Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)

During a call from the Turkish Ambassador this morning I informed him of the substance of the note which our Chargé d’Affaires in Turkey is being instructed to deliver to the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding the American-Turkish claims settlement effected on October 25, 1934.

The note sets forth that whereas the Turkish Government had undertaken to pay to the Government of the United States the sum of $1,300,000 in full settlement of the claims of American citizens which were embraced by the Agreement of December 24, 1923, such payments to be made in thirteen annual installments of $100,000 each, beginning on May [June] 1, 1936,22 it had been found after careful and impartial inquiry by Mr. Fred K. Nielsen, our Commissioner who has had the claims of American citizens under consideration, that the awards would amount to somewhat less than $900,000. This Government therefore took pleasure in informing the Turkish Government that under the conditions set forth in the above-mentioned note there would be remitted to the Turkish [Page 956] Government, by relieving it of certain final installments, a sum of about $400,000.

I told the Ambassador that we were all very happy to be able to render this service to the Turkish Government and that the Secretary, although he is of course much occupied these days with serious situations in other parts of the world, has interested himself personally in this matter.

The Ambassador was obviously deeply stirred on being informed of this offer of the American Government. With tears in his eyes he stated that he was at a loss to give adequate expression to his deep feeling of appreciation of the spirit of uprightness, moral integrity and generosity of our Government. “This is” he said, “incomparably the happiest day of my whole career.”

I thanked the Ambassador for his kind sentiments and assured him that this Government on its part deeply appreciated the honorable attitude assumed by the Turkish Claims Commissioners during the negotiation of a settlement of our claims against Turkey resulting from the World War and that Mr. Nielsen, who represented this Government during the sessions of the Mixed Claims Commission in Turkey, had more than once expressed his high regard for and appreciation of the courtesy and cooperation shown him by the Turkish members of the Commission.

Referring to the fine work of the Mixed Claims Commission in general, and in particular to the sum agreed upon to be paid to this Government in settlement of the claims of its nationals against Turkey, I emphasized to the Ambassador that the difference between the sum finally awarded to American claimants and the amount which Turkey had agreed to pay was due to Mr. Nielsen’s careful and impartial examination of each claim after his return to Washington and the application to those claims of controlling rules and principles of substantive law as is customary with us in such instances. Such being the case I felt confident that, far from questioning in any way the entire good faith of Mr. Nielsen and his Turkish colleagues in reaching the settlement of October 25, 1934, the Turkish Government would be in accord with this Government in believing that the Commissioners of both Governments were motivated by the highest integrity and ethical standards. The Ambassador said he agreed with me heartily and was sure that his Government would do likewise.

In conclusion I explained to the Ambassador that for reasons which he would doubtless appreciate, this Government desired that no publicity whatever should be given to its present offer to the Turkish Government, and I requested him to emphasize this fact in any report of our conversation that he might make to his Government.

Wallace Murray
  1. The date on which annual installments on claims of American citizens were to be paid by the Turkish Government was subsequently postponed from June 1 to June 20, as a result of an exchange of notes dated October 1, and November 3, 1937, between the American Chargé and the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs. See Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 115.