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Justice Prevails in The Good Assassin

The Good Assassin: How a Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down the Butcher of Latvia by Stephan Talty. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Available April 21 2020. Photos courtesy of the publisher.

— Review by Michael Pierce

Herbert Cukurs was a hero in Latvia. The famous aviator took his plane to countries all over the region. He was admired by his people, a true hero in nearly every sense of the word.

And then he became a Nazi.

Cukurs went from a beloved figure in his home country to a much hated and much feared officer in a Nazi Latvian commando unit that was responsible for the extermination of tens of thousands of Jews in his native country.

But he would pay for his sins. He was hunted down and assassinated in Uruguay in 1965. He never stood trial for his crimes.

Stephan Talty

The Good Assassin takes readers deep inside the actions of Cukurs and other members of the Arajs Kommando, the Latvian Nazi unit that Cukurs had joined. Author Stephan Talty gives us a very good description of life for Jews in Latvia before, during and after World War Two. He draws his narrative from past interviews of Holocaust survivors and transcripts from war crimes trials of Arajs Kommando members that did take place.

This book is a deep and sometimes difficult dive into this period of world history. Details of the treatment of Latvian Jews are extensive, putting this period of Latvian history under a microscope for the world to see.

People often fail to recognize to recognize the extent of the Holocaust outside of Germany. The Good Assassin does a great job revealing the true extent of this horror.




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