740.0011 European War 1939/18928: Telegram

The Chargé in Turkey (Kelley) to the Secretary of State

55. Department’s 26, January 23, 8 p.m.; and 22, January 29 [22], 7 p.m. The full text of the letter of Ambassador MacMurray (as communicated by Embassy) together with a Reuter despatch from Washington summarizing the letter, has been published by Anatolian Agency and both were printed in this morning’s semi-official Ulus. Turkish press has also published a British news agency despatch containing allegedly the full text of Mr. MacMurray’s interview.

The Ambassador’s letter has been very helpful. The Soviet Ambassador told me yesterday evening that he was very much pleased with the letter and remarked that he had been quite disturbed when the first press reports concerning the interview came to his attention because they appeared to indicate that the Ambassador was giving credit to the reports spread by German propaganda relative to Molotov’s visit to Berlin.17 He remarked that the Soviet authorities would not have taken notice of Mr. MacMurray’s interview if the German propaganda agencies had not first sought to exploit it (this is not true at least as far as Turkey is concerned because the first report published here was the Tass communiqué).

The Turkish Foreign Minister18 told me this morning that there was no need in his opinion of doing anything further about the matter. He said that the Turkish Government had not been disturbed at all by Mr. MacMurray’s interview and remarked confidentially that the interview was such as he might well have written himself. He thought that the Soviet authorities had been over zealous in taking the matter up since they had played into the hands of the Germans’ propaganda agencies. He said that the Turkish Government had the greatest confidence in Mr. MacMurray and he could assure me that the interview did not lessen their affection and esteem for him.

The Ankara radio has handled the matter very well. After summarizing what the Tass and DNB had to say concerning the interview the commentator pointing out that the text of the interview indicated [Page 815]clearly that neither of the parties to the controversy had taken the pains to examine it carefully inasmuch as Ambassador MacMurray had made no specific affirmation relative to the actual formulation of claims on the Straits by Russia but merely referred to the rumors current on this subject. The commentator concluded by saying that during his stay in Turkey, Ambassador MacMurray had won the sympathy and respect of the Turkish people and there now existed no reasons for the Turkish people to change their sentiments in regard to him. All Turks deeply regretted his departure and wished him success in his new work.

I have discussed the matter with the British Ambassador19 and he agreed that no useful purpose would be served by giving the matter further official notice. It is believed that Ambassador MacMurray’s letter will make it exceedingly difficult for the German propaganda agencies to make any further use of their perversion of his remarks in their campaign in Turkey to stir up animosity against the Soviet Government with a view to weakening the bonds between Turkey and Great Britain.

  1. For correspondence concerning Molotov’s visit to Berlin, see Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939–1941, pp. 195 ff.
  2. Sükrü Saraçoğlu.
  3. Sir Hughe M. Knatchbull-Hugessen.