German Imperial Reminiscences

It comes perhaps a bit too late – a reminder to the German public of Germany’s past great-power involvement in the Persian Gulf region would have been useful in the diplomatic wrangles preceding the War in Iraq – but the Süddeutsche Zeitung recently had a entertaining article about project for the Berlin-to-Basra “Baghdad Railway” (in German only). I guess they had to be true to the anniversary aspect: it was one hundred years ago, on 13 April 1903, that the Bagdadeisenbahngesellschaft (i.e. the business company set up to build it) was established at a lavish ceremony in Constantinople attended by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was more than just a planned railway; even unbuilt, it carried tons of geopolitical implications for relations between Germany on the one hand and Russia and Great Britain, in particular, on the other. Then World War I intervened, and it never was finished.

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