Elco Lenstra / Elco Lenstra – We Don’t Want Adventurers Here

Elco Lenstra – We Don’t Want Adventurers Here

Elco Lenstra – We Don’t Want Adventurers Here


Read our sample translation of We Don’t Want Adventurers Here

About the book

Ernst August Kaerger (1879-1955) had, like his forebears, been destined to become a baker in a sleepy provincial town in Prussia. However, during a period of upheaval in early twentieth-century Germany, there were other professions in store for him: he became a naval doctor in colonial Namibia and China, he performed surgery on hundreds of young men on the Flemish battlefields during the First World War, he bandaged the Red Baron’s fingers, was present when SS officer Reinhard Heydrich met his wife, he crossed paths with both Kaiser Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler, and, during World War II, he managed to save his own sons from the horrors of the Eastern Front.

In We Don’t Want Adventurers Here, Elco Lenstra uses diaries, vast quantities of archival material and hundreds of letters to evocatively reconstruct the fascinating life of his great-grandfather. The latter had been a first-hand witness to countless highs in lows of modern European history.


My great-grandfather duelled with swords, was a marine, a surgeon, a character in a best-selling novel, a decorated war hero, the author of medical articles about typhus fever, cleft pallets and gunshot wounds to the head, a mountaineer, a prize-winning jockey, the director of a sanatorium in China, a chauffeur-driven landowner and, according to the Nazis, a highly unreliable member of the Freemasons.

Press on We Don’t Want Adventurers Here:

Lenstra writes with gusto about the life of his German great-grandfather and captivates the reader. - NRC Handelsblad

More than fascinating. This family history reads like an adventure novel. A rare glimpse into German colonial history. - Algemeen Dagblad

Poignantly describes the life of Lenstra's family. – Trouw


ELCO LENSTRA (b. 1986) is a publisher. He studied German, Polish and Dutch Studies in Amsterdam and Warsaw. He spent four years travelling to various countries to uncover the history of his great-grandfather and his family.

© Keke Keukelaar

Additional book information

  • Non-fiction
  • ISBN 9789400409019
  • Number of pages: 464
  • World rights: Thomas Rap
  • Price: €29,99
  • English sample and synopsis available