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therefore that any material advantage which we could offer the Turks along the line set forth in the Department's telegram might throw the balance the right way. The British would welcome our action.
811.20 Defense (M)/3289a Suppl. : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray)
WASHINGTON, September 21, 1941–6 p. m. 164. Reference Department's 160 of September 19, 7 p. m.33 [Here follows summary of telegram No. 4415, printed supra.]
In accordance with this telegram from London and your suggestion in your 345 of September 18, the Secretary proposes to request the Turkish Ambassador to call tomorrow, September 22, and to inform him: (1) that the United States by agreement with Great Britain has a share in the British chrome contract and has a definite interest in the renewal of this contract so as to cover the entire production of Turkish chrome for the year 1942, (2) that this Government would find itself in an untenable position if it were to contemplate giving Lend-Lease aid to a country which although having contractual agreements with Great Britain and indirectly with the United States would nevertheless give to the enemies of Britain essential strategic materials seriously needed by Great Britain and the United States and (3) that of recent years and prospectively the United States has done and intends to do its utmost to sustain trade with Turkey and has provided materials and manufactures which have contributed to Turkish development and defense and it regards this request on chrome as a reasonable counterpart.
While it is hoped that this interview between the Secretary and the Turkish Ambassador will be helpful in obtaining the desired result, it is believed that a similar approach, emphasizing the three major points outlined above, should be made by you in Ankara. You are accordingly requested after consultation and in collaboration with your British colleague to present these three points to the Turkish authorities and otherwise to take such action as you will deem most effective to insure the prompt execution by the Turkish Government of an agreement with Great Britain or if it seems more desirable with Great Britain and the United States jointly for the acquisition of the entire production of Turkish chrome for 1942.
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
[WASHINGTON,] September 22, 1941. The Ambassador of Turkey 34 called at my request. I reviewed the history of the British-French contract to purchase the output of chrome from Turkey, the subsequent elimination of the French due to military reverses, followed by an agreement between the United States and Great Britain for the United States to share in this purchase, to which the Turkish Government agreed. I mentioned with appreciation the valuable cooperation rendered by the Turkish Government in facilitating the shipment of this chrome. I then said that, not only at present but during the coming year, my Government needed every pound of this chrome that was due it under the present contract with Great Britain, and that I know that Great Britain needs all of the
portion coming to her. I said that the contract, which expires in December, is up for renewal and that the natural and logical thing for Turkey to do for the benefit of herself and all concerned would be for this business relationship to be continued through a renewal of the existing contract. I said further that even if a small portion should be sent to another country, such as Germany, it would cause serious repercussions far out of proportion to the actual size of such a shipment and likewise that it would engender a feeling of genuine concern among all of the countries involved resulting in much talk, many explanations back and forth and many efforts to compose the difficulties thus produced. I stressed the view that it would be wholly defensible on Turkey's part to say to Germany or any other country that this contract was made sometime ago and that some special reason would have to exist to cause Turkey to abandon, or even to suggest that Turkey should abandon, this business relationship for the sake of permitting some of the chrome to go to another country, such as Germany.
I then emphasized the very great help we have extended to Turkey in the administration of our export licensing system and the aid we are now in the act of granting to her under the lease-lend policy, one shipload of cannon having arrived there last week.. I said that more and more we should be in a situation to aid Turkey with respect to all the ways in which we are now furnishing assistance; that I am not unmindful of Turkey's difficulties any more than our own difficulties and those of Great Britain and other countries, but that I feel satisfied that the position of each of our countries will be better safeguarded if existing relations, including the chrome sales arrangement, are kept intact. I again emphasized the conflicts that would immediately arise even if a small portion of this chrome should be allotted to Germany.
34 Mehmet Münir Ertegün.
I made clear all the details of each important point that was brought up.
The Ambassador seemed to agree with the statements I had made and said he felt that he fully understood them. He added that he would be glad to present the matter fully and accurately to his Government and keep me advised in the premises.
The Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
ANKARA, September 23, 1941–6 p. m.
[Received September 24—12:25 a. m.] 352. While awaiting reply to recommendation contained in my 345, September 18, I chanced to be brought into contact with Rauf Bey 35 and was tempted to avail myself of particularly friendly relationship to outrun my instructions to extent of stating to him as occasion for serious apprehensions on my part views which in that telegram I suggested that you convey to Turkish Ambassador. He was particularly struck with statement that Foreign Office had repeatedly given assurances that Turkey would give no chrome to Germany and emphatically stated they can't go back on their word: “they won't give any”. He has since called on me to say that while he does not feel in a position to take initiative in matter with President, he will nevertheless exert himself to bring to attention of others in appropriate quarters our viewpoint with which he is in accord.
