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You should inform your British colleague of the nature of the request being made to the British Government and discuss with him preliminary steps which might be taken in regard to the matter.


[The British Minister in Iran was instructed on January 9 by the British Foreign Office to support the United States position in Iran with respect to both of these projects. Although the Iranian Cabinet on January 10 "approved in principle" the return of the mission properties, the Mission Board at Tehran, after one formal approach to the Iranian Government, decided not to proceed further with the matter. The Monroe mission failed to get to Iran because of the problem of wartime air transport priorities. (391.1163/126; 891.42/99, 105, 111)]


862.20291/14a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Iran (Dreyfus)

WASHINGTON, June 23, 1941-5 p. m.

46. The Department has received information from a reliable source that the Germans have established a skeleton General Staff in the German Legation at Tehran with branches located in German business firms throughout Iran. Please endeavor to ascertain the authenticity of this report.


862.20291/14a: Telegram

The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State

TEHRAN, June 28, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 10:36 p. m.]

67. Department's 46, June 23, 5 p. m. Neither this nor British Legation has been able to obtain reliable information concerning internal setup of German fifth column organization. It is known, as frequently reported to Department, that the organization is large, strategically placed, and well-prepared and it is said that 500 tough and well-armed men can be placed on the streets of Tehran within a few hours. While it is possible that a skeleton general staff exists in the German Legation it is more likely that the organization is the routine Nazi fifth column type with agents and branches in important German business concerns throughout the country. Its activities have increased since the beginning of the German-Russian war particularly among White Russians, Americans, and disaffected elements in

the north. While Iranian police have been fully aware of fifth column activities and have placed agents under surveillance and restricted movements their police action has been too desultory and weak to prevent the building up of an efficient organization which is ready to strike at the proper moment. It is considered not unlikely that this moment will arrive when German forces penetrate into Caucasus. DREYFUS

862.20291/14a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) WASHINGTON, July 24, 1941-7 p. m.

58. With reference to the Department's telegram No. 46 of June 23, 5 p. m. and your No. 67 of June 28, 11 a. m. the Department desires that you continue your endeavors to obtain authoritative, definite and specific information regarding the character and extent of alleged German fifth column activities in Iran and what measures if any the Iranian Government is adopting to combat them.


740.0011 European War 1939/13497: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

BAGHDAD, July 28, 1941-4 p. m. [Received July 29-5:15 a. m.]

215. British Chief [of?] Staff informed me this morning that British have in effect sent ultimatum to Iranian Government to deport all German tourists, numbering it is estimated 2500. He says that British Army otherwise intends to move into Iran during first week of August and to occupy primarily Abadan and neighboring oil fields and perhaps bomb Tehran. Similar action against Afghanistan contemplated because of their acceptance as Minister of Von Hentig, Germans' Colonel Lawrence of Persia during last war. Ennis 61 requests inform War Department.

Sent to Tehran.


740.0011 European War 1939/13523: Telegram

The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State

TEHRAN, July 29, 1941-6 p. m. [Received 11: 50 p. m.]

82. Reference Baghdad's No. 215, July 28, 4 p. m.

While I have

definite information that the British Minister 62 and Soviet Ambas

61 Maj. Riley F. Ennis, Military Attaché in Iraq.

63 Sir Reader W. Bullard.

sador 62a are putting joint pressure on the Iranian Government to obtain the deportation of Germans in Iran, I have obtained no substantiation of the allegation that anything resembling an ultimatum backed by either military of [or] economic threats has been delivered. The British Minister, who is cooperating fully with me, denies the report but informs me in confidence that he and the Soviet Ambassador are exerting strong pressure on the Iranians to effect the deportation of four-fifths of the Germans in Iran although he does not hope to accomplish this full goal. Although the Prime Minister 62b informed me personally that to accede to the British demands would be in his opinion unneutral, the British Minister informed me today that he has already obtained the promise of the departure of 13 German nationals at once and 11 next week including those employed in the radio station. Rumors are current of imminent British attack on Iran and while I do not consider this out of the realm of possibility, I am convinced that nothing in the form of an ultimatum has been given.

Referring to the Department's No. 58, July 24, 7 p. m., neither this Legation nor the British Legation intelligence officer has obtained information that a skeleton general staff exists in the German Legation and the Prime Minister believes it does not.

