811.20 Defense(M)Turkey/1008: Telegram

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

738. See my 730, April 22. In conversation with Foreign Minister this morning he told me he had had great difficulty in persuading Cabinet to agree to discontinuance of further shipments of chrome to Germany [Page 833] and decision had only been arrived at a few hours before his statement to Parliament. He said action taken by Turkish Government had come as a great shock to Germans and von Papen had at once inquired of him as to whether he should “pack his bags”. Numan said he was not as yet informed of official German reaction but should it take form of breaking off trade relations with Turkey and interrupting Turkey’s trade with Sweden and Swiss which was of vital importance to Turkish economy he assumed the United States and British Governments would take necessary steps to furnish Turkey with commodities heretofore obtained from Axis, Sweden and Swiss. He said if Germans did not interrupt their trade with Turkey it was his intention notwithstanding Turkey’s commitments to deliver commodities other than chrome for which the compensating deliveries have already been received by Turkey, to reduce the shipments of such commodities during the next 2 or 3 months by about 50% pending a clarification of American and British policy towards Turkey in the commercial field. I judge this to mean that having discontinued all shipments of chrome to the Axis and having reduced the shipments of other strategic materials by about 50% notwithstanding the fact that Germany has already delivered the compensating commodities, Numan wishes to ascertain whether the United States and Britain will be willing to promptly provide the commodities essential to Turkish economy. In this connection he emphasized the uncertainty, irregularity and great delays in respect of shipments from the United States and the British Empire during the past 2 years as contrasted with the prompt deliveries from Germany. He specifically referred to the fact that he had been “driven into” the German-Turkish opium atabrine transactions as the result of the failure of the United States and Great Britain to give effect to their assurances that adequate quantities of atabrine would be delivered to Turkey. He said he had been and still was determined to prevent the occurrence in Turkey of what he had been informed had happened in parts of Egypt where as he described it “whole communities had been wiped out by malaria” because of the failure of the British to deliver promised atabrine.

Numan also said that he was setting up a bureau in the Foreign Office which would hereafter control all trade with the Axis and in future no order of any kind would be accepted in Turkey for shipment of any commodity to the Axis until bureau had first ascertained whether the United States and Britain were prepared to furnish commodity required by Turkey in exchange therefor.