1926-1941 History of Iran Iran 1945-1953

World War II, 1941-1945

Foreign Policy; Iran as a Pawn in the International Power Game . Early in World War II, Shah Reza Pahlavi was favourably inclined toward Germany. On August 25th 1941, Iran was invaded British and Soviet forces; Shah Reza Pahlavi ordered cessation of hostilities on August 28th. British forces occupied the southwest, Soviet forces the northwest, in reminiscence of the arrangement made in the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907.
In January 1942, the USSR, Britain and Iran signed a treaty in which the former guaranteed respect for Iranian sovereignty; Iran granted the occupying powers "the unrestricted right to use, maintain, guard, and in the case of military necessity, control in any way that they may require, all means of communication throughout Iran .." (BBoY 1943).
When German forces, in the summer and fall of 1942, advanced toward Stalingrad and the Caucasus, U.S. military units arrived in Iran, forming Persian Gulf Command. Supplies via Iranian territory (Persian Corridor) were vital to the USSR. In 1942 the Polish Army formed in the USSR was moved into Iran.
In 1943, the big three held the Teheran Conference on Iranian soil. In Sept. 1943 the Iranian government formally declared war against Germany. The opening of the Bosphorus route for supplies to the USSR in January 1945, and the surrender of Germany in May 1945 changed the geopolitical situation. Most U.S. troops stationed in Iran were reassigned to China (BBoY 1946). The Iranian government, in May 1945, asked the occupying forces to be withdrawn immediately. Both Britain and the USSR rejected the request; March 2nd 1946 was set at the date for the withdrawal of British and U.S. troops.

Domestic Events . In 1941, Shah Reza Pahlavi was forced to resign in favour of his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, then 12 years old. Reza Pahlevi ("the Iranian Napoleon") went into exile to South Africa; he died in 1944.
In 1941, under Soviet protection, the (Communist) Tudeh Party was established. Unrest among the ethnic minorities - Kurds, Armenians and others, was suppressed (BBoY 1942).
The day after the abdication of Shah Reza Pahlevi, the Majlis demanded "the establishment of constitutional government, recognition of civil rights, elimination of corruption, reform of the national finances, release of political prisoners, and the restoration to the nation or to the rightful owners of the wealth and properties seized by the former Shah during his long and despotic regime" (BBoY 1942). The new Shah expressed himself in favour of democracy.
In domestic policy, soaring prices due to hoarding, and an attitude too favourable to the occupants, shown by some lawmakers, became hotly disputed issues in 1942 (BBoY 1943). In 1943 the Soviets were accused of isolating the northern provinces, under their occupation, from the rest of the country, and to expand the area under their occupation (BBoY 1944). In 1945 the Tudeh Party made her presence felt on the streets (BBoY 1946).

The Economy . The British justified the invasion with the protection of the oil fields near Abadan, Iran, exploited by the AIOC (Anglo-Iranian Oil Company); the Soviets by protecting their oil fields at Baku, Soviet Azerbaijan. Control of the Iranian and adjacent oil supplies, and denial of these supplies to the enemy, was vital to the war effort. The oil industry was controlled by non-Iranian companies and technicians. In 1944 Soviet diplomats tried to pressurize Iran into granting oil concessions (Time Nov. 13th 1944; BBoY 1945).
The Allies invested in the improvement of Iran's transportation facilities (Persian Corridor).
The country experienced inflation and food shortage; in 1943 the cost of living had reached 11 times the level of 1936-1937 (BBoY 1944). In 1945, Iran experienced the sudden change from a "wild inflationary spree to a period of deflation" (BBoY 1946). Iran depended on British food supplies (BBoY 1943, 1944). In 1943, Iran became beneficiary of Lend-Lease (BBoY 1944). The Iranian textile industry expanded, turning the country from an exporter of cotton to an importer of cotton (BBoY 1945).
In 1941, Iran produced 6.7 million metric tons of crude petroleum, in 1945 17.1 million (IHS p.362).

History of Iran, from Persian Outpost
Timeline of Iranian History, from Encyclopedia of the Orient
Strange Menagerie. The Eagle, the Peacock, the Lion and the Bear. The Atlantic Charter as the Root of American Entanglement in Iran & its Influence upon the Development of the Policy of Containment, 1941-1946, by G.C. Rosmaita
Article Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran, 1941, Transcaucasian Front, Persian Gulf Command, Persian Corridor, Tehran Conference, Tudeh Party, from Wikipedia
Bridge to Victory, by R.D. Burgener (Iran 1941-1945)
Persia 1941, from Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
The Iranian Napoleon. Reza Shah in Exile, from The Iranian
Iran and the Polish Exodus from Russia 1942, by Ryszard Antolak
The General Langfitt Story. Polish Refugees Recount their Experiencesof Exile, Dispersement and Resettlement, by M. Allbrook, H. Cattalini
U.S. Army in World War II, The Middle East Theater, The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia, by T.H. Vail Motter (originally printed in 1952; posted in 2000)
The Persian Gulf Command : Lifeline to the Soviet Union, by Frank N. Schubert
Iran in the 20th Century, from Emayzine
DOCUMENTS Iranian Statesmen, from World Statesmen (B. Cahoon)
Historical Population Statistics : Iran, from Population Statistics (J. Lahmeyer)
Tehran Declaration 1943, from CNN Interactive
F.D.R., Remarks to the Personnel at Camp Amirabad, Teheran, Dec. 2nd 1943, from The American Presidency Project
The Challenger, from Time Magazine, Nov. 13th 1944
REFERENCE IHS : International Historical Statistics : Africa, Asia & Oceania 1750-2000, edited by B.R. Mitchell, Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan 4th ed. 2003
Routes to Russia : The Persian Gulf Route, in : Jasper H. Stembridge, The Oxford War Atlas Volume II, 1 September 1941 to 1 January 1943, Oxford : UP 1943 [G]
Article : Iran, in : Americana Annual 1940 pp.392-394, 1943 pp.386-388, 1944 pp.357-359, 1945 pp.375-376, 1946 pp.377-379 [G]
People, Pressures, Problems in Iran pp.524-540, in : John Gunther, Inside Asia, 1942 War Edition, NY : Harper & Brothers (1938) 1942
Article : Persia, in : Statesman's Year Book 1943 pp.1163-1172 [G]
Article : Iran, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1944 pp.364-365, 1945 pp.371-372 [G]
Article : Iran, in : New International Year Book Events of 1940 pp.362-363, 1941 pp.288-293, 1942 pp.330-332, 1943 pp.287-289, 1944 pp.301-303, 1945 pp.283-284 [G]
Article : Iran, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1940 pp.310-311, 1941 pp.261-262, 1942 pp.232-233, 1943 pp.233-234, 1944 pp.156-157 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 28th 2002, last revised on June 17th 2008

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