The Israeli government has “strongly condemned” a musical celebrating the life of Latvian Herberts Cukurs, a Nazi war criminal nicknamed ‘the Butcher of Riga’ for sending thousands of Jews to their deaths.
The show, called ‘Cukurs, Herberts Cukurs’ and which premiered this month, follows the life of the deputy commander of the Arajs Kommando force, who never stood trial and was assassinated by the Mossad in South America in 1965.
Cukurs was an award-winning pioneer who designed several aircraft, but during the Nazi occupation he led the notorious killing unit, which saw its actions, at least in part, as retribution for the murder of Latvian intellectuals, leaders and nationalists by the Soviet Secret Police.
In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said: “This is a cynical attempt to deny history and constitutes an insult to all victims of the Nazis and their collaborators.”
Among other atrocities, Cukurs was responsible for the death of 30,000 Jews from Riga, and was assassinated in Uruguay after being lured to a business meeting by Israeli agents.
His body was then packed into a crate with a note detailing his crimes against humanity, signed by “those who can never forget”.