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Latvian musical celebrates life of Nazi commander

    A scene from Cukurs, Herbert Cukurs (Photo: YouTube / Juris Millers)
    A scene from Cukurs, Herbert Cukurs (Photo: YouTube / Juris Millers)

    A musical which celebrates the life of an alleged Nazi war criminal has been condemned by the Israeli government.

    Cukurs, Herbert Cukurs, which premiered in Latvia earlier this month, is about a Nazi pilot who was deputy commander of Arajs Kommando, a unit which killed around 26,000 Jews.

    Many Latvians see Cukurs, who was assassinated in 1965 by a Mossad agent in Uruguay, as a hero for resisting the Russian invasion and occupation during the Second World War.

    Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying: “Israel strongly condemns the production in Latvia of a musical that honours the memory of Latvian Nazi war criminal Herberts Cukurs.”

    Dr Efraim Zuroff, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel, said: “This is the first time in years that Israel has denounced the attempt to whitewash crimes against humanity in the Baltics, and it is a welcome step.”

    Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has criticised the musical on behalf of his government, but emphasised that it is the responsibility of an independent producer and falls within the bounds of free speech.

    The Latvian government also made it clear that they condemn the Holocaust and are currently investigating all alleged war crimes committed during the Second World War, including those relating to Cukurs.

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