Friday, February 17, 2017

History has some completely astonishing stories that we never have heard of. Rarely does it intersect with this auto hobby, and the coachbuilders, but

The book, the Kellner Affair tells the fascinating story of how some people in the French luxury car business who fought bravely against the Nazi occupation force in Paris.

Because you've never heard about Mont Valérien, the prison fortress and Nazi place of execution.

One early morning, the condemned had been transported to the place of execution. The firing squad made ready. The famous coachbuilder Jacques Kellner and Georges Paulin, the gifted designer of gorgeous aerodynamic cars, were dead.

For the Gestapo-controlled court that had handed down the death sentences and the German conscripts who fired the bullets, it was a case of finishing the business, once the culprits had been caught and “justice” metered out. Some names to cross off a list. For France and the nascent French Résistance, it was the loss of heroes who had been willing to give their lives to fight the Nazis and paid the price. For their relatives and loved ones, it was the unbearable loss of what they held dearest in the world.

The author had this to say:

"We started out wanting to tell the story of Joseph Figoni’s life and the story of the marvelous designs he created – that will be a large work: Joseph Figoni, le Grand Couturier de la Carrosserie Automobile (the book is in English). It will be published simultaneously with The Kellner Affair. But as with our previous book about Jacques Saoutchik, we also wanted to set that story into relief against the backdrop of important events that transpired in the protagonist’s lifetime. Since Joseph Figoni became involved—albeit peripherally—with the Phill reseau that counted his colleague and competitor Jacques Kellner and the designer Georges Paulin among its members, much of this backdrop necessarily concerned the fall of France in 1940, the subsequent occupation by the Germans, the formation of the resistance group and what happened to it. First we were going to write it into the body text of the Figoni book. We soon realized that was no good, so we decided to write about Kellner, Paulin and Phill as a series of interludes inserted in the Figoni biography – sort of like a novel with two parallel storylines, and structured in such a manner that they could be read independently. Then the number of interludes started growing. Every time a new dossier came our way, it was clear that the hunt could not stop until we were reasonably sure there were no more to be found. With the dossiers that will be reproduced in an appendix in the back of this book, it became clear that the parallel storyline route also would not work. So we have decided to bite the bullet, and The Kellner Affair will now be a stand-alone book. The Kellner Affair will both be included as a fourth volume with the Figoni book, and published on its own."

 Peter M. Larsen and Ben Erickson

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