Porsche Tractor Journey Raises Funds for Charity – and Awareness of the Toll of War

A doctor drives his antique Porsche tractor from Germany to North Wales for Doctors Without Borders.

| December 2015

A journey isn’t always about simply getting from one point to another. Take the amazing 1,000-mile trip from Germany to North Wales made by Arthur Niesser on his Porsche tractor in June 2014.

German-born psychoanalyst Arthur Niesser, who spent years working as a general practitioner before specializing, has long supported the work done by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). An international, independent medical organization that delivers emergency aid to those affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural disasters, Doctors Without Borders was founded in 1971 by physicians and journalists.

In 2014, Arthur decided to raise both awareness and funds for the charity by driving an antique Porsche tractor from his old family home in southern Germany to his current home in North Wales. During the planning process, he came to realize that 2014 marked the centennial of the start of World War I.

“In 1914, national borders were heavily defended,” he says. “Today (the European migrant crisis notwithstanding), most borders have become invisible and have lost their significance.” He began to see the fact that he would be able to drive his tractor across this part of Europe, a place once so troubled and full of conflict, as a kind of celebration; a measure of how far we have come in terms of peace. It also reminded Arthur of the sad losses and horrors that so many people suffered during both world wars.

Small and affordable

I imagine that quite a few physicians own Porsches, but I don’t suppose many of those are Porsche tractors. Arthur is certainly unusual in his choice of vehicle, but he didn’t actually go out and buy a Porsche: He inherited it. Arthur grew up in Schwendi in southern Germany, where his grandparents lived on a smallholding with three cows and a pig.

“For years, cows were used to pull the plough and wagons full of hay, potatoes and manure,” he explains. “Then, increasingly, tractors came into use. Porsche offered a small and cheap tractor, which was aimed at small farms. My Porsche was built early in 1960. I was 7 years old at the time.”