Herberts Cukurs

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Херберт Цукурс, Герберт Цукурс
Businessman, Independece fighter, Journalist, Member of student's corporation, Military person, Order of the Three Stars (Latvia), Pilot, Victim of crime, WWI participant, WWII participant
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Herberts Cukurs (May 17, 1900, in Liepāja, Courland Governorate, Russian Empire – February 23, 1965, in Montevideo, Uruguay) was a Latvian aviator. He was a member of the notorious Arajs Kommando and was involved in murders of Latvian Jews as part of the Holocaust but he never stood trial. There are eyewitness accounts linking Cukurs to war crimes.[1] He was assassinated by Mossad agents in 1965.[2]

As a result of actions during the Nazi occupation of Latvia from 1941 to 1944, Cukurs became known as the "Butcher of Riga".[3][4][5][6][7]


As a pioneering long-distance pilot, he won national acclaim for his international solo flights in the 1930s (Latvia-Gambia and Riga-Tokyo). He was awarded the Harmon Trophy for Latvia in 1933.

Cukurs built at least three aircraft of his own design. In 1937 he made a 45,000-kilometre (24,000 nmi; 28,000 mi) tour visiting Japan, China, Indochina, India and Russia, flying the C 6 wooden monoplane "Trīs zvaigznes" (registration YL-ABA) of his own creation. The aircraft was powered by a de Havilland Gipsy engine.

He also designed the Cukurs C-6bis prototype dive bomber in 1940.[8]

Holocaust perpetrator

See also: Burning of the Riga synagogues and Rumbula massacre

During the occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941, Cukurs became a member of the notorious Arajs Kommando, responsible for many of the crimes of the Holocaust in Latvia.

In his book The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1945, historian Andrew Ezergailis writes that Cukurs played a leading role in the atrocities committed in the Riga ghetto in conjunction with the Rumbula massacre on 30 November 1941.[9] After the war, surviving witnesses reported that Cukurs had been present during the ghetto clearance and fired into the mass of Jewish civilians. During interviews with the press, Ezergailis stated that there is no evidence that Cukurs had been at the pits at Rumbula, and that it has not been proven that Cukurs was "the most eager shooter of Jews in Latvia".[10]

According to other sources Cukurs was the most recognizable Latvian SD man at the scene of the Rumbula massacre. Ezergailis states that "although Arājs' men were not the only ones on the ghetto end of the operation, to the degree they participated in the atrocities there the chief responsibility rests on Herberts Cukurs' shoulders.".[11] Cukurs was described as follows:

The Latvian murderer Cukurs got out of a car wearing a pistol (Nagant) in a leather holster at his side. He went to the Latvian guards to give them various instructions. He had certainly been informed in detail about the great catastrophe that awaited us.[1]

According to another account Cukurs also participated in the Burning of the Riga synagogues. According to Bernard Press in his book The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, Cukurs burned the synagogue on Stabu Street, but only after dragging Jews out of the neighboring houses and locking them inside

Eyewitnesses heard the people who were locked inside screaming for help and saw them breaking the synagogue's windows from inside and trying, like living torches, to get outside. Cukurs shot them with his revolver.[12]

Time magazine reported at the time of his death in 1965 that his crimes included the Riga synagogue fire; the drowning of 1,200 Jews in a lake; and participating in the November 30, 1941 murder of 10,600 people in a forest near Riga.[13]

Postwar flight and assassination

Cukurs was mentioned several times in the Nuremberg Trials as a vicious Nazi executioner, but his whereabouts were unknown and he was never formally charged. He had fled to Germany with retreating German troops.[13]

After the war, Cukurs emigrated to Brazil via France. There, he established a business in São Paulo, flying Republic RC-7 Seabees on scenic flights. While living in South America he neither hid nor tried to hide his identity.

