Mort Laitner

A Holocaust History Quiz

I’m a student of the Shoah, an autodidact with over 58 years of  self-study under my belt.

When I read, “The Good Assassin” by journalist and bestselling author, Stephan Talty. (The Black Hand and A Captain’s Duty, which became Oscar-winner Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks) I learned of a notorious Latvian who assisted the genocide of thousands of Jews.

Since I had never heard of the book’s antagonist, I decided to make him the subject of today’s Holocaust history quiz.

As with our last quiz, there is only one rule:

I give you 10 clues about the infamous murderer, if you come up with his name before the clues run out, you are awarded the honorary title of  “Holocaust Scholar.”

If you fail the quiz, better luck next time.

Here are the 10 clues:

1. Before the Second World War, he was known as the “Charles Lindbergh of his country—Latvia’s most famous aviator;”

2. He was second-in-command of the notorious Riga based, Arajs Kommandos, a volunteer paramilitary group who assisted the SS in carrying out the mass killings of Jews;

2. By 1945, he was known as the “Butcher of Latvia;”

3. This war criminal was responsible for the murder of at least 30,000 Latvian Jews;

4.The murderer managed to dodge the Nuremberg trials;

5. In 1946, the “Hangman of Riga” fled to Brazil using the “ratlines” as his means of escape to Latin America;

6. In 1965, Nazi hunters, Simon Wiesenthal and Tuviah Friedman fought against the implementation of  a German statute of limitations law that would have granted amnesty to former Nazis like the monster of Riga and they searched for the monster throughout South America;

7. In 1965, Mossad agent, Yaakov Meidad, lead an Israeli hit team to assassinate him;

8. Yaakov Meidad had also participated in the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann in 1962;

9. The “Butcher of Latvia” was assassinated by Mossad in Uruguay in 1965.

10. The monster’s assassination played a key role in the defeat of the German amnesty law.

Well, that’s it for clues.

But I hope these tidbits of information will lead you to learn more about the “Butcher of Latvia”—- Herbert Cukurs.

For a riveting read about Cukurs, his Holocaust victims and the Mossad hit team that made him pay for his crimes against humanity, I highly recommend Stephan Talty’s “The Good Assassin: How a Mossad Agent and a Band of Survivors Hunted Down the Butcher of Latvia.” New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2020)

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience.
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