Turkey’s Neutrality in World War II…

Allied Relations and Negociations with Turkey

Treaty of Friendship Between Germany and Turkey

When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.

Harry S.Truman

Version française  suit le texte anglais !

In connection with the happy conclusion of the German-Turkish treaty today I have the honor to bring Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that my government is ready, in so far as is at all possible, to further economic relations between Germany and Turkey, taking into account the possibilities given by the economic structure of the two countries and taking as a basis experiences made for the benefit of both countries by each other during the war. Both governments will enter forthwith into negotiations in order as far as possible to create a treaty basis for the carrying out of this agreement.

Hitler and Hüseyin Hüsnü Erkilet – Ali Fuat Erden

At the start of World War II, Turkey was bound to Britain and France by the Tripartite Alliance ofOctober 1939, but declared itself a non-belligerent on June 26, 1940, shortly after the French surrender toGermany.2 Adolf Hitler established the terms of Germany’s observance of Turkish neutrality in a letter toPresident Inonu in March 1941, at the time the Nazi forces invaded Yugoslavia and moved through

Bulgaria to crush Greece. The inviolability of Turkey’s frontier would be guaranteed and German troopswould be allowed no closer than 20 miles from the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The German-Turkish Treatyof Friendship of June 18, 1941, confirmed these guarantees of the integrity of the Turkish borders andadded the mutual undertaking to make no hostile action, directly or indirectly, against each other.3

Britain and the United States accepted Turkey’s neutrality early in the War in view of its militaryweakness, and they undertook to explore the possibility of rendering economic and military assistance tokeep Turkey neutral until it could join the Allies. In light of traditional British interests in the eastern

Mediterranean and, more specifically, the Anglo-Turkish Alliance of June 1939, Britain took the leadthroughout World War II in relations with Turkey. U.S. military assistance to Turkey began in 1941 as partof the British effort to ensure that Turkey resisted Germany. On March 31, 1941, President Rooseveltimplemented the Lend-Lease Act by declaring that the defense of Britain and Greece (then under attack by


Turkey’s wartime diplomatic status in international law arose from its history and

geography as well as its special strategic and economic positions. It is neither possible nor appropriate touse this Supplementary Report as the vehicle for a thorough analysis of the nature and evolution of”neutrality” in wartime Turkish foreign policy. It is clear from the published scholarship on Turkey’sforeign policy and from official U.S. documentation that Turkey sought to ensure its territorial integrity and

economic well-being. Terms such as “active neutrality” were for a time favored by some Turkish leaders asbetter describing Turkey’s wartime efforts to achieve a balance between the two belligerent groups:

maintaining both an alliance with Britain and friendship and mutual trade with Germany and her satellites.It is the intention of this chapter to describe how Allied leaders perceived Turkey’s policy of neutrality andsought to bring about Turkish engagement in the War. The broader, objective understanding of Turkey’s

wartime policies and their interaction with those of Britain and the United States deserves and may be best

achieved by international scholarly cooperation based on the opening of the full documentary record.

2 According to J.R.M. Butler, The History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military

Series, Grand Strategy, vol. II, September 1939-June 1941 (London, 1958), p. 301, and Sir Llewellyn

Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War (London, 1962), pp. 13-14, 127, and 129,

Turkey invoked the clause of the October 1939 treaty under which Turkey was not required to take action

that could involve it in war with Russia. Turkey also claimed that the treaty was no longer valid because

France could not fulfill its obligations to the other members.

3 The negotiation of the agreement is described in Franz von Papen, Memoirs (London, 1952), pp.

471-473. According to messages from the Japanese Ambassador in Ankara to the Japanese Foreign

Ministry in Tokyo in early July 1942, intercepted and decrypted by U.S. authorities and available to U.S.

leaders, German Ambassador to Turkey von Papen described Germany as avoiding any interference in

Turkish affairs but rather patiently waiting for Turkey to decide when it would abandon its neutrality. Von

Papen told the Japanese Ambassador, “So far I have taken a mild attitude and tried to use what I might call

‘gentle persuasion’ on them. Now, even though the situation is rapidly changing [after Axis military

successes in Egypt against the Allies], I intend to continue acting the same way.” The Japanese

Ambassador speculated that behind von Papen’s quiet analysis lay some assurance or pledge from Turkey

to intervene on the side of Germany. (Telegrams Nos. 23, July 1, 1942 and 236, July 3, 1942, from Ankara

to Tokyo, RG 457, Historic Cryptographic Collection, Pre-World War I through World War II, Box 314,

Diplomatic Message Translations) A few months earlier, the Japanese Minister in Bulgaria was told by the

Turkish Minister that “Turkey was determined to maintain her neutrality to the end.” (“Magic” Diplomatic

Summary, April 20, 1942, RG 457, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, 1942-1945, Box 2)


Italy and Germany) was in the national interest of the United States, beginning the allocation of Lend-Leasemilitary assistance to those countries. In February 1941 U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall hadapproved a list of surplus artillery that could be allocated to Britain. Because of President Roosevelt’s

desire that some aid be provided to Greece in the last moments of its unsuccessful resistance to Italo-German invasion, it was agreed to divide the initial assistance among Britain, Greece, and Turkey.

Turkey’s share would be administered by Britain, which wished to continue its influence in Turkey as wellas the spirit of the Anglo-Turkish Alliance.4

British Prime Minister Churchill hoped in 1941 and 1942 to maintain Turkey as a friendly neutralprepared to defend itself against Germany, but he also wanted Turkey to enter the War as a prelude toAllied action in liberating Southeast Europe. Churchill sought to regulate military assistance to Turkey sothat Turkey received, in the early stages of the War, only those supplies needed to defend itself and tomaintain its favorable disposition toward the Allies. The British envisaged expanding the scope of aid toTurkey at some later stage of the War as an inducement to Turkish belligerency.5

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded in May 1942 that it was in the “military, political, andeconomic interest of the United Nations to maintain Turkish goodwill and confidence by grantingreasonable requests for moderate amounts of material needed to support the Turkish domestic economy.”6The U.S.-U.K. Combined Chiefs of Staff agreed in document C.C.S. 50/2 that “limited amounts of supplies

should be allocated to [Turkey] as a means of influencing her to oppose Germany.” In June 1942 the AlliedMunitions Assignment Board determined that the Anglo-American Coordination Committee in Ankarawould decide what aid Turkey received, but ad hoc decisions were made on whether the aid came directlyfrom the United States or via Britain.7

B. High-Level Allied Discussion of Turkish Neutrality

After the tide of war turned in favor of the Allies, with major victories in North Africa and atStalingrad, the issue of aiding Turkey and inducing it to enter the War became ever more important to theAllied leaders. At the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, President Roosevelt and Prime MinisterChurchill and their political and military leaders considered the question of bringing Turkey into the Warso that the country could be used as an Allied base to conduct military operations against the Axis in the

Balkans and so that chromite could be denied to Germany. President Roosevelt took the position that theproblem of bringing Turkey into the War on the Allied side should be accomplished by diplomacy, but hewas concerned that the Allies not be put in the position of over-promising anything to Turkey. TheCasablanca military conferees agreed that efforts should be made to induce Turkey to enlist on the side of

the Allies and negotiations involving the provision of arms assistance to Turkey as a persuasion would beleft to the British.8Following up on the Casablanca Conference decision to bring Turkey into the War, Prime

Minister Churchill and President Inonu and their advisers met at Adana, Turkey on January 30 and 31,1943, to discuss possible Allied military assistance to Turkey in exchange for Turkey’s joining the Allies

or, at the least, providing Allied bases in Turkey. Turkish military leaders were not convinced that thedanger of a German thrust that the Allies could not ward off was over. Turkey would require largequantities of military equipment before it could consider entering the War. Furthermore, the Turks wereeven more alarmed by the growing might of their traditional adversary, Russia. Turkish Prime Minister

4 Robert W. Coakley and Richard M. Leighton, United States Army in World War II: The WarDepartment: Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943 (Washington, D.C., 1958), p. 82.

5 Coakley and Leighton, Global Logistics and Strategy, vol. I, pp. 519-520. Churchill’s strategy

toward Turkey was also spelled out in his message to Roosevelt, December 2, 1942, Foreign Relations,The Conferences at Washington, 1941-1942, and Casablanca, 1943, pp. 491-493.

6 Joint Chiefs of Staff to Economic Defense Board, May 2, 1942, RG 169, Records of theAdministrator, Geographic Files, 1942-44, Box 13.

7 Coakley and Leighton, Global Logistics and Strategy, vol. I, p. 520.

8 Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington, 1941-1942, and Casablanca, 1943, pp. 541-542, 560, 643, 651, 659, 749-751, and 764-763. President Roosevelt’s decision at Casablanca to allow

Britain to “play the cards” in Turkey was consistent with American policy about Turkey even before PearlHarbor. In October 1941 Secretary of State Hull assured British Ambassador Lord Halifax that the U.S.policy would be to take such steps as would give the British the maximum weight in Turkey. (Hull,

Memoirs, vol. II, pp. 1365-1366)

Saracoglu warned the British Ambassador that a Soviet victory would bring chaos to Europe, which woulbe confronted by Slavs and Communists. In succeeding months British military and diplomatic officials

developed an ambitious list of equipment that the Turkish authorities wished to receive from Britain (apartfrom considerable economic assistance such as coal, locomotives, and rolling stock), including navalvessels, 2,300 tanks, 2,600 guns and howitzers, 1,200 aircraft, and 120,000 tons of aviation fuel. TheBritish would also be expected to provide Turkey with 25 RAF squadrons, attendant anti-aircraft guns, and

several anti-tank and armored divisions.9Roosevelt and Churchill and their military advisers met again in Washington in June 1943 and

confirmed the British role in framing and presenting all bids for military equipment to be delivered toTurkey. They also agreed to assign some priority to Turkey and ensure that deliveries “be made with theleast practicable delay.”10 American skepticism about Turkey’s willingness to participate in the War began

to grow, however, and in advance of the Roosevelt-Churchill meeting at Quebec in August 1943, the JCStook the view that:”Although well disposed toward Great Britain and the United States, Turkey is not apt tomake an early departure from her position of neutrality. Her fear of Soviet domination of the

