740.0011 European War 1939/9576

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

The Turkish Ambassador called to see me this evening at his request. The Ambassador stated that some weeks ago he had given to Secretary Hull for the confidential information of this Government the contents of the message received by the President of Turkey from Hitler.40 The Ambassador said that he now wished to convey in the same confidential way to this Government the contents of the reply made by President Ismet Inönü to Hitler, adding that this information was being conveyed solely to Great Britain and to the United States.

The contents of the reply of the President of Turkey, which was delivered to Hitler by the Turkish Ambassador in Berlin, was in general as follows:

Thanks were expressed for Hitler’s message and for the reminder therein of the association of Germany and Turkey in the World War of 1914.

Attention was called to the policy pursued by the Turkish Government since that time which was stated to be one of peaceful evolution without the violation by Turkey of the rights of any other nations. It was emphasized that Turkey had followed this policy scrupulously since the outbreak of the present war in September 1939.

Turkey cannot view her independence and integrity as a matter to be determined by any other nation or by any combination of nations, nor can her independence or integrity be regarded as something contingent upon the victory of any other power.

Turkey will resolutely oppose by her armed forces any attack from whatever source upon her national territory.

Turkey has proved her firm determination to safeguard her rights and her independence by the conclusion of her defensive alliance with Great Britain.

The policy pursued by the Turkish Government with regard to the Balkan countries has been a policy intended to further the maintenance of peace in the Balkan peninsula. The Turkish Government notes that Germany declares that this is the German objective. [Page 836] From the assurances given to Turkey by Germany in this regard, the policies of Germany and Turkey with regard to the Balkan peninsula would seem to be parallel.

The German Chancellor will have to admit that the present changes in the situation of the Balkan countries are due to causes completely alien to the policy pursued by the Turkish Government.

If Germany respects the independence and integrity of Turkey, German and Turkish armies will not be brought face to face.

Hitler alleges that the German Government does not demand of Turkey anything incompatible with the declared policy of Turkey. The President of Turkey “takes note” of German assurances in that regard.

The Turkish Army will maintain vigilant guard on Turkish frontiers unless the German Government causes the Turkish Army to change that attitude. The Turkish President hopes that such a “catastrophe” will not occur.

In view of the message received from Hitler, the Turkish President believes the frank statement above conveyed to be fully justified. He expresses his hope that relations of mutual comprehension between Germany and Turkey as well as an attitude of “correctitude”, which alone can make such relations possible, will exist.

In conclusion the Turkish President hopes that this interchange of views will make continued normal relations possible.

I expressed to the Ambassador my appreciation of the confidence in this Government shown, by the information thus given and I expressed the hope that in the interest of the two countries these confidential exchanges of views would continue to take place whenever it was considered necessary and desirable.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. See memorandum by the Secretary of State, March 15, p. 831.