740.0011 European War 1939/8673: Telegram

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

46. For the Secretary and Under Secretary.

My British colleague20 invited me yesterday to a talk with Sir Anthony Eden,21 General Dill22 and himself which I would sum up as follows:
Eden spoke with appreciation of his contacts with Mr. Hopkins23 and of the good that Colonel Donovan24 had accomplished in this region. I said that I felt Donovan’s bird’s-eye view of the Balkans and Near East had been of great help to us in the field as giving a broader frame of reference for our ideas and interpretations of events and that he had also served a very useful purpose in bringing to the Turks, for instance, first-hand information of American intentions and capacities which they might have read about in the press but had never quite realized. He then said that Donovan’s observations of the situation in this area had been of great help to the British.
He asked my opinion whether the loyalty of the Turks could be counted on. I replied (along the lines of the third paragraph of my No. 41, February 25) that I thought it could,…—that they might haggle and even cause many headaches about their performance of one thing or another that they had undertaken to do but that they would prove staunch and courageous in carrying out their fundamental obligations. I told him of the Premier’s query whether American opinion was in doubt of Turkey’s loyalty (see my 34, February 18, 5 [4] p.m.). He said he realized the Turks were abnormally sensitive on that point.
He asked how they had received the two communications of the President’s views that I had recently had occasion to present to them (your Nos. 12 and 1425). I acknowledged that neither of these communications [Page 827] had elicited any marked reaction on the part of the Turks who are perhaps too isolated from American thought to be able to relate these communications to our policy and to realize their potential significance. He asked whether they had not reacted to the suggestion that we might make our material resources available to them. Upon my answering that they had not seemed especially impressed he asked whether they had not realized as England did that American industry would tip the balance in the war.…He remarked that it was not just a question of equipment but equally of technical ability in using it and Dill interposed that he understood the Germans had reckoned on 4 years to create and train an armored division. Both assumed that Turks were not yet even aware of their deficiencies in this regard.
Speaking incidentally of military prospects both Eden and Dill seemed to take for granted that Bulgaria would be a base of German operations against Greece and/or Turkey as soon as the condition of the ground should permit. When Hugessen said Turkish staff estimated that would be about mid-April Dill remarked that would give British several more weeks than they had reckoned on and Eden added that every day would count.
In expectation of further contacts I refrain from interpretation or comment for the time being.
  1. Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen.
  2. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Gen. Sir John G. Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
  4. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.
  5. Col. William J. Donovan, unofficial observer for the Secretary of the Navy in Southeast Europe and the Near East, December 1940–March 1941.
  6. Dated February 9 and February 14, p. 815.