About History – The Yerevan Square “expropriation”
An audacious and bloody robbery, involving Joseph Stalin, took place in Tiflis (old name for Tbilisi) in 1907. Organized by the Bolsheviks, it netted the equivalent of 4 million US dollars in today’s money.
In April 1907 leading Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Stalin, met in Berlin to discuss a robbery to obtain funds for their revolutionary activities. It was decided that Stalin, who lived in the city of Tiflis in Georgia at the time, and an Armenian known as Kamo, should organize a bank robbery in Tiflis.
A worker at the Tiflis banking mail office, who was sympathetic to the Bolshevik cause, informed Stalin that a large shipment of money would be transferred to the Tiflis branch of the State Bank on 26 June 1907.
On the day of the robbery, the robbers, including Stalin and Kamo, met at Yerevan Square (present day Freedom Square) to wait for and ambush the stagecoach carrying the money. At around 10:30 am. the stagecoach entered the square and was attacked with grenades and bombs thrown by the robbers. The money was snatched from the stagecoach and the robbers quickly scattered. None were caught.
The State Bank was not sure how much had been stolen but the best estimates were around 341,000 rubles, worth around 4 million US dollars today.
Around forty people were killed during the robbery and many injured.
The audacious and violent robbery made headlines throughout the world: “Rain of Bombs: Revolutionaries Hurl Destruction among Large Crowds of People” in the London Daily Mirror, “Tiflis Bomb Outrage” in The Times of London, “Catastrophe!” in Le Temps in Paris, and “Bomb Kills Many; $170,000 Captured” in The New York Times.
Despite the success of the robbery and the large sum involved, the Bolsheviks could not use most of the large denomination bank notes because their serial numbers were known to the police.
Source: Wikipedia – 1907 Tiflis bank robbery