King Amanullah crossing the Polish-Soviet border

Border between between Poland and the USSR decorated with a banner saying Hello Shah of Afghanistan
The border between between Poland and the USSR decorated with a banner saying “Hello Shah of Afghanistan” when King Amanullah of Afghanistan passed through by train on his way between Warsaw and Moscow on 2 May 1928.

1922 railway map of Poland

1922 railway map of Poland from http://www.lithuanianmaps.com/Maps1922-39.html

Amanullah left Warsaw1 by train on the morning of Wednesday 2 May 1928.

Białystok station was decorated with Polish and Afghan flags. The visit of an exotic guest attracted people to the station, but the police only allowed people with special passes on to the platform. Representatives of administrative and military authorities, social organizations and the press started arriving at the station at noon.

King Amanullah at Białystok

The train arrived on time 12.50, as a military band played the Afghan national anthem. Amanullah appeared at the window in civilian clothes, when General Sosnkowski and Colonel Wieniawa-Długoszewski alighted onto the platform. Local dignatiories boarded, and Deputy Voivode Skrzyński entered the coach and welcomed the king in French; he answered in his own language, expressing thanks for their best wishes and admiration for the Polish army.2

The train then continuted to the Polish border town of Stołpce (now Stowbtsy in Belarus), where Amanullah changed to a Soviet train and was due to enter the Soviet Union at 20.00. The Times reported that the wooden arch spanning the tracks a yard inside the Soviet border had been specially decorated,3 as seen in the photograph.

There were further speeches, guards of honour and anthems at Negoreloye and Minsk.

Amanullah arrived in Moscow on the morning of Thursday 3 May 1928, and went to a villa belonging to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs where he was to be accomodated. The King then visited Mikhail Kalinin and others, Lenin’s mausoleum and an official reception given by Kalinin.4

  1. Polish illustrated news coverage of Amanullah’s visit to Poland
  2. Król Afganistanu w Białymstoku, Włodzimierz Jarmolik, Kurier Poranny, 20 Febraury 2010
  3. “King Amanullah Leaves For Moscow.” Times, London, England, 3 May 1928: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 March 2016.
  4. “Afghan Royal Visit To Russia.” Times, London, England, 4 May 1928: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 March 2016.

Friendship Bridge opening photographs

A Russian-language photograph archive with images of the official opening ceremony for the Friendship bridge between the USSR and Afghanistan on 12 May 1982, and associated events including a tree-planting ceremony on the previous day.

The photos include a view of the bridge decorated with large photos of Soviet and Afghan bigwigs – I think they are Brezhnev on the left and Afghanistan’s President Karmal on the right(?).

Opening of the Friendship Bridge, 1982

The RIA Novosti news agency has various photos online, including these showing officials at the formal opening of the Friendship Bridge between the USSR and Afghanistan on 11 May 1982, and Soviet military use of the bridge.

  • Photo #481959: Secretary General of the Central Committee of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan Babrak Karmal and First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic Sharaf Rashidov at the opening ceremony of the highway and railroad bridge between the USSR and Afghanistan. V. Chistiakov, 11.05.1982
  • Photo #481950: Babrak Karmal, general secretary of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan and chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, at the ceremony opening a motor and railroad bridge between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. V. Chistiakov, 11.05.1982
  • Photo #481951: Automobile and rail bridge across Amu Darya River between USSR and Afghanistan. The bridge is 816 meters long. V. Chistiakov, 11.05.1982

A Soviet freight train at Hayratan, with freight being unloaded from railway vans into custom-painted lorries:

  • Photo #660247: Unloading humanitarian aid from Soviet Union. Hairaton port. Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. V. Zupharov, 01.08.1986.

And the road at the time:

  • Photo #636884: The road from Hairaton to Kabul. V. Kiselev, 01.10.1989

The Soviet withdrawal:

  • Photo #476670: The first military convoy crosses the Friendship Bridge over the Amu Darya River during the Soviet troop pullout from Afghanistan. V. Kiselev, 18.05.1988
  • Photo #482919: The last Soviet combat vehicle leaves Afghanistan. The USSR conducted a full pullout of its limited troop contingent from Afghanistan in compliance with the Geneva accords. A. Solomonov, 15.02.1989
  • Photo #482941: Back to homeland. A welcome ceremony for Soviet troops returning from Afghanistan near Termez, Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic Alexander Liskin, 06.02.1989
  • Photo #644825: Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Soviet troop column returns to homeland. V. Kiselev, 01.02.1989

On a railway-related subject:

  • Photo #483133: On November 1986 Moscow customs officers found 1217 of hashish in a railway container which was bound from Afghanistan to FRG. The owner of contraband goods is American company Specific International. The drug was destroyed at the training ground of the Fire Inspection Administration of the Moscow region in the presence of Soviet and foreign journalists. Yuryi Abramochkin, 13.10.1987

Construction of the Friendship Bridge

Just south of Termez, at Heratan, on the Amu Darya river, diplomats understand that a reinforced steel bridge is being constructed. The aim, it would seem, is to improve the roads and garrison facilities right from the Soviet border to Kabul

Russians switch to commando-type raids in Afghanistan, Karan Thapar, The Times, 19 September 1980, p1 and p6 (Issue 60728; col C)