The Ambassador in Turkey ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 31—2:48 a.m.]
512. Reference my 468, May 24 and my 501, May 28 .27 Numan Bey asked me to call at Foreign Office this morning and told me following. He said that in January shortly after announcement American lend-lease aid was being extended to Turkey, Kroll, German Minister, called to see him and had inquired as to nature of agreement between the United States and Turkey which had occasioned the announcement. Numan Bey replied that there was no agreement and that American lend-lease aid was being extended to Turkey as result of a decision by President Roosevelt that defense of Turkey was vital to defense of the United States and that Turkey was accepting [Page 696] lend-lease aid on this basis. To this Kroll replied that the defense must mean against an attack by Germany to which Numan Bey said that he assumed so. Kroll then inquired as to whether Turkey did not fear an attack from the Soviet. Numan Bey said he seized the opportunity to state categorically to Kroll that Turkey would defend itself against an attack from any source. Kroll then inquired whether Turkey [would accept war materials?] from Germany to protect itself against an attack from Soviets to which Numan Bey answered Turkey was prepared to accept war material from any source. Numan Bey said after this conversation matter was allowed to drop until recently when von Papen28 called to see him and, referring to Kroll’s talk with him in January, said Germany was prepared to furnish war material to Turkey and wished to know what kind of agreement Turk Government was prepared to enter in exchange for material. Numan Bey replied that Turk Government was unwilling to enter into any agreement nor could he see any reason for an agreement as Turkey had been granted a credit of 150,000,000 reichsmarks by Germany in January 1939 which had not been availed of and the war material to be delivered by Germany could be charged as against this credit without an agreement of any kind. He also made it clear to von Papen Turkey did not desire a miscellaneous assortment of material but only the four following items: tanks, airplanes, anti-aircraft and antitank guns. Von Papen replied he could see no reason why the matter could not be dealt with on this basis. Accordingly Numan Bey said a Turk mission had been sent to Berlin with instructions to endeavor to procure the war material specified by him “as it comes from the factories” and to have cost charged against credit to extent of 100,000,000 reichsmarks.
Numan Bey remarked that he did not know whether any war material would be received but from point of view of Turk Government any of articles specified that might be obtained from Germany would mean much less material available to Germany in event of German attack on Turkey and that much more available to Turkey with which to defend itself. He said von Papen had proposed that the two Governments issue identical communiqués giving details of arrangement but that he had stated to von Papen he would not permit German Government to make political capital out of the arrangements and extracted a promise from him that sale of German war material to Turkey would not be made subject of German propaganda or given the appearance that there had been any change in Turkey’s status as an ally of Britain. He added that in order to prevent Germans from making any such political capital he had prepared a brief statement [Page 697] which he proposed to issue through the semi-official Anatolian Agency. Text of statement appears in my 515, May 30, 5 p.m.29