TURKEY’S REFUGEE POLICY DURING WORLD WAR II

Ali Satan, Meral Balcı

Abstract


Although Turkish Republic did not involve in World War II between 1939-1945, the War took place near its borders. Greece, one of Turkey’s neighbors, in the west was under the control of Nazi Germany and Bulgaria was subjagated by the Soviet Union. Iran, on the eastern border of Turkey, was occupied by England and the Soviet Union. Iraq, in the south, was already under British rule, and Syria was under the mandate of France. The 12 Islands, very close to Anatolian coast, were in Italian administration. Therefore, Turkey was surrounded by the combat forces that were actually involved in the war. The Soviet Union had demands on the Straits from Turkey since 1939. Under these circumstances, Turkey announced "armed neutrality" in the war and took care not to become a part of the hot war by rejecting all the demands of both Germany and its alliances to enter the war. Turkey has been known to be the shelter of mass and individual refugees throughout history. In the difficult and threatening atmosphere of World War II, Turkey firstly took measures for the probable migration wave from the Balkans. During the war, Turkey accepted both civilian and military asylum from both Europe and the Soviet Union and hosted them in various camps  in  Anatolia throughout the war. In addition, Turkey acted as an intermediary in the exchange of prisoners among the warring countries and actively assisted in conditions of famine and hunger in Greece. Turkey opened its borders to the Jews who escaped from the Nazi pressures, and tried to use its diplomatic possibilities to rescue Turkish compatriots who fought for the red army, then fled and ended with the German prison camp.


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