domingo, 11 de janeiro de 2009



“MASAAD killed an innocent man”.

“ The merit of folks who made this movie was to change the question from how many Jews did Cukurs, to did he even kill one Jew?”

MASAAD killed an innocent man”.

1- Even as I was writing my book about holocaust in Latvia, I noticed that there were many exaggerations as far as the question about holocaust , the matter of Cukurs did not seem like an important question.
I could have looked as microcosm to a wider problem about exaggerations and untruth in literature about Holocaust in Latvia. If I had known ten years ago, that Massada’s version about Cukurs being the biggest mass killer of Hebrews in Latvia, who be assigned the destruction of 30 000 people, contains deep lack of knowledge, if not lies. Massada version not only contains simple falsehoods, but also shows a lack of knowledge about the system of destruction as such. Destruction system was brought to Latvia by and under Einsatzgrupe leadership, not one individual was given the opportunity to set records .

Ten years ago I did not have the opportunity to access materials which these days the movie makers were able to gather. A very important document which has come to light is that which Cukurs provided as testimony to the police in Brazil. To the film makers’ credit is that they changed the questions, from how many Hebrews Cukurs killed , to did he kill any. What happened to the democratic system’ s presumption of innocence? If someone would ask me if there was a possibility while serving under Arajs command to kill a Hebrew in his home ,I would say yes. In 1941. 300 men served under Arajs and his unit needed administrative people, who were responsible for maintaining modern inventory. Lieutenant Leimanis served as an officer for arms. He was still alive in the 70’/80’ and Eriks Parups testified in his behalf , he said that Latvian officers’ resistance movement infiltrated into Arajs commando to spy on their activities. He cooperated with American judiciary instances thus no accusations were raised against him. Among many hundreds of Arajs’ former soldiers depositions, nowhere is Leimanis or Cukurs mentioned. When Arajs was tried in Hamburg (Germany) among his documents Cukurs was not mentioned.

2. The only accusations about Cukurs as “butcher” of Riga come from surviving Hebrews, who wanted to find explanation for the tragedy of their people , but there are multiple problems with their testimony.
In first place they lack information about holocaust internal organization, and methods of destruction. They had no knowledge about the Latvians who did the shooting. Many of them think, that killing of Hebrews in Latvia were improvised on the spot and did not follow an organized plan. Majority of those who survived ,could not name one shooter except Cukurs .We arrive at crass conflict of testimony: none of those who testified ,are able to place Cukurs at the edge of shooting pit, but the only Latvian, whom Hebrews were able to name was Cukurs . If I was given a choice of whom I would believe, I would lean towards the Latvian testifier, who was with Cukurs . At least those testimonies were given under oath. If Cukurs had participated, as an officer ,he would have given orders and would not have participated as a shooter. The Latvian shooters would not have forgotten his name .

3. As far as testifiers testimony has been analyzed and examined , the coefficient of truth has been low and full of contradictions .As an examples we could mention SD officer Elke Scherwitz’ , of Hebrew ancestry , trial, who was accused by survivors, especially Max Kaufman , and in his 1948 trial (Scherwitz) in Munich was found guilty of killing 30 000 Hebrews in Latvia .
German historian Anita Kugler has made a study about Scherwitz and sees these accusations as exaggerated and false. Then follows the trial of captain Vilis Hazners , who was tried in the USA .He was accused of destroying 30 000 Hebrews in Latvia. Again, accusations were based by survivors testimony .These were full of contradictions and exaggerations .These evaporated in cross examinations by lawyers. Hazners was found not guilty. More than 70 000 Hebrews were exterminated in Latvia, but that did not happed the way testifiers gave depositions. The same 30 000 exterminated Hebrews in Latvia were assigned to Cukurs and on these same depositions of survivors ,Massada overhastily killed Cukurs. This is not the time to analyze all of supposedly Cukurs’ cruelty , yet we can without doubt affirm that during the first weeks of German occupation he was on his farm in Bukaisi village( might even have come under German arrest ) ,arrived in Riga, as he states , only on July 14, 1941.Thus all the testimony (about 75%) about his cruelty before July 14th are nullifiable . That also means that all other testimony should be looked at through skeptical / rational grinding stones.

The fact that Cukurs was part of Arajs’ unit as supervisor of a garage, is not deniable. In Cukurs’ book of life one should also note that he helped at least three Latvian Hebrews to survive holocaust, this fact in Massada’ s book about Cukurs was omitted. A girl named Miriam Kaizner ,the family Cukurs hid in their farmstead in Bukaisi and later took her with them to Brazil; a youth named Abram Shapiro ( who to this day plays the violin in Las Vegas) was given working papers in the summer of 1941 and Lutrins , whom Cukurs’ garage workers saved from shooting in Rumbula ,hid him and brought him back to the garage on Valdemar street where he worked as a garage mechanic.

In summing up everything, one must say that testimony against Cukurs was exaggerated , even absurd .To find truth about this sinful man, the investigation should be started from point zero, which it seems the energetic film producer are to doing.

Andrievs Ezergailis
Professor of History at Ithaca College, NY, USA
(Division of Social Sciences and Humanities)
Foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences

Probably the most-quoted authority on the Holocaust and related issues in Nazi-occupied Latvia.

Parentheses for clarification are inserted by translator Zinta Kulits.

Um comentário:

PpNella disse...


My name is Nicolina Lanni and I am researching for a documentary on Herberts Cukurs for National Geographic and The History Channel.

I am interested in getting in touch with the Cukurs family, specifically Herberts children and I noticed that Richard Cukurs is the blog master of this site. If I am not mistaken I thought Richard was the grandson of Herberts Cukurs.

I can be reached at or at 01 416 531 2500 ext. 528.

Muito obrigado,
Nicolina Lanni