Amanullah-Wagen trains mentioned by German President

The President of Germany, Christian Wulff, mentioned the Berlin U-Bahn’s Amanullah-Wagen trains during a speech in Kabul on 16 October 2011.

Deutsche und Afghanen hat es schon immer zueinander gezogen. Bereits in der ersten Hälfte des vergangenen Jahrhunderts arbeiteten deutsche Ingenieure in Afghanistan, lernten Afghanen an der Amani-Schule in Kabul Deutsch. Der Besuch von König Amanullah 1928 in Berlin wurde von den Deutschen mit großer Begeisterung aufgenommen. Noch heute nennen die Berliner den U-Bahn-Zug, mit dem er damals durch Berlin fuhr „Amanullah“. Er war bis 1989 in Betrieb und Sie können das letzte Exemplar bei Ihrem nächsten Besuch in Berlin im Museum bewundern. Und in einigen Jahren wird vielleicht der Zeitpunkt kommen, gemeinsam einen neuen Zug zu benennen.

Source:Mittagessen auf Einladung von Präsident Karsai anlässlich des Staatsbesuchs in Afghanistan, Kabul, 16 October 2011

“How my grandma saw King Amanullah”

In the third and final part of a little series, Thomas Ruttig takes you on a journey in G.H. Wells’ time machine, back to Berlin in the year 1928 when Afghan King Amanullah visited the German capital as first head of state after the end of Kaiser Wilhelm’s monarchy. Read how the King drove the Berlin ‘tube’, what he got as a present of honour and how the Berliners made ‘Ullemulle’ – and I am sure this nickname was meant to be friendly – their King of Hearts.
Source: Afghan Encounters in Europe or: How My Grandma Saw King Amanullah

German contract in 1930

From Hansard


HC Deb 05 May 1930 vol 238 cc641-2W 641W

Mr. FREEMAN asked the Secretary of State for India whether the Government of India have been officially advised or consulted with regard to the contract made by Afghanistan with the German firm for the construction of a railway linking Kabul with Torkhan, the last Afghan post on the Indian frontier; if the proposal contemplates the connection the main line from Kabul with the Russian rail-heads at Kask [presumably Kushka] and Termez; and whether the Government of India have communicated to him their observations on the proposal?

Mr. BENN I have no official information of the existence of any such contract, though I have seen the newspaper report to which my hon. Friend no doubt refers.

I’ll looked at an online archive of The Times, and the newspaper report in question doesn’t seem to have appeared there.

King Amanullah on the presidential train

Amir’s Progress

The Presidential Train of Old Paul von Hindenburg rolled into Berlin, last week, with its heating apparatus most unfortunately not functioning. The honored passengers were Their Majesties the Amir & Queen of Afghanistan who, with almost their entire suite, appeared to be suffering from colds.


Source: Time, 1928-03-05

King Amanullah in Berlin

King Amanullah in Berlin (Photo: Deutsches Bundesarchiv <a href="">License</a>)

22.2.1928: Afghanischer König in Berlin is a German-language article from Deutsche Welle about King Amanullah’s visit to Berlin during his 1928 European tour.

In the 1920s a number of German engineers, doctors and other experts were Afghanistan to assist with modernisation and development.

King Amanullah’s visit was particularly significant for Germany, because it was the first state visit to the country since its defeat in World War I.

Afghanistan had remained neutral in the Great War, which was useful for Britain as this meant that some of the troops who would otherwise have been needed to defend the Northwest Frontier were available for deployment elsewhere. However the Third Afghan War took place in 1919.

While in Berlin the King drove a type A-II U-Bahn train, which led to the class being known as the Amanullah-Wagen.

Does anyone know where he drove the train – someone must have made a note of which stations he visited?

German firms to use Herat railway?

A German firm is reported to be negotiating to use the future railway from Iran to Herat to suply NATO.

German Army spokesman confirms negotiations with Iranian Pvt Firms

Berlin, April 2, IRNA – A spokesman of German Army here Wednesday confirmed in an interview with IRNA representatives of Iranian private firms negotiated with Germans regarding transferring some non-military facilities for German forces situated in Afghanistan.

The spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The German sides negotiating with Iran are representatives of private firms that provide foodstuff and fuel for the German forces serving at NATO units in Afghanistan.

He added, “These companies are after finding alternative routs for Pakistan to forward those goods to Afghanistan thorough it.”

According to him, those companies have considered using the Chabahar-Zaranj road, or the Tehran-Harat railroad to transfer their logistical, non-military facilities to Afghanistan.
Source: IRNA 2009-04-02

Der Spiegel on King Amanullah’s visit to Berlin

Potentaten als Bittsteller (PDF) is a 2001 article about Afghanistan in Der Spiegel.

There is a 1989 photo of the steam engines at Darulaman. The text says:

Amanullah holte deutsche Firmen und Ingenieure ins Land. Sie errichteten Straßen, Brücken, Staudämme und eine königliche Residenz sowie Prachtbauten in Darulaman, einem Vorort von Kabul. Dort sollte auch eine deutsche Eisenbahn fahren, als Lieblingsspielzeug des Potentaten. Die mit dem Schiff nach Bombay transportierten Lokomotiven wurden von Elefanten über enge Passstraßen durch den Hindukusch geschleppt, ein paar hundert Meter Schienenwege verlegt. Noch nach über 20 Jahren Bürgerkriegswirren und der Zerstörung Kabuls standen dort auf einem von Disteln und Dornenbüschen überwucherten Anger drei verrostete Dampfloks und das Fahrgestell eines Reisewaggons „Made in Germany“.

