Why did Hitler not include Turkey in the Molotov Ribbentrop pact or invade Turkey?

Ok, this might be a very stupid question but why did Hitler not include Turkey in the Molotov RibbenTrop pact (jumping forward to many many years to 1946, Stalin claims the straits) .The soviet union would have taken out Turkey, then when Hitler invades the Soviet Union he has a much smaller road to the caucasus where all the Oil is which Hitler is after. And if the wehrmacht could march all the way to moscow, with dirt roads, Turkey doesn’t seem so bad. So why doesn’t he?


First of all, I don’t think your (or any) question is stupid, let’s be glad that we can ask all these questions here!
Turkey, actually has been very reluctant to join any side in this conflict and became a spynest, simular to Portugal and was thriving on that.
Being a Muslim state, they tended to prefer the antisemitic Nazi’s but in the end, I guess, they simply were glad they didn’t get involved at all!


Also, by the time that Germany could have invaded Turkey, Hitler was far from rational. Seeing the process that the invasion of the Soviet Union went, there was little rationality going on there. The complete waste of men to take Stalingrad, yea…

BTW, welcome the board!!! It’s interesting to read other’s interpretations. And it’s a great question.


Thanks for the reply but I don’t see how Turkey being a muslim state would not be invaded by Hitler. Even belgium and netherlands were neutral but did that stop them from being invaded? The whole purpose of invading the soviet union was to rob them of their natural resources (and kill all slavs for lebensraum and remove the plague that was communism according to hitler). So… hitting the caucasus from Turkey seems way smarter.


Hitler simply had no interest in occupying a friendly nation because he needed all his resources to invade his arch enemy, the Soviet Union. He even didn’t want to invade North Africa but was pulled into the fight by failing Italian efforts to even defend their own ground. Arab and some Turkish volunteers joined the Waffen SS even to join in the fight. Turkey was not neutral as such but somewhat more of a benevolent state to the Axis powers because of their enduring conflict in the Middle East and especially with archenemy Greece. Also, their antisemitism that was quite common, alas, in those days played a role in there attitude towards Hitler. In the end, though, Turkey thought it opportune to stay on the sideline.


This is an interesting question, I remember in the film The Guns of Navarone that the Germans were trying to bully neutral Turkey into the war by taking an island of 2,000 British soldiers. In reality, both sides had sent secret meetings with the Turks, but Turkey wanted to remain neutral. Roosevelt I believe had initially thought that Turkish neutrality would be beneficial to the Allies in blocking the Germans. In 1944, Turkey ended the trade of Chromite with the Germans and declared war in 1945. No Turkish soldier saw combat in WW2.


The only source I found with a lot on Turkey in WW2 was Weinberg World at Arms which explains the balancing act of Turkey in WW2. Basically was don’t get greedy for territory and get sucked into another devastating war. See what happed to the Ottoman Empire after siding with their German “friends”.

The Turks controlled the Bosporus and everyone eyed that, moreover early in the war they were worried about Mussoline who had a public goal of restoring the Roman Empire and making the Mediterranean " an Italian lake again".

Early on Turkey did sign an Alliance with the Western Powers on October 19th, 1939. No doubt because the Allies looked the stronger power.at time. On the other side Germany also promised control op the straits of Bosporus to the USSR in their dealings.

Later in the war Germany paid with equipment for Chrome and left a slice of Greek border unpromised to Bulgaria/puppet regime of Yugoslavia for it to be a sort of sausage to be given for good behavior

In the TG timeline Turkey is currently hoping for pieces of the Soviet Union, but they will likely reverse this policy after El Alamein. Also unlike the Spanish and others they refuse Germany’s calls for “Helpers” to send their troops to be slaughtered in the Soviet Union. A wise move me thinks. This led the Soviets to pull away 7 divisions and 4 brigades from the Turkish border to attack the German troops. Everything is interconnected and the battle of El Alamein was a game changer.

After Italy gave up the war the Germans deliberately kept troops on the Dodecanese islands as a detterent for Turkey. However on 25th February 1945 Turkey would declare war on Germany and the straits were opened before.

Germany did consider invading Turkey but I am not sure if that would have helped them. Turkey is still a big country with inclement weather, mountains and it bordered countries were the Allies were in control. For the Germans the supply lines would have to go on bad roads, lousy services and through a country which was Muslim and probably would be another potential ally who got fed up with arrogant white ubermensch types pillaging and raping the country side.

Also early in the war they could trade with Turkey, had they invaded the Allies would have blockaded Turkey completely like in World War 1. To me it would seem another overstretching your meagre resources for dummies move.



