Why Didn’t Turkey Join the Axis?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by killertahu22, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. killertahu22 I Hate Ronald Reagan

    May 30, 2015
    The ottomans got almost entirely destroyed in WWI, why didn’t they join the Axis?
    Zagan likes this.
  2. Gukpard hominem populist

    Aug 12, 2015
    São Paulo, Brazil.
    Exactly because of that. They nearly got destroyed in WWI and they didn't wanted to repeat the process. The whole foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology is based on being far from wars, profiting from them. Plus Turkey, just like everyone else, knew that the chances of Germany victory were slim and so they wouldn't join them.
  3. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2012
    Terrible infrastructure, almost no territory to gain, huge exposed coastline, Allied Powers on almost every side, risk of going Communist or becoming a colony if you lose, have to deal with Arabs and Christians Post War if you win...

    It sounds like they lose even if they win. And if they lose it’s even worse.

    If they allow German forces into the Middle East during the Iraq Rebellion that could be interesting though.

    It’s pretty much requiring a neutral country to suicide itself to help Hitler.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  4. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    Joining the Axis also kills their trade with Great Britain and the United States.
    creighton likes this.
  5. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

    Jan 22, 2007
    The Netherlands
  6. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

    Jan 15, 2004
    The Chaos TL
    Hungary also lost a lot in WW1 and still joined Hitler.

    And acquiring Afghanistan and Turkestan should be interesting for them. They were a nationalist state now, but these people speak Turkic languages.
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  7. sloreck Grunt Bear

    Aug 4, 2008
    Turkey did not join the Axis for many of the same reasons Spain did not. Turkey was in no condition to fight any significant war with anybody, their infrastructure was poor, and the Axis had little ability to supply the things Turkey needed in peacetime, let alone in wartime, to replace what the loss of trade with the UK/US would remove. Given their neighbor to the north, unless and until the collapse of the USSR had occurred or was seen by the Turks as inevitable, joining the Axis invited retaliation from the USSR which would have loved to seize Istanbul and parts of eastern Anatolia.

    The Hungarians were in a different situation, their country was almost completely surrounded by the Reich or Reich controlled territory and their territory was a supply conduit for Romanian oil among other things. They tried, unsuccessfully, to dance around the Allied coalition by basically only fighting Russia, but that did not last.
  8. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    The Germans really didn't have much to offer, given Kemalist Turkey's rejection of pan-Turkism:

    "An important question in Turkey's relations with Germany during 1941-2 is whether Turkey hoped to gain territory in Transcaucasia and possibly other Turkic areas of the USSR, in collaboration with Germany, assuming Russia were defeated. Certainly, von Papen promoted the proposal , as a means of bringing Turkey over to the Axis side, and it had some support in Berlin. Although Attaturk had strictly abjured pan-Turkism , it had continued as a fringe movment in Turkey during the 1930s. A so-called committee of experts on the 'Turanian' question was established in July 1941, consisting of convinced pan-Turkists, including Nuri Pasha, a brother of the Young Turk leader Enver Pasha and now a businessman in Turkey, and Professor Zeki Velidi Toğan, a well-known pan-Turkish historian. In August 1941 Nuri visited Berlin as what von Papen described as a fully accredited representative of the Turkish government, though Turkish sources deny this. At this stage, the Turkish government had evidently decided to test the temperature on this issue, through semi-official channels. In Berlin, Nuri urged the establishment of a pan-Turanian state stretching as far as the Chinese province of Xinjiang. However, both the Germans and Turks then abandoned this fantasy. Those Germans who favoured the idea also claimed Fevzi Qakmak as one of its supporters, but the furthest Qakmak was apparently prepared to go was to tell the Germans in May 1942 that he was willing to allow Turkish civilians to go to Germany to prepare for the establishment of separate states in the Turkic areas captured from the USSR. On the other hand, Hüsrev Gerede, who had supported the idea at first, bluntly turned down the proposal that Turkey should take over Turkic areas of the Soviet Union, when Hitler suggested it to him in August 1941. It was obviously dropped completely, once it was clear that Germany was not going to crush the USSR anyway." https://books.google.com/books?id=PlcpRNvsM4cC&pg=PA65
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  9. jerseyguy Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2017
    Turkey didn't have a large enough military to tip the scales much either way, and it had very little to gain. Turkey's major interwar border dispute was over the mostly Turkish-speaking Hatay province of French Syria, and Paris gave it to Turkey without a fight in the late '30s.

