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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)

Germany's Strategetical Railways

Germany's Strategetical Railways.

Germany, to whom the railroads were what the navy is to Great Britain, was easily the first to recognise the value of the rail. And by the way, it is a most interesting point that German historians, when comparing their pre-war “defence budgets” with those of the Allies invariably omit to mention this most significant item. (In case any one is curious to learn the actual amount page 54 appropriated by the various countries prior to 1914, the following are the figures for 1913:—Germany, £59,000,000; France, £62,000,000; Russia, £88,000,000; Great Britain £88,000,000. The figures for 1911 and 1912 are in much the same ratio.)

I think I could show pretty conclusively that the Bagdad railway scheme had far more to do with the outbreak of war than, for instance, the assassination in Sarajevo. “Egypt and the Suez Canal have lost much of their importance now that the trans-Balkan railway runs straight from Berlin to Bagdad.” Again, the matter of railways crops up again as a potent causus belli in the speech of Sir Edward Grey, delivered on the 26th January, 1915: “If Bethmann-Hollweg (the German Chancellor) wishes to know why there were military conversations in 1912 between Belgian and British officers, he may find one reason in a fact well known to him—namely, that Germany was establishing an elaborate network of strategetical railways leading from the Rhine to the Belgian frontier through a barren, thinly populated district. These railways were deliberately constructed to permit of a sudden attack upon Belgium, such as was carried out in August, 1914.”