Balkans, however, will probably lead her to active participation in the war, when it canbe done atminimum cost, in order to obtain a voice in the peace settlement.”11

The JCS concluded that the Allied policy of providing assistance “in the form of very sizableeconomic assistance [involving] a United Nations military commitment of considerable proportions” hadnot been fruitful, and therefore recommended that further aid to Turkey on the current scale was not

warranted.12 British Chief of Staff Lord Alanbrooke, who had visited Turkey, agreed with the Americanview, and felt that the Turks were not absorbing all the equipment already delivered and that further

deliveries should be reduced to a “trickle” and to no more than Turkey could absorb.The Combined Chiefsof Staff, with the approval of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, accordingly adopted apolicy to cut back on assistance to Turkey:”In view of the apparent inability of Turkish forces to properly assimilate,maintain, andtrain with such equipment as has been provided to them, it is questionable as to whether thepolitical benefits that would accrue from furnishing any further equipment would outweigh theadvisability of retaining such equipment for other purposes.”13During the Quebec Conference, the British Chiefs of Staff, inconsidering Turkey’s position in theWar, concluded that all available forces be concentrated on Italy, leaving only small units for the EasternMediterranean and the Middle East “for improvised operations.” The British Chiefs acknowledged that

Turkey’s entry into the War would impose added burdens on the German, but were concerned that theTurkish forces, in their current state, would be unable to take the offensive and might actually beendangered. It would be preferable for Turkey not to enter the War but to be pressed to make moreeconomic and military concessions, including the completion of airfields and other facilities for the

9 Michael Howard, The History of the Second World War, The United Kingdom Military Series,Grand Strategy, vol. IV, August 1942-September 1943 (London, 1972), pp. 376-389. The author cites thecomment of one American official in Ankara that supplying the Turks with this assistance was like”feeding an eight course dinner to an eight-day-old baby.”

10 C.C.S. 242/6, May 25, 1943, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington and Quebec,1943, p. 371.

11 Enclosure to C.C.S. 300/1, August 7, 1943, ibid., p. 463. U.S. leaders had access in the summerof 1943 to intercepted messages of the Japanese Ambassador in Ankara that commented on Turkey’s

reluctance to enter the War despite mounting Allied military successes. The Japanese Ambassador reportedto his government that Turkey refused to provide bases to the Allies and was unhappy with the prospect ofeither the Allies or Germany demanding passage for their military units through Turkish territory.(“Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, July 27 and August 2, 1943, RG 457, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries,

1942-1945, Box 6)

12 C.C.S. 303, August 9, 1943, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington and Quebec,1943, p. 480.

13 C.C.S. 317, “Equipping Allies, Liberated Forces, and Friendly Neutrals,” August 18, 1943, ibid.,p. 1030.


Allies.14 By the end of the Quebec Conference, the Combined Chiefs of Staff recommended to thePresident and the Prime Minister that the time was not ripe for Turkey’s entry into the War, but that Alliedpolicy should be to provide Turkey with such equipment as could be spared and to seek Turkish agreementto exclude shipping of military value from the Black Sea and to halt the shipments of chrome to Germany.15By October 1943 at the Tripartite Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, U.S. and Britishthinking and planning regarding Turkey’s entry into the War was expanded to include the Soviet Union. At

Moscow Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov proposed to Secretary of State Hull andBritish ForeignSecretary Eden that their three governments should bring united, strong pressure on Turkey to enter theWar. Speaking on behalf of the President, Hull informed the conference that the United States did notconsider it advisable at that time to induce Turkey to enter the War because the Allies were straining their

resources preparing for landings in France and fighting in Italy. The United States was content to askTurkey for the lease of air bases.16 Eden also tended to discourage the Soviet proposal because the Britishwere militarily weak in the eastern Mediterranean (an attempt to seize Rhodes from the Germans had just

failed), and Istanbul was vulnerable to German attack. But, at Churchill’s instructions, Eden left the dooropen to future action. Stalin explained his insistence on immediate Turkish entry into the War on thegrounds that Turkey could currently draw off 10 German divisions and Germany could not retaliate; by1944, however, Turkish belligerency would be unnecessary and Allied arms support would have been

wasted. Eden followed up the October 1943 Moscow Conference by visiting Ankara, where he emphasizedthe benefits that would derive from Turkey’s entry into the War: Germany would have to reposition 10divisions, Turkish chrome exports to Germany would be cut off, and Turkey would realize the moral

advantage of hastening the defeat of Germany.17

14 Howard, Grand Strategy, vol. IV, pp. 492-493. The declining danger of a German attack onTurkey and the possibility of Turkey’s becoming a belligerent had already been assayed by Prime MinisterChurchill in a February 1, 1943 “Morning Note,” in which he wrote that he thought Turkey might be drawninto the War by being attacked “in the despairing convulsions” of declining but still powerful Nazi power.

On the other hand, if Turkey entered the War in pursuit of its own interests, Churchill was concerned that”it would be wrong for Turkey to enter the war unless herself attacked if that only led her to a disaster.”Ibid., p. 638.

15 C.C.S. 319/5, “Report to the President and the Prime Minister,” August 24, 1943,ForeignRelations, The Conferences at Washington and Quebec, 1943, p. 1131. Robin Denniston, Churchill’sSecret War: Diplomatic Decrypts, the Foreign Office and Turkey, 1942-1944 (New York, 1997), reviewsand analyzes Prime Minister Churchill’s use of decrypted enemy and Turkish diplomatic messages to guide

his formulation of policy vis-à-vis Turkey. A few of those messages appear to be the same as those madeavailable to President Roosevelt and included in National Security Agency files permanently retained atNARA, RG 457. Much of Denniston’s review focuses on the failed British effort to seize the Dodecaneseislands in the Eastern Mediterranean between September and November 1943 in the face of determined

German efforts to control them, and the consequence of that military reverse on effortsto persuade Turkeyto enter the War against Germany. Denniston (p. 113) concludes that Churchill, on the basis of hisextensive reading of intercepted messages, was well aware of the absence of anyGerman offensive threat

in the area by late 1943 and that “the von Papen threat to Turkey — that the Germans would bomb Istanbulif they allowed the Allies to use air bases on Turkish soil — was no longer a realistic option for Germany,and it was most unlikely that Hitler would have sanctioned such a move anyhow.” A main point ofDenniston’s analysis is that Allied experts knew from decrypted messages that German tenacity in the

Dodecanese arose not from offensive capability or intention but from a desperate effort to ward off aphantom British invasion of the Balkans, the product of a very successful British deception effort.

16 Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, pp. 1279-1280, 1301; Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. I, pp. 584-586, 634-635, and 659-662.

17 Sir Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War (London, 1962), pp.325-326, and Winston Churchill, The Second World War, vol. V, Closing the Ring (Boston, 1951), pp. 286-

288, 334-335. The Allies must have been content with the secrecy that surrounded the discussion ofTurkey at the Moscow Conference. A diplomatic intercept available to U.S. leaders summarized reportsfrom the Greek Ambassador in Ankara whose information from the Turkish Foreign Ministry indicated that

the Foreign Ministry was concerned over the possibility of concessions to the Soviet Union at Turkey’sexpense or, on the other hand, the possibility that Turkey was being “crowded still further from the political


Allied military leaders had concluded by the fall of 1943 that German forces were strictly on thedefensive in the Balkans and foresaw no German offensive action in the area in 1944 against Turkey.18 Attheir meeting at Tehran in November 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin again discussed Turkish entryinto the War. Churchill took the lead in urging action: “To get the active, vigorous use of these [Turkish]

forces, who otherwise would be mere lookers-on, might inflict grave injury upon the enemy.” Rooseveltand his military advisers were reluctant to becoming entangled in the subsidiary issues of the Balkans.Stalin was still in favor of Turkey’s belligerency: “We ought to take them by the scruff of the neck ifnecessary.” But Stalin felt that “all neutrals regarded those who were waging war as fools to fight whenthey might be doing nothing.” It was finally agreed at Tehran that President Roosevelt and Prime MinisterChurchill should meet with Turkish President Inonu and seek to persuade Turkey to enter the War beforethe end of 1943.19

C. Allied Failure To Bring Turkey Into the War in 1944

In November 1943 Turkish military leaders, unhappy with the level of military assistanceextended or promised to Turkey, had refused the Allies’ requests to enter the War or even grant air bases tothe Allies on the grounds that Germany and Bulgaria would likely retaliate by attacking Turkey’s territoryin Europe and its coastal cities.20 When President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met withPresident Inonu at Cairo in December 1943 to ask that Turkey enter the War by mid-February 1944, Inonuand his advisers expressed a willingness in principle but asked for Allied air cover and substantial amountsof military assistance, signaling an end to the Turkish belief in a significant German military threat.Churchill’s initial inclination was to warn Turkey that its refusal would mean “the virtual end of thealliance” and that “making impossible demands is only another way of saying no.” The actual instructions

sent to the British Ambassador in Ankara were to inform the Turkish Government that refusal orprocrastination would lead to a cut-off of further aid, Turkish isolation for the rest of the War, and thepossibility of no British support should the Soviet Union make postwar demands onaltering the status ofthe Dardanelles.21During January 1944 the Turkish Government continued to resist the proposal to enter the War,

refused to receive a high-ranking British military delegation, and demanded to know the general Alliedplans on attacking Germany elsewhere in 1944. The British authorities feared that Turkey had firmlyadopted the view that on balance it had more to gain than to lose by remaining neutral. Britain therefore in

February 1944 withdrew its military mission and, without any explanation, halted the further flow ofmilitary supplies.22 At Secretary Hull’s recommendation, President Roosevelt agreed to support the Britishstage.” (“Magic” Diplomatic Summary, November 8, 1943, RG 457, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries,1942-1945, Box 8)

18 C.C.S. 300/3, “Estimate of Enemy Situation, 1944 — Europe (As of 1 November 1943),”November 18, 1943, Foreign Relations, Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 214-228. U.S.planners gave consideration to the possibility of a German attack only against Spain, and they concludedthat was very unlikely.

