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You may have read the great works of author Peter Larsen and Ben Erickson such as their 3 volume book titled J. Saoutchik– Carrossier, or the 2 volume book titled Talbot-Lago Grand Sport – the Car from Paris. Peter, together with Ben Erickson, are about to launch a new book, The Kellner Affair, Matters of Life and Death. It is the thrilling story about one of the greatest French coachbuilders, recounting the tragic end of Jacques Kellner and his coachbuilding enterprise during the Nazi occupation of France. Peter and Ben will launch this new 3 volume book, published by Dalton Watson, at Retromobile in Paris next month and signing sessions will be held on the stand of Motors Mania on February 7, 8 and 10 from 3-4 pm, stand E-013 in Hall 1. 

At the last edition of Techno Classica Essen I had an interview with Peter about the story of this book. This is a very emotional book, also for Peter himself. The second world war destroyed more than many of our present generation can imagine and ripped families apart. Nowadays there are still many marks of that. Peter’s family has a history during WW2 that relates a bit to that of Georges Kellner. This made it a particularly emotional exercise for Peter to write this book. He put everything aside to focus on this amazing and tragic story. 

Also in my own family there is some history related to this book. My great-grandfather died in the same concentration camp Neuengamme where also Peter’s father was imprisoned, but he had more ‘luck’. My dad bought a book about Neuengamme a while ago. The name of my great-grandfather was on the death-roll in this book. My dad felt he wanted to know more about what had happened in the camp and took the challenge to read it. But he didn’t get further than the introduction, which was already so horrifying that he put the book aside. It was only more than a year later that he had the courage to read the book from the beginning to the very end. He read me some parts of the book, which made me shiver.

I really look forward to find out more about the Kellner Affair, because it is such a loaded story. This book is much more than the history of one of the greatest French coachbuilders. It is a true story that reads like a novel. The effort that has been put into writing this book is enormous. The research was very complex and difficult. 

Hoping to see you all next month at Retromobile, one of the greatest events of the year!

Photo credits: Peter Larsen - Kellner Affair