740.0011 European War 1939/24469: Telegram

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

467. We have been shown a copy of a note which the German delegation in Paris addressed to the French Government in Vichy on September 13, demanding the cession of about 140,000 tons of idle French merchant shipping for immediate use in the Black Sea. A definite reply to this demand has not been made, but it is indicated that the French Government will agree to accord to Germany at least 75,000 tons of foreign (i. e. non-French) tonnage now being used for French supply needs and may accord additional French tonnage as well, even though the demands are entirely outside the terms of the Armistice Convention.

Please inform the Turkish authorities in strictest confidence of the above and request they keep secret the source of the information. You may inquire of the Turkish authorities regarding their attitude towards the passage of such vessels through the Dardanelles. Although the German Government will doubtless endeavor to classify as merchant vessels any such ships obtained from France and sent to the Black Sea, it is obvious that the only use of such vessels will be directly connected with armed hostilities and that they should be regarded in fact as auxiliary naval vessels. Auxiliary vessels would naturally be denied passage through the Straits in accordance with Article 19 of the Montreux Straits Convention.4

  1. Signed July 20, 1936, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 213.