Iran-Iraq War and

Money in Fronts

Ehsan Mansoori
Translated by: Mohammad Ayyoobi


Note: A question has always been in my mind that if it is possible to deal with subjects that are not so much dealt with and even might be considered somehow critical. It seems that the film “Deportees (Ekhraji-ha)” and publication of some notes about the Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq War) made this atmosphere more debatable. The subject “Money in War” was made more attractive to me when I heard from some of veterans that they went to the fronts with no money on with them and returned as they went (with no money). It means they didn’t need money when they were in the fronts. The same seems so impossible for us in 2015. The more interesting story is that a veteran had hidden a 200 Rls banknote under his belt in order to be able to return to the fronts if he was injured and transferred to a hospital in a far city. In a hot afternoon in summer I had a meeting with three veterans who participated in Holy Defense (war) in a cultural office called Ravayate Amin (True Story) to listen their stories about the subject “Money in War”. Dr. Mohammaddoost who was dispatched to front as a Basiji is now a physician. Mohammad Davoud Abadi was present in fronts for 7 years constantly as a Basiji and now is retired from Communications Ministry. The last one Abolhasan Safarzade was present in fronts from 1982 and now is retired from Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. My main question is about the role of money in Iran-Iraq war.


Davoud Abadi:

In 1982, I gathered some money during Nowruz and tried to escape from home. I gathered 200Rls or at best 300Rls then. I had to have shortened my clothes with this money. I went to Kurdistan and put on my sneakers and had to search for small leather boots that cover ankle. I worth saying they paid everyone 200Rls to everyone who went to front.

They paid us this money in Imam Hassan garrison. As we went to front as wildcat, in Allah-o-Akbar the martyr Asghar Fatahi accepted me and paid me this 2000Rls .I paid 100 or 150Rls for those shoes.


Mansoori: When have you been paid this money?

Davoud Abadi: One week later. They paid 2000Rls to everyone. Asghar called me and paid this money. I said to him I have money but he said this money would be paid to everyone. All would be paid equally.

We were paid 20000Rls for every month.


Mansoori: How was spent this 2000Rls?

 Davoud Abadi: I paid part of this 2000Rls for the shoes. Army was responsible for war budget then. The clothes given to me were loose. The smallest boots were even too loose to fit me. My trousers were so loose that my palls put me on that. We went to Paveh (Kurdish town in Western Iran). Martyr Hemmat was the head of Revolutionary Gaurds in Paveh. We took shower then and I went for getting my clothes fit for me. No tailor knew how to afford my demand. We went to an old man who was known to do my demand. I started solicitation but he rejected my demand and said he didn’t have enough time. His family members arrived then, his wife and daughter. His daughter asked him in Kurdish language to accept my demand. The tailor called us to take off our clothes. Mr. Hossein Zaat-ali was beside me there. We had no clothes under the clothes we had worn.  We asked: “Here!?” He replied: “Yes, here.” He said his wife and daughter were as our mother and sister.  


Mansoori: How old were you then?

Davoud Abadi: I was about 14 years old. I took off my shirt first to see how he would sew it. He tore off my shirt completely so that I couldn’t with tent stitch. He tore off and then sewed it again. He gave us the shirts; we took and covered our legs with those. Then we gave him our trousers to make. He tore off those and started to make our trousers. When he finished, we asked how much we should pay. He told us in Kurdish language 150Rls. I thought he said 1500Rlss. As we had 2000Rlss, I proclaimed: “Oh, 1500Rls?” He replied, No 150Rls.We left there for Nowsood and the villages around. There was a couturier around there. When our mission finished, we bought textile and asked her to sew some small Kurdish trousers .We were going to donate them to our family members and children. My father had sent me 5000Rls, as he was going to ensure the money he had sewed the banknote to the envelope. They told me an insurance pocket was sent to me. The pockets were in Paveh and the postman would bring us the letters. So, my pocket was not delivered to the postman and I went and received the pocket. I paid that money for buying gifts. 

Safarzade: 90% of our palls used to go to the fronts secretly. They should firstly behave ordinarily. Firstly, they would get a bag to pretend they were going to a club. Then they would become absent for a short time to pretend they were going to a camp. Finally they would disappear suddenly.

Then their families would notice they had gone to the fronts. The first time that I went for the fronts I had only 1100Rls which I had saved before.


Mansoori: How?

Safarzade: I had gathered the money I had been paid for going to club.

Davoud Abadi: Kids on those days were different from kids today. We started earning money at primary school. I used to buy beans and ask my mother to cook them for me to sell.  I used to buy tillers and bring those to bazaar and ask Mr. Eslami to give me chocolate fishes and fruit – roll in return.  I sold those to help my parents. I mean boys would help their parents on those days. Everybody would help parents in earning life expenses on those days. It wasn’t as today that parents pay millions for buying mobile phones for their children.

Safarzade: The advance payment Mr. Davoud Abadi pointed to were paid to us in Imam Hassan Garrison .Some palls used to reject and say they were there for jihad which was obligatory. Mr. Golshanzade would enlist and one would pay the whole money. 


Mansoori: When?

Safarzade: In 1982. When we were going to return home, some palls would pay back the whole money they had received. They officials would say that they were going to pay us 20000Rls. At that time it was this amount. They would give us this money in Revolutionary Guards’ Corps Cooperative.


Mansoori: Did Asghar Fatahi who was the commander would receive the same salary? I mean 20000Rls.

Davoud Abadi: Yes, exactly.

