Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Murray)46

You will recall the recent action of the Turkish Government in levying a drastic Capital Levy Tax. Ambassador Steinhardt has reported by telegraph clear evidence that the tax has been assessed in a manner markedly discriminatory against the minority races in Turkey, notably the Greeks, Jews and Armenians.

The attached despatch from Ankara, dated January 20, 1943, encloses copies of strong notes47 which Ambassador Steinhardt sent to the Turkish Government in behalf of an American firm and two American individuals protesting against the assessments levied. The notes make out indisputable cases for discrimination, and in one case, that of the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, we know that favorable results have already been obtained.

It seems to me that Ambassador Steinhardt has handled this matter particularly well. Without requiring instructions from the Department, he has been prompt to represent the American interests concerned in an able and forthright manner. The Capital Levy Tax has presented a difficult and delicate problem for all foreign embassies in Turkey—Axis, Allied and neutral. In a situation of this kind, strong and direct language to the Turks was thoroughly justified, and I believe it is the best method of dealing with them.

It will be noted that not only did Ambassador Steinhardt make firm representations, but when the Turkish Foreign Office came back with a stereotype reply, the Ambassador went back at the Turks again in a forceful rejoinder, reiterating his arguments concerning discrimination against American citizens.

Although the indications of the revival of an undesirable type of nationalism in Turkey are disturbing, I am hopeful that in actual practice adjustments will be made ameliorating the worst cases of [Page 1085] discrimination. At any rate, our Ambassador has done a first-rate job, on his own, to protect the American interests concerned.

Wallace Murray
  1. Addressed to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State (Welles).
  2. None printed.