The Free Port of Hamburg had special warehouses for duty-free storage of goods. Agha Youssef had rented one of the smaller warehouses for storing carpets and dried fruit. His brother-in-law, Mr. Monahemi, would buy carpets from Iran and send them to him, and his brothers sent him the dried fruit. The carpet stocks were stored in the vicinity of food, which didn’t look good to customers. The warehouse keeper was a German alcoholic, who was constantly drunk, which didn’t improve our image. Due to some other administrative ﬂaws in the import process, Youssef ’s carpets ended up being much more expensive than other dealers’, but with no real justiﬁcation for the price difference. So selling them was not easy. This was the situation in 1962, when Sasson came to Hamburg.
Sasson: Upon my arrival in Hamburg, Agha Youssef brought me into the world of carpet trading in Germany. I started selling carpets within days of arriving in Hamburg.
And I was lucky! One of my ﬁrst customers was a Jewish man from Frankfurt, named Levavi. He worked with all the traders in Hamburg, and everybody trusted him and gave him long-term credit. On my very ﬁrst day, despite the carpet prices, he made an enormous purchase from me with three-months credit. He then invited Gollar and me to the most expensive restaurant in Hamburg, and thus became not only our customer but also our dear family friend.
Then his daughter and son-in-law came to buy, and little by little, all the capital that Agha Youssef had put at my disposal, was in the hands of Mr. Levavi. And then he suddenly had to declare bankruptcy.
Agha Youssef was very disappointed and upset with me, and didn’t miss any opportunity to tell our Iranian friends, “I knew Sasson was not a businessman.” At that time, I was devastated and thought he may have a point, but luckily, I later proved him wrong.