It is known that storm troopers Gamotta and Mayer, who are ostensibly employed by Shenkers Transport Company, head an efficient Nazi party organization with branches throughout the country and with members strategically placed and instructed as to their part when the day of action arrives. However, the view is held by the Turkish Ambassador and some other well-informed observers that the size and strength of German fifth column organization have been exaggerated through propaganda. The Prime Minister places the number of Germans in Iran as 700, the British at 2 to 3 thousand and some others at 1200 to 1500. Many of them are honestly employed by the Government or business concerns while others have ostensible employment in various German companies: few if any are strictly speaking tourists.

The Prime Minister assures me that the danger of fifth column work has been brought repeatedly to his attention and that the police are keeping Germans under strict surveillance, restricting their movements within the country and examining closely new applications for admission. He added that any persons found to be engaged in illegal activities would be immediately deported.

Copy sent to Baghdad.

62a A. S. Tehernikh.

62b Ali Mansur.



Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)

[WASHINGTON,] July 29, 1941.

Participants: Mr. Nevile Butler, Minister-Counselor of British

[blocks in formation]

Mr. Butler said that a few days ago Mr. Maisky, the Soviet Ambassador at London, suggested to Mr. Eden 64 that the British and Soviet Governments make joint representations to the Iranian Government urging it to get rid of between 5,000 and 10,000 German agents operating in Iran. Mr. Butler said that Mr. Eden had agreed to this proposal and that the joint representations had been made in Tehran a day or two ago. He said that the Iranian reply was noncommittal.

740.0011 European War 1939/13630: Telegram

The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State

TEHRAN, August 1, 1941-noon. [Received August 2-8 p. m.]

84. The official Iranian news agency issued a statement yesterday in answer to foreign press and radio reports concerning the danger to Iran from Germans residing in this country. The statement says that such reports are not based on fact and exaggerate the number of Germans in Iran, that the Government has a list of all foreigners and keeps surveillance over them, that the actions by and with foreigners are known and none will be permitted to commit illegal acts and that the Government is still guardian of the legal rights of the inhabitants. This statement is much milder and more conciliatory than former strong and bellicose statements that Iran will defend her neutrality at all costs against any foreign power. Iran's policy of strict neutrality has been made difficult as a result of the new combination of Great Britain and Russia. There are growing indications in the last few days that Iran is being forced into closer cooperation with the British. As indicated in the Legation's number 82,65 the British have obtained the promise of the departure of 24 Germans and there is widespread rumor that many more are preparing to leave.


s Wallace Murray, Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.

Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

05 Dated July 29, 6 p. m., p. 384.

It is probable that the British warning to Iran is part of a war of nerves as a prelude to continued stronger measures if Iranian cooperation is not obtained. The local situation is confused and further reports will be made as clarifying developments occur.


740.0011 European War 1939/13645: Telegram

The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State

TEHRAN, August 2, 1941-noon. [Received August 3-3:53 p. m.]

86. Referring to the Legation's No. 84 dated Aug. 1, noon, I had last evening an extended and frank conversation with the Prime Minister who began by saying that he is most anxious to make the Iranian viewpoint clear to the American Government and hence will keep me informed of developments. He confirmed that strong pressure is being exerted by both the Russians and the British to require the expulsion from Iran of 80% of the Germans. This pressure he said is strong but formal and not backed by military or economic threat although he added that he fears it is the prelude to greater demands. The Iranian Government cannot he declared in view of its policy of strict neutrality and its desire to be faithful to its treaty with Germany accede to this extraordinary request. He characterized the demand which he thought originated solely with the British as extremely unfair and unjust. He informed the British and Russian envoys that he could not accede to their demand but that he would expel any German from Iran upon submission of evidence of his having engaged in illegal activities. The Germans, he states, have threatened to break off relations with Iran if the British demands are complied with.

Although the Prime Minister is bitter and obdurate there are signs that he is weakening. For example, he stated that in an endeavor to find a solution he has promised the British that he will gradually get rid of Government employed Germans whose services can be spared. It is doubtful if the Iranians can withstand further strong pressure by their two powerful neighbors. Whether the country will submit gracefully or offer a gesture of resistance was declared a matter of conjecture.

The Ettelaat of yesterday carried a leading editorial denouncing the Free French news agency in bitter terms for its false news as to the activities of Germans in Iran and its endeavor to embroil a peaceful country in war. The Prime Minister who was probably responsible for the article expressed the same sentiments to me in his conversation.


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