it is with emotion that turkey too follows the effort for the establishment of world’s peace after the catastrophes and sufferings caused by world war ii the sole desire of peoples everywhere is directed towards the attainment of the goal for humanity to live in peace on the foundation of the principles proclaimed by the united nations ismetanonu president of turkey november 1st 1945.
the goal of turkey during world war ii was fundamentally to just stay out of it geographically it was positioned favorably as it was not stuck directly between the axis and allied sides similar to other non-belligerent countries such as spain of course bids to persuade turkey into joining the war came from both lineups but the newly established republic was still focused on affairs within its own borders.
in world war one turkey had taken a drastically different approach as the ottoman empire quickly aligned with central powers and struck russia at the black sea raid on october 29 1914 russia declared war just a week later despite their aggressive entry into the conflict the ottomans were actually still recovering from the balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 and had already been declining.
as a prominent power in the region their decision to join the war ultimately exacerbated the situation and led to the final downfall of the ottoman empire as part of a series of treaties signed between the defeated central powers and their allied opponents the ottomans signed the treaty of sevres on october 10 1920 and consequently relinquished the vast majority of their territories.
which were not occupied by turks this marks the start of the partitioning of the ottoman empire which followed the allied occupation beginning in 1918 unhappy with the results of the treaty the turkish grand national assembly a provisional government led by the turkish national movement strips the signatories of their citizenship the turks also refused to back down from their war of independence resulting in the allied forces finally pulling out of the region and the ottoman sultanate being abolished on november 1st 1922.
the war itself ended the following year after the signing of the treaty of lausanne in july of 1923 and the establishment of the republic of turkey on october 29 1923 with mustafa kamal atatark being elected as the first president the creation of this new government meant that the time leading up to world war ii was spent turning the former monarchical empire into a new sovereign nation state run by a presidential constitutional republic.
when president mustafa kamal ataturk died on november 10 1938 ismet inonu was left as his successor and subsequent inheritor of the global issues that were brewing with less than a year to adapt to his position as president ismetsanonu began facing pressure from britain and france very early on attempting to negotiate a treaty between the three nations before germany could form their own alliance with the young republic the allied countries created a mutual aid agreement with turkey in the fall of 1938.
as part of the mutual aid pact france and britain were required to help turkey receive military necessities from the west as well as providing them with a loan for other commodities turkey was in turn simply required to remain neutral as long as the war did not spread past the northern european vicinity if it did turkey was to enter the war alongside the allies unless doing so would put them into direct conflict with the soviet union.
this agreement would only last for a short period of time with the invasion and swift defeat of the french army by the germans in may through june of 1940 putting turkey in a concerning position while some turkish officials started to publicly question whether they were once again on the wrong side of a conflict president ismet inonu seemed convinced still that the best side to be on was on the side of the British nonetheless when italy entered the war on june 10th turkey opted to remain.
on the sidelines despite having consented to come to the allies aid if the war at any point expanded down to the mediterranean this was a clear breach of the anglo-franco-turkish mutual aid agreement defended by the turks on the grounds that allegedly the allies had not fulfilled their promises either joining the fight against italy and the rest of the axis powers would plainly be an unwise move on turkey’s part at this point turkey was all but surrounded by potential threats and was determined to remain.
as neutral as possible with syria being a colony of the now vichy france and bulgaria and romania aligning with the access agenda declaring war on italy would have meant an immediate defeat of the turkish nation as if to emphasize this point germany suddenly began to urge turkey to allow military passage so that they could reach iraq where the prime minister rashid ali was calling for german assistance in a coup d’etat against british control the turkish president knew that the germans.
who had just devastated the greeks and yugoslavs as they pressed farther into the balkans were not likely to simply leave after being granted passage thankfully for the turks britain took advantage of the german’s roadblock and launched an incursion into iraq utilizing troops from both india and palestine the brits were able to recapture iraq as well as syria and lebanon on behalf of the free french all by the end of july 1941.
during the previous month of june president ismetanonu made the decision to try and form a diplomatic safety net by coming to some sort of non-aggression agreement with germany on june 18th the two nations formed a friendship treaty allowing germany to turn toward their russian opponents while turkey could assume that they were no longer at risk of an attack from the germans which they had feared since the invasion of poland in 1939.
during this time some turkish nationalist magazines began to publish encouragement for a declaration of war on the soviet union and the nation even considered the possibility for a time a target baku was identified in a potential operation of war but the plan was never acted upon still remaining as neutral as possible turkey continued to provide supplies such as chromium to both germany and the allies until april of 1944. by that point it became evidence that the axis powers were on the losing side of the war prompting turkey to cut all remaining ties with those nations.
in august including the diplomatic relationship that had been formed through the german turkish friendship treaty in february of 1945 turkey attended the inaugural meeting of the united nations evoking a declaration of war not even a month later on both germany and japan although these decorations undeniably marked the end of turkish neutrality in world war ii they were more or less only a symbolic gesture.
as no turkish troops were actually sent into battle before the inception of world war ii the turkish army comprised of roughly 174 000 soldiers 20 000 officers forming 11 army corps 23 divisions seven frontier commands three cavalry brigades and one armored brigade the turkish air force retained around 8 000 men 450 pilots and 370 total aircraft.
lastly the turkish navy had only about four thousand men 800 officers five or six submarines four destroyers four mine layers three minesweepers three motor torpedo boats two gunboats two light cruisers one battle cruiser and one surveying vessel having a poorly prepared military with most of its equipment being outdated back to world war 1 the turkish army.
according to the british foreign office was very short of rifles and requested a supply of 150 000 while military equipment for turkey was supposed to be a part of the initial anglo-franco-turkish mutual aid pact the turkish forces never truly reached a point that would have made a complete entry into world war ii a wise choice this meant that even though a stance of full belligerence was demanded by the allies in exchange for turkey’s attendance of the united nations meeting.
the declarations of war served more as a political statement than anything else when the war finally came to an end in september of 1945 turkey became one of the 51 original members of the united nations upon signing the united nations charter on october 24th turkey also benefited economically from its actions during the war most notably due to the fact that unlike german occupied or allied nations turkey was actually paid for the chromium that the germans purchased.
though both the allied and axis sides attempted to persuade turkey into joining the war on their behalf by supplying one type of support or another turkey truly had no intentions of ever announcing their stance of neutrality or non-belligerence until it was too late for any repercussions the reasons why turkey chose the approach that they did throughout the second world war are fairly clear and their ability to maintain such a strategic stance.
until it became beneficial to do otherwise is one of the reasons that president ismet inonu is remembered so positively as a leader of the young republic in the process of bouncing back from the previous war a war of independence and the formation of a new government followed by a freshly appointed president.
turkey was beyond ill-prepared to have entered world war ii at an earlier point using its geographical position and fair diplomacy to its advantage turkey’s predominant posture of neutrality allowed the nation to come out of the war in a drastically better position than the previous ottoman turkey had accomplished after world war one.
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