German Parliament’s Session on Aircraft Manufacturer Junkers’ Investment in Turkey
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German Parliament’s Session on Aircraft Manufacturer Junkers’ Investment in Turkey

Issue 5 - 2020
German Parliament’s Session on Aircraft Manufacturer Junkers’ Investment in Turkey

Proceedings of the Session of the First Luther Cabinet of the Weimar Republic dated July 14, 1925 

In line with the treaties signed, Germany and Turkey had to suspend their relations with their former allies after World War I and nearly five years passed before relations were launched and German diplomats began coming to Turkey1. The treaty of amity signed in March 1924, which became effective in May 1925, launched a new era in terms of diplomacy and the economy.2 Within this scope, TOMTAŞ factory in Kayseri3 opened on October 6, 1926 according to the contract signed by the Republic of Turkey with Germany’s Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG company on August 15, 1925 and it is regarded as one of the milestones in Turkish aviation. The records of the period inform us that Junkers Company sent 3 aircraft to Istanbul and Ankara for marketing purposes in the same the year that the contract was awarded.4 In addition to the publications of the existing sources in Turkey in this area, the flow of events from the perspective of German politics will be reviewed in this article and the English translation of the corresponding document that was found within the meeting minutes of this period will be introduced under this headline.

The document numbered 1225 in the study6 of Karl Dietrich Erdmann, Hans Booms and Walter Vogel (published in 1977) on behalf of the History Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Archives of the Federal Republic of Germany reveal the sound recordings of the Weimar Republic’s Council of Ministers’ session dated July 14, 1925 held at 19:00.  

The participants in the session, held upon the decision of German aircraft manufacturer Junkers to invest in Turkey, are as follows7: 

Hans Luther - Prime Minister & Chancellor,

Gustav Stresemann - Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Albert Neuhaus - Minister of Economy,

Otto Geßler - Minister of Interior,

Franz Kempner, David Fischer, Carl von Schubert - Secretaries of State, 

Otto Kiep - Government Spokesman,

Friedrich Wilhelm Gutbrod - Department Head at the Ministry of Transport,

Walter Grävell - Chief Advisor to State,

Max von Stockhausen - Private Advisor of the Prime Minister,

Erwin Planck - Advisor at the Ministry of Defense,

Karl-Eugen Offermann - Undersecretary of the Ministry, in charge of the proceedings.

There is no information on the duration of the session titled ``Junkers Factory Issues`` then again, the proceedings of the meeting are nearly one-page long including the footnotes:

R43 I/1403

The minister presenting the content of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ draft underlined the risk that France might reach an agreement with Turkey in the case that the Junkers Company of Imperial Germany welcomed the opportunity to enter Turkey’s aviation sector. (Footnote No 1)

State secretary Fischer overlooked the acceptance of aircraft orders. In light of the previous experiences, the Ministry of Economy needs to act more cautiously. 4 million Marks cannot be availed as of this moment as the parliament will have to launch an open ballot in this regard and it is certain that such a proposal will not be approved. The government cannot act in this area unless the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fails to cover this amount from its own black budget. 

The session was terminated after long discussions without reaching a final decision.

State secretary Fischer noted that the issue was postponed until fall. (Footnote No 2)

Footnote No 1: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs envisaged that 4 million Marks should be granted to Dessau based Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG Company as a loan in its draft submitted on July 13 and included the following note: Junkers factory and the Turkish government projected the establishment of a Turkish Aircraft and Engine Factory in Turkey and reached an agreement on an exemplary draft contract. According to the agreement, the Turkish government committed to procure all aircraft equipment from Germany until the construction of the factory is completed and to utilize the raw materials that have reserves in Turkey such as aluminum and iron with the Junkers Company throughout the production in the factory. The enforcement of the agreement does not only imply the acquisition of Turkey’s market for the German aircraft industry; it also indicates the Turkish government’s trust in Germany in terms of the utilization of the raw materials required for the establishment of heavy industry in line with this plan and the required network was maintained through the President’s representative Colonel Tevfik. The Turkish Prime Minister conveyed to the German Ambassador that the realization of this agreement was regarded as Germany’s test of trust in Turkey. (R43 II/698)

Footnote No 2: The issue was not discussed once more by the cabinet. The documents of the following processes were not included in the file. The file contains the following information in Wachsmann’s note dated May 2, 1926 (the date is unreadable): The Empire invested approximately 30 million Marks in Junkers. Aside from the factory in Dessau, the investments made in Junkers factories in Russia and Turkey largely went to waste. (R43 II/699)

In parallel with these developments, even though we had wished to analyze this issue from the perspective of a senior level German diplomat in Turkey, we were able to examine the memoirs of Rudolf Nadolny, who was Germany’s then Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey. Unfortunately, there was not sufficient information in this study8  as Nadolny did not write extensively on this topic, he only mentioned the Junkers factory in a few lines in his memoir. Without inserting any dates, he stated that he contacted Prof. Hugo Junkers who was the owner of Junkers Company, that an aircraft factory would be established in Kayseri, Junkers’ representative went to Ankara to negotiate with the Presidency of General Staff and that the construction of the factory was launched thereafter.

The aforementioned document dated July 14, 1925 clearly indicates that the German government did not place much emphasis on the establishment of the TOMTAŞ factory which played a critical role in the history of Turkey’s industry and the partnership built with Germany. The reason behind the unwilling stance of the government to grant the loan was the critical financial situation of the Junkers Company in 1925. The company announced a 12-million-Marks debt in the fall of 19259. The main reason for the financial crisis was due to the foreign investment that Junkers had made in the village of Fili, Moscow in the Soviet Union before Turkey10. Additionally, as also expressed in the cabinet meeting, the Turkish government’s negotiations with France was in question as well and the fact that the Turkish government was indecisive about accepting the offer from the company titled Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne11. 

Given all these circumstances, in addition to the German government’s unwilling approach toward the new foreign investment, it should be underlined that the thought of preventing France from seizing the opportunity to utilize such potential was also in question. The most interesting detail in the document is Turkish Prime Minister İnönü’s definition of the issue as a “test of trust” and Germany’s plan to create an advantage for its own economy through the utilization of the raw materials in Turkey via the TOMTAŞ factory. As can be seen, Turkey’s local resources had also been used as the main argument in the establishment of such a critical partnership nearly 100 years ago 

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