court of First Instance for the determination of ownership and the return of the starboards which is currently exhibited in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
Nine starboards exhibited in the museum were captured from Erzurum during the Russian occupation between 1916-1918, and one from Pasinler district, according to the historian.
Topal said the starboards were captured from Fort Aziziye where an intense battle was fought, by a Russian captain and was presented to Nikolai II, the Russian Tsar. Along with starboards, Russian forces had taken thousands of prisoners.
“Besides the starboards, we found out that Russians seized other items, like a clock from a clock tower in the city, door of a fort, artifacts and manuscripts which were taken to Russian libraries,” Topal noted.
The historian said that starboards represent the honor of the Turkish nation and should be returned.
Erzurum, which was occupied a few times during the Russia’s Caucasus campaign, was last taken from the Ottoman forces in 1916, after a battle which killed about 10,000 Ottoman soldiers.
The city was liberated two years later as Bolsheviks pulled Russia out of the war.