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740.0011 European War 1939/13858: Telegram The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary
LONDON, August 11, 1941–8 p. m.
[Received August 11–3:55 p. m.] 3559. My 3532, August 9, 5 p. m., and 3511, August 8, 10 p. m. Mr. Eden informed me today that at the time the British memorandum is delivered to the Iranian Government on August 14 a separate communication will also be handed over in which the British Government undertakes to guarantee the territorial integrity of Iran. This guarantee will, of course, be in addition to the declaration contained in the memorandum that Great Britain has no designs against Iran's political independence. Mr. Eden stated that he has suggested to the Russians that they also accompany their parallel representations at Teheran with a guarantee of Iran's territorial integrity along the line of the British action. No word has been received from Moscow but Mr. Eden believes the Russians should accept his suggestion.
891.00/1904 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near
Eastern Affairs (Murray)
[WASHINGTON,] August 11, 1941. The Iranian Minister called on me by appointment this afternoon and discussed at some length what he regards as the critical situation of his country as a result of the pressure now being brought upon Iran by both London and Moscow because of the alleged presence in Iran of several thousand German nationals suspected of seditious activities. Mr. Schayesteh seemed to be deeply troubled and declared that the present developments had an ominous resemblance both to the situation leading up to the partition of Persia in 1907 between Czarist Russia and Great Britain and to the callous disregard of Persia's declared neutrality during the last World War by the same two countries.
Insisting that the number of Germans now in Iran was grossly exaggerated, the Minister went on to explain that the Iranian Government, as the Department must be aware, has during recent years exercised the greatest precaution in granting visas to any foreigners entering that country. He reminded me that the Iranian Legation in Washington had to refer to Tehran, and receive its approval, any requests for visas, even for American Consular officers proceeding to Iran. Such being the case, the Minister said he was convinced that the present accusations leveled at Iran by Moscow and London were merely
a pretext preparatory to aggressive measures against his countryIran was cast for the role of the lamb in Aesop's fable of “The Wolf and the Lamb”.
The Minister said he greatly feared that a situation was developing in which Iran might become a victim of British and Soviet aggression
a and he added that, in such an eventuality, his country would certainly expect to receive moral support and even material assistance from this country. The Minister then launched into a recital of the tragic history of Iran during the past century or more, when she had been subject to constant threats and menaces of both Russia and Britain, rivals for a position of supremacy in the ancient kingdom. This struggle had led to the practical extinction of Iran as a sovereign power in 1907 and the total disappearance of Iran was only avoided by the defeat of Czarist Russia in 1917 and the new orientation in the foreign policy of the Soviet Union assumed in the Soviet-Persian Treaty of 1921.72 The Minister felt that the Shah had really been divinely sent to rescue Iran from her hopeless situation and that his accomplishments during the last twenty years in providing Iran with self-respect and reestablishing her position in the society of nations had been little short of miraculous. All of this would be threatened with destruction if the present developments continued.
I asked the Minister whether he believed the Shah would consent to a request from either Great Britain or Russia for the passage of troops across his territory. The Minister said the Shah's pride and character was such that he would be incapable of accepting any such demand, even though a refusal might mean disastrous defeat. When I questioned the Minister as to whether he believed the Shah would permit the passage of arms and munitions over the new Iranian railroad from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea, he said he was not able to answer that question.
Returning again to the question of the alleged thousands of “tourists” and agents in Iran, I asked the Minister whether he had any precise figures in that regard. He said his impression was that there were not more than six or seven hundred in all. I then suggested that it might be helpful if he would obtain exact information from his Government on that subject. I also expressed an interest in being informed of the substance of the recent communications exchanged between Tehran and London and Tehran and Moscow on this subject. The Minister said he would not fail to acquaint himself with the facts without delay.
In departing the Minister said he was hoping and praying that this present crisis might be alleviated at an early moment but that, if this did not occur, he contemplated seeking an occasion to present the viewpoint of his Government on this subject to the Secretary of State.
72 League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. IX, p. 383.
740.0011 European War 1939/13915 : Telegram
The Minister in Iran (Dreyfus) to the Secretary of State
TEHRAN, August 12, 1941–10 a. m.
[Received August 13–7 a. m.] 89. The British Minister has informed me that British troops in Iraq have taken up positions nearer the Iran frontier. He also stated that the Foreign Minister told him yesterday that the Iran Government was aware of such troop movements.
The war of nerves continues with increasing force in the form of daily broadcasts from Ankara, Baku, and other stations. Baku, the Prime Minister informs me, has been particularly objectionable in broadcasting false news of intensified German activity and sabotage in Iran. I have been able to obtain no confirmation of a broadcast yesterday from Boston regarding disturbances and arrests in the Iran Army. The Iran Government is maintaining an admittedly stubborn attitude concerning the deportation of Germans but there are signs that the war of nerves is having an effect. For example the Foreign Minister yesterday asked the British Minister informally whether the deportation of Mayer and Gamotta mentioned in the Legation's No. 82 of July 29, 6 p. m., would satisfy the British. In spite of widespread rumors of the impending departure of large numbers of Germans the Turkish Ambassador informs me that no more than a normal number have been obtaining visas for transit through Turkey which is the only possible exit.
