Jump to content

This ride I just had to do.


Recommended Posts

My dad was a motorcycle enthusiast as much as I could tell. He bought his new DKW 200cc two stroke in 1937. He lived in Hamburg (Germany). In July 1939 he decided to go on a trip with his motorcycle from Hamburg via Nuremberg, Munich, Innsbruck through the Austrian Alps and back. This was just a few months before the start of WW2. He documented his trip with about twenty small black and white pictures, nicely arranged in a small photo album. All the pictures had captions handwritten under them. My dad was drafted in to the German Army right at the start of the war. He ended up in Kurland (Russia) in December 1944 from where his last letter was received. He is MIA since that time. I was born in March of 1944, obviously never met my dad and I did not have many things to remind me of him, but this little photo album and over 150 letters that he wrote to my mom. The album has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. So, some years ago I started to think about re-creating my dad’s trip. It wasn't easy to find all the places on the map. But now with Google, Mapquest and the like it was possible. A few years ago on a trip to Germany I bought some Motorcycle maps of the area, started to pinpoint the locations and came up with a possible route. I found a BMW dealer in my wife's hometown of Coburg in Bavaria who was willing to rent me a R1200RT at a reasonable price. So, in June of this year I went over there and took off on my journey with copies of my dad’s pictures in hand. Dad%20on%20DKW.jpg My first stop was Munich where I had a very pleasant visit with my my cousin Peter and his family. In Munich I was able to match the first picture. It was at the Koenigsplatz at the entrance to the Glyptotek museum. Koenigsplatz.jpgKoenigsplatz%20now.jpg I carried on past Germany’s tallest mountain , the Zugspitze to the Fernpass where I stopped at the Blindsee, an Alpine Lake, then Blindsee.jpg and now Blindsee%20now.jpg. The small village of Pettnau and its church was the next target Pettnau%20church.jpg and now Pettnau%20church%20now.jpg.

In the afternoon I arrived in Innsbruck and after some searching and accidentally driving through a pedestrian zone I found this place Innsbruck.jpg and this is what it looks like today Innsbruck%20now.jpg. Nothing much seems to have changed there. Later in the evening I found a B&B in the small village of Stumm. Paid all but $30 for Bed and a great breakfast. That became the standard for my overnight stays in small villages. Never had a problem finding a place. The hosts were very friendly, intrigued by my quest and the fact that I had come all the way from Canada to do this trip. I took a little detour into northern Italy and rode through the Dolomite mountains to Cortina. Dolomite.jpg The weather was not so good with some rain but I had suitable gear with me and it did not dampen my spirits. The highlight came when visiting the Grossglockner National Park. Great mountain passes and amazing scenery. Global warming was clearly evident when seeing the Pasterze Glacier, the largest glacier in Austria. My dad’s picture still shows a large mass of ice Pasterze%20glacier.jpg that is now about 90% gone. Pasterze%20now.jpg.


I walked down to the foot of the glacier, which took a good hour. I had not thought much about how I would get back up and soon found out that at 8000 feet climbing a mountain was not that easy. After a lot of huffing and puffing I made it half way back up to a Glacier train station and rode it the rest of the way. Glacier%20train.jpg I met a very kind young couple from Singapore who walked back up with me, taking their time staying with me all the way. We had great conversation. We have had some e-mail contact since sending pictures back and forth.Me%20at%20Grossglockner.jpg

I carried on from there past Groebming to Admont Admont.jpg and this is what it looks like today. Admont%20now.jpg On to the Gesaeuse National Park Gesaeuse%20Park.jpgGesaeuse%20now.jpg. I rode on towards Vienna but took a turn northwards to St. Poelten and Krems at the river Danube. From there along the Danube to Linz, Passau and back along the Czech border. It was a great trip. I was able to connect with my late dad in a very special way. Met some very nice people and had a great time riding through very scenic mountain passes. I had a smile on my face all the way. The bike performed flawlessly. After eight days I made it back to my brother in law's place in Coburg, tired after a long days ride but elated. Made%20it.jpgAfter a couple of days rest it was back to Canada. Resting.jpgThis was one of those things in life I just had to tackle and am happy that I was able to tick it off on that proverbial list of things to do.

Link to comment

Dietrich, I doubt that your father could have imagined that you would trace his ride 63 years later, then use a miracle called the internet to share his ride and yours with the entire world. What a poignant ride tale. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Link to comment

Great to hear that you had a great time. being able to duplicate may of your Dad's pictures is great.....


Thanks you for Sharing

Link to comment

Wow, one of the best ride tales!




