An Indian in Dresden
Searching for a hint or clue for that object of desire remained elusive for quite sometime. We searched endlessly, for that which led to an Indian 101 Scout offered for sale. Whilst on the 101 Association’s Site, I read their ‘For Sale’ section, finding an incomplete ‘29 Scout project located in New Zealand.
On speaking with its owner, it was revealed that negotiations for its sale were in progress, but not complete. The question of interest arose, an offer was submitted, due consideration was afforded, only to be informed my offer had been refused in favour of another. Disappointment again raised its ugly head. I’m fortunate to have my good wife Lisa on side, who shares equally my passion and zest for bikes. This failed transaction returned again and again to my thoughts. Hesitantly, I made contact with the vendor, who remembered my interest in the bike he sold. I then said, if any problem arose with the sale, I’d be still very interested in its purchase, to which he astoundingly replied, ‘I also have a restored Indian Scout I’d like to sell, and have not yet set a price.’ Karma led me back to the table, for good cause.
Coincidently, it was established, we were both members of The 101 Association, which helped form a bond between us. A price was agreed on and the purchase made. Shortly after payment, an envelope arrived in Australia. On accessing its contents, I found a comprehensive dossier, relating to the bike. Interestingly, its dossier, at length, was not discussed during its sale; an astounding one at that. It contained early papers, pertaining to the bike, by Herbert Baldauf in the city of Dresden, Germany, and was issued with Licence plate number 11-18009 (11 being Roman numeral for two). It contained the original Indian Motorcycle Owners manual, in German text. There was also a typed paper, yellowed by age, the German Dealers ‘Schebler Carb’ operating instructions, and on the bike’s toolbox, a copper placard, stamped with the German Dealer ‘Karl Appel’. The original owner, Herbert Baldauf, possessed the bike for 46 years in total, using it as a daily rider. It was his primary business vehicle, with an attached Dusting Prospect Standard Despatch Model M sidecar. His trade was the restoration of Antique Lighting, where one immediately imagines those ornate chandeliers gracing stately buildings. Mr Baldauf’s business logo remains upon the Dusting’s side. A quick calculation was made. The bike was in Dresden, before, during and after WW2; ‘impossible’, I thought, most property was destroyed or looted.
I examined the dealer’s plate again, and engine and VIN number were stamped upon it, matching its cases and engine. There was more paperwork – more than expected -and what surfaced next was astounding. German registration papers endorsed with Nazi German Swastikas emblazoned clearly in ink, upon the aged yellow certificates, which were stamped 1937 and 1953 respectively. It all matched, but why no endorsements for the inbetween years? It led me to suspect the bike may well of been concealed, as in times of conflict it is quite common for people to secrete their property, for fear of it being confiscated for official use; a ‘war effort’ so to speak. I imagined a basement area, with perhaps a false wall, or even a cement tomb, with ample dry desiccant; the mind boggled. History shows that Dresden, a town famous for its cups, saucers and other pottery, was heavily bombarded by American and Russian allied forces. It may well be the bike’s place of secretion was one of few storages not destroyed when British bombers dropped 45,517 tons of bombs and the Americans dropped 23,000 tons. The German surrender/ armistice saw much looting, but against these odds, it’s here to tell its story of War and Wall. After the armistice, settlement had it, Dresden was located on the Russian side of the Wall, as Germany was divided between East and West, with access between this divide provided through ‘Check Point Charlie.’ In 1977, some 46 years after its purchase, ‘War and Wall’ was sold to its second owner, Gerhard Ullmann of Bautzen, a small town next to Dresden, within the Communist Russian Red Zone. Gerhard was a Toolmaker and avid vintage motorcycle enthusiast, who set about with the bike’s current state of restoration in 1977. Mr Ullmann even raced the bike at various sports events. In 1989, the wall came crashing down, and enabled the reunification of East and West. Stationed on the Russian side of the wall, interestingly enough, was a young aspiring KGB agent, Vladamir Putin, an avid gatherer of intelligence. It may well be why the documentation shows no endorsements, between 1937 and 1953. The mind boggles, as these were undoubtedly troubled times, enveloped by much uncertainty, confusion, lawlessness and disdain. Caution at all cost was imperative and prevailed, where indeed, the safeguard of one’s bike was paramount, even by concealment!
Original dealer’s plate.
The tradesman’s combo.
Cheer up, you’re free now!
LEFT Original German language handbook. BELOW 1937 registration certificate. BELOW RIGHT 1953 documents.