811.20 Defense (M) Turkey/708: Telegram

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

1281. Department’s 615, July 17. In our opinion the increase in the export to Axis Europe of Turkish commodities referred to in the Department’s telegram under reference has been occasioned by increased Axis deliveries to Turkey. These increased Axis deliveries in turn have resulted from the following: (a) Comparisons of Turkish trade with the Axis 1941, ‘42 and the first half of ‘43 are misleading unless account is taken of the military and physical conditions existing in the Balkans and affecting trade between Turkey and Germany over this period of 30 months. For example during the greater part of 1941 the Balkans were the scene of military operations by Germany with the object of establishing its control there. It was not until June 1942 that all means of transportation had been either brought under German control or had been reestablished; (b) recent deliveries on orders placed in Germany by Turkey under the German-Turkish commercial agreement of October 9, 1941, which orders have required from 12 to 18 months for execution; (c) improved transportation facilities. In this connection it should be borne in mind that the moment [movement?] of commodities between the Axis and Turkey was seriously handicapped prior to the reconstruction of the bridges over the Maritza River in June 1942; (d) the pressing need of the Axis for Turkish commodities as a result of the increased effectiveness of the United Nations blockade; (e) the pressing need of Turkey for Axis products in order to sustain its national economy.

The same reasoning which contends that the rate of movement of chrome in April and May if sustained would yield Germany the entire quantity for which it qualifies might also contend that the rate of [Page 1143] movement of chrome to Germany on April 19 (3175 tons that day) if sustained would yield Germany 1,158,875 tons over a 12 months’ period. The fact remains, however, that although Germany has been entitled since March to over 20,000 tons of chrome, by July 1 Germany had received only approximately 13,000 tons.

Having regard to the dangerous international political and military position of Turkey during the past 6 months, it would appear that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of neutral Turkey has fully redeemed his promise to place every possible obstacle in the way of deliveries of chrome to the Axis. Webster defines “obstacle” as “anything that hinders progress”. Had Numan not kept his promise, Germany would long since have received the entire quantity of chrome to which it was entitled in February.

All of us deeply regret that what has been accomplished during the past 6 months both in respect of impeding deliveries of chrome to Germany and of holding exports of other strategic materials to the Axis to a minimum in the face of the difficulties with which we have been confronted in a sovereign neutral country does not appear to have been understood or appreciated by OEW.