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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1., "Tyrkiet-Indre Forhold", pakke 1, til 31 Dec. 1916
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 12/06/1915
Arrival of telegram: 12/22/1915
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 188
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 03/23/2012

The minister in Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


No. 188

Constantinople, 6 December 1915. 1 enclosure.

Mr. Foreign Minister,

The Turkish daily newspaper "Tasfiri Efkiar", which is often inspired by Talaat Bey and which is one of the most eager organs for the nationalist movement, recently brought quite an interesting article, of which I have the honor of enclosing a copy, about the bill concerning the obligation for concessionary companies and similar companies to use only the Turkish language in their administration.

The two main viewpoints in the article - that there are Turks who are capable of running the various significant technical- and transport companies, which are the ones that are deemed most important to begin with, and that the foreign capital will still flow into Turkey, even with the condition that the companies that are being invested in are under Turkish leadership without being adequately controlled - are, however, without a doubt false.

When people in Turkey have had to rely on foreign administrators and foreign technicians the reason is of course not, as the article wants to make it appear, that the use of a foreign (the French) language has kept the Turks out, but simply that there among the Turkish population have not been found technically trained persons to fill even the mid-level positions in the railroad-, tram-, quay companies, etc., etc. I need only mention a few examples to show what the conditions are like.

As I spoke the other day with a gentleman from the German embassy about the conditions within the Turkish telegraph company's department for wireless telegraphy (which is at the moment under military leadership), he said that only Germans were used as employees at the wireless telegraphy. "Were we to hand over that service to Turks, we could be certain that it would all be completely worthless after 14 days."

When the Turks requisitioned the Danish salvage steamer "Danmark," they could not find a Turkish engineer who was capable of working the machines, and the ship could not sail before it had gotten a German engineer and a German captain.

A local Turkish steamship company that is currently under military command has gotten a Turkish cavalry officer for a leader and a boiler smith for a superintending engineer.

Under such conditions Mr. Foreign Minister will understand that the second of "Tasfiri Efkiar"s assumptions, that the European capital will flow into Turkey regardless of whether or not it has influence on the management of the companies wherein the capital is bound, is untenable.

The various mentioned companies have been notified that they are to prepare themselves for the new regime that will take effect as from the beginning of the new Turkish financial year (March 1916).

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully



Enclosure to Leg. No. CLXXXVIII [188] of 6 December 1915. Translation of an article in the Turkish daily newspaper "Tasfiri Efkiar" of 12 November 1915.

Toward the National Development.

We greet with the greatest satisfaction the fact that the State Council is in the process of a closer consideration of the bill prepared by the Ministry of Transportation which establishes the use of the Turkish language, to the exclusion of all other languages in all branches of the administration in companies and concessionary companies such as the railroads, the tramways, the waterworks, and other companies that have direct connection with the administrative spheres of the state. Hereby one of the most important steps have been taken toward the national development which we have spoken about so many times in this paper. Because the Turkish language is the foundation for our whole national development. We are at the moment fighting a war for our existence and the first result of that victorious war ought to be that it is being established that the Turkish language reigns supreme in Turkey.

This is not just about 5 companies, but about several more companies where the introduction of the Turkish language will mean that a national character is added to their economic value. For sure, there are shortsighted persons who think that we will not be able to lead such companies ourselves, but these skeptics do not take into account that hitherto there has not been a chance for Turks and Muslims to show their skills in such positions, because the use of foreign languages kept the Muhammedans out of the companies. But can we still be indifferent toward companies such as the quay company, the railroads, the tunnel, the waterworks, etc. which are so important to the public? If we were to act in such a way we would behave as strangers in our own country.

Therefore it is of such great importance that all companies in Turkey use only the Turkish language. It is a political, economical, social, and cultural necessity. If one for a moment focuses on the attitude that the foreigners, to whom we to this day have given all our concessions, had until recently, then one fully understands the difference between the past and the present. The foreigners will also in the future be able to establish such companies in Turkey and invest in them, but besides from that they may only occupy themselves with drawing their money or their profits - without pursuing any other goal. We have up until now been lacking the money, and the foreigners, who invested in various undertakings in the various regions of the empire, thereby sought to, little by little, realize their dreams of occupying these regions. Now we are shedding our blood and thereby we liberate ourselves from this foreign tyranny that oppressed us everywhere. It was an intolerable nightmare.

But matters will not become normal until we remove them completely. The introduction of the Turkish language in all the administrations of the companies is the best sign that the Epoch of Liberation has arrived and the best proof of our final triumph. It is natural that we need foreign capital, just like the foreign capital needs us. But the capital's need for profit, the foreigners' desire to make money is stronger than our demand for capital. Capital ought not to have anything to do with politics, it ought only to bear its dividend, while it in our country has been a political tool to such a degree that our own language has become foreign to our own companies. That is why the proposed bill is so important. The proposition will be debated in the chambers and come into force immediately after that. We ask the State Council to expedite the reading of the bill as much as possible.

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