740.0011 European War 1939/27662½: Telegram

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

211. For the President, Secretary and Under Secretary. The British Ambassador, who returned to Ankara this evening, has given me the following résumé of the Adana Conference:

Churchill made the following points:7 [Page 1061]

Britain will ask nothing of Turkey that is not in her interest and will never ask Turkey to enter the war if such action might lead to disaster. Accordingly he sought no present commitments of Turkey.
The German need for oil and desire to expand eastwards might cause the Axis in desperation to attack Turkey. By reason of this threat Turkey must be strong and her armament increased during the next few months.
Even should Germany not attack Turkey, Turkish interests may dictate that she intervene in the Balkans to prevent anarchy. Such a condition could arise as a result of increasing German weakness, trouble in Bulgaria, a quarrel between Rumania and Hungary over Transylvania, or more extensive Greek or Yugoslav resistance. Thus the possibility of Turkey becoming a belligerent must be considered.
Without becoming a belligerent Turkey might at some time consider taking the same position as the United States before it entered the war, by a “departure from strict neutrality”. Thus Turkey might grant permission to use Turkish airfields from which to bomb the Rumanian oil fields, the Dodecanese Islands and Crete. Germany and Bulgaria would submit to such action “not wishing to excite Turkey to more active belligerency”.
Russia has renounced all territorial gains beyond her June 1941 frontiers. Should Turkey become a full belligerent she will receive the fullest aid and will have the right to all guarantees for her territory and rights after the war. Great Britain would give these guarantees independently of any other power. Churchill expressed the belief that Russia would give the same guarantees and that “President Roosevelt would gladly associate himself with such treaties and that the whole weight of the United States would be used in the peace settlement to that end. At the same time one must not ignore the difficulties which the United States constitution interposes against prolonged European commitments”.
It is important that Turkey be “among the winners” to assure her security after the war. Even alter Germany is crushed Turkish cooperation will still be necessary.
At the end of the war the United States will be the strongest nation and will desire solid international structure which will spare the United States from having to enter future European wars. This structure will call for disarmament of the aggressors and an association of nations stronger than before.

The Ambassador said that Inönü had received Churchill’s views with obvious satisfaction. None of the Turkish officials had interposed any objections to or even modifications of his views. Subsequently there were lengthy conferences between British and Turkish staff officers present, the details of which have not yet been submitted to Hugessen. The Ambassador pronounced the conference a distinct success. At the close of the meeting a joint telegram from Inönü and Churchill to President Roosevelt was discussed. The idea was abandoned in favor of a personal telegram from Inönü sent from the train.

[Page 1062]

The Foreign Minister will see Von Papen8 tomorrow and inform him that no agreement was asked of or given by the Turkish Government, that the Turkish Government entered into no commitments and that the principal subject discussed was more arms for Turkey which his Government would be pleased to receive from Germany as well as from Great Britain and the United States.

I will report the reaction of the Turkish Government as soon as possible.

  1. For Mr. Churchill’s account of his conference with the Turks at Adana, see Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: The Hinge of Fate (Boston 1950), pp. 696 ff. On the train returning from this conference, Mr. Churchill prepared a memorandum dated February 2, 1943, entitled “Morning Thoughts: Note on Post-war Security”. A copy of this memorandum was sent to President Roosevelt who supplied a copy to Secretary Hull (copy filed in IO). The greater part of the memorandum dealt with Turkey and the points set forth were similar in substance to those here reported as made by Mr. Churchill.
  2. Franz von Papen, German Ambassador in Turkey.