740.0011 European War 1939/8614: Telegram

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

41. Following for Secretary, Under Secretary.

Through what I believe to be an entirely trustworthy intermediate source I am informed that a junior official of the German Foreign Office recently called in the Turkish Ambassador to Berlin19a and made to him a statement along these lines: Hitler had summoned the Yugoslav Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs to Berchtesgaden for the purpose of apprising them of Germany’s intentions with regard to the Balkans and the necessity of access to the Aegean Sea and warning them that Yugoslavia must count upon the fact that since the fall of France Germany is the sole great power on the European Continent and that it would be an illusion to suppose that Soviet Russia could be played off against her. The Turkish Government for its part should likewise realize and be guided by the state of facts thus indicated. Despite the persistently unfriendly attitude of the Turkish press the German Government is prepared to be tolerant with respect to Turkey’s pro-British sympathies and even of such things as taking British generals on tour of inspection so long as no British forces are admitted; but Germany is prepared to take immediate action against Turkey if she permits so much as one British plane to base upon her territory.
There is some reason to believe on the other hand that the British have been urging the Turks to permit the establishment on Turkish territory of forces corresponding unit by unit with those which the Germans may establish in Bulgaria. The Turks have with apparent reason pointed out that their air and other bases have not yet been developed to the point they would suffice for effective military operations and that meanwhile the basing of even minimum forces on this territory would entail reactions which the British themselves would not be prepared to meet: they are altogether cooperative in preparing the necessary facilities but definitely unwilling to let anything be started before means of finishing it have been provided.
I have gathered the impression that the British diplomatic and military authorities here alike feel that their Government is trying to hustle the Turks faster than their temperamental and technological situations would justify and are inclined to advise the British Government that it would be wiser not to arouse in them a feeling of resistance but to rely rather upon their response to their impulses of self-interest and their sense of loyalty which in spite of their wariness [Page 826] and shrewdness in minor matters can be counted on to keep them faithful to the alliance and assure their eventual cooperation to the fullest extent of their potentialities.
  1. R. Husrev Gerede.