740.0011 European War 1939/9232: Telegram

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

74. Following for Secretary and Under Secretary. Probably for reason of military secrecy and perhaps in part because of rather negative character of results as reported my 49, March 1, my British colleague has not given me expected fuller and more concrete information concerning Eden’s visit (my 46, February 27). All indications I have received from that and other sources, however, seem to confirm that agreement was reached among British, Greeks and Turks upon strategic plan in which it would be Turkey’s part to remain non-belligerent (save in case of attack upon her territories) at least until her army can be more fully equipped and air fields further developed.

Greek Ambassador has said to me that while regretting Turkey is not in position to afford more positive assistance against expected German attack his Government recognizes she could under actual conditions play her part most usefully in that way. And Human Bey yesterday remarked to me that idea of Turkey’s despatching troops into Greece was academic—that it could only waste limited forces this country can oppose to Germans in defense of its own integrity and as bastion for protection of the Near East.
Above appreciation of Turkish position on eve of expected German drive into Greece I was ready to send when I learned of Cyprus conference (my next previous telegram39) and was withheld until I could learn its bearing on situation. I have now gathered that conference contemplated no new development save insofar as British sought to prevail upon Turks to encourage apparent stiffening of Yugoslav temper of resistance against German pressure by new overtures promising Turkish support in event of drive toward Saloniki which would equally threaten both countries. There was discussed but not definitely decided proposal that in such event Turkey should declare war against Germany, bring alliance with Britain into effect and make air bases available to British forces. I venture to hazard conjecture nothing substantial will result.
In strictest secrecy I may add that Turks have learned their diplomatic codes have been broken down by Germans and there is reason to believe that tingle tangle of cross purposes in their negotiations with Yugoslavs has probably been due at least in part to falsification of instructions to their Sofia Embassy and of its reports.

Repeated Athens, Belgrade.

  1. Supra.