The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood

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Penguin, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 418 pages
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One man’s struggle with memory and prejudice on the way to recovering his past

Mark Kurzem was happily ensconced in his academic life at Oxford when his father, Alex, showed up on his doorstep with a terrible secret to tell. When a Nazi death squad raided his village at the outset of World War II, Jewish five-year-old Alex Kurzem escaped. After surviving the Russian winter by foraging for food and stealing clothes off dead soldiers, he was discovered by a Nazi-led Latvian police brigade that later became an SS unit. Not knowing he was Jewish, they made him their mascot, dressing the little “corporal” in uniform and toting him from massacre to massacre. Terrified, the resourceful Alex charmed the highest echelons of the Latvian Third Reich, eventually starring in a Nazi propaganda film. When the war ended he was sent to Australia with a family of Latvian refugees.

Fearful of being discovered—as either a Jew or a Nazi—Alex kept the secret of his childhood, even from his loving wife and children. But he grew increasingly tormented and became determined to uncover his Jewish roots and the story of his past. Shunned by a local Holocaust organization, he reached out to his son Mark for help in reclaiming his identity. A survival story, a grim fairy-tale, and a psychological drama, this remarkable memoir asks provocative questions about identity, complicity, and forgiveness.
 

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User Review  - Anonymous - Borders

This was a very well-thought out book,the way everything is organized,I give that alone a 3/5. But the story of his father,shows hows hard only one single Jewish man went through,let alone a Jewish ... Read full review

Contents

PART
3
THE HEMORRHAGE
23
ERRTH TREMORS
35
INTERROGRTEO
49
THE SEOUCTION 11
73
E THE OZENIS FHMILV
81
THE VOLHOV SWRMPS
107
THE CHOCOLRTE SOLOIER
118
IE TO FREEOOM
205
H THE RFFIOHVIT
213
is no eschpe
229
STOCKHOLM 836
236
FEHR
245
HLICE
251
2B THE LETTER
258
BH R TELEGRHM
287

JUOGMENT
139
IO THE GROUNO SHIFTS
145
CRST RORIFT
152
IB OXFORO
164
ELLI
180
PHRT II
189
ESCHPE FROM RIGR
199
BE KOIORNOV
314
B1 CONNECTIONS
330
2B SOLOMON RNO VOLOOVR
343
BB RIGR
369
EPILOGUE
387
HCKNOWLEOGMENTS
398
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Mark Kurzem studied at Melbourne, Tokyo, and Oxford universities. He served as international relations adviser to the mayor of Osaka in Japan. This is his first book.

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