2. Having since received your 162, September 20, I called this morning on Foreign Minister,36 recalled to him our joint interest with British and assurance given me July 10 (my 247) by Numan Bey, said that giving chrome in any quantity whatsoever to Germany raised questions which my Government now had under serious consideration and that under instructions, I was asking him to postpone decision until it should have communicated its views. He stated he had not yet committed himself and no decision had in fact been reached but then went on to take line that Turkey was contractually obligated to sell to France a portion of its chrome output and asked if I thought he could honorably go back on that engagement if French called for its fulfillment. I recalled that contract had been made with British and French as Turkey's allies for purpose of preventing any chrome going to Germany and that to live up to letter of it under present circumstances would be to defeat its very purpose. He then spoke of
Former Turkish Prime Minister and intimate personal adviser of President Ismet Inönü.
Turkey's precarious international situation and necessity for modernizing her forces and not neglecting opportunity to obtain from Germany at cost of insignificant quantity of chrome certain arms which are desperately needed; and he expressed almost resentfully his surprise that our Government should so far disregard necessities of this helpless country as to interpose in matter with what he described as in effect an ultimatum. I said that not only I myself but my Government were fully conscious of Turkish necessities and in fact doing everything possible to meet them but that we could not ignore conditions of American legislation and American opinion which would enable us to continue such assistance. He protested that this viewpoint was extremely egoistic; and while admitting that Germans wanted this chrome as a symbol rather than for its actual utility to them, he asked why we had for our part seen fit to adopt chrome as a touchstone of our whole attitude towards Turkey. I said that Turks had themselves made a special case of chrome as distinguished from all other products including minerals by having in first place signed contract for sale of their whole output to their allies and by having repeatedly declared and given specific assurances both to my British colleague and to me that they would under no circumstances let any of it go to Germany. He said sharply that Turkey had no contractual obligation to us in this matter. I conceded that but reminded him that Numan had nevertheless given me in response to a formal request an assurance on behalf of his Government. He made no reply other than to ask me to repeat while he took down in writing representations I had made. I said that I would instead send him a note embodying their purport. Shortly afterwards Numan telephoned to Kelley 37 suggesting that this document should take form of unofficial and informal memorandum rather than of official note.
4. Your 164, September 21, has just been decoded. Repeated to London.
811.20 Defense (M)/3312: Telegram The Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
ANKARA, September 23, 1941–7 p.m.
[Received September 24—12:25 a. m.] 353. Your telegram 160, September 19, 7 p. m. As regards status of British negotiations for renewal of chrome contract expiring January 8 next following information has been given me by my British
colleague in addition to what was contained in my 344: 39 About a year ago the Turks complained that the London market price as specified in the contract (only 36 shillings per ton at that time as against 105 that the Germans were offering) was purely artificial and the British then undertook to pay the German price for the whole output including the four-fifteenths French share for which they had meanwhile assumed responsibility. Last July when rumors were current that some chrome would be given to Germany my British colleague wrote to the Foreign Office (see my 261, July 18, 5 p. m.) in exercise of the option of renewal; receiving no reply for several weeks, he inquired of the Minister and was told that there would be no question of the British right but that in view of the forthcoming trade negotiations with Germany the Ministry would appreciate it if the British could permit him to give to Germans at least some portion of the 7,000 tons which had been granted last year to Italy (that related to an arrangement made with British and French consent in the spring before Italy entered the war, by which Turkey was to have given the 10,000 tons in barter for sulphur not obtainable elsewhere; and 3,000 tons had in fact been given on this deal); the British refused assent and that incident of the discussion was apparently concluded. Repeated urgings elicited no reply to the note; and only now has Turkish Government raised the new legalistic argument about the necessity of French participation in any requests for extension of the contract despite the fact that it has been selling the whole output to the British at the higher price on the assumption that they had replaced the French and assumed their obligations under the contract. Repeated to London.
811.20 Defense(M)/3319 : Telegram The Ambassador in Turkey (MacMurray) to the Secretary of State
ANKARA, September 24, 1941–5 p. m.
[Received 8:52 p. m.] 356. My 352, September 23. Shortly after I had seen Foreign Minister yesterday British Ambassador had 4-hour discussion with him and Secretary-General as outcome of which Minister said question would be reconsidered. Although Turks argued at length legal aspect of matter they conceded that question was fundamentally political. Hugessen tells me that when he referred to anxiety I felt as to effect which giving of chrome to Germany would have in America Saraçoğlu rather hotly accused him of having put me up to intervening in matter and made clear that he was greatly irritated by what he