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"B l a u e r   E x p r e s s"

The festive arrival of a train with Red Army soldiers , hauled by a Su class engine, at Moscow in 1945 (ADN)

The first Soviet express Moscow - Berlin with a "soft" sleeper ex-CIWL from Ober-Wolga 1909, arriving on broad-gauge at Berlin Schlesischer Bahnhof (Berliner Zeitung June 29, 1945)

"Kolonnenlok" class 01 with a train described as "Blauer Express" in Berlin (Funk-Illustrierte Mai 13,1951/ coll. Heribert Schroepfer)

Cinema cars reportedly were used on a Soviet army train and it's a mystery if it is an express Moscow - Tbilisi (as described with this contemporary publication of the 50s)

The victorious Red Army operated its first military freight train from Kuestrin to Berlin Lichtenberg Station on April 25, 1945. It ran on standard gauge, according to historian Laurenz Demps. The main line from Poland had one track converted to broad gauge and on May 5 or 7 came the first broad gauge military train to Berlin. The sensation was the arrival of the first direct express from Moscow at Berlin Schlesischer Bahnhof with a Russian Eu class 0-10-0 steam locomotive and even wooden ex-CIWL cars, which had been requisitioned in 1918. This first train left Moscow on June 25, 1945. The “Taegliche Rundschau” enthusiastically described the luxury of this express, its sleepers, restaurant, bathroom and its cinema car. But an even more prominent train was to arrive at Berlin on July 17 - the special which brought Stalin and Molotov to the Potsdam conference. German publications mentioned a Northern route, but Stalin’s minister Beriya had confirmed a route length of 594 km through Poland, that meant the direct way was taken. The few photographs are showing DA 20-27, a USA/TC diesel type, and the E1387 steam locomotive at Potsdam, which hauled the blue and green cars. Alexander Tchaikovsky gave a description, camouflaged as a novel: Traction was by the American diesel, whilst the blue Russian 0-10-0 seemed to have been used only additionally. At Dnepropetrovsk later the S0 17-1613 (a 2-10-0) was on exhibition, described as the locomotive which hauled Stalin’s train as far as Berlin. But another report said, that the only broad gauge engines at Berlin were from the E group and a re-gauged German 52.

In September 1945 the tracks from the new Russian border station Brest-Litovsk to Berlin were rebuilt to standard gauge. According to Demps, on October 3 started the daily express 2/1 from Berlin to Brest, where the passengers had to change to broad gauge. A picture showed the war-type engine 42 845 at Schlesischer Bahnhof, but it is not known if it was train 1. Later, Wolfang Theurich of Waggonbau Goerlitz discovered a list of the cars for the Soviet administration SMAD, including sleepers and coaches, diners however only “in reserve”. A railway official (who didn’t mention his name) confirmed 6 train sets with ex-Belgian, Dutch, French and Italian coaches, from 1946 being painted light-blue and then it became known as “Blauer Express”. Its Mitropa sleeper however was red. Even requisitioned red ex-CIWL cars were in service. Temporarily there was a branch from Potsdam Wildpark, united with train 2 from Schlesischer Bahnhof at Berlin Koepenick. In 1950 old DR coaches were rebuilt to WLC (4-berth) sleepers and in 1951 8 sleepers 1st class (WLA) and 27 ones with 4-berth compartments (WLC), now green, were built for train Dm 2/1. The “Funk-Illustrierte” of May 13, 1951 wrote: “The Blauer Express is the first de-Luxe, which now runs from Berlin via Brest-Litovsk to Moscow”. Though that’s wrong, it could mean that from now it had the new cars, according to G. Stetza including a Mitropa diner. Or the modest civilian D4/3 was meant, which at Poznan changed cars with the Balt-Orient-Express. In 1950 it had got a coach Paris - Warsaw from the Nord-Express, which had changed its route to Stockholm, and in 1951 it was announced for Berlin - Brest services.

