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Zuroff criticizes Latvian musical about Herberts Cukurs

BC, Riga, 08.10.2014.Print version

The Simon Wiesenthal Center's head Efraim Zuroff has criticized a Latvian musical about the famous Latvian aviator Herberts Cukurs, who also participated in the massacre of Jews during WWII, informs LETA.


''A new play in Latvia portrays Herberts Cukurs as a national hero – not the cruel killer of Jews that he was. The play is a brazen attempt to rehabilitate the image of one of the most notorious mass murderers of Jews in the Baltics during the Holocaust,'' Zuroff points out in a statement.


Zuroff points out that Cukurs' guilt in committing crimes against humanity are proven by the numerous testimonies of Jewish survivors, many which were recorded shortly after the end of the war, but in this respect Cukurs' pre-war fame worked against him, as he was easily identifiable by quite a few of his victims.


''Needless to say, such testimonies will not be part of the musical, which begins its run this Saturday night. A ''YouTube'' trailer for the play, featuring the noted Latvian singer Juris Milleris, has elicited enthusiastic responses, but apparently no protests,'' Zuroff goes on to say, while once again claiming ''Jewish victims are forgotten, or even worse, erased from the historical record'' in Latvia.


LETA reported back in May that the Prosecutor General's Office, continuing its investigation into possible crimes against humanity committed by the famous Latvian aviator Herberts Cukurs, plans on reminding Israel about the Office's request for information it may have on Cukurs.


The Prosecutor Office's press secretary Aiga Senberga told LETA at the time that the Prosecutor General's Office began a criminal process in 2006 on the mass murder of Jews in the territory of Latvia during World War II. As part of this criminal process, the activities of Cukurs are also being investigated, including his possible cooperation with the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Intelligence Agency in Latvia as part of the Latvian Security Auxiliary Police and the so-called "Arajs' Commando".


Several years ago, the Prosecutor General's Office determined in an investigation that Cukurs was indeed a member of the ''Arajs' Commando''.


The investigation revealed that Cukurs began his service as an officer on July 14, 1941. He was initially Viktors Arajs' aide, but later was responsible for the maintenance of transportation vehicles and equipment.


Those leading the investigation have obtained plenty of information from a variety of sources – Soviet-era archives from the ''Arajs' Kommando'' criminal case, which includes hundreds of pages of evidence and testimony, archival material from the criminal case against Arajs at the State Court of Hamburg, information from legal assistance requests received from Russia, Brazil and the Hamburg District Court, materials sent to Latvia by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, information available in the mass media, information submitted by Cukurs' relatives, etc., Senberga pointed out.


She points out that Russia for many years had not reacted to Latvia's request for legal assistance, but the information has finally been received.


The Prosecutor General's Office has also sent a request for legal assistance from the proper authorities in Israel, but has yet to receive an answer. Thus, it is preparing another reminder regarding this request.


Cukurs was born in Liepaja in 1900 and was killed by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in Montevideo (Uruguay) in 1965. Cukurs was a popular Latvian pilot in the 1930s. Aboard a home-made plane, Cukurs traveled to Gambia and Japan.

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