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The secret history of the Nazi mascot

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By Nick Bryant

BBC News, Melbourne 

Alex Kurzem came to Australia in 1949 carrying just a small brown briefcase, but weighed down by some harrowing psychological and emotional baggage.

Tucked away in his briefcase were the secrets of his past - fragments of his life that he kept hidden for decades.

In 1997, after raising a family in Melbourne with his Australian bride, he finally revealed himself. He told how, at the age of five, he had been adopted by the SS and became a Nazi mascot.

His personal history, one of the most remarkable stories to emerge from World War II, was published recently in a book entitled The Mascot.

"They gave me a uniform, a little gun and little pistol," Alex told the BBC.

"They gave me little jobs to do - to polish shoes, carry water or light a fire. But my main job was to entertain the soldiers. To make them feel a bit happier."

Painful memories

In newsreels, he was paraded as 'the Reich's youngest Nazi' and he witnessed some unspeakable atrocities.

But his SS masters never discovered the most essential detail about his life: their little Nazi mascot was Jewish.

"They didn't know that I was a Jewish boy who had escaped a Nazi death squad. They thought I was a Russian orphan."

His story starts where his childhood memories begin - in a village in Belarus on 20 October 1941, the day it was invaded by the German army.

When the shooting stopped I had no idea where to go so I went to live in the forests, because I couldn't go back. I was the only one left

"I remember the German army invading the village, lining up all the men in the city square and shooting them. My mother told me that my father had been killed, and that we would all be killed."

"I didn't want to die, so in the middle of the night I tried to escape. I went to kiss my mother goodbye, and ran up into the hill overlooking the village until the morning came."

That was the day his family was massacred - his mother, his brother, his sister.

"I was very traumatised. I remember biting my hand so I couldn't cry out loud, because if I did they would have seen me hiding in the forest. I can't remember exactly what happened. I think I must have passed out a few times. It was terrible."

False identity

"When the shooting stopped I had no idea where to go so I went to live in the forests, because I couldn't go back. I was the only one left. I must have been five or six."

"I went into the forest but no-one wanted me. I knocked on peoples' doors and they gave me bits of bread but they told me to move on. Nobody took me in."

He survived by scavenging clothes from the bodies of dead soldiers.

After about nine months in the forest, a local man handed him over to the Latvian police brigade, which later became incorporated in the Nazi SS.

That very day, people were being lined up for execution, and Alex thought he, too, was about to die.

"There was a soldier near me and I said, 'Before you kill me, can you give me a bit of bread?' He looked at me, and took me around the back of the school. He examined me and saw that I was Jewish. "No good, no good," he said. 'Look I don't want to kill, but I can't leave you here because you will perish.

"'I'll take you with me, give you a new name and tell the other soldiers that you are a Russian orphan.'"

Joining the circus

To this day, Alex Kurzem has no idea why Sergeant Jekabs Kulis took pity on him. Whatever his motives, it certainly helped that Alex had Aryan looks. And together, they kept the secret.

"Every moment I had to remind myself not to let my guard down, because if ever anyone found out, I was dead. I was scared of the Russians shooting me and the Germans discovering I was Jewish. I had no-one to turn to."

Young Alex saw action on the Russian front, and was even used by the SS to lure Jewish people to their deaths.

Outside the cattle trains which carried victims to the concentration camps, he handed out chocolate bars to tempt them in.

Then, in 1944, with the Nazis facing almost certain defeat, the commander of the SS unit sent him to live with a Latvian family.

Five years later, he managed to reach Australia. For a time, he worked in a circus and eventually became a television repair man in Melbourne.

All the time, he kept his past life to himself, not even telling his Australian wife, Patricia.

"When I left Europe I said 'forget about your past. You are going to a new country and a new life. Switch off and don't even think about it.'

"I managed to do it. I told people I lost my parents in the war, but I didn't go into detail. I kept the secret and never told anyone."

It was not until 1997 that he finally told his family, and along with his son, Mark, set about discovering more about his past life.

After visiting the village where he was born, they found out his real name was Ilya Galperin, and even uncovered a film in a Latvian archive of Alex in full SS regalia.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2007/08/21 00:19:05 GMT

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in amongst all that evil , there is always hope however small ,

"To this day, Alex Kurzem has no idea why Sergeant Jekabs Kulis took pity on him. Whatever his motives, it certainly helped that Alex had Aryan looks. And together, they kept the secret. "

Sergeant Jekabs Kulis , risked his life every day  for an unknown kid ,

just one of many hidden hero's around the world ,   

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What an amazing story.  One can only wonder how many people took similar secrets from that era to their graves.

many I would suspect , I tried seaching for Sergeant Jekabs Kulis ,during my google search I came across this , a bit off this topic but kinda related , and a fact I knew nothing about before ,

Female fighter pilots WW2 !

This all female unit got a nickname by the enemy as "Night Witches". And these brave girls were actually proud of their earned nickname.

"We simply couldn't understand that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact WOMEN. These women feared nothing. They came night after night in their very slow biplanes, and for some periods they wouldn't give us any sleep at all."

quote, German officer

back on topic ,the real sad part of Reso's find, was that after finaly telling of his ordeal Alex Kurzem was shunned by his local Jewish comunity  :evil2:

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They came night after night in their very slow biplanes, and for some periods they wouldn't give us any sleep at all.

