Today in Transportation History – 1866: Berlin to Görlitz Rail Line Opens in Prussia

A new main line railway in the eastern region of present-day Germany began operations. The railway line was constructed within the Kingdom of Prussia to connect the cities of Berlin and Görlitz. (Just over four years after the railway made its debut, Prussia and several other independent states came together to form the German Empire.) The railway line initially carried trains as far as the city of Cottbus, which is approximately 78 miles southeast of Berlin. By the end of 1867, the railway line was extended all the way to Görlitz.

Henry Bethel Strousberg

The major force behind the development of the Berlin-Görlitz railway was Bethel Henry Strousberg, a colorful if controversial entrepreneur who had been born in Neidenburg (now the Polish city of Nidzica) in 1823 when it was under Prussian rule. By the early 1860s, Strousberg – having already found success as a publisher, journalist, and insurance company manager – launched a whole new career as a railway industrialist. Strousberg leveraged his extensive network of financial and political contacts to carry out his work in this new role, and his other initiatives included helping to build the Hanover-Altenbeken railway line and at least a portion of the East Prussian Southern railway line.

The Berlin-Görlitz railway line remains in operation today, covering more than 129 miles between its eponymous cities. It is one of the oldest railway lines still in service in Germany.

For more information about the Berlin-Görlitz railway, please check out

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