740.0011 European War 1939/9148

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The Ambassador of Turkey called and said that he had endeavored to reach me last Monday, but that I was too busy with emergency matters.

He came to report to me and this Government the substance of the communication from Hitler to the president of Turkey32 On Tuesday, [Page 832] March fourth, last, the German Ambassador at Ankara called on the President at the former’s request and presented a message from Hitler, who said that he was in the war against the will of the German Government; that he made it a point to destroy British influence on the continent of Europe, and to do so he was taking precautionary measures not to let Great Britain get to Greek territory. Hence he had asked Bulgaria for troop movement privileges, and Bulgaria, knowing that this move was not directed against Turkey, gave her consent. Hitler assured Turkey that these movements were not directed against the independence or territorial integrity of Turkey. On the contrary, Hitler said that his purpose was friendly cooperation with Turkey in the future, as the two countries had cooperated in the past when Turkey was struggling for existence. Hitler stated that he had no territorial ambition in that area; that he would evacuate Bulgaria as soon as the danger was over; that these two countries (presumably Greece and Bulgaria) were bound to the association with Turkey and Germany in the economic field, and that in the territorial arrangements to be made after the war, Germany would not antagonize Turkey, and for these reasons, he, Hitler, had given orders to German troops in Bulgaria that, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, they should stand at a distance from the Turkish frontier, unless measures taken by Turkey compelled Hitler to change this attitude as his decision to oppose Great Britain’s going into Greek territory was unalterable.

I thanked the Ambassador and requested him to express our appreciation to his Government and the President of Turkey for this valued courtesy. I then said that this communication from Hitler was taken out of his stock on hand of similar communications, which he has been sending to each of the twelve occupied or conquered countries, and which he seems to contemplate sending to countries whose seizure he has in mind in the future. The Ambassador smiled and very promptly spoke his assent.

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  1. Ismet Inönü.