The Ambassador in Turkey (Grew) to the Secretary of State

No. 60

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that American scholastic institutions in Turkey began their operations for the 1927–1928 school year with an attendance which exceeds that of any previous year. As regards collegiate institutions the American College in Smyrna also shows an increase in registration, but both Robert and Constantinople College show a slight decrease. In the case of Robert College this is due to an increase in the standard of the entrance examinations as the Faculty believe the college is getting too large. The figures for Constantinople College are early statistics and the Dean, Miss Burns, believes that final figures in course of preparation will show at least as high an enrollment as last year. Aside from the fact that the increase in attendance indicates augmenting interest in education, it will interest the Department to know that many relatives of members of the Turkish Cabinet and of Deputies are enregistered in American schools and colleges, from which can be drawn the inference that these Government officials believe a better education can be obtained in American institutions than in corresponding Turkish establishments. This is an interesting commentary on the situation when one takes into consideration the strong nationalistic tendencies of the members of the present Turkish regime.

The statistics for the present school year also show another interesting trend viz.; the increasing number of Moslem Turks who are enrolled as against Greek, Armenian and Jewish Turks and as against foreigners, such as Bulgarians, Russians, Albanians, Serbs, etc. Such statistics as are available are transmitted to the Department herewith.52

In my telegram No. 101 of November 5, 10 A.M. [noon], I informed the Department that I had informally supported the application of the American Board to re-open certain schools in Anatolia. A copy of the Aide-Memoire on this subject, which I left with Tewfik Rouschdy Bey is enclosed herewith. I am now in receipt of a personal note from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a copy of which, together with a translation is also enclosed) in which he avoids a definite reply and links the issue with the question of selling American School properties in Anatolia to the Turkish Government. This was a surprise to me for in my interviews with Tewfik Rouschdy Bey he had never broached such a proposition. Nor is there in the files of the Embassy any record indicating that the Turkish authorities desired to acquire American school properties in Anatolia except at [Page 807] Mersifoun as reported in this Embassy’s despatch No. 2122 of December 7, 1926.52a I immediately placed myself in touch with Mr. Good-sell, who has taken over Mr. Fowle’s work at the Bible House since Mr. Fowle’s departure for America on leave. Mr. Goodsell is now searching the American Board files, but to the best of his recollection only three inquiries along these lines have been made by the Turks, as follows:

Mersifoun as mentioned above.
The Boy’s school at Sivas.
The School property at Harpoot as distinguished from the Hospital property.

Mr. Goodsell will report definitely to me after completing his search and after discussing the question with his lawyers. When he has gathered all the available data, he will undoubtedly send his lawyer to Angora to try and ascertain from the Ministry of Public Instruction just what properties the Turks desire to purchase. Should they prove to be unused properties in the Eastern Vilayets or elsewhere, it is possible, in Mr. Goodsell’s opinion, that something might be arranged. On the other hand, should the Ministry desire to acquire all American school property in Anatolia a serious problem would be raised.

In this Embassy’s despatch No. 2122, December 7, 1926, it was reported that the French Catholic Schools in Anatolia were on the point of being sold to the Turkish Government. The Secretary of this Embassy in Angora has been informed by Father Jenarphanian that the schools in Caesarea, Tokat, Amassia and Sivas have been sold to the Government and also their land in Angora, the school itself having been burned.

The Counselor of the French Embassy informed a member of my staff that it was his understanding that the Jesuits had sold all of their property in Anatolia and not merely the properties mentioned above. Their properties were actually being used by various branches of the Turkish administration, but no rent was being paid. After fruitless negotiations covering a period of over a year the French threatened to carry the case to the Turkish-French Mixed Arbitral Tribunal, for it was perfectly obvious that in all justice, the Turks should either restore the properties to the Jesuits, or pay rent, or purchase them. This threat produced the desired results and shortly afterwards an agreement was reached and the properties purchased outright. I have not been able to ascertain how much the Turks paid, but the Counselor of the French Embassy stated that he understood the Jesuits had been satisfied with the purchase price.

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French schools, other than those of the Jesuits, which are in operation in Turkey are in Constantinople, Smyrna, Konia, and Chanak. This last named has just been closed temporarily by the authorities “because of administrative difficulties” which M. Brugère did not seem to care to elucidate.

The Department will be interested to know that M. Brugère stated explicitly that since the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne, efforts had been made to secure permission to re-open certain French schools in Turkey and that in making these efforts the French Embassy had invoked the terms of Ismet Pasha’s letter of July 24th, 1923, addressed to the Allied Delegates at Lausanne.53 In spite of these representations of the French Embassy, the Turkish Government has not given the desired permission.