19 The complete record of the extensive discussions at Tehran among the Big Three and theirmilitary advisers is presented in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943. Thehighlights of the British side of the conference are in Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 346, 352, 355, 357-358, 366-373.

20 Telegram from Hull at Cairo to Roosevelt, November 22, 1943, Foreign Relations, TheConferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 374-376.

21 Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, pp. 327-328. Woodward adds thatthe Foreign Office learned that a German spy (Cicero) had succeeded in gaining copies of the documentson the Tehran and Cairo Conferences regarding Turkish entry into the War. The complete U.S. records ofthe Cairo Conference are in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943. U.S. leaderhad access to the intercepted telegraphic reports of Turkish Foreign Minister Menemencioglu to hisAmbassadors in London, Washington, and Moscow on the Eden visit to Ankara in November after theMoscow Foreign Ministers Conference and to his report to his Ambassador in Berlin after the Roosevelt-Churchill-Inonu meeting at Cairo in December. (“Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, November 19 and

December 15, 1943, RG 457, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, 1942-1945, Box 8)

22 Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, p. 328-329.Woodward notes thatChurchill summed up this policy as “just silence and fade away.”policy, and U.S. (and of course British) arms shipments to Turkey ceased in February 1944.23 By that timethe United States had provided Turkey military equipment and goods worth approximately $43 million.24Turkey made no effort, privately or in public, to decry the end of Lend-Lease military assistance in

early 1944. It broke off commercial and diplomatic relations with Germany in August 1944 and eventuallydeclared war on Germany on February 23, 1945. Turkey, which had resisted signing a formal Lend-Leaseagreement with the United States since a proposed text was first presented by the U.S. Ambassador inJanuary 1943, only consented to such an agreement on the day it finally joined the War on the Allied side.

As in the case of other nations that received U.S. aid during the War, Turkey was asked to conclude apostwar agreement to settle on the value of the remaining Lend-Lease materials that had not been lost,consumed, or destroyed. U.S. officials working on a proposed settlement with Turkey in early 1946learned from the Treasury Department that Turkey’s very favorable financial position made it quite feasible

to make a cash payment for left-over Lend-Lease: Turkey’s foreign exchange holdings had risen during theWar from $37 million to $292 million, Turkey’s industrial employment had risen over 40 percent, and theTurkish Central Bank had 77,664 kilograms of gold in Turkey and 136,277 kilograms of gold in the UnitedStates and Canada. A U.S.-Turkish agreement on Lend-Lease claims, under which Turkey transferred $4.5million for remaining Lend-Lease materials, was signed on May 8, 1946.25

D. The Economic Side of Turkish Neutrality

Hitler planned to invade Turkey after a German defeat of the Soviet Union,26 but inthe meantimehe sought a Turkish neutrality that ensured a peaceful eastern Mediterranean region and such trade,particularly in chromite ore, that would aid theGerman war economy. Without abandoning its existing tieswith Britain (and the important new connections with the United States from 1941), neutral Turkey

accommodated Germany from 1941 through much of 1944 in the economic field as much as seemednecessary and expedient. In October 1941 Germany and Turkey concluded an important trade agreementthat, combined with several supplementary agreements, defined Turkish economic relations with Germanyduring 1942-1944. The so-called Clodius agreement (German trade expert Dr. Karl Clodius was the

German negotiator) provided for an exchange of Turkish raw materials for German war matériel, togetherwith iron and steel products and other manufactured goods. In supplementary agreements, Turkey agreedto allow exports to Germany of 45,000 tons of chromite ore in 1941-1942, and 90,000 tons of chromite in

both 1943 and 1944. Actual export of the Turkish materials depended on Germany’s ability to deliver thepromised military equipment.27Turkish officials sought to minimize to British and U.S. representatives the effects of trade with

the Axis by stressing the likelihood that Germany and its satellites would not be able to fulfill theircommitments and no Turkish deliveries would be necessary. They also claimed that Turkey was artificiallydelaying its deliveries to Germany by prolonged negotiations and the plea of a shortage of transportation

23 Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, p. 1371.

24 Department of State, Twenty-Third Report to Congress on Lend-Lease Operations, PublicationNo. 2707 (Washington, D.C., 1945), pp. 15-16.

25 “Lend Lease to Turkey,” July 19, 1946, pp. 12-23, RG 169, Records of the Administrator,Records Analysis Division, Research Reports and Studies. According to the “Gold Report” and attacheddocuments presented to Under Secretary of State Eizenstat under cover of a January 13, 1998, letter from

Turkish Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir, the gold assets of the Central Bank of Turkey increased from 27.4tons (about $30.8 million) in 1939 to 216.2 metric tons (about $243.2 million) by the end of 1945. Themain reasons for this increase in gold assets were to meet demands for foreign currency and to protectTurkey’s foreign holdings against wartime depreciation.

26 Weinberg, A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II, p. 219.

27 “Preclusive Operations in the Neutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, pp. 206-208,RG 169, Records of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Historical Monographs PreparedOutside the Division, Box 5. Turkey also concluded trade agreements with German satellite states:Romania in 1941, Hungary in 1941-1943, and Finland in 1943. Apart from what U.S. representatives in

Turkey learned about the German-Turkish commercial agreements, U.S. leaders had access to ratherdetailed information derived from intercepted diplomatic messages from the Japanese Ambassador inAnkara to his government; see, for example, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, June 29, 1942, and May 23,1943, RG 457, “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, 1942-1945, Boxes 4 and 5, respectively.facilities.28 Nonetheless, the Germans made every effort to hasten the delivery of the urgently neededchromite by making available as many as 117 locomotives and 1,250 freight cars.29 German merchantships gained access to the Black Sea as a result of Turkey’s liberal interpretation of its responsibilities tomonitor the straits under the terms of the 1936 Montreux Convention.30

E. Allied Economic Policies Toward Neutral Turkey;

Preclusive Trade and Military Assistance

The basic objectives of joint U.S.-British wartime economic operations and policies towardneutral Turkey were to minimize Turkey’s contribution to the German war economy and to supply civilianand military equipment in order to enable Turkey to become an active participant with the Allies in theWar. In order to prevent Germany from acquiring strategic raw materials from Turkey, Britain and theUnited States adopted a program of preclusive purchases of Turkish chromite and other minerals and

withholding certain supplies from Turkey in return for Turkey’s ban on exports of similar items toGermany.31 Britain, which had a continuing stake in the Turkish economy, began in 1940 its program ofpreclusive buying of Turkish strategic materials. Chromite ore was the most significant commodity in the

program (copper and some other minerals were also acquired), but foodstuffs were purchased to supply theBritish population, and the British were obliged to purchase other goods, such as dried fruits and tobacco,as a condition of obtaining access to Turkish chromite. Preclusive buying from Turkey became far moreimportant after Germany concluded the “Clodius agreement” with Turkey in October 1941, under whichTurkey would provide Germany with a variety of raw materials, most importantly chromite, in exchangefor German military equipment.

Chromite ore (from which is derived chromium, an element essential for themanufacture ofstainless steel and refractory brick) was evaluated by Americanexperts as one of the few raw materials thatwere essential for the German war industry and for which there were no fully adequate sources withinGerman territory.32 At the beginning of the war Germany had an estimated stockpile of about 250,000 tonsof chromite, which had been accumulated by heavy purchases in Africa, Turkey, and the Balkans in the late1930s. By 1941 the only European source withinthe German orbit available for new deliveries of ore wasthe Balkans, and the only accessible source outside occupied Europe was Turkey. In mid-1944 the United

States judged that Germany’s loss of its remaining chromite supplies would be disastrous: total Germansteel production would decline from the estimated 35 million tons in 1943 to 2 millions tons per quarter bythe end of 1944, and Germany would have to abandon the production of high alloy steels; the output ofengineering steels would decline by two-thirds, and the special steel available for military ordnance woulddecline from nearly 2.5 million tons to less than 900,000 tons.33

28 “Preclusive Operations in the Neutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, p. 59, RG169, Records of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Historical Monographs Prepared Outsidethe Division, Box 5. The report concludes: “The cold truth is that Turkey, like Spain and Portugal, was

primarily interested in the preservation of neutrality and in imports to supplement its depleted economy.”

29 Telegram 1716 from Ankara, October 18, 1943, and telegram 1216 from Ankara, November 22,1943, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. IV, pp. 1164 and 1167.

30 U.S. and British diplomatic representations to Turkey regarding the transit of the Dardanelles byGerman vessels are documented ibid., 1942, vol. IV, pp. 805-811 andibid., 1943, vol. IV, pp. 806-807.

31 “Support Purchase Program in Turkey,” May 28, 1945, RG 169, Office of the Administrator,Records Analysis Division, Historical Monographs Prepared Outside the Division, Box 5.