He is now known to have been assassinated by Mossad agents, who persuaded him to travel to Uruguay under the pretense of starting an aviation business,[14] after it was found out that he would not stand trial for his participation in the Holocaust. An acquaintance named "Anton Künzle"—in reality, disguised Mossad agent Yaakov Meidad—cabled Cukurs from Montevideo. He was invited to a house in a remote suburb of the city that had just been rented by a man from Vienna. He was shot in the head twice with a suppressed automatic pistol after a short but violent struggle that was not heard by neighbors.[13]

Media outlets in South America and Germany were sent a note stating:

Taking into consideration the gravity of the charge leveled against the accused, namely that he personally supervised the killing of more than 30,000 men, women and children, and considering the extreme display of cruelty which the subject showed when carrying out his tasks, the accused Herberts Cukurs is hereby sentenced to death. Accused was executed by those who can never forget on the 23rd of February, 1965. His body can be found at Casa Cubertini Calle Colombia, Séptima Sección del Departamento de Canelones, Montevideo, Uruguay.[13]

The note was initially dismissed as the work of a crank, but then police were notified and the body was discovered.[13]

Attempts at rehabilitation

Since the fall of Communism, there have been efforts in Latvia to rehabilitate Cukurs. For example, an exhibition was held in Riga in honour of the 'national hero' Herberts Cukurs, in which his work in the Arājs Kommando was portrayed as having been harmless.

The Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks condemned the issuance of postal envelopes dedicated to Cukurs in 2004. In a statement, Pabriks said that "those who produced such envelopes in Latvia evidently do not understand the tragic history of World War II in Latvia or in Europe". The foreign ministry stated that Cukurs was "guilty of war crimes" and that he "took part in the activities of the notorious Arājs Kommando, which participated in the Holocaust and was responsible for the killing of innocent civilians. The General Prosecutor's Office of Latvia has twice rejected the exoneration of Herberts Cukurs".[15]


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b Kaufmann, The Destruction of the Latvian Jews, at 81
  2. Jump up ^ Aderet, Ofer (1 July 2012). "Mossad agent who helped abduct Eichmann dies at 93". Haaretz. Retrieved 2 December 2012. (registration required)
  3. Jump up ^ Press, The Murder of the Jews of Latvia, at pages 69 to 70.
  4. Jump up ^ Künzle and Shimron, The Execution of the Hangman of Riga, at page 127.
  5. Jump up ^ Lumans, Latvia in World War II, at page 240.
  6. Jump up ^ Eksteins, Walking Since Daybreak, at page 150.
  7. Jump up ^ Michelson, Max, City of Life, City of Death, at 103.
  8. Jump up ^ "Cukurs C-6bis". Airwar.ru. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  9. Jump up ^ Ezergailis, Andrievs (1999). Holokausts vācu okupētajā Latvijā 1941–1944 (in Latvian). Riga: Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds. pp. 222, 230. ISBN 9984-601-02-1. OCLC 44502624. Also available in English as: Andrew Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941–1944: The Missing Center (1996), ISBN 9984-9054-3-8.
  10. Jump up ^ [thttp://www.operationlastchance.org/Writings_12.htm Jerusalem Post: The Mass Murderer As Hero]
  11. Jump up ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 192 and 267, n.55
  12. Jump up ^ The Murder of the Jews in Latvia, at page 46
  13. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e "Uruguay: Man in the Icebox". Time. March 19, 1965. Retrieved 3 December 2010. (subscription required)
  14. Jump up ^ Kuenzle, Anton; Shimron, Gad (2004). The Execution of the Hangman of Riga: The Only Execution of a Nazi War Criminal by the Mossad. London: Vallentine Mitchell. ISBN 0-85303-525-3. OCLC 53389986.
  15. Jump up ^ "Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs condemns the issuance of postal envelopes dedicated to Herberts Cukurs". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia: [CL] Nr. 576, 28

Additional information

VIDEO By Roberts Klimovics:




Viewpoint of Dr. Efraim Zuroff:



Information provided by Lester Golden:  

Isaac Kram, Max Tukacier, Rafael Shub and Sasha Semenoff tell the truth.  

The foreign ministry stated that Cukurs was "guilty of war crimes" and that he "took part in the activities of the notorious Arājs Kommando, which participated in the Holocaust and was responsible for the killing of innocent civilians. The General Prosecutor's Office of Latvia has twice rejected the exoneration of Herberts Cukurs".[15]  

Denying the guilt of holocaust perpetrators in France, Germany and Austria is a prosecutable crime which you are guilty of. Have any travel plans to Berlin?  They may in the future be interrupted.     cleardot.gif

Source: wikipedia.org, wiesenthal.com

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