811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/76: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

5221. We were asked to call at the Foreign Office this morning and were handed the following memorandum:

“His Majesty’s Ambassador at Angora was instructed in June 1942 to negotiate with the Turkish Government a new chrome agreement for a year from January 8, 1943, on which date the renewal of the existing agreement expired. Under their existing agreement with the Germans the Turks are bound to deliver in 1943, 90,000 tons to Germany, provided the Germans carry out their obligations under the Clodius agreement.75 The Turkish Government were therefore asked to conclude an agreement with us providing for an option to take up any chrome which the Turks were not forced to deliver to the Germans under the Clodius agreement.

In spite of repeated reminders it has not proved possible to make any progress with the Turkish Government regarding chrome for 1943. The Turkish Government on the other hand have been engaged in negotiations with the Germans, who are apparently attempting to expand them into a general attempt to secure long term contracts. As regards chrome in particular it seems likely that the Germans are attempting to persuade the Turks in the course of the negotiations now proceeding in Berlin to give them chrome in return for the armaments which they are prepared to supply to Turkey under the 100,000,000 mark credit. The Germans also appear to be attempting to obtain a lien on Turkish chrome supplies for the years following 1944.
His Majesty’s Ambassador at Angora reports that he is in close touch with his United States colleague and that they intend to speak on concerted lines to the Turkish Prime Minister.76 Instructions are now being sent to Sir H. Knatchbull-Hugessen to inform the Turkish Government that His Majesty’s Government confidently assume that they will receive at least equal treatment with the Germans as regards the chrome output for 1943; this we interpret to mean that at least 50% of the total Turkish output for 1943 will be available for us and that we shall receive equal treatment as regards grade, weight and transport facilities. Sir H. Knatchbull-Hugessen will press the Turkish Government strongly for an immediate assurance to that effect, adding that we shall be prepared to pay the same prices as the Germans have offered which we understand to be 250 shillings a ton. This applies, of course only to ore mined after January 8, 1943.”

The British understand from secret sources that a new Turkish-German chrome agreement is in fact on the point of being concluded, and that the Turkish delegation at Berlin is pressing hard for action whereas the Government at Ankara is showing some slight resistance to the pressure.

We were told that the proposed arrangement (numbered paragraph 3 above) could be agreed to by the Turks without violating the Clodius agreement of 1939 [1941]. The Foreign Office considers that rightly or wrongly the British have gotten themselves into the position where the chrome question has become more or less the “acid test” of Turkey’s attitude toward the Allies. They are consequently most anxious to work something out.

We were told that the British Ambassador at Ankara is in very close touch with Ambassador Steinhardt and that presumably the latter has telegraphed the Department. They have asked us to do likewise, however, by way of emphasizing the urgency and importance they attach to the question.

  1. Commercial agreement between Germany and Turkey signed at Ankara, October 9, 1941. Dr. Carl Clodius was the German negotiator. For a summary of provisions of agreement, see telegram No. 388, October 17, 1941, 7 p.m., from the Ambassador in Turkey, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, p. 964.
  2. Sükrü Saraçoğlu became Prime Minister on July 9, 1942.