32The U.S. Army and Navy Munitions Board listed chromium as one of seven strategic metalsneeded for the war effort. The others were antimony, manganese, mercury, nickel, tin, and tungsten.(Arthur Kemp, “Chromium: A Strategic Metal,” Harvard Business Review (Winter 1942), pp. 199-212) At

the outbreak of the war, Turkey mined approximately 190,000 tons of chromite, or about a fifth of theworld’s total output, cited in Edward Weisband, Turkish Foreign Policy 1943-1945: Small State Diplomacyand Great Power Politics (Princeton, N.J., 1973), p. 110)

33“Ferro-Alloys and Their Effect on Steel in the German War Industry, 1943 and 1944,” June1944, RG 169, Office of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Research Reports and Studies, Box13. A report entitled “Raw Materials Position of Enemy Europe,” February 14, 1944, estimated Germanchromite supplies in 1943 at 232,000 tons, of which 166,000 tons were produced in occupied Balkans and46,000 tons were imported from Turkey. The report concluded that the loss of the Balkans and stoppage of


As the War proceeded and the German chromite stockpile dwindled, competition for Turkey’sproduction became a major economic warfare front for the Allies and Germany from Turkey. Thepreclusive purchase program of chromite was deemed by Allied experts as the most vital part of Anglo-American economic policy toward Turkey.34 Turkey ranked fourth among producers of chromite, afterAfrica, the Philippines, and Cuba. Until January 1943 no chromite reached Germany. Britain and Francehad concluded an agreement with Turkey in January 1940 that guaranteed theirsole purchase of all Turkishchromite for 1940 and 1941. Britain, joined by the United States, extended this arrangement with Turkeythrough 1942. In October 1941, however, the Clodius agreement between Turkey and Germany wasconcluded, providing for chromite sales to Germany of up to 45,000 tons by March 1943 and an additional90,000 tons in 1943 and 1944. Turkish chromite shipments to Germany began in January 1943. In thatyear, Turkey exported more than 45,700 tons of chromite ore to Germany. Since the Allies estimated theGerman annual requirement for chromite ore to be between 40,000 and 45,000 tons, Turkey was supplying

most of and possibly more than what Germany required.35During 1943 and 1944 British and U.S. representatives in Turkey sought to thwart the increasing

commerce between Germany and Turkey by urging Turkey not to negotiate agreements for additionaldeliveries of chromite, to delay exports of chromite until Germany fully met its obligations to delivermilitary equipment and other items under the Clodius agreement, to throw every possible obstacle in theway of transporting ore from the mines, and to encourage reductions in mining operations. The Allies even

considered finding a way to dump the ore into the sea to prevent its delivery to Germany, and U.S.Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt and the British Ambassador noted that 85 percent of the chromite oredeliveries to Germany could be halted if the railroad bridges over the Martiza River dividing Turkey andBulgaria were destroyed by bombing or sabotage. The Soviet Union joined the British and U.S.Governments in January 1943 in urging Turkey to halt its chromite exports to Germany.36

F. U.S. Participation in the Preclusive Purchasing Program of

Turkish Chromite and Other Commodities

To supplement the Allied efforts to persuade Turkey to curtail or halt its trade with Germany,Britain and the United States undertook a preclusive buying program. The chromite preclusive purchasingprogram for Turkey was a British undertaking begun in 1940. The United States entered it in April 1941when the U.S. Treasury Department’s Procurement Division agreed to purchase 100,000 tons of chromite

from the U.K. Commercial Corporation, the British preclusive purchasing authority. In March 1942 theUnited States agreed to purchase another 292,000 tons. Of theprojected 803,000 tons of chromite to bechromite supplies from Turkey would result in the complete collapse of the German steel alloy economywithin 6 to 9 months. The report is ibid.

34 “Production and Preemption of Chrome in Turkey,” September 16, 1943, p. 13, RG 169, Officeof the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Research Reports and Studies.

35 Report prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, “Summary of Goods Exported From Turkey toEurope in 1943,” March 6, 1944, RG 59, Lot 55 D 643, Office of Near Eastern Affairs, Subject FilesRelating to Economic Affairs, 1947-51, Box 4; “Ferro-Alloys and Their Effect on Steel in the German WarIndustry, 1943 and 1944,” June1944, RG 169, Office of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division,Research Reports and Studies, Box 13. Intercepted messages from the Portuguese Ambassador in Turkeyto his Foreign Ministry in May 1943, copies of which were available to U.S. leaders, reported that theGerman-Turkish commercial agreement of 1941 provided for the delivery of 180,000 tons of chromite oreto Germany in 1943, but that only 20,000 tons had thus far been delivered because Britain had gained”some additionaladvantage” and not because Turkish production had declined, as the Turkishauthoritiesclaimed to Germany. (Telegrams 62 and 66, May 24 and May 27, 1943, from Ankara to Lisbon, RG 457,Historic Cryptographic Collection, Pre-World War I Through World War II, Diplomatic MessageTranslations, Box 369)

36 “Production and Preemption of Chrome in Turkey,” pp. 13-17, RG 169, Office of theAdministrator, Records Analysis Division, Research Reports and Studies;”Preclusive Operations in theNeutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, ibid., Historical Monographs Prepared Outside theDivision, Box 5; Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, pp. 1371-1372.imported by the United States (the United States was expected to consume 996,000 tons of chromite in1943), 109,000 tons was to come from Turkey.

37 The United States joined Britain in the wider preclusive buying program in Turkey early in 1942.The two Allies began purchasing the strategic commodities that Turkey had promised Germany in the tradeagreements with Germany and its satellites. These included, at various times, mohair, antimony, copper,flax, hemp, textile fibers, and molybdenum. Total U.S. preclusive purchases in Turkey from 1942 through

1944, including chromite, totaled $125 million. A staff of 100 at the U.K. Commercial Corporationmanaged the British side of buying operations, while the U.S. Embassy dealt with the American side of theprogram. Differences in approach sometimes caused problems between the two Allies, especially insofar

as the U.S. agents tended to undertake unofficial purchases (done without prior consultation with either theTurkish or the British Government) in order to prevent export of commodities in desperately short supplyin Germany. 38

G. Turkish Cessation of Trade With Germany, April 1944

In October 1943 the Turkish Government concluded another agreement with Germany underwhich Turkey would provide up to 135,000 tons of chromite in 1944. Allied observers estimated deliveriesto Germany of Turkish chromite amounted to nearly 44,000 tons in 1943 and more than 8,000 tons inJanuary 1944 alone, despite the Allied preclusive buying program. Allied diplomatic representativesprotested to the Turkish Government.39 After Acting Secretary of State Edward Stettinius reported to

President Roosevelt the difficulties encountered in denying Turkish chromite to Germany, the President onMarch 10, 1944, authorized the transmission of a severe letter to the Turkish President:”As you know, the Russians by the capture of Nikopol have succeeded in denying animportant source of manganese to the Germans. This, therefore, multiplies the importance to theGerman war machine of Turkish chrome ore, which for many purposes can be substituted formanganese.”You will readily see that the continuation of large supplies of chrome ore from Turkeyto Germany has now become a matter of grave concern to the United Nations.”You will know best how the Germans can be denied further access to Turkish chromeore. You have inventive genius and I hope you will find some method!”I am confident that you will recognize this opportunity for Turkey to make a uniquecontribution to what really is the welfare of the world.”40Although the Allies were unaware of it, President Roosevelt’s analysis of the importance ofchrome to the German war effort was not nearly as devastating as that of German Minister for Armamentsand Munitions Albert Speer, who reported on the current German inventory of alloy metals in amemorandum to Hitler on November 10, 1943, and concluded:”Hence the element in shortest supply is chromium. This is especially grave sincechromium is indispensable to a highly developed armaments industry. Should supplies fromTurkey be cut off, the stockpile of chromium is sufficient only for 5.6 months. The manufactureof planes, tanks, motor vehicles, tank shells, U-boats, and almost the entire gamut of artillerywould have to cease from one to three months after this deadline, since by then the reserves in thedistributions channels would be used up.”In his memoirs, Speer explained further that the conclusion in his memorandum “meant no moreor less than that the war would be over approximately ten months after the loss of the Balkans.”41

37 “Production and Preemption of Chrome in Turkey,” September 16, 1943, pp. 11-12, RG 169,Office of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Research Reports and Studies.

38 “Preclusive Operations in the Neutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, pp. 208-221,ibid., Historical Monographs Prepared Outside the Division, Box 5; Stettinius to Franklin Roosevelt,February 19, 1944, and Stone to Cox, February 24, 1944, both ibid., Records of the Administrator,Geographic Files, 1942-44, Box 13.

39 “Preclusive Operations in the Neutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, pp. 241-244,ibid., Office of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Historical Monographs Prepared Outside theDivision, Box 5.

40 A copy of the letter, March 10, is ibid., Office of the Administrator, Geographic File 1942-44,Box 13. The letter, which was also sent to Churchill and Stalin, is also described in Secretary Hull’smessage 280 to Ankara, March 20, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. V, pp. 820-821.


President Roosevelt’s message was never in fact delivered to President Inonu. Roosevelt askedSecretary Hull not to deliver the letter, which Churchill and Edenregarded as too friendly a message andwhich might be misconstrued by the Turks as a weakening of the Allied position.42 Instead Alliedeconomic policy toward Turkey grew more severe, especially after German negotiators arrived in Ankarain early April 1944 intending to renew the German-Turkish trade agreement, which was to expire at the endof the month. U.S. Ambassador Steinhardt and his British colleague sent a stern note to the TurkishForeign Minister on April 14:”The Government of the United States and the Government of Great Britain have beenseriously perturbed by the economic assistance which Turkish trade relations with Europe havegiven to the enemy. Hitherto however they have acquiesced in this situation on the informalunderstanding that Turkish exports were limited to what was required to purchase essentialTurkish requirements which could not be obtained from the United Nations. The rapidly

approaching crisis in the war situation, when it is essential that the enemy should be deprived ofall means of resistance, compels the two Governments to revise their attitude even though theyrealize that this may cause some temporary inconvenience to Turkish economy. Accordingly theyfeel bound to warn the Turkish Government that the Government of the United States and theGovernment of Britain view with serious disfavor as prejudicial to their vital interests the Turkishagreements with Germany and her satellites whereby Turkey undertakes to supply commodities tothose countries which are essential to the conduct of the war. Any renewal of agreements or the

conclusion of fresh agreements on the same lines will entail the application to Turkey of blockademeasures such as the two Governments have throughout the war applied to neutral countries.”

43Within six days of the joint U.S.-British note, the Turkish Government announced the cessation ofchromite trade to Germany, and by mid-June Turkey agreed to reduce by 50 percent the export to Germanyof other commodities.

44 Germany did not react angrily to the Turkish action.

45 Wartime GermanArmaments Minister Speer commented in his memoirs upon the conflict in the late summer of 1944between Hitler and his military advisers over planned German withdrawals from Finland, northern Norway,upper Italy, and the Balkans and whether such withdrawals would deprive Germany of such important raw

materials that the conduct of the War would be fundamentally undermined. In a memorandum ofSeptember 2, 1944, Speer informed Hitler and his military advisers that the ending of chromite shipmentsfrom Turkey would be the decisive step in the “war of materials.” Speer predicted that without additional

41 Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, translated by Richard and Clara Winston (NewYork and Toronto, 1970), pp. 316-317.

42 Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, p. 1371.

