127. Message From Athens1

The destruction in Istanbul is massive following the anti-Greek rioting on 6 September but vigorous measures are being taken to clean up the city prior to the opening of the IBRDIMF Bank Conference on 12 September. Preliminary size-up of the situation, which is subject to confirmation as further facts are known, is as follows. After Cypriot-Turkish demonstration in London, the Turkish Government presumably felt it important to have corresponding demonstrations in various points in Turkey. Demonstrations got under way in Istanbul and Izmir particularly, with the acquiescence [Page 285]of the local police. Rioting quickly got out of hand and the police possibly had no instructions to take vigorous action. Meanwhile rabble elements and professional looters took over and looting became indiscriminate.
Although the primary target was Greek, the Armenians, Jews and some foreigners had a rough time of it and even some Turks suffered. Finally the army intervened and the mobs dispersed. The army will probably continue to maintain order during the forthcoming Bank conference; it is not probable that the representatives at the conference are in any physical danger. Tanks and troops are very much in evidence and will presumably be held ready to meet any emergency.
Long range consequences are hard to judge and might be most serious. Leading Turkish elements are apparently deeply humiliated and distressed and there appears to be an opportunity to reestablish situation without lasting harm to NATO or Balkan Alliance if properly exploited and if Greek reaction remains reasonably tempered. This will require wisdom and restraint in a highly volatile and explosive situation. It is doubtful that the Communists had a directing hand in this situation but they undoubtedly will endeavor to profit by the general confusion resulting from these incidents.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 782C.00/9–1555. Secret; Priority.