    Thersites the Historian is a history YouTuber that's made a great playlist on each major neutral country in WW2. In addition to Turkey, he covers Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, and Sweden.
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  10. Rand Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2018
    What if Turkey entered the war as a co-belligerent as opposed to a full-fledged Axis member? Aside from the obvious arguments that they don't have anything to gain and that it'd be a rofl stomp, what would that look like having a Finnish situation in the Middle East?

    The National Pact could certainly be a motivator, wanting to reclaim lands in northern Iraq and Syria which contain Turcoman populations. The only matter is selecting a PoD that makes the National Pact a much more politically significant movement...

    Edit: This map made me think of it

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  11. Kaze Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2017
    I tried it in Heart of Iron. It was a miserable disaster. Enemies to my south - which I have to invade with hopes I can meet up with the Germans / Italians in Egypt. This failed - I did not have the troops to do that. Enemies to my north - the Soviet Union - just when I was ready to get into Suez Germany screws me by launching Barbarossa. So now my troops had to go north and get boned. Enemies to my south east - Blasted India and Australia kept naval invading reinforcing the Suez and pushing north.
  12. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
  13. DrakonFin Operator

    Oct 25, 2007
    The Finnish Military-Historical Complex
    The Turkish situation was and would be very different from the Finnish situation. Turkey was not as isolated as Finland was, it for example had better trade access across its maritime and land borders. And, by the same token, like others have pointed above, there were many ways the Allies could attack it. Finland had very limited avenues for trade, but then if it was allied with Germany, only really the Soviets could threaten it. The Finnish position can be described as "boxed in" a lot more than Turkey's was, in both good and bad. And thus while Turkey's position as a neutral in the early part of war may superficially be compared to Finland, the differences are big. In fact if one was to compare Turkey to someone up north, a better example would be Sweden, which had all the reasons to remain neutral, and which also had the ability and chance to do this more than Finland did.
  14. Garrison Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2012
    Milton Keynes UK
    Turkey was more useful to Germany as neutral they could use as a conduit for goods they otherwise couldn't get as they were excluded from world markets and on the other side Turkey has nothing to gain from joining the Axis.
    Kaze likes this.
  15. yourworstnightmare Trubbelmakare

    Jul 4, 2007
    Tusen Sjöars Land
    The Turks knew they lacked the ability to take those places, and if they somehow took them they certainly lacked the ability to hold them.
  16. thaddeus Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2014
    does anyone have figures on population of Azerbaijan, the rest of the Caucasus? (circa 1941) the population of Turkey then was only around 17m. (cannot find a reference on that)

    apart from their acknowledged military shortcomings, they may have been leery of controlling huge populations in USSR? even if territories handed to them.

    also not mentioned is that Italy was a mortal foe, second only to USSR https://news.google.com/newspapers?...g=1997,3847789&dq=356-wounded+11-planes&hl=en news at the time thought a joint invasion possible?
    elkarlo likes this.
  17. Tibi088 Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2013
    Hungary was very different though. As stated before in the thread there was nothing that the turks really wanted - all the territory they lost in WWI - they could live with it. This was in great part thanks to them beating the greeks right after the war. In Hungary's case 1/3 of the magyar population ended up as national minorities in the neighbouring states. The interwar regime's main goal was therefore to have a revision of the Trianon treaty. The only way they could get it was to ally powers who had similar goals - like Germany with getting rid of the Versailles peace treaty. Maybe if Turkey couldnt beat the greeks and the Treaty of Sevres was effective they would have joined the axis.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  18. NOMISYRRUC Putting a banging donk on it!

    Nov 7, 2014
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  19. Knightmare Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2012
    There's another thing they have to consider:

    If they go to war, that closes off the Straits of Dardanelles. Which means Russia now has impetus to move their way ASAP, and Stalin's not Nicky, he's gonna gun for it at best speed.

    To say nothing about the Allies. Best to just pretend there's no war on and reap the benefits.
  20. 1Big Rich Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2018
    I recall a quote from a Turkish government official (diplomat? Minister? I don't recall) when asked about the war saying, "We hope the fascists will destroy the communists, and the Allies will destroy the fascists."

    Mildly surprising, given Mustafa Kemal's good relations with the Soviets (at least until the second half of the '30s) and antipathy toward Britain....