43 Telegram 689 from Ankara, April 15, 1944, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. V, pp. 827-828.

44 Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, p. 1372. An intercepted message of April 22, 1944, from the ChineseLegation in Ankara to the Chinese Embassy in Moscow, a copy of which was available to U.S. leaders,quoted from Foreign Minister Saracoglu’s statement to the Turkish National Assembly the previous day

that, “Turkey is an ally of Britain: she is not a neutral; she is accordingly duty bound to give her ally asmuch assistance as lies in her power. The export of chrome to Germany has been stopped.” The telegramconcluded that Turkey had yielded because of the far-reaching victories of the Red Army, the imminentSecond Front in Europe, and the months-long economic pressure of Britain and the United States. (RG457, Historic Cryptographic Collection, Pre World War I Through World War II, Diplomatic MessageTranslations, Box 413) The “Magic” diplomatic summary available to U.S. leaders on April 29, 1944,included an account of several German messages to theGerman Legation in Sofia on April 21, the last dayon which chromite ore could be exported from Turkey, asking for assistance in arranging for 200 railwayfreight cars loaded with more than 3,400 tons of chromite ore, and stuck at the Bulgarian frontier, to begotten across the frontier. (Ibid., “Magic” Diplomatic Summaries, 1942-1945, Box 1)

45 Intercepted Japanese, Iranian, and Portuguese diplomatic messages from Ankara in early May1944, available to U.S. leaders, reported that Germany had accepted the embargo of chromite ore exportswithout a protest or angry action against Turkey, but that Turkey found the action insufficient to improverelations with Britain and the United States “who demand still further economic and other concessions.”Message from the Iranian Embassy in Ankara to Tehran, May 2, 1944, message from the JapaneseAmbassador in Ankara to Tokyo, May 4, 1944, and message from the Portuguese Ambassador in Ankara toLisbon, May 9, 1944, all in RG 457, Historic Cryptographic Collection, Pre-World War I Through WorldWar II, Diplomatic Message Translations, Box 412.


Turkish chromite, the last distribution of chromium to the German war industry would be on June 1, 1945.”Considering the time needed by the processing industries, the production dependent on chromium, whichmeans the entire production of armaments, will cease on January 1, 1946.”46

H. Turkish Severance of Relations With Germany and

Declaration of War, 1944-1945

Following the opening of the Second Front in Western Europe in June 1944, U.S. and Britishdiplomatic efforts, abetted by the Soviet Union, to end Turkish trade and diplomatic relations withGermany soon resulted in the decision of the Turkish Government on July 25, 1944, to ask the TurkishGrand National Assembly to sever all economic and diplomatic relations with Germany on August 2, 1944,a request which the Assembly approved. The British and U.S. Governments acknowledged the action ofthe Grand National Assembly to sever Turkey’s relations with Germany as but the first step in the move byTurkey toward full belligerency on the side of the Allies. In fact, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff made clearat the time, and Turkey was informed, that its severance of relations by no means implied a promise ofmilitary assistance or support to operations in the Balkans. The Soviet Government, which found the

Turkish action against Germany too late and unsatisfactory, made clear itsdisappointment that Britain andthe United States had acquiesced to a multi-step process for Turkey’s shift from neutrality to belligerency.47The next Soviet démarche regarding Turkey was to come in 1945 in the form of a demand at Potsdam for a

revision of the Dardanelles regime.By the summer of 1944 Allied military successes made the preclusive purchasing program inTurkey increasingly unnecessary. Some purchases continued into late 1944 in order to avoid any economicdisruption from the withdrawal of large Allied purchases of Turkish goods. The United States and Britain

also felt bound to seek to make up for any serious impact on the Turkish economy resulting from the loss oftrade with Germany and her satellites. On July 21, 1944, Secretary of State Stettinius proposed that theForeign Economic Administration make available a fund of $25 million to buy Turkish products, providedthe British did as well. In fact, the end of the preclusive purchasing program in Turkey had no ill effect asTurkey found new European customers, and the Allied fund was never used.48

Turkey was among a number of nations that had broken relations with Germany but not declaredwar to be invited, at the agreement of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, to join the foundingconference of the United Nations at San Francisco in March 1945 if they declared war on Germany byMarch 1.49 Turkey declared war on the Axis on February 23, 1945.

I. Turkey’s Wartime Trade in German Looted Gold

Near the close of the War, U.S. officials paid increasing attention to German gold in Turkey.Although the Allies explored the possibility, Allied intelligence never found that Turkey received goldfrom Germany in exchange for chromite.50 The gold Turkey received from Germany fell into twocategories: gold that the government purchased and stored in its financial institutions and gold that wasexchanged through private transactions on Turkey’s thriving gold market. State Department expert Otto

Fletcher estimated that Germany had sold up to $10 million in gold in the Balkans, mostly to Turkey,during the War.51 The only “official” looted gold transaction ever traced to the Turkish Government was

46 Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, pp. 405-406.

47 The negotiations among the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union to end Turkishcommercial and diplomatic relations with Germany are reported in detail in Foreign Relations, 1944, vol.V, pp. 860-890.

48 “Preclusive Operations in the Neutral Countries in World War II,” March 20, 1947, pp. 226-227,RG 169, Office of the Administrator, Records Analysis Division, Historical Monographs Prepared Outsidethe Division, Box 5; Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. V, pp. 1146 ff.

49 Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, p. 492, footnote 2.

50 Steinhardt to the Secretary of State, August 2, 1943, NARA, RG 319, Records of the ArmyStaff, ACS G-2, Incoming and Outgoing Messages, 1942-45, Box 641.

51 “German Gold Movements (Estimate),” by Otto Fletcher, February 5, 1946, RG 59, DecimalFiles 1945-49, 800.515/5-646. According to SICE, “Gold Transactions,” pp. 14, 16, and 17, the SwissNational Bank sold Turkey $3.4 million in gold, and the Reichsbank sold to the Turkish Central Bankthrough the SNB $3.5 million in gold and the Reichsbank transferred directly to the Turkish Central Bankthe purchase of $3.4 million of Belgian monetary gold in March 1943.52 Although rumors circulated about

looted gold in Turkey around the time of the purchase, they were not confirmed until May 1947 whencaptured records from the Reichsbank and the Prussian Mint demonstrated that 249 bars of Belgianmonetary gold seized by Germany were re-smelted and sent to the Turkish Central Bank in March 1943.53Turkey is also believed to have received German looted gold immediately following the War. InSeptember 1945 the Swiss Legation in Ankara assumed responsibility for German interests in Turkey anddelivered to Turkish authorities 12,800 assorted gold coins, 140 kilograms of gold ingots, and 250,000Turkish pounds. The Swiss also turned over 20,000 assorted gold coins and 100 kilograms of gold ingotsthat belonged to the Dresdner Bank, making the total delivery worth over $400,000.54 U.S. officials later

established that the source of the gold was the separate account of German Foreign Minister JoachimRibbentrop at the Reichsbank, which had been stocked with gold looted from the occupied countries duringthe War.55Although there were few documented cases of the Turkish Government or Central Bank acquiring

looted gold from Germany, Allied diplomatic and intelligence reports described a lively traffic in such goldon Turkey’s free gold market in 1943 and 1944. According to these reports, the two principal Germanbanks in Turkey, the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank, were acquiring looted gold from the$5.7 million in gold. According to a paper submitted to State Department Historian William Slany by theSwiss National Bank on January 5, 1998, “Some Detailed Facts Relating to the Swiss National Bank’s

(SNB) Gold Operations During the Second World War,” Turkey purchased 3 tons of gold ($3.4 million)from the Swiss National Bank.

52 Schwartz to Bitterman, January 29, 1952, RG 56, Office of International Finance.

53 OMGUS to AGWAR, May 26, 1947, NARA, RG 260, Records of U.S. Occupation

Headquarters, WWII, OMGUS, Property Division, Box 654. An undated “Gold Report” provided to UnderSecretary of State Eizenstat on December 1, 1997, by Turkish Minister of State Sukru S. Gurel, provides asummary account of official gold transfers during and after World War II. According to this “GoldReport,” in May 1943 the Swiss National Bank (SNB), acting in response to a decision of the Central Bank

of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT), purchased on behalf of the CBRT 3,048 kilograms of gold for 15million Swiss francs ($3.4 million). Because of the wartime difficulties in transporting gold, the CBRTaccepted the offer of the Reichsbank to supply Turkey with 249 gold bars weighing 3,047 kilograms inexchange for which the SNB transferred 3,048 kilograms of its gold to the Reichsbank. The 249Reichsbank bars were received by Turkey on June 3, 1943. The “Gold Report” reports two other instancesof Turkish purchases of German gold. On July 6, 1942, the CBRT bought 2,017 kilograms of gold (about$2.3 million) from the Reichsbank and ordered the Sveriges Riksbank and the SNB to credit theirReichsbank accounts with 4.5 million kroner and 5.18 million Swiss francs, respectively. The Report alsodescribes how 223 kilograms of gold bars and 32,799 gold coins handed over by the German Embassy in

Ankara to the CBRT via the Swiss Embassy at the end of the War were eventually all returned to theDeutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank (100 kilograms of gold bars and 20,000 gold coins) and the FederalGerman Government (123 kilograms of gold bars and 12,799 gold coins) pursuant to a German-Turkishprotocol signed in Bonn on November 3, 1960. In a report of March 5, 1998, Dr. D. Bourgeois of the

Swiss Federal Archives transmitted a copy of the 9-page July 1, 1946, accounting of the gold, coins, andother valuables received from the German Embassy on April 16, 1945, and subsequently handed over to theTurkish authorities on February 28, 1946. A copy of this report was shared with William Slany by theSwiss Embassy in Washington.According to the Turkish “Gold Report,” gold assets at the CBRT rose from 27.4 metric tons in1939 to more than 216 tons at the end of 1945. The Report points out that Turkey’s foreign trade surplusfor 1939-1946 totaled $341.5 million, equivalent to 303.6 metric tons of gold, and explains the increase in

Turkey’s gold reserve.In a report of March 5, 1998, Dr. D. Bourgeois of the Swiss Federal Archives transmitted a copyof the 9-page July 1, 1946, accounting of the gold, coins, and other valuables received from the GermanEmbassy on April 16, 1945, and subsequently handed over to the Turkish authorities on February 28, 1946.