So the same, so different. Amazing that you were able to take so many shots from the same locations as your father did.

Link to comment

It is awesome that you were able to re-create the scenes from your father's 60 years old photos. Looks like an incredible trip.


Well done and thank you for letting us tag along.

Link to comment

Absolutely BRILLIANT!


Your a very lucky man to have a photo history that you could trace.

I loved seeing the before and afters. I'm going to go back and just stare at them. clap.gif


Best ride tale ever!!!!!!!!

Link to comment

That was one of the best tributes to a Father I could ever imagine!


Job well done. Your father is undoubtedly proud of you as he watched from above.



Link to comment

That is so neat. I know the feeling you must have had as you matched your father's pictures and finally found the exact spot from which he photographed his original.


Very well done...


Mike O

Link to comment

What a cool story to share with all of us.Your Dad was definitely there with you on that one!I did a MC trip to Germany in 2000,covered some of the places you went also.

My Mom was born in Kitchener,Ont.

Link to comment
Joe Frickin' Friday

Very, VERY cool. My sister and her husband live in Colorado, and last Christmas they got a book with a similar format, i.e. photos from colorado about 100 years ago, matched with current photos taken in the exact same locations. It's very grounding, connecting somehow, to see history stitched to the present day like that; I expect this is doubly true for you, on so personal a journey. Thanks for sharing. thumbsup.gif

Link to comment

I sent a note to the president of the Owner's Association, suggesting they turn this into a story for the magazine. You should pursue it if you are interested.

Link to comment

Thanks, I am away for the next two weeks back to Europe with the family this time. But I am working on a more detailed account of the trip. I would not mind having it published in the magazine. We'll see.

Link to comment

How cool is that?!! Absolutely awesome! Good for you! thumbsup.gif I can't imagine the emotions of doing this trip!


Going MIA on the Russian front must have been miserable! I am a couple of months younger than you, born in Budapest. I didn't lose my father in the war, but, according to my mother, he came back a changed man. Tough times!

Do let us know when you write your more detailed account of your trip. lurker.gif

Link to comment


Wonderful story, sent chills across my spine reading it!


Beautiful scenery as well, I've ridden through that area myself.


There is a book The Forgotten Soldier written by one of the few German Soldiers who actually survived the Russian front. It’s a chilling tale of the hardships suffered by the German Soldier in Russia. If you have not already read it, I would highly recommend it.


Link to comment

It must have been a great feeling to know that you were at the same spot where your father once stood ,you shared his journey .Thanks for sharing it with us.

Link to comment

Thank you all for your kind and sensitive comments on my trip following my fathers "tiretreads" so to speak. You are right, it was emotional, a bit to my surprise since I grew up without a dad and shared that fate with millions in post-war Germany. But doing this journey, even after so many years, got to me a little. No shame in that, I guess.

Link to comment

A fine, fine ride tale.


That photo album has always been a treasure, but now it's also a treasure map, leading you to a greater connection with your father. I'm just so impressed by the whole adventure, and the amazing photos you've taken.


Thank you for sharing this with us.

Link to comment

Absolutely amazing!! Great pictures, great story, and a great way to connect with your father. It makes me realize that the folks caught up in the war during that era were normal folks that enjoyed the things we enjoy. The war was so pervasive and that is all you hear about those times that it is all too easy to put the face of the enemy on everyone caught up in the mess.


I am sorry that you lost your father in WWII. Retracing his steps prior to hat must have been special!

Link to comment

Wow, incredible. I'm almost at a loss for words . . . . bncry.gif


Regardless of how much more famous this 'Tale becomes, this one here is now "kept" for eternity--AWESOME story and AWESOME job writing it up! thumbsup.gif


When I was an exchange student in Germany 1987, I spent Christmas with the "elderly" parents of a German student who happened to be staying with my mom in San Diego at the same time. I had grown up watching reruns of "Hogan's Heroes" where the German characters were always threatened with the worst punishment anyone could think of: being sent to "The Russian Front". I spent a few long nights over the winter break completely enraptured, listening to this octogenarian's harrowing tales of his years on the Russian Front. It's amazing that anyone could have survived such incredibly horrible and hostile circumstances--it appeared that not much had changed since Napoleon had tried the same thing in the previous century! eek.gif


What a great way to "connect" with your father who you never got to meet! Again, NICE job! It brings tears to my eyes thinking of him watching proudly as you retraced his "treads". bncry.gif

Link to comment
My dad was a motorcycle enthusiast as much as I could tell.



So is his son. Great write up and pictures. Thanks for taking us along.

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...