Source Documents - Financial Specific
Source Documents - Financial Specific

Source Documents - Financial - Specific.

Requests for information regarding the January 12th engagement have been made to ALL parties to that transaction, all of whom are still viable organizations. This would include Goldman, Sachs & Company, Citibank as successor to National City Bank, the Bank of France and to all members of the French banking consortium which had underwritten the 4½% 1909 Russian loan. Presentations have been made to the Consul and Vice Consul General of the French Consulate - at their request - in Boston as agents for the Bank of France. At their further request, a salvage contract was drawn and additional presentations were made to the Chief Counsel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, as well as representatives of the French Ministry of Finance in Washington.

We believe that title to the gold cargo passed to the Russian Government when the loan closed, on January 22, 1909, and upon loading aboard the Republic. Therefore, an ownership interest would not remain with the French banks. French interests could not, as owner, enter into a salvage contract with us.

To date, neither Captain Bayerle nor the Company has received a single written or verbal response from any of the participating firms that would either confirm or deny the conclusions of this report.


In 1985, our report was also submitted to the Soviet Government through their embassy in Washington, on the basis that title to the gold may have transferred to the Russian Government effective with the date of operation of the loan - January 22nd, 1909. Their written response is as follows:

September 20, 1985

Re: Salvage of the SS Republic

Please be advised that we received the answer from Ministry of Finance of the USSR for our inquiry concerning any interest that our Government may have in a gold shipment aboard the SS-Republic, which sank in January, 1909.

Unfortunately they have no information about this matter in their archives.

We would like to thank you for information you have forwarded to our office and for your kind assistance in this matter.

Very truly yours,
[signed] L. Chuprakov, Consul

The Foreign Department, Special Credit Office of the Imperial Russian Government's Ministry of Finance was the Tsar's agency responsible for the placement and record keeping of the Russian government loans placed on foreign markets.1 Count Vladimir Nicolaievitch Kokovtsov2 was Russia's Minister of Finance, 1904 - 1914.

[Regarding his project to preserve the gold standard for Russian currency] ... it may have simply perished among the papers of the Special Credit Office when the general debacle started after the October [1917] revolution.3

[When discussing a proposed budget speech that he was to give to the Duma in 1907, Kokovtsov wrote,] I sent a copy of my projected Duma address to the Department of State Treasury instructing it to send copies, including the Tsar's comment, to all departments. No documentary publication of the Bolsheviks [within the Krasnyi Arkhiv], however, mentioned it; most likely it did not survive the general destruction.4

If our theory is correct, the loss of Russian gold aboard the Republic would most probably have been a state "secret." Records, correspondence and other information, particularly if "sensitive" or otherwise having the potential to embarrass the Tsarist government or in some manner assist the revolutionaries - or if it related to assets outside of Russia (i.e. foreign loan proceeds if not delivered, foreign Tsarist banking credits/deposits, etc.), may have been deliberately destroyed at the outbreak of the revolution to prevent such information from falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

After assumption of power, the Krasnyi Arkhiv (or Red Archives), a leading Russian historical journal, was published by the Soviet Government from information and material contained within surviving Imperial Russian records. From the beginning of its publication in 1922 until 1941, when publication was discontinued because of the exigencies of war, a total of one hundred and six volumes was published.

Eduard Netzlin, of the Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas, was the lead negotiator for the French banking consortium on the 1909 loan. In The Correspondence Between V. N. Kokovtsov and Eduard Netzlin (1906-1909), Krasnyi Arkhiv 4:131-156, only one letter concerns the 1909 loan, and that was written by Netzlin to Kokovtsov as a summation of its outcome. Certainly there would have been other letters concerning the details and the negotiations of the loan, but, apparently, none have survived. Netzlin concludes the letter with the following intriguing comment:

Haussmann Boulevard 73, Paris, February 11, 1909

Your Excellency!


I hope that my information will give the same satisfaction to your Excellency and you will be willing to recognize, that it was uneasy to guide this operation via all the underwater rocks it was facing on its way.

Sincerely, Netzlin.

... an interesting choice for a metaphor.


1 Out of My Past; The Memoirs of Count Kokovtsov, Russian Minister of Finance, 1904-1914, Chairman of the Council of Ministers, 1911-1914; Edited by H.H. Fisher; Translated by Laura Matveev. Stanford University, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1935. The Special Credit Office (Osobennaia Kantseliariia po kreditnoi chasti) was concerned with credit matters. p. 541, Footnote 11.
2 Also spelled Vladimir Nikolaevich Kokovtsov.
3 Ibid. 1, p. 16.
4 Ibid. p. 192.