As a Turkish person I should say there are multiple factors and reasons that kept Turkey neutral :

  1. We have to go 25-30 before World War II for first reason. One of the main reasons is crumbling Ottoman Empire (Sick Man of Europe as it was called) which had no industry , proper communications infrastructure and a ruined economy and mal administrations that remained backwards and unable to reform itself entering to World War I in 1914 prematurely in a rash move by Young Turk troika goverment (made up Enver ,Talat , Jamal Pashas) in a crazy gamble that amounted a national suicide. Ruling elite like Three Pashas and their German advisors did not even consult or open it to debate toanyone else and instead made a fait accompli with German goverment and military participation, making a suprise sneak attack on Russian ports in Black Sea that suddenly put already dying Ottoman state to a Total War (in hope of regaining lost territory in Balkans which was lost in Balkan Wars-a huge traumatising loss where hundreds of thousands Muslim settles had to flee east- , Egypt and gaining territory in Caucausia for Pan Turkist ideas and getting rid of Russian aims of capturing Straits and dominate Ottoman Empire) . I do not have to recount result of that gamble at the end of World War I, Ottoman Empire lost the war along with Central Powers , literally disintegrated , dismembered and only after a Nationalist Revolt among Turkish population and Turkish War of Independence , in 1923 a new modern Turkish Republic in western norms and standarts (but still non democratic) with a lot of Western reforms was born out of that whole mess.

Twenty years after that the leaders of Turkish Republic (still one party system existed though under much more rational and wiser leadership than Young Turks of Ottoman Empire) were all ex veteran officers of World War I in Ottoman Armed Forces and they had no wish to repreat same mistakes of their predecessors. Most of them had bad memories or disappointment with allying Germans in Great War (German military mission behavior was at best arrogant towards Turks in Turkish territory during World War I ) Unlike before World War I , there was little German penetration allowed in Turkish state , economy , military and diplomacy and no rash or fait accompli moves were made by President Ismet Inonu (Turkish president during war and sucessor of Kemal Ataturk) who followed a very cautious foreign policy.


Many thanks for your input merdiolu.
I went to Chanakkale/Gallipoli once and heard a lot about the traumatising effects of WW1 and it was a very poignant experience.

Please let me know if anything I wrote can be critiqued. By the way for TG members. Troy /Truva also is on the straits, probably another invasion of the Bosporus area. I must say I loved that area. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the explanation on why Turkey stayed neutral- but did that stance really provide them with the “Hitler won’t invade” card? Were there other reasons Hitler didn’t head that way?


As I suggested earlier, I think the intelligence war was predominantly fought out both in Portugal and Turkey. Both Lisabon and Istanbul were festering with spies. As both countries, and also Fascist Spain were not unfriendly towards the German war effort, I guess, after establishing that Turkey was not inclined to join in war action, the next best thing was to exploit them as a base of covert intelligence gathering.


So better a hesitant trading partner vs an actual enemy. That makes sense.


Yes, right on the money, my friend! :wink::+1:Turkey was seriously approached by Nazi Germany to join the Axis Powers but they respectfully declined, or as we say in the Netherlands, they chose eggs for their money :rofl:


Ok these are my inferences (though I am pretty sure most of them are wrong) :

  1. Hitler viewed Turkey as a friend rather than a foe so it makes no sense to include it in the Molotov RibbenTrop pact. (He probably included Bessarabia because it would easier to befriend Romania and get all the sweet sweet oil?)
  2. The supply lines would be stressed even more and the wehrmacht probably would not have made it to Moscow or the caucacus?
  3. Let’s say they go ,screw it let’s invade Turkey then that also opens up another invasion route by the allies as (spoiler) the allies invade Italy in 1943.
  4. It would mess up the chrome deal?
  5. And if they did invade they would lose a good spy base against the USSR?

A solid analysis, as far as I am concerned :+1:


Why not invade Turkey in 1941?

  1. Week 1 you conquer European Turkey; week 2 you face an amphibious assault to reach Asian Turkey.
  2. If you invade Asian Turkey you have to support your forces across the Bosporus.
  3. What do you gain by conquering Turkey? Your next move options are the same but you have spread your forces out and have suffered loses.
  4. A neutral Turkey protects your southern flank from the allies in the middle East.

Not sure religion matters on this. I thought Ataturk and therefore Turkey, at least officially, was militantly secular at this time?


Hitler is more logical and rational than OKH and generals in the field. He realized the war was an economic one, and that denying the soviets oil and the grain of the Ukraine would have devastating effects. In late 1942, according to some sources, there were few dogs and cats wandering around in Moscow because people were eating them. The Soviets needed food in Lend Lease more than anything else, more so than a second front by the Allies.

You can see it here on the TIK video’s:
How close was the Soviet Union to Collapse in 1942-1943? - YouTube

For more detailed info about Stalingrad see the links and my post on the TG forum here:
Battlestorm Video Series on Stalingrad - The TimeGhost Army


From a high level, perhaps. But the execution of the battle was peculiar. Especially when things went badly.

Going into the battle, seeing the struggles during the actual planned time of the war- it should not have been a mystery that supplies getting in would have been tough. But it ended up much worse and prevented further penetrations when the Soviets were really borderline at times.

Seems like by the time Germany could have even had a land invasion of Turkey, the battle turned from the original goal of suffocating the Soviet Union to what it turned out to be. Hitler sacrificed armies when the rational move would have been to save them to let them fight a later day. Does not seem very rational to do that.


I think you both have some validity to the points you make. I really hope, Astrid will pick up this issue in her new phenomenal series about spies and covert relations…
I really do believe the main reason not to invade Turkey was both their asset to bothe Axis and Allied powers as a covert harbour of spies and as a valuable friendly force to Hitler, predominantly, keeping allied forces at bay in the region.

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