Safarzade: We were paid fronts fee. We were paid 24500Rls totally. We could afford for marriage, rent a house and… My commander was paid exactly as soldiers. We were paid 60000Rls   every 3 months. The money was too much for us. When we went back home we could contribute Basij or Islamic Society. When I was working at Islamic Society, we took half of the money everybody brought to us.  


Mansoori: What did you yourself do?

Safarzade: I paid 30000Rls to Islamic Society in Bahonar College. Basij Organizations were self-supporting; Basij members had their breads and blankets so paid their money to Basij as gift. Even some of our friends paid one fifth of their salaries to Ayatollah Khansari. After they asked Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini) about, he replied this money is gift so there is no need to pay one fifth. As the war was on the eve of termination, they were going to increase the salaries because the number of volunteers was not sufficient. Some of our palls were annoyed when they heard about this. It’s worth to say that the salary was not sufficient for some of our palls, because they had too many children. For example for our pall, Aame Yaghoub, who lived in a busy family it was not sufficient.

Mohammad Doust: In 1986 they were going to enlist for fronts. There were a lot of propaganda and enlisting, my father was preparing us to let him to go to fronts. I asked my father to let me go to the fronts. He let me to go to fronts ad go for enlisting. Along with martyr Ghiasi I went for enlisting. Of course as my leg was broken, I decided to hide my leg. Once they accepted the other time they rejected. I used cane then. Hadi   Mirbagheri was in charge of enlisting there. When I was going for enlisting, I hid my cane. When I was preparing to depart home for fronts, my father provided me with 4000 or 5000Rls. Martyr Pagoli was my father’s colleague. My father asked him to provide me with money if I needed. When we would go to Andishk or Dezfool on holidays, we would spend that money. We drank a lot of beverages.


Mansoori: Did they increase your salary during these years?

Davoud Abadi: No, it was not increased. Of course, if somebody was in need, he would ask the person in charge of enlisting for money.  The person in charge for enlisting had been provided with some money to help everybody in need. The people in fronts didn’t spend their money usually there, but when they would go to city, they would spend this money to buy sandwich and ice-cream in Shokofe Store on Dr. Hesabi crossway. We were used to pay 15Rls for kebab.


Mansoori: What was the margin between the salaries that Pasdars (Revolutionary Guards members) would receive and the Basijis?

 Davoud Abadi: It wasn’t noticeable. Sepah in first years did never pay salary. They put money in a box and everybody was asked to take money if he needed .If you ask the old Sepah members, they would confirm.

No one supposed to receive a specific salary. They decided a limit. There has always been another box after the place you received your salary so that you would put the money you wanted on it. In this way the money was paid back to the fronts. I remember a pall who paid 23000Rls of the 30000Rls he had received to support fronts.


Mansoori: Did inflation force them to increase the salaries?

  Mohammad Dolat Abadi: No, the salaries remained always the same, even in the year 1988 we received the same salaries.


Mansoori: Do you mean there was no inflation in 1980s?   

Dvoud Abadi: It wasn’t noticeable; as necessary goods were provide by ration, the prices remained always unchanged.

MohammadDoust: There was a kiosk in Badr town which sold cultural works like pray rugs and rosary beadles or something like that.

Davou Abadi: Of course martyr Akbarzade was our cultural kiosk. He sold cultural works and asked Salavat (pray for the prophet) in return. He would give you nothing for free. He would ask Salavat in return. On those days Tea Rose perfume was so famous. I decide to buy it. It was said Imam (Ayato Allah Khomeini) used this perfume. The seller asked me 2.000.000 Salavats in return. I said: “Oh, who can I afford for so much Salavats?” I decided not to buy it. Some days later I saw one of my palls had this perfume. I asked him how he had bought it. He said: “From Mr. Akbarzade” .I asked: “How much?” He replied: “2.000.000 Salavats”.I asked: “Can you afford for it?” He said: “Yes. It’s easy. I can finish it in 2 weeks.” I said: “You won’t be able to finish it. It takes a long time.” He asked: “How long? I will overcome it in by one month.” I said: “You won’t be able to finish it even by the end of your civil service.” He said: “It’s easy. I will finish it just in one week.” In order to show the reality of one million, I asked: “Do you know how many prophets came? 124000. This number is not equal to even one tenth of that number. This number is fifteen fold of that number. If you do this job all around day and night, you won’t be able to overcome it.” When he understood, he started to find some people to do this job for him. He asked me to afford for 200,000 Salavats, and the other palls for 5000 and 2000. Martyr Akbarzade had avowed Salavat for war termination. He had a notebook to record the number of Salavats.


Mansoori: Did rich people were present in fronts?

Davoud Abadi: “Saead Hassanpour and Javad Yahyaee were rich. German gang (a fake name for a group of palls) would use these people’s money .Some of our palls were from Malek street and Daraee Square. On those days rich people didn’t boast for their wealth those days. Poor people didn’t show their poverty those days. Rich and Poor people wore the same clothes and left home for fronts .Rich people boasted for their wealth and the poor represent their poverty today.

Safarzade: Soldiers in different cities were paid different salaries, Andimeshk, Ahwaz and frontlines for example. For one day service in Andimeshk you were paid 300Rls, Ahwaz 450Rls and the first line in fronts 600Rls. That is, when you were present in Andimeshk for 30 days, you were paid 900Rls. All these salaries were based on self-declaration. The soldiers would declare their presence in different places and were paid accordingly. The honesty behind the self-declaration was clear that if a soldier was present in Andimeshk before noon and went to front line in fronts before the end of that day, he would report that on order to make his salary religiously lawful.     

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