::Baghdad Railway


Railway::baghdad    Railway::british    German::ottoman    Turkey::world    Between::would    Empire::trade

{{#invoke:Infobox|infobox}} The Berlin-Baghdad Railway, also known as the Baghdad Railway (Turkish: Bağdat Demiryolu{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, German: Bagdadbahn{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}, French: Chemin de Fer Impérial Ottoman de Bagdad{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}), was built from 1903 to 1940 to connect Berlin with the (then) Ottoman Empire city of Baghdad, where the Germans wanted to establish a port in the Persian Gulf,<ref>McMurray (2001) page 2</ref> with a {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} line through modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.

Completion of the project took several decades and by the outbreak of World War I, the railway was still 960 km (600 miles) away from its intended objective. The last stretch to Baghdad was built in the late 1930s and the first train to travel from Istanbul to Baghdad departed in 1940.

Funding and engineering was mainly provided by German Empire banks and companies, which in the 1890s had built the Anatolian Railway (Anatolische Eisenbahn) connecting Constantinople, Ankara and Konya. The Ottoman Empire wished to maintain its control of Arabia and to expand its influence across the Red Sea into the nominally Ottoman (until 1914) Khedivate of Egypt, which had been under British military control since the Urabi Revolt in 1882. If the railway had been completed, the Germans would have gained access to suspected oil fields in Mesopotamia,<ref>See: Turkish Petroleum Company</ref> as well as a connection to the port of Basra on the Persian Gulf. The latter would have provided access to the eastern parts of the German colonial empire, and avoided the Suez Canal, which was controlled by British-French interests.

The railway became a source of international disputes during the years immediately preceding World War I.<ref>Bilgin. On the BR and Anglo-Ottoman relations, 1902-13.</ref><ref></ref> Although it has been argued that they were resolved in 1914 before the war began, it has also been argued that the railway was a leading cause of the First World War.<ref>(Jastrow 1917)</ref><ref>The Berlin-Baghdad Railway as a Cause of World War One. Maloney 1984 Centre for Naval Research (C) 2008</ref> Technical difficulties in the remote Taurus Mountains and diplomatic delays meant that by 1915 the railway was still {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} short of completion, severely limiting its use during the war in which Baghdad was occupied by the British while the Hejaz Railway in the south was attacked by guerrilla forces led by T. E. Lawrence. Construction resumed in the 1930s and was completed in 1940.

A history of this railway in the context of World War I history has lately emerged to describe the German interests in countering the British Empire, and Turkey's interest in countering their Russian rivals.<ref>Sean McMeekin, 'The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany's bid for world power. 2010, ISBN 978-0-674-05739-5</ref> As stated by a contemporary 'on the ground' at the time, Morris Jastrow wrote<ref>page 97, Jastrow</ref> "It was felt in England that if, as Napoleon is said to have remarked, Antwerp in the hands of a great continental power was a pistol leveled at the English coast, Baghdad and the Persian Gulf in the hands of Germany (or any other strong power) would be a 42-centimetre gun pointed at India."

Baghdad Railway sections
Intro  Overview  The Baghdad Concession  Route  British view of the railway  Role in origins of World War I  During the War  After the war  Current situation  Bibliography  References  External links  

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