Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baghdad Railway Goes to Germans

Time: November 25, 1899
Place: Istanbul, Ottoman Empire

The Germans already had built the Turks a rail line from Istanbul east across Turkey to Ankora in the middle of the Aetolian Peninsula. But the Turks needed to cement their hold on their empire to the south: Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. The Germans wanted to bind the Turks closer to Germany with a Berlin to Baghdad Railway.

The French already connected Istanbul to Paris and London with their Orient Express. But their line ended at Istanbul. The Baghdad Railway would connect the major cities in Europe to the Middle East.

On this date, The Ottoman Emperor awarded the railway to the Germans.

The railroad did get built and despite everything it survives intact to this present day. Most of the train stations are the same ones originally built a century ago.

Photo: Baghdad Train, sometime between 1900 and 1910. From the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection in the Library of Congress.

More information: Berlin-Baghdad Railway, Trains of Turkey, The Orient Express.