The most interesting feature of the "Blauer Express" always had been its traction. SMAD provided its own service by the "Kolonnenlok", first with series 42 (2-10-0), then 03 (4-6-2) and then 01 (4-6-2), from 1947 rebuilt and painted blue with red wheels. And they did run through Poland as far as Brest, with 3 to 4 changes of engine! For the secrets of engines rebuilt for burning coal dust see the chapter The Myth.

Nearly nothing would have been known about the connecting Russian train Brest - Moscow, if not the U.S. Admiral Leslie C. Stevens would have written his report "Russian Assignment". In July 1947 he traveled from Berlin on the "international car" (the red sleeper), reserved for high officers, and he took food and water supplies with him, for there was no restaurant service. At Brest-Litovsk he had to change to the Russian train. "We went to bed in a sleeping-car which was as comfortable as a sleeper can be - made in Germany … There was water and even a dining-car." What locomotives might have hauled this train in Russia? The Soviets had requisitioned German 03 Pacifics (then TS) and also streamlined 0310 Pacifics. Engineer and historian J.B. Kronawitter had found out that the TS was in service at Minsk. But if it hauled the Berlin train may for ever remain a secret.

Soviet military express
Moscow - Brest - Berlin, first arrival at Berlin June 28, 1945 on broad gauge, locomotive and cars Russian, estimated formation:
EU 713
Some "hard" 20.2 m and 18 m types
3 unknown ones, possibly 20 m and cinema
1 "soft" class with 4-berth compartments
1 spalnyi vagon ex-CIWL sleeper series 1839 -…… from 1909
1 Restoran ex-CIWL (from CGC 1899?)
? possibly an ex-CIWL van with bath

D2/1 "Bauer Express"
Berlin - Brest on standard gauge; consist ca. 1947 - 50:
1 car for locomotive staff
2 vans
12 coaches and 1 sleeper, by SMAD
1 heating generator van (in winter)

Traction 1947 - 54: German 01 class as far as Brest, change of locomotives at Frankfurt (0), Poznan, Warszawa, during winter also at Kutno.
Requisitioned German, Belgian, Dutch, French and Italian coaches, light blue, sleeper Mitropa-red. In 1950 sleeping cars were rebuilt from coaches, also foreign ones, and in 1951 new sleepers were built, now DR-green.

SMAD sleeping and dining cars
(according to Wolfgang Theurich):

35012334WLtype R, teak
350222042WLfrom 1928
35033488WLtype LX
35043793WLtype F, later WR
35052811WLtype ST
36062499WLtype R, teak
35081060WRfrom 1929
35091161WRstreamlined, from 1939
3510794WRfrom 1911
35111202WRstreamlined, from 1940
3512775WRSMAD until 1949
35131084WRSMAD from1935

Coaches numbered from 3514 upward. Also known are nos. 5005 ex WL 223591, 5006 ex WL 1211, 5007 ex WL 222670 and 5182 ex WR 768.

DR sleeping-cars:
Category Registration BuilderYearRemarks
WL10291(rebuilt)1951ex CIWL 3724, type Y
WL AB10301-10308Bautzen, Görlitz19518 2-berth
WLC10950-10977Bautzen19517 4-berth
WLCBautzen, Görlitz1950rebuilt from coaches

Brest - Moscow
In 1947 (according to Leslie G. Stevens, no formation): 1 Spalnyi vagon (sleeper, ex-Mitropa, red), 1 diner and other cars, by SZD.

DR sleeping-car WLAB 10303 from 1951 for the Blauer Express Berlin - Brest (VEB Waggonfabrik Goerlitz, coll. Wolfgang Theurich)

Arriving at Erfurt with DR diesel 118.7 in Sep 1987, most likely the Soviet military train Brest – Erfurt (Marc Dahlstrom)

The "Ulbricht-Schlafzimmer" of the diesel railcar set 183 251-8, ex SVT137 234 type Leipzig, refurbished into a VIP saloon, stored at Leipzig, 1993 (WS)

Say goodbye to Germany - departure of the military train to Moscow, Wuensdorf "Russischer Bahnhof", April 5, 1991 (WS)

Pacific Pm3 of PKP, ex-German 0310, in the background Os24 and Ty2, on exhibition at Warsaw Glowna, Nov. 1989 (WS)

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