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Jewish Child Survived Holocaust as Nazi 'Mascot'

After a Nazi death squad raided his village and killed his family, five-year-old Alex Kurzem was taken in by a group of Latvian Nazis, who did not realize that he was a Jew.
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After a Nazi death squad raided his village and killed his family, five-year-old Alex Kurzem was taken in by a group of Latvian Nazis, who did not realize that he was a Jew.

After a Nazi death squad raided his village and killed his family, Alex Kurzem, a five-year-old Jewish boy, found protection in an unlikely place — with a group of Latvian Nazis.

Unaware that Kurzem was a Jew, the soldiers dressed him in tiny Nazi uniforms, and adopted him as their mascot. He even starred in a Nazi propaganda film.

For decades, Kurzem kept his childhood a secret — even from his close family. But as he became more determined to connect with his past, Kurzem shared his story with his son, Mark. The Kurzems recount the tale in a new book, The Mascot.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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