It is considered not unlikely that the situation here will soon enter a more critical stage.
740.0011 European War 1939/13883: Telegram l'he Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary
LONDON, August 12, 1941–11 a. m.
[Received August 12—8:53 a. m.] 3569. Embassy's 3511, August 8, 10 p. m., 3550, August 11, 5 p. m., and 3559, August 11, 8 p. m. The statement in sixth paragraph of my 3511 that the Turks have been already advised of the AngloRussian démarche to be made at Tehran on August 14, due to a misunderstanding is incorrect. Sir Orme Sargent 73 informed me yesterday afternoon that Mr. Eden has been discussing with the Soviet Ambassador the manner and time of informing the Turkish Government of this move. Following a talk today with M. Maisky, Mr. Eden has telegraphed the British Ambassador at Ankara along the following lines:
* British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
“Mr. Eden is discussing with the Soviet Government the proposal that the two Ambassadors should inform the Turkish Government on August 14 of the substance of the memorandum which is to be addressed to the Iranian Government on that date and that when doing so they should give the Turkish authorities, mutatis mutandis, assurances in the following terms:
‘H, M. Government (the Soviet Government), as they have informed the Iranian Government, fully accept and endorse the Iranian policy of neutrality. They have themselves no designs against Iran's political independence or territorial integrity. It is their sincere desire to maintain that policy of friendship and cooperation with Iran which they believe to be in the best interests of both Iran and the British Empire (Soviet Union).'”
Mr. Eden has asked Ambassador Knatchbull-Hugessen to arrange with his Soviet colleague 73a how best to make their communications to the Turkish Government, assuming that the Soviet Government agrees. The British Ambassador has been told that Mr. Eden sees no objection to the communication being made jointly if he and his Soviet colleague think this would be the best procedure.
Sargent said that Mr. Eden hopes (my 3511, August 8, sixth paragraph) Mr. MacMurray 74 may be authorized to express approval of the Iranian move with a view to facilitating Turkish acceptance and realization that Anglo-Russian aims are not directed at the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran. Mr. Eden hopes also that Mr. MacMurray may if the Department approves of the foregoing be authorized to discuss the matter with both the British and Russian Ambassadors before he determines way of approach to the question.
Maisky has not received word from Moscow of approval for this action at Ankara on August 14 but Mr. Eden thinks there is no doubt it will come as the Russians have shown every indication of a sincere and enthusiastic desire to calm Turkish anxiety and suspicions. It was on Russian initiative that the declarations to the Turkish Government reported in my 3550, August 11, 5 p. m. were made.
740.0011 European War 1939/13916 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary
BAGHDAD, August 13, 1941–1 p. m.
[Received 6:50 p. m.] 232. British Ambassador informs me that acting under instructions, he has urged Iraq Government to make representation to Iranian Gov
78a Sergey Alexandrovich Vinogradov.
ernment, invoking Saadabad Pact,15 to take action against German tourists and Iraqi political refugees who are using Iran as a base of political intrigues against Iraq. He has warned Iraq Government that those German tourists and Iraqi refugees are undoubtedly trying to do in Iran what they endeavored to do in Iraq, namely, to bring about a coup d'état which would put a pro-Axis group
in thus become a menace to Iraq. Rumors of such coup d'état actually having taken place are circulating in Baghdad but are unconfirmed.
I gather that British will continue to use pressure to gain their point with the Iranians and that they are prepared to use force if necessaryBritish military dispositions are actually in progress in Iraq with that object in view. Baker 76 requests inform War Department.
740.0011 European War 1939/14005 : Telegram
TEHRAN, August 15, 1941–8 a. m.
[Received August 16—5 a. m.] 92. The British Minister informs me that he and the Soviet Ambassador will deliver parallel notes to the Iranian Government tomorrow afternoon. These notes will express the dissatisfaction of the two Governments that Iran has not seen fit to heed the warning given a month ago as to the danger to this country from Germans residing here and will make further insistent demands that a large part of them be expelled. The Iranians will be asked to furnish a list of Germans whom they wish to retain because their services are indispensable and the two Governments will offer their assistance in replacing them with nationals of other countries. They will stress that Great Britain and Russia have no designs against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of Iran.
Verbally on the occasion of the presentation of the notes the Iranian Government will be told that about four-fifths of all the Germans in Iran should be expelled by the end of August but certainly not later than the middle of September and that an answer to the notes will be expected within 3 days.
The verbal demands and the implied threat of military action make the notes a virtual ultimatum although the British Minister stresses that they are not intended as such. The British Minister left no
75 Treaty of Non-Aggression signed at Saadabad Palace, Tehran, July 8, 1937, by Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxc, p. 21.
78 Maj. Joseph K. Baker, American Military Observer with the British forces in Iraq.