New revelations about ‘Hitler’s Jewish soldier’

A new documentary takes on the jaw-dropping story of Alex Kurzem, whose past as an accidental Nazi mascot has been questioned by some


Alex Kurzem, centre, with the Latvian battalion that is said to have took him in (Credit: SBS / Australian Uncovered)

A new film released next week will reveal fresh truths about the Jewish boy who became a Nazi mascot.

Hitler’s Jewish Solider?, to be released on SBS on February 8, will tell the incredible story of Alex Kurzem, who as a child was said to have survived the freezing Belarusian wilds and went on to become “Hitler’s Jewish soldier”.

Alex’s story became widely known after it was told in a bestselling book published by his eldest son, Mark, in 2007. The memoir, called The Mascot, attracted international attention upon its release with even talk of it becoming a Hollywood movie.

But his story was so remarkable that many struggled to believe it. Some in both the Latvian and Jewish communities said the story was a Holocaust hoax and accused Alex of being a fraud.

Now the documentary will shed new light on the story through resurfaced footage and other evidence which Dan Goldberg, the filmmaker behind the project, concludes makes the “essence of Alex’s story” true.

Alex, who was given the name Uldis Kurzemnieks by his captors, foraged for food in sub-zero temperatures for several days after witnessing the Nazis massacre his family and village, and at night tied himself to the boughs of trees to avoid wolves.

Eventually he was found by a Latvian police soldier then acting as Hitler’s local Nazi SS enforcers in German-occupied Belarus and taken back to the battalion’s base. Alex later said of that encounter: “I would have gone with the devil if he had taken me by the hand.”

There he became their “mascot”, complete with miniature SS uniform and a new name. Alex – who became Uldis – travelled alongside his captors for two years and witnessed them commit atrocities and torture against his fellow Jews. The experience deeply traumatised Alex, who for decades didn’t tell his story.

Later, in 1944, as the Soviet army regained territory from Germany in occupied Estonia and Latvia, Alex was housed with a family who later emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. Later in life he became a television repair man in the country and stuck by his story for decades despite its detractors.

Hitler’s Jewish Soldier? will feature previously unseen pictures and footage of a young Alex playing with Aryan children and will uncover records of a massacre that took place in 1942 in the Belarus village of Koidanov.

It will also examine extracts from a diary written by a soldier in the 18th Kurzeme Police Battalion in which the soldier records that his battalion picked up a “foster son” and given the name Uldis Kurzemnieks.

Alex died in 2021 due to complications from Covid-19.

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