Whch is something vaguely approximating to:

Amanullah sought German companies and engineers into the country. They built roads, bridges, dams
and royal palace in Darulaman, a suburb of Kabul. There should also be a German rail travel, a favourite toy of potentates. The locomtives were transported by ship to Mumbai and then pulled by elephant in passes through the Hindu Kush, where a couple of hundred metres of rail were laid [not sure I’ve got that translation quite right!]. Yet after more than 20 years of civil war turmoil and the destruction of Kabul, there overgrown by thistles and thorn bushes are three rusty steam engines and the carriage labelled “Made in Germany”.

There is a description (in German) of King Amanullah’s visit to Berlin in 1928.

Die politischen Konsultationen verliefen wenig ergiebig. Der Potentat trat als Bittsteller auf. Er brauche Geld, eröffnete der junge König sogleich dem greisen Reichspräsidenten, „Geld zur Entwicklung meines Landes“. Auch wolle er Eisenbahnen bauen. Bei den Eisenbahnen mahnte Hindenburg zur Vorsicht („wenig rentable Unternehmen“), und über besondere Geldmittel verfüge er leider nicht. Aber Deutschland sei gern bereit, Afghanistan „tüchtige Leute“ zur Verfügung zu stellen.

The political consultations were low yielding. The potentate appeared as a supplicant. He needed money, the young king immediately told the aged President [Hindenberg], ‘money to develop my country.” He even wanted to build railways. Hindenburg warned to be cautious about railways (“little profitable business”), and did not have funds. But Germany was happy to provide “capable people”.

(better translations gratefully accepted!)

Military transport routes to Afghanistan

An interesting 17 February 2009 article from Der Spiegel about the problems of supplying military forces in Afghanistan. This problem is nothing new of course – various armies over the centuries have faced it before.

Allies Struggle to Find Safer Supply Routes

By Dieter Bednarz, Rüdiger Falksohn and Alexander Szandar

The Taliban has staged repeated attacks on Afghanistan’s perilous Khyber Pass against trucks loaded with NATO supplies. The international security forces, including Germany’s Bundeswehr, are scrambling to find safer routes – and might even consider one through Iran.

Interesting bits

  • Three-quarters of all the military equipment and goods for Afghanistan goes through Karachi.
  • Germany is the only NATO country with permission to transport war materiel through Russia by rail. But other countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, have refused permits so no trains have actually run.

The Bundeswehr has also looked into the feasibility of building additional stretches of track in Afghanistan. There are already 20-year-old plans from the days of the Soviet occupation. The railroad could connect the border town of Hairatan with Mazar-e-Sharif, 67 kilometers away. Thanks to a bridge built in 1982 across the Amu Darya River, which serves as the border between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Hairatan has a direct connection to the rail network in Termes.

The financing is still up in the air, though. But given that the project would both make it easier to bring supplies to NATO troops and promote the region’s economy, military officials hope to receive funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and international organizations. For example, the Asian Development Bank plans to prepare a feasibility study with the support of the Uzbek government.

In December, a privately owned Uzbek railroad company, which already operates in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, contacted the German Embassy in Kabul. According to a confidential report the embassy sent to the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, the Uzbek company “would like to work with German companies” to implement projects sponsored by the development bank.
Source: Der Spiegel

Russia allows arms to Afghanistan by rail

The Russian government has decided to permit the German military to ship arms and military hardware by rail through Russia to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Previous transit agreements only covered non-lethal cargo.

Response by Russian MFA Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko to a Media Question Relating to Ground Transit through Russian Territory of Bundeswehr Military Cargoes to Afghanistan

Question: Has the present crisis in Russian-NATO relations affected the agreements concluded by Russia with individual member countries of the alliance regarding transit through Russian territory of military cargoes for the needs of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan?

Answer: The Russian side, including at the highest political level, has reaffirmed its interest in continuing and increasing cooperation with the alliance in the Afghan sector. This also concerns the fulfillment of the obligations under the transit agreements concluded with Germany, France and other partner countries acting as suppliers of troops for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

During the 10th round of Russian-German Interstate Consultations at summit level (St. Petersburg, October 2, 2008), the President of Russia and the FRG Chancellor gave a high assessment of the practical interaction experience accumulated in a bilateral format with regard to Afghanistan, and spoke for expanding it. In particular, it was about launching in addition to the functioning air bridge of supply for the German ISAF contingent the railway transit of Bundeswehr military cargoes to Afghanistan, which is also provided for in the 2003-2004 bilateral intergovernmental agreements currently in force.

By way of the realization of the political decision adopted at the summit, the Federal Customs Service on November 10 issued a general permit to carry out in accordance with a request from the FRG Government railway transit through Russian territory of Bundeswehr arms and military hardware and equipment to Afghanistan. This will be the first experiment of this kind in Russian relations with foreign states, taking into account close cooperation with Germany in the field of combating the common security challenges and threats.
Source Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia website