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

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

4.8 16
by Mark Kurzem
     
 

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The ?spellbinding? (The New York Times) true story of a Jewish boy who became the darling of the Nazis

When a Nazi death squad massacred his mother and fellow villagers, five-year-old Alex Kurzem escaped, hiding in the freezing Russian forest until he was picked up by a group of Latvian SS soldiers. Alex was able to hide his Jewish identity andSee more details below

Overview

The ?spellbinding? (The New York Times) true story of a Jewish boy who became the darling of the Nazis

When a Nazi death squad massacred his mother and fellow villagers, five-year-old Alex Kurzem escaped, hiding in the freezing Russian forest until he was picked up by a group of Latvian SS soldiers. Alex was able to hide his Jewish identity and win over the soldiers, becoming their mascot and an honorary ?corporal? in the SS with his own uniform. But what began as a desperate bid for survival became a performance that delighted the highest ranks of the Nazi elite. And so a young Jewish boy ended up starring in a Nazi propaganda film.

After sixty-three years of silence, Alex revealed his terrible secret to his son Mark. With his son's help, Alex retraced his past in search of answers and vindication. His story is at once a terrifying account of survival and its psychological cost as well as a brutally honest examination of identity, complicity, and memory.

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Editorial Reviews

Dinitia Smith
It could be a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. But The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood, by the Australian writer Mark Kurzem, is a true story. Part mystery, part memory puzzle, it is written in the polished style of a good thriller, and it is spellbinding.
—The New York Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Jaw-dropping...powerful subject matter.
Library Journal

Kurzem's first book is part of a genre whereby the children of Holocaust survivors recount their parents' experiences by recounting their own investigations. The actual Holocaust experience, told through oral history and/or documentary evidence, is juxtaposed to the children's process of investigation. The author's father, Alex Kurzem, certainly has an interesting story. A young Jewish boy survives the massacre of his family and is adopted by members of the Latvian SS as a "mascot"; after the war, many of his memories, including his Jewish past, are suppressed for years. His son's discovery of documents, photographs, and even his father's role in a Nazi propaganda film are quite compelling. The text, however, contains reconstructions of conversations that could only be so detailed and historically accurate if they had been recorded, which does not seem to be the case. The book's historical accuracy is further open to question by the author's opening statements that he "altered various names and identifying details" and condensed the chronology. The author also apparently believes that some Israeli agency (perhaps Mossad) was investigating his family. Had he focused on re-creating his father's experience and avoided trying to make this into an international thriller, he would have produced a much better book. Not recommended.
—Frederic Krome

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101213865
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
192,100
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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