« Pour être honnête, je voudrais ne rien me rappeler. Quelle personne saine d´esprit le souhaiterait ? Mais la vérité vraie est aussi que je suis encore plus terrifié à l´idée de tout oublier. Je suis piégé. » Alex Kurzem, un Australien moyen d´une soixa
'A powerful book . . . revealing his father's remarkable and horrific story' Sunday Telegraph One summer's day in 1997, Mark Kurzem returned home to find his father on his doorstep. Alex Kurzem had travelled halfway round the world to reveal a long-kept secret, and now wanted his son's help to piece together his past and his identity.
As a five-year-old during the Second World War, Alex Kurzem had watched from a tree as his entire village, including his family, were murdered by a German-led execution squad. He scavenged in the forests of Russia for several months before falling into the hands of a Latvian SS company. After one soldier discovered this young boy was actually Jewish, Alex was made to promise never to reveal his true identity - to forget his old life, his family, and even his name. The young boy became the company's mascot and part of the Nazi propaganda machine responsible for killing his own people.
After the war Alex was adopted and his new family made a home in Australia, far from the sites of wartime atrocities. But after fifty years of holding onto this childhood secret, Alex needed to discover and share the astonishing truth about his past.
Part thriller, part psychological drama, part puzzle with a strange twist, The Mascot is one of the most astonishing stories to emerge from the Second World War. It tells the remarkable true story of how Alex Kurzem unravelled the shocking secrets of his wartime past. With the support of Mark, his son, Alex began to recall how he evaded the German-led execution squad that decimated his village, but witnessed the murder of his Jewish mother and siblings. He scavenged amongst the trees and protected himself from wolves, before falling into the hands of a Latvian police battalion. The soldiers adopted him as their mascot and Alex accompanied the unit everywhere as it changed its identity and duties to those of an SS unit on the rampage. He even appeared in Nazi propaganda films and newspaper articles, riding into Riga in a military parade... yet he was Jewish.
At the age of five, was Alex Kurzem a collaborator or just a lost little boy? Caught up in a world of war-crime hunters, former war criminals and security agents with unclear agendas, he has since been threatened by many who believe he has betrayed them.