George Nagelmackers

George Lambert Casimir Nagelmackers, founder of the Compagnie Internationale de Wagons-Lits (CIWL), was born in the Belgium city of Liege in 1845. He was the Jewish son of wealthy Bankers and was a trained engineer. Many of the powerful European Bankers were Jews who in general had an international outlook and invested heavily in Railways, notably the Rothschild family of Germany, whose sons established such railways as the French Nord and the Nord Belge while also supporting the Paris, Lyons and Mediterranee Railway and in North Africa Railways in Algeria.

The first international train service was not founded by CIWL, as is often stated. It is also unlikely that the principal influence of George Nagelmackers was his visit to the USA in 1869 when he travelled in Pullman cars. By this time he would have been well aware of the international train service steaming through his home town of Liege. This International train served Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland was founded in 1865 by the Est Railway Company of France.

CIWL was established on the 1st Oct 1872 with Nagelmackers as the sole director. Prior to this, on his return from the USA and his study of the Pullman car system (Although George Behrend, author of many books on CIWL, states from his research he did not meet Pullman) he published a paper on the 20th April 1870 called "Project d'Installation de wagons-lits sur les chemins de fer du continent" (Project for the installation of sleeping cars on the railways of the Continent). Unfortunately to date I have been unable to establish the content of this document. It is therefore likely that the influences at play in the founding of the company was the Est Railway company having established an International train, the luxury of the Pullman cars and the personal advantage of being a son of a powerful European Banker and the associated connections between the banks of Europe and the railways.