A copy of this report was shared with William Slany by the Swiss Embassy in Washington.

54 Embassy, Ankara to the Secretary of State, September 7, 1945, RG 84, Embassy Ankara,Safehaven Files, 1945-48, Box 4.

55 Acheson to the Embassy, Ankara, February 13, 1951, RG 56, Acc. 56-66A-816, Special SubjectFiles, Box 1.


Reichsbank in exchange for Swiss francs and other valuable foreign currency provided by German andAxis diplomats. In return for their foreign currency, these diplomats received Turkish currency at far betterthan the official rate (in July 1943, for example, the two German banks were paying 50 Turkish lira for 100Swiss francs, as opposed to the official exchange rate of 30 lira for 100 francs). After bringing the gold to

Turkey by diplomatic pouch and other means, the two banks could sell it on the free market at pricesgreatly exceeding what the banks had paid for it.56According to a detailed 1943 British study of German gold imports into Turkey, the two German

banks had originally entered the gold trade on their own in late 1941 after seeing an opportunity to profitfrom the difference in official gold rates and the price of gold on the free market. At first, the banksacquired gold in Switzerland to sell in Turkey. After Switzerland cracked down on gold exports in October1942, the banks acquired gold from Berlin in such quantities that they came to dominate the Turkish freemarket. Between January and mid-May 1943, the two banks sold approximately $5 million worth of goldto dealers in Turkey.57The British report on the German gold trade in Turkey stated that the gold being sold by theDeutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank was “highly suspect as loot.”58 Both British and U.S. reportsidentified the gold as being in the form of gold coins, primarily Dutch gulden and French Napoleons, and

newly smelted ingots weighing one-half and one kilogram. The 1943 British study further reported thatsome of the ingots had been smelted in Germany from”Fertigwaren” (finished goods) made of gold, and itnoted that records of the Istanbul branch of the Deutsche Bank listed among its gold holdings as of April

30, 1943, “Art. Jewelry” (presumably “articles of” jewelry), worth 215,125 Turkish pounds (approximately$133,000).59Most of the profits from the gold trade in Turkey benefited German officials and operations inTurkey. However, about 16 percent to 20 percent of the gold purchased by the Turkish branches of the twoGerman banks from the Reichsbank was bought with foreign currency supplied to the banks by other Axis

or “Axis friendly” diplomats. The profits derived by these diplomats depended upon those German banks,which varied the exchange rates they offered in accordance with German interests or their own whim. Inorder of volume of gold purchased, the non-German countries whose Legations participated in this tradewere: Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria, and Japan, “with isolated deals on behalf of the

Swiss and Portuguese Legations.”60 Thus, Germany reaped the following advantages from gold sales bythe Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank in Turkey: it exchanged looted gold for foreign currency; financedits diplomatic, espionage, and propaganda activities in Turkey; and gained influence over the Turkishoperations of certain Axis and neutral countries.Shortly after Germany’s defeat, the United States was able to confirm from Reichsbank recordsthat the gold sold on the Turkish free market by the Deutsche Bank consisted not only of looted centralbank gold but also, in all probability, of gold looted from individual victims of Nazi persecution. TheReichsbank’s ledgers of gold bars, captured by U.S. forces, made it possible to identify the source of thegold ingots that the Deutsche Bank purchased from the Reichsbank. In 1946 a U.S. study of 1.582 metrictons of gold bars released to the Deutsche Bank by the Reichsbank during the War concluded that 339kilograms came from “specific conquered areas,” primarily Belgium, while another 904 kilograms camefrom “other questionable sources.” The principal source of gold in this latter category was the “Melmer”account in which the SS deposited gold bars, coins, jewelry, and dental fillings that it robbed from its

56 Letter from Auburn to Pehle, September 24, 1943; letter from Burton V. Berry, Consul Generalin Istanbul, to Secretary of State, “German Foreign Exchange Activities in Turkey,” July 30, 1943;”Excerpt from MID Report No. 4120 dated September 24, 1943, at Istanbul, Turkey, Re: Gold Exports,”both RG 131, Foreign Funds Control, Subject Files, Box 477; Embassy, Ankara, to Secretary of State, July

3, 1943, RG 319, Army Staff, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Incoming and Outgoing 1942-1945, Box 641,Turkey; Embassy, Ankara, to Secretary of State, March 16, 1944, RG 131, Foreign Funds Control, SubjectFiles, Box 177, Gold; OSS Report No. 12945 on “Free exchange; gold transactions” in Turkey, January 20,1944, document obtained from NARA by the World Jewish Congress (precise citation being sought).

57 Letter from Auburn to Pehle, September 24, 1943, RG 131, Foreign Funds Control, SubjectFiles, Box 477.

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.; “Excerpt from MID Report No. 2120,” ibid.

60 Letter from Auburn to Pehle, September 24, 1943, ibid.; Embassy, Ankara, to Secretary of State,March 16, 1944, ibid., Box 177, Gold.Jewish and non-Jewish victims at the killing centers and concentration camps. The 1946 U.S. study

determined that 673 kilograms of the gold ingots ($757,000) that had been released by the Reichsbank tothe Deutsche Bank came from the Reichsbank’s Melmer account. It further found that 325 kilograms ofthis gold ($366,000) had been delivered directly to the Reichsbank by the SS in gold bar form, while theremaining 348 kilograms of ingots ($391,500) had been re-smelted by the Degussa company from golditems deposited by the SS. Thus, 42.5 percent of the 1.582 metric tons of gold ingots ($1.8 million) knownto have been purchased by the Deutsche Bank from the Reichsbank consisted of gold looted fromindividual victims of Nazi persecution.61 Similarly, a postwar study of Reichsbank records conducted byAlbert Thoms, wartime head of the Reichsbank’s Precious Metals Department, showed that the Reichsbankalso sold gold bars from the Melmer account to the Dresdner Bank during the period from May to

November 1943.62 Consequently, the gold from the Dresdner Bank that the Swiss Legation turned over tothe Turkish Government in September 1945 may have included gold looted by the SS from its victims. Thecaptured Reichsbank records apparently did not make possible a similar study of the origins of the goldcoins that the two banks purchased from the Reichsbank and sold in Turkey.Estimating Turkey’s total gold transactions during World War II was difficult, if not impossible,because the bulk of German gold sold in Turkey was absorbed by Turkish private banks and individual

hoarders. Between August and September 1943 alone, over $800,000 worth of gold was estimated to haveentered Turkey’s free gold market.63 Including the $3.4 million worth of Belgian gold that reached theTurkish Central Bank and the $400,000 worth of gold delivered by Swiss officials to Turkey, ForeignEconomic Administration officials estimated the total amount of looted gold to have reached Turkey atsomewhere between $10 and $15 million.64

J. Allied Attempts To Implement a Safehaven Program inTurkey

Turkey’s three months as a belligerent on the Allied side at the close of World War II complicatedits inclusion in the Allied Safehaven program. While the United States and its Allies at one time believedthat Turkey’s status as a belligerent would make it more cooperative with Allied reparation policies, theopposite proved true, as Turkey claimed exemption from policies designed for wartime neutrals.65 OnNovember 4, 1944, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara encouraged the Turkish Government to agree to the termsof the London Declaration of January 5, 1943, the February 1944 Gold Declaration, and Bretton WoodsResolution VI, collectively the legal basis of the Allied Safehaven program.66 The Allies receivedencouraging early signals that Turkey intended to comply with the provisions. By December 1944 theTurkish Government had closed Turkey’s six German insurance companies and had begun measures toclose its two German banks.67 Although encouraged by this early progress, the State Department stillworried about the fate of the proceeds from these German institutions.6861 It should also be noted that, among the sources of the 339 kilograms of “ostensibly legitimate”gold that the Reichsbank released to the Deutsche Bank were the Prussian Mint (240 kilograms) andDegussa (24 kilograms), both of which smelted victim-origin gold for the Reichsbank. Table II:”Miscellaneous Gold Bars Released to Deutsche Bank according to Kontrollbuch, Verschiedene

Goldbarren of the Reichsbank,” RG 260, FED Group Central Files, Box 440, file 940.60. Reprinted asdocument IX-13 in Documentary Appendix to the May 1997 Eizenstat Report.

62 Herbert Herzog microfilm, Vienna, Austria.

63 “Secret Information–Censorship Relations Section,” September 24, 1943, RG 260, FED GroupCentral Files, Box 440, file 940.60.

64 Fletcher to Baker, March 28, 1947, RG 43, Lot File M-88, Conference on German ExternalAssets and Looted Gold, Box 203.

65 Minutes of Safehaven Meeting, March 27, 1945, RG 131, Foreign Funds Control, Subject Files,Box 388.

66 Packer to the Secretary of State, February 19, 1945, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/2-1945. Attached is the diplomatic note transmitted from AmbassadorSteinhardt to the Turkish Minister ofForeign Affairs on November 4, 1944.

67 Lawson to the Department of State, November 27, 1944, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, SafehavenFiles 1945-48, Box 5; Steinhardt to the Secretary of State, December 18, 1944, ibid., Box 2.

