Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today strongly condemned a proposal submitted by the family of Latvian mass murderer Herberts Cukurs to bury their father’s remains in the “Brothers’ Cemetery” in Riga, the site of the burial of Latvia’s most important heroes. In a statement issued here by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center denounced the proposal as an attempt to absolve one of the biggest Latvian Nazi war criminals of his horrific crimes, which is an unforgivable insult to the memory of all the victims of the Holocaust and an affront to all Latvians with any sense of honesty and morality.
According to Zuroff:
“Herberts Cukurs was the deputy commander of the notorious “Arajs Kommando,” which actively participated in the mass murder of tens of thousands of Latvian and foreign Jews in Riga and the provinces, as well as in Belarus. Cukurs was a zealous volunteer for the Nazi cause and its program of the annihilation of all the ostensible enemies of the Third Reich. Numerous testimonies in the Yad Vashem Archives document Cukurs’ crimes and the fact that he personally murdered numerous Jewish men, women, and children. The fact that he was never prosecuted in a court of law is no proof whatsoever of his innocence; unfortunately many of the biggest Holocaust perpetrators were able to escape justice. The burial of his remains in the “Brothers’ Cemetery” will be an eternal badge of shame for Latvia.”