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Constructing Iron Europe

Constructing Iron Europe: Transnationalism and Railways in the Interbellum

Irene Anastasiadou
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  • Book Info
    Constructing Iron Europe
    Book Description:

    Although the years between the world wars were ones of diplomatic tension in Europe, they also saw the construction of countless miles of international railroads on the continent. InConstructing Iron Europe, Irene Anastasiadou examines this era of railroad building and argues that, contrary to most conventional histories-which view railroad building as an aspect of nation- or empire-building-the construction in this era was deliberately transnational, and ultimately aimed at tightening links between nations and constructing a closer-knit European community.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1537-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 11-32)

    In 1910, an anonymous reporter described the experience of international railway travel, saying:

    ‘Indeed, the railway itself is an object lesson as to the futility of mere artificial restrictions on progress. The passenger boards his train at Calais and frontiers are wiped out between the English Channel and Bridinsi; or he sets out on his journey from St. Petersburg and his destination is the distant port of Vladivostok in the Far East. For him the artificial distinction that calls this “Europe” and that “Asia” is wiped out.’¹

    In interwar Europe, railways provided contemporaries with the experience of international travel. This...

  2. 2. Europe in Crisis and Railway Visions
    (pp. 33-96)

    Germany and Austria-Hungary played a prominent role in international railway traffic in Europe throughout the 19th century and until the outbreak of the war. Germany possessed a dense railway network in Europe in the years before WWI.¹ This was a result of the rapid development of the German railway network after 1870. At an international level, the German Railway Union (1847) exercised great influence over the railway affairs of central and northern Europe, particularly in promoting co-operation among railway administrations of different nationalities.² German railway policy expanded beyond the frontiers of German states as evidenced by the case of the...

  3. 3. Shifting Railway Regime
    (pp. 97-152)

    Before the outbreak of WWI, Europe was covered by a dense railway network.¹ As I discussed in the introduction, early in the 19th century, railway administrations and national governments took action to facilitate international railway traffic. As a result of this action a few international bodies engaged on issues of international railway traffic were established in the second half of the 19th century. Such bodies worked to establish regulations that would enable trains to run across national frontiers. As existing historiography has shown, Germany had an active and influential role in international railway developments, while France maintained a more conservative...

  4. 4. European Integration, European Fragmentation
    (pp. 153-200)

    In the previous chapter I discussed the establishment of an international railway regime after the war and the influence of political considerations in this regime. In this chapter, I look more closely at the working of the railway networks to explore the internationalization of railways in inter-war Europe. In particular, I focus on two aspects. First, I look at how international railway passenger services developed throughout the inter-war years. Stone has argued that by 1930 much freight rolling stock and a substantial fleet of passenger vehicles could run freely on large parts of the network.¹ In this chapter, I examine...

  5. 5. Constructing the National, Constructing the European: Greece
    (pp. 201-242)

    In this fifth chapter, I focus my analysis within a single nation-state. As I mentioned in the introduction, historiography on the internationalization of railways usually assumes that national considerations preceded international ones in the development of the railway networks. In this chapter, I investigate to what degree international considerations formed part of the negotiations on the shape of railways within a national context, and eventually influenced the shape of national railway networks. The consequence of such an argument is that the internationalization of railways actually often started within the nation state. Historiographically, I argue here that the study of the...

  6. 6. Uncovering Railway Europe
    (pp. 243-254)

    The material discussed in this book provides an insight into two paradigms of internationalization that were expressed in the interwar years. The first paradigm involved constructing transnational railway arteries by reconfiguring the existing railway infrastructure and constructing new complementary lines. This paradigm also drew on technical developments, such as electrification and the construction of sub-marine tunnels. Construction of new lines did take place in the interwar years, but mainly within the nation state. As the chapter two indicates, proposals for establishing new international railway arteries were put forward during periods of international crisis. It was in these years that engineers...

  7. Appendix I: Timeline of Conferences and Conventions held in the early years after the war, concerning railways:
    (pp. 271-273)
  8. Appendix II: Schedule of International Expresses in the 1930s
    (pp. 274-274)
  9. Appendix III: List of Illustrations
    (pp. 275-276)