68 Grew to Embassy, Ankara, January 25, 1945, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/2-1945.

Following these early actions, the Safehaven program in Turkey stalled permanently. Initialdelays were due to concerns about Turkey’s wartime status and possible Soviet involvement in the program.In April 1945 a Safehaven group met to discuss drafting a Safehaven note for Turkey and concluded: “wemust anticipate and recognize that the form of the note to be drafted presents greater difficulties withrespect to Turkey than have been faced with respect to any other country by virtue of peculiarities of

Turkish thinking and Turkey’s change of status from a neutral to an ally.”69Disagreement later arosebetween State and Treasury Department officials over Turkey’s Safehaven program as State favored lesssevere treatment on grounds that Turkey presented a “very ticklish political problem.”70 Eventually,however, the two issues slowing Safehaven investigations in Turkey were resolved. The Allies decided totreat Turkey in a manner analogous to other neutrals, and, in agreements made at the Potsdam Conference(July 16-August 1, 1945), the Soviet Union waived all claims to German external assets in favor of theWestern Allies, removing any Soviet influence from Turkey’s Safehaven program.71A more complex problem affecting early proposals for an Allied Safehaven program in Turkeywas how to deal with Turkey’s holdings of German looted gold, including the Belgian gold. State and

Treasury Department officials initially proposed asking Turkey to provide documentation outlining theorigins of its entire gold supply,72 but British officials and U.S. Ambassador Edwin Wilson objected on thegrounds that the Turkish Government lacked the administrative capacity necessary to fulfill such a request.Moreover, as Ambassador Wilson noted, the fact that “the British and United States have not made

identical demands on the other unoccupied United Nations or even neutrals would undoubtedly be noticedby the Turks. They expect treatment identical to that which has been given to the other United Nationswhich have not been occupied by the enemy and they do not consider themselves in the same category asneutrals.”73This position was persuasive in Washington, and the United States subsequently dropped any

plans to request Turkey to provide detailed information about its gold supply.74

K. Attempts at a Postwar Allied-Turkish Agreement onRestitution and Reparation of Looted Gold and German ExternalAssets

On March 28, 1946, the United States, Britain, and France formally presented Turkey with aproposed program for the restitution of looted monetary gold and the application of German external assetsto the reconstruction of Europe on the basis of the agreements and policies developed at the PotsdamConference in July-August 1945 and the Paris Reparations Conference of November 1945-January 1946.The Allies called on Turkey to comply with the principles of the 1943 London Declaration, the February

1944 Gold Declaration, and Bretton Woods Resolution VI, as well as to assume control over all enemyassets and to liquidate all enemy commercial institutions.75 Although the proposal made no suggestion thatTurkey would have to surrender German assets in the country, the Allies maintained that, under AlliedControl Council (ACC) Law No. 5 of August 1945, the Allied Control Council could claim these assets asthe de facto government of Germany.76 The U.S. Embassy in Ankara had estimated total German assets inTurkey at $51.2 million for the purposes of the Allied Reparations Commission. After accounting for the

69 Minutes of Safehaven Meeting, April 25, 1945, RG 131, Foreign Funds Control, Subject Files,Box 388.

70 Feig to Shwartz, May 26, 1945, ibid., Box 383.

71 Klayman to Martin, March 29, 1946, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/3-2946; ForeignRelations, 1945, vol. II, p. 896.

72 Memorandum for the Files, “Safehaven Program in Turkey,” September 4, 1945, RG 131,Foreign Funds Control, Subject Files, Box 1.

73 Wilson to the Secretary of State, November 15, 1945, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, SafehavenFiles, 1945-48, Box 4.

74 Wilson to the Secretary of State, January 14, 1946, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/1-1446. Attached are proposed Safehaven demands to be presented to Turkey minus the questions regardingits gold supply.

75 IARA Final Report.

76 Klayman to Martin, March 29, 1946, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/3-2946.potential variability in private holdings of German looted gold, estimates ofTurkey’s Nazi assets rose ashigh as $71 million.77In August 1946 the Turkish Government set forth its basic position on the restitution of gold and

assets in a note that reaffirmed its acceptance in principle of the January 3, 1943, and February 22, 1944,Allied declarations and Bretton Woods Resolution VI, but with important, critical qualifications, all ofwhich focused on Turkey’s intention not to give up control over the disposition of German external assets.Turkey insisted that it maintain sole jurisdiction over its program of liquidating enemy property and that the

proceeds of the liquidation be used first to satisfy Turkish war claims against Germany.78 Turkeyreaffirmed these reservations in December, adding that it was not bound by international agreements that ithad had no part in framing (i.e., the 1946 Paris Reparations Agreement). Turkish officials further claimedthat under international law enemy property found in a belligerent state was entirely subject to the authorityof that state.79

L. U.S.-Turkish Relations: From “Live and Let Live” to theTruman Doctrine

The Allied efforts to obtain agreements with Turkey in 1946 for the restitution of gold and returnof German external assets were never pressed with vigor and were, in fact, totally overshadowed by a majorchange in relations between and among the Allies and with Turkey. The change began in 1945 when theSoviet Union launched its diplomatic campaign to bring about a revision of the international conventionregulating the Turkish straits, to establish bases on the straits, and to obtain the cession of territory in

eastern Turkey to the Soviet Union. The possible change of the Montreux Convention regarding the straitswas discussed at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. In preparation for the Potsdam Conference, theState Department policy paper on Turkey reflected no perceived U.S. national interest in Turkey:”Since the time of Admiral Bristol, relations between the United States and Turkey havebeen friendly and profitable. We have no special objectives with regard to Turkey itself beyond

those normal to peaceful intercourse. Our attitude so far as Turkish-American relations areconcerned is ’live and let live.’”80Major changes in U.S. policy toward Turkey in 1946 and 1947 had both economic andgeopolitical grounds. In the summer of 1946, changes in the world chromite situation prompted the StateDepartment to seek improved U.S.-Turkish relations with the goal of a modernized economic relationship

based on a new treaty of friendship and commerce that included a chromite arrangement.81 After Turkey’srequests for major economic loans from private American banks were rejected in the summer of 1946, StateDepartment policy-makers considered a major government-funded economic assistance program in theMiddle East, including Turkey. Differences within the State Department pitted the geographic-politicalexperts, led by Assistant Secretary of State Loy Henderson who favored the use of aid to further U.S.foreign policy, against the functional bureaus of theDepartment, many of them staffed by experts from thewartime agencies who shared the views of the Treasury Department, which urged sound, normal bankingand economic practices. No major economic development program came about in 1946, and all that couldbe managed for Turkey was a $25 million Export-Import Bank loanfor some specific business projects, as77 Wilson to the Secretary of State, November 8, 1945, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, Safehaven Files,1945-48, Box 4; Fletcher to Birch, February 18, 1946, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/1-1846.

$51.2 million was the official figure used in reparations discussions at the Potsdam Conference; seeForeign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. II, p. 959.

78 IARA Final Report; Bursley to the Secretary of State, September 24, 1946, RG 59, DecimalFiles 1945-49, 800.515/9-2446. The full text of the Turkish response to Allied Safehaven provisions is inEmbassy, Ankara, to the Department of State, September 27, 1946, ibid., 800.515/9-2746.

79 Wilson to the Secretary of State, January 1, 1948, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, Confidential Files,

Safehaven, Box 35. The full text of the Turkish response was transmitted by letter from the Embassy,Ankara, to the Department of State, January 2, 1948, ibid.

80 Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. II, pp.1015-1017.

81 David Alvarez, Bureaucracy and Cold War Diplomacy: The United States and Turkey, 1943-1946 (Thessaloniki, 1980), p. 87, cites Department of State papers in the James F. Byrnes papers atClemson University.well as some aid in the form of $10 million in liquidated wartime Lend-Lease equipment stored in theMiddle East, which began to reach Turkey in 1946.82Additional impetus for the major change in U.S.-Turkish relations came from the Soviet Union.Soviet aggressiveness in Germany, Eastern Europe, and Iran during 1946 culminated in a demand by theSoviet Union in August 1946 that it join Turkey in managing passage through the Turkish straits to the

Black Sea. The United States promptly rejected the Soviet request, and by September 1946 Secretary ofState James Byrnes gained British and French support for a major military and economic assistanceprogram for Turkey. The British would continue their prewar and wartime lead in providing militaryassistance while the United States would provide massive economic aid.The plan to give economic aid to Turkey, endorsed by President Truman in October 1946, waspushed through despite the continuing resistance from economic experts in the State Department.Ultimately, when Britain in February 1947 informed the United States that it could no longer afford the

responsibility for maintaining Greece and Turkey, the entire burden of both military and economicassistance and regional development shifted to the United States. The mounting concern over the growingSoviet threat to both Greece and Turkey culminated in President Truman’s request to Congress on March12, 1947, for major economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey to forestall expansionistCommunism.83 In May 1947 President Truman signed a bill granting $150 million in aid to Turkey tostrengthen it against a possible Soviet attack. By July 1947 the United States and Turkey had signed therequisite aid agreements.84

M. Failure To Reach Agreements With Turkey on Restitutionof Gold and German External Assets, 1947-1953

Negotiations between Turkey and the Allies on the restitution of gold and German external assetsresumed in Ankara on June 2, 1947, and lasted until July 9. Turkey restated its now-familiar argumentsthat it was not bound by the Paris Reparations Agreement and could, as a belligerent, dispose of enemyassets in its territory as it wished.85 The only new development during these negotiations was the Turkish

assertion that the value of Axis assets in Turkey was considerably less than its war claims. U.S. negotiatorsfound the Turkish accounting highly suspicious. First, instead of the customary practice of claimingexpenses in periods of belligerency, Turkey listed all its defense expenses between 1939 and 1945.86Second, Turkish officials stated that it was their “conviction” that the Turkish Central Bank had made no

transactions involving looted gold, and they refused to divulge information on specific gold transactions.87Directly following the conclusion of these talks, the Allies presented the Turkish Government witha proposed settlement. Under the agreement, Turkey would hand over its $3.4 million worth of Belgiangold and any other looted monetary gold in its possession. In addition, Turkey would return any otherproperty found to have been stolen by the Germans, place controls on its German assets, and beginliquidating those assets. Finally, Turkey would not use German assets to settle its own claims againstGermany until the issue could be further negotiated between the Allied governments and Turkey.88

82 The dispute with the State Department between political and economic experts over aid toTurkey is reviewed in Alvarez, Bureaucracy and Cold War Diplomacy, pp. 8889.

83 Turkey was not one of the 13 nations invited by the United States, Britain, and France to attendthe Paris Reparations Conference in November 1945. Only countries that had a real participation in theWar, had a war burden attributed to Germany, or had major damage claims arising from the War wereinvited. No neutral or former neutral was invited. The official U.S. record of the process for inviting statesto join the Reparations Conference is in Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. III, pp. 1238 ff.

84 The debate within the U.S. Government over the changing policy toward Turkey and the MiddleEast and the search for means to aid Turkey is fully documented ibid., 1946, vol. VII, pp. 1-17 and 801-923. For texts of President Truman’s request, P.L. 75, providing for assistance to Greece and Turkey, andthe U.S.-Turkish agreement on aid, see A Decade of American Foreign Policy, 1941-1949: BasicDocuments, pp. 530-546, passim.