I am informed by the Italian Embassy that aside from the usual petty vexations, Italian schools in Turkey are not being molested. Their schools are in Adrianople, San Stefano, Makri-Keuy, Constantinople and Smyrna. An Italian school in Adalia has just been closed as there were only two scholars for four teachers, one of whom was a Turk, for whom the authorities demanded a large salary. The Italians considered it uneconomical to continue to run the school!

As regards German schools in Turkey, I am informed by Herr von Moltke, the Counselor of the German Embassy, that it is the intention of the Germans to terminate all of their school activity in this country. I have been unable to ascertain whether or not this intention has been put into effect.

The British have only three schools in Turkey, all of which are in Constantinople. They are experiencing no unusual difficulties in operating. The British Embassy informs me that it has had no occasion to invoke the terms of Ismet Pasha’s letter of July 24, 1923, as no British schools in Turkey have been closed.

I shall not fail to inform the Department of future developments in connection with the schools of the American Board in Turkey. It will be noted by the Department that my Aide Memoire was so worded that the Turkish Government could have complied with the request of the American Board, as set forth therein, by permitting the re-opening only of the two schools at Talas and Marash, leaving its decision regarding the others until a later date. I presume that the Government intends to use this question as leverage in order to facilitate its purchase of such American school property in Turkey as it may wish to acquire. In any case, even should no satisfaction be forthcoming from the Government in regard to the re-opening of the schools, I should not be inclined to do more than to repeat the informal representations already made. To demand the re-opening of the schools as a right, on the basis of the exchange of notes of [Page 809] February 17, 1927,54 and Ismet Pasha’s letter of August 4, 1923,55 would probably defeat its own purpose, for should the Turkish Government accede to such a demand unwillingly and with bad grace, it could effectively nullify the permit by surrounding the schools with such administrative restrictions as to render their further activities useless. The experience of the French Embassy would seem to indicate that stronger representations would in any case be fruitless, should the Turkish Government decide definitely against the reopening of the schools.

I have [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
[Enclosure 1]

The American Embassy to the Turkish Foreign Office

Aide Memoire

1. As a result of the Great War certain American schools functioning in Turkey were temporarily closed. Until 1925 no effort was made to reopen these schools, but on May 1, 1925, the American Board applied to the Minister of Education for permission to reopen certain of these institutions, without favorable result.

2. Following the resumption of Diplomatic relations between Turkey and the United States a new application was made in March 1927. The Embassy is informed that the Minister of Education referred this application to the Educational Council which expressed the opinion that the reopening of the American schools in question would be useful. The Embassy is further informed that the Minister of Education subsequently consulted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which replied, under date of May 28, 1927, (numbers 11341/76) that there is no obstacle or political danger in the reopening of American schools. However, in spite of these favorable replies, the permission to reopen these schools has not yet been received.

3. These schools have been in existence and have enjoyed official recognition since 1886. The language of instruction being both Turkish and English, and naturally in the Lycee classes importance being given to French, by means of commercial courses which can be added to the program these schools could serve the purpose of real vocational and commercial schools. There is also in existence in some of these schools apparatus, equipment and other facilities necessary for practical industrial and agricultural branches. With the guidance and support of the Ministry of Education it is certain that these schools can contribute much to the educational and cultural development of the communities in which they are situated.

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4. It is hoped that permission to reopen these schools which were in existence and officially recognized prior to October 30, 1914, may now be given. They are as follows:

Sivas American Girls’ School Lycee
Sivas American Boys’ School College
Marash American Girls’ School Lycee
Ghazi Aintab American Girls’ School Lycee
Ghazi Aintab American Boys’ School College
Talas American Girls’ School Lycee
Talas American Boys’ School Lycee
Caesarea Kindergarten

At the present moment the American Board is particularly anxious to reopen the Boys’ School at Talas and the Girls’ School at Marash as they have the necessary American staff with which to resume work at these two points.

[Enclosure 2—Translation56]

The Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs (Tewfik Rouschdy) to the American Ambassador (Grew)

My Dear Ambassador: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that after the receipt of Your Excellency’s aide-mémoire of the 3d instant, I conferred with my colleague of Public Instruction.

I think that it would be expedient at this time both to take up the question of the reopening of the American school in case the Ministry of Public Instruction should determine it is possible and useful for the country that the school resume its operations, and to negotiate, as we have contemplated, the particulars of the purchase by the said Department of the property of the American schools in Anatolia, and that these institutions designate a representative to confer with the Ministry of Public Instruction.

I avail myself [etc.]

Dr. T. Rouschdy