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The Hunt for Nazis: The Real-Life Captures That Inspired The Debt
Posted August 22, 2011 to photo album "The Hunt for Nazis: The Real-Life Captures That Inspired The Debt"
John Madden’s THE DEBT tells the tale of a trio of Mossad agents who hunted down a wanted Nazi war criminal. We explore the stories of the many real-life Nazi war criminals who went into hiding after the war, and the people who tracked them down to bring them to justice.
Herberts Cukurs started his career as a celebrated pilot and ended it by being labeled the Butcher of Riga. He earned this violent moniker for numerous heinous acts of mass murder: for rounding up Jews and putting them in a Riga synagogue before setting the temple on fire; for drowning 1,200 Jews in a lake; and for helping murder, on Nov. 30, 1941, 10,600 people in a forest near Riga. Following the war, he escaped to Brazil, where he lived in São Paulo, and ran a charter business, taking tourists on scenic airplane flights. In 1965, a secret group of Mossad agents lured him to a house in Montevideo on false pretenses, where they executed him, shooting him in the head two times. Following his death, newspapers in Germany and South America received the following notice: “Taking into consideration the gravity of the charge leveled against the accused, namely that he personally supervised the killing of more than 30,000 men, women and children, and considering the extreme display of cruelty which the subject showed when carrying out his tasks, the accused Herberts Cukurs is hereby sentenced to death. Accused was executed by those who can never forget on the 23rd of February, 1965. His body can be found at Casa Cubertini Calle Colombia, Séptima Sección del Departamento de Canelones, Montevideo, Uruguay.” In 2004, Latvian nationalists issued commemorative postal envelopes to honor Cukurs as a national hero. Then Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks issued the following statement: “Those who produced such envelopes in Latvia evidently do not understand the tragic history of World War II in Latvia or in Europe.”