85 IARA Final Report.

86 Memorandum for the Files, June 26, 1947, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, Safehaven Files, 1945-48,Box 4.

87 Memorandum for the Ambassador, July 9, 1947, ibid.

88 Wilson to the Secretary of State, July 12, 1947, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/7-1247.


On July 15, 1947, the Turkish Government agreed to return 3,000 kilograms of gold ($3.4 million)and adhere to the main Safehaven governing decrees. The Treasury Department pledged to accept Turkey’soffer if it also furnished detailed information on all of its gold acquisitions since January 1939 from theAxis and countries formerly occupied by the Axis.89 The Turkish Government refused to comply and never

returned to its proposal of July 1947. Moreover, on July 22 it approached the Bank of England about thepossibility of re-smelting 8 tons of ingots of varied and relatively low fineness and 3 tons of miscellaneousgold coinage ($12.4 million altogether). The Bank refused the request as there was a certainty among theAllies that the gold was looted; its description matched reports of some low-grade coins believed to have

been looted by Germany.90 In January 1948, as a result of Turkey’s request to the Bank of England to havethe gold re-smelted, the United States, Britain, and France approached Turkey to demand 249 bars of lootedBelgian gold, 32,000 coins, and 243 kilograms of gold ingots, which had been delivered to Turkishauthorities by Swiss officials in charge of German affairs (some of this gold came from the Dresdner Bank

and may have included gold looted from victims of Nazi persecution). The Turks failed to respond to thenote, but in a meeting at the State Department in March, Turkish officials disavowed any knowledge andsuggested that “Germans” may have substituted looted gold for gold that Turkey had bought inSwitzerland.91

At the Conference on Economic Security held in Paris April 26-May 7, 1948, the United States,Britain, and France sought to develop a new strategy for negotiations with Turkey and other nations thatwere remiss in meeting postwar restitution and reparations goals. “With regard to Iceland, Turkey,Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Liberia, Siam, and China, the U.S. Delegate [Seymour J.Rubin] emphasized that there is little hope of securing any proceeds for the benefit of IARA and that thethree powers are really wasting time in attempting to secure any, and that we should make a final effort tosecure liquidation of German assets for security reasons and then terminate our efforts altogether.”92 WhileBritain and France agreed generally with the U.S. position, they still desired to pursue German assets in

Turkey. U.S. officials subsequently revised their position and agreed to accept Turkey’s last proposed offerof December 30, 1947, which offered the three Allied governments any balance of sums realized from theliquidation of German assets after all Turkish claims against Germany had been satisfied.93 On October 20,

1948, the Allies approached the Turkish Government about reopening negotiations, stating that “the threeGovernments desire to make it clear that while they in no way desire to infringe Turkish sovereignty, theycannot concede either the principle that belligerency of itself offers absolute title to all enemy assets or thatthe enemy has no rights.”94The Turkish Government did not respond to requests to reopen talks. It took the position that itwould not have the executive authority to negotiate a settlement until appropriate legislation passed theGrand National Assembly. On March 25, 1950, however, the Turkish National Assembly adjournedwithout voting on a proposed bill granting the government authority to negotiate and conclude anagreement on German assets and the restoration of looted gold.95 Privately, Turkish officials admitted that

89 Memorandum to the Files, July 15, 1947, RG 56, Acc. 70A-6232, Legal Records, Box 22.

90 Memorandum for the Files, “Gold Transactions in Turkey,” September 3, 1947, RG 59, DecimalFiles 1945-49, 800.515/9-347. The memorandum contains numerous documents detailing the controversysurrounding the Bank of England incident as well as the purchase of the Belgian gold in March 1943. Thecoins had been minted by the Latin Union, a late 19th-century monetary union that attempted to create auniform gold currency based on the French franc. Its members included France, Belgium, Italy,

Switzerland, and Greece.

91 Tripartite note, January 10, 1948, RG 84, Embassy Ankara, Safehaven Files, 1945-48, Box 4;memorandum of conversation, March 3, 1948, RG 43, Lot File M88,Council of Foreign MinistersRecords, Conference on German External Assets and Looted Gold, Box 203.

92 Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. II, p. 862. See also Schwartz to Bitterman, January 29, 1952, RG56, Office of International Finance.

93 Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. II, p. 854.

94 Webb to the U.S. Embassy, Ankara, June 16, 1949, RG 59, Decimal Files 1945-49, 800.515/6-2149. A draft of the note given to the Turkish Government is in U.S.Embassy, Ankara to the Departmentof State, September 9, 1948, ibid., 800.515/9-948.

95 Hadraba to the Department of State, April 20, 1950, ibid., Decimal Files 1950-54, 262.0041/4-2050.


Turkey had more German assets than the amount of their claims, but they found no particular advantage inpaying war reparations to the Allies.96

In their final attempts to reach a settlement with Turkey, the Allies conceded that Turkey, havingentered the War in February 1945, was “not technically a neutral” in World War II. Accordingly, the Allieswere prepared to relinquish claims to German external assets in Turkey in exchange for a satisfactorysettlement on looted monetary gold. The Paris Reparations Agreement of January 1946 provided that allgold found in Germany and all looted gold recovered from “third countries” should be turned over to thegold pool assembled by the Tripartite Gold Commission. Turkey was to be assured that the term “thirdcountries” was intentionally used so as to include countries such as Turkey.97 U.S. officials specificallysought to receive payment for Turkey’s Belgian gold ($3.4 million) and the gold delivered by the Swissfrom the Ribbentrop account ($400,000). Allied negotiators had long since given up obtainingcompensation from Turkey for the estimated $5-$10 million worth of gold sold on the Turkish free market

by German diplomats and banking officials.98 Ultimately, the Allies arrived at the “bargain offer” of $1million for Turkey to contribute to the international gold pool. The figure was based on the restitution fromother neutral countries of looted gold on a percentage basis varying from 25 to 100 percent.99 Turkey failedto respond to these Allied proposals as it had likewise failed to respond to other proposals after July1947.100At a meeting held in Washington January 6-21, 1953, U.S., British, and French representativestook the position that their governments had “exhausted all diplomatic means to induce the TurkishGovernment to conclude the suggested settlement.” Under the circumstances, the only course of action leftwas to notify Turkey that the current offer of $1 million of gold would remain open until April 1, 1953; ifTurkey failed to accept, the Tripartite Gold Commission would highlight its negligence to the IARA as wellas to countries whose monetary gold was looted during World War II. Moreover, the United States,Britain, and France would give technical assistance to any country seeking to regain its gold from Turkey.The threegovernments left to the Turkish Government the responsibility for negotiating directly withGermany on the disposition of German assets in Turkey without reference to Allied legalclaims.101In the end, the Allies reached no agreements with Turkey for either the restitution of looted gold orfor the application of liquidated German external assets to the assistance of the victims of Nazism. Turkeyreturned no looted gold to the Tripartite Gold Commission, and turned over no money either to theInternational Refugee Organization for the support of refugees or to the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency

for reparations.In its Final Report to Member Governments in September 1961, the IARA summarized the failedAllied-Turkish negotiations and concluded as follows:

“The Allied representatives could not recognize the principle of prior discharge in full ofTurkish claims from proceeds of liquidations of assets. The discussions at official levels weretherefore suspended. For six years after August 1947 the Three Governments made numerousattempts to induce the Turkish Government to recognize the rightful claims of the Governmentswhich had signed the Paris Reparation Agreement. They failed. Finally, when an offer ofcompromise settlement made on March 22, 1952, remained without response from the TurkishGovernment, the three Negotiating Powers had no alternative but to notify that Government, onAugust 11, 1953, that they had decided to inform those whom they represented that their efforts

had been to no avail.”No further negotiations were ever undertaken on these mattersby the United States or its allies.

96 Hadraba to the Department of State, October 26, 1951, RG 43, Lot File M-88, Conference onGerman External Assets and Looted Gold, Box 203.

97 Airgram A-180 to Ankara, February 13, 1951, RG 56, Acc. 56-66A-816, Special Subject Files,Box 1.

98 Fletcher to Goldstein, July 29, 1948, RG 43, Lot File M-88, Conference on German ExternalAssets and Looted Gold, Box 203.

99 Acheson to the U.S. Embassy, Ankara, February 13, 1951, RG 56, Acc. 56-66A-816, Box 1.

100 IARA Final Report.

101 Tripartite Meeting on German External Assets and Looted Gold, January 6-21, 1953, RG 43,Lot File M-88, Box 197.


 Source : U.S.State Department

Related :

Text of Treaty

U.S.Interagency Report On U.S. & Allied Wartime & Postwar Relations & Negociations

Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969-1972

rights at Incirlik Air Base for the 24 American aircraft

Les relations entre la Turquie et l’Allemagne nazie 1939-45

La dictature c’est “ferme ta gueule”, et la démocratie c’est “cause toujours”.

Woody Allen

La Turquie déclara la guerre à l’Allemagne le 23 février 1945, comme beaucoup de pays secondaires et neutres pour pouvoir accéder à une scène internationale aux côtés des vainqueurs.

Cependant pour la Turquie, cela était en plus pour se mettre ainsi sous la protection des alliés face à l’Union soviétique. Les troupes soviétiques auraient certainement traversé la frontière turco-soviétique si la Turquie n’avait pas déclaré la guerre à l’Allemagne le 23 février 1945. En effet, il faut savoir que la “neutralité” de la République turque n’était pas si effective sachant :

         le pacte d’amitié avec l’Allemagne nazie du 18 Juin 1941

         la concentration des troupes militaires turques à sa frontière orientale au moment de la bataille de Stalingrad dans la perspective d’une victoire allemande. En effet, si les armées soviétiques avaient été vaincues, les troupes turques auraient envahi la Transcaucasie soviétique pour :

         atteindre et exploiter les champs pétrolifères de la Caspienne

         faire la jonction avec les Azéris en parachevant le nettoyage ethnique de l’Arménie en 1915 et enclencher ainsi un mouvement panturquiste dans le Turkestan soviétique.

( Lire la suite )

Source et photos : ADIC

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