June 7, 2005

Wiesenthal Center Submits Evidence of Participation of Herberts Cukurs in Mass Murder of Jews During the Holocaust; Calls for End to Campaign to Rehabilitate Nazi Mass Murderer

The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had submitted extensive testimony regarding the active participation of Herberts Cukurs, who served as the deputy commandant of the infamous Latvian Arajs Kommando murder squad, to the Office of the General Prosecutor in Riga in response to efforts by the Cukurs family, Latvian nationalists and others to cover up or minimize his Holocaust crimes. (Prior to World War II Cukurs was a national hero in Latvia in the wake of his solo intercontinental flights to Africa and the Middle East.)

In an opinion piece published today in the leading Latvian daily Diena, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff summarized portions of the nine testimonies of Holocaust survivors, presently in the Yad Vashem Archives in Jerusalem, which clearly implicate Cukurs in murder and other atrocities. In his letter to Janis Osis, director of the division for the prosecution of totalitarian crimes, Zuroff called upon the Latvian authorities to “once and for all put an end to the attempts to ignore or minimize his [Cukur’s] guilt and/or grant him rehabilitation.”

According to Zuroff:

“Herberts Cukurs may have been a Latvian national hero before World War II, but his horrific, disgusting and despicable behavior during the Holocaust turned him into a Latvian villain, whose crimes remain a terrible stain on Latvian history.

“In that respect, every effort should be made to ensure that his crimes are not forgotten, ignored or minimized in any way. On the contrary, his guilt should be acknowledged and taught so that such crimes will never be repeated.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

Use this link to read Dr. Zuroff's article from Diena (Riga, Latvia)