:shocked::2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny: :2funny:

but to get my mind back out of the gutter...

schindlers list wouldn't really make my need to watch list for my son. not the top of it anyway. more the kind of movie that shows that all war, no matter what the cause, is hell.

the longest day

a bridge too far

blackhawk down

flags of our fathers

letters from iwo jima

full metal jacket

terminator 1 and 2

bridge on the river kwai

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Here is a intresting little ww2 fact. Hitler used female snipers in his army. He believed that most american and british men would hesitate in shooting a female.

Please don't get me wrong. Hitler was one evil mean sob. But you gotta give him credit. He at the same time was super smart. To bad he had to use all that i.q. in such a sad evil way. Imagine if he had used it in a positive way.

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oh yeh...i bet either of those two things...the star or the circ...

but if the latter is true...then how scary for a little boy to be taken off to seclusion in the midst of thinking he was about to die and this grown man starts fiddling around in his pants :( way a way to start a life...one terror after another

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The inspection for the circ. was normal at the time , they would jump on a boy  on his way home from school , check him out, if he was circumsised they frightened the life out of him , then follow him home , and capture the whole famuly for slave labour or extermination ,

in this case the "and took me around the back of the school. He examined me and saw that I was Jewish. " makes it clear in this case,

mad bad sad days indeed ,  :cry2:

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i will never understand this way of thinking...what makes someone think they r a superior race/creed...whatever...like blond/blue is somehow superior...i have a son that believes in this whole "aryan" "arian" (however u wanna spell it) superiority CRAP!!!...he didn't get that from me...and we fight about it all the time...infuriates me to no end...he got it from being in prison...and i find it shaming to our family and embarrassing to me as a parent...ahhhh why am i telling u all this...???...just to show that there r no boundaries to this ignorance no rhyme or reason...and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how a man is brought up...this son of mine saw shindlers list with me in the theater when it came out...he was practically in tears when we left...that was his mindset back then...wait gotta get a date to figure out how old he was...but he was an adult...brb...

back! :) yep he was 20 yrs old...he's now 34...wtf happened??....i don't get it!!...  :cry:

this was probably the most shameful excuse for a society...they killed women and children and elderly...and they all innocent...how can anyone know these atrocities that were committed on these people and not say "let's never let the human race be so ignorant again"...???...hitler was an idiot... a tweaking speed freak...that deserved to have every torture that was ever done to these people done to him...but he took the cowards way out...or did he??? did he slither away into exile as some say...???

who cares...his eternity will be 3 fold what he caused on those people...his karma will get him...and my son if he doesn't see the light...i'm ashamed...

oh...hahahaha...sorry for the rant  :-P

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Well if he went to prison I understand where he is coming from. Everything in prison is about race. The AB (Aryan Brotherhood) is all about standing up for the White Race and making money. Prison is a whole different world than you live in. Whats that old saying "the weak shall inherit) you can throw that right out the window in prison. The weak pack purses and become Bitches. You have to choose sides there. If your friends with the blacks or Mexicans the Whites will turn their back on you and fuck you up. If you do any amount of time you will learn to hate minority races. Why, because you don't have to be politically correct there!

Just my 2 cents!

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yeh i know...but now it's time to let it go...put all that crap behind...sorry i put this here...it all just strikes a sour cord with me...i do understand his past...but it doesn't have to be his future cuz i know it's not what's really in his heart  :cry:

sorry for the derailment...

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WOW, had no idea really Roco. Thanks for the info. Didn't hear that in school. [nerdly]

nor me Bro , I got it from the horses mouth so to speak , having worked across Europe from the late 60's onwards, alongside enginers that were caught up in that evil time on both sides, many would not talk about it but those that would only spoke because as  they said "so that the world would know there is no glamour or hero's during that time only survivors  ",  many suffered for the rest of there lives , haunted by the memory of those times ,

it took Alex Kurzem 54 years before he could tell his story, thats how deep the pain was buried ,

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Tdawnaz , your son is going through the angry young man phase , it's natural and if used right it can benefit the world , but can also be destructive ,

Racial superiority , we all have a bit of that in our genes , it's a tribal thing ,

personally I got into the angry young man phase at about 25 years old , and I am still waiting for it to pass, but I learnt to use now  it for the right reasons ,

Family problems ?,... let me tell you about ... :shocked:..............nah I think I will leave that out , we have kids , and embarrass them when they are young , so they get us back later :evil6:

definition of Aryan   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan

BTW is it true blondes have more fun ?  :wink2: coz my 12y. grandson is the only blond in a dark haired crew , and took it bad when he was younger , although he thinks my turning blonde (grey ) is cool  :lol:

edit, to repair link ?

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awwwww how sad...such a disturbing time...too many hurt for no reason...

You talking about the past or the present?


I cannot, FOR ANY REASON, condon this happening to any human. I couldnt sleep for a good long time after seeing the images of the kids in this video. Any Pro War American should have to see footage like this daily... is it worth it? FUCK no its not. AGAIN THIS VIDEO IS DISTURBING.


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why???...all for religious differences...money???...oil???...power???...what???

i just don't understand it all...why...innocent people??

All these things.  Also, I would say, simply because we can.  We feel compelled to destroy, even from a very young age.  We are also infatuated with misery.  Somehow, it reminds us we're alive.

From Robert Burn's From Man was made to Mourn:

'Many and sharp the num'rous ills

Inwoven with our frame!

More pointed still we make ourselves

Regret, remorse, and shame!

And Man, whose heav'n-erected face

The smiles of love adorn, -

Man's inhumanity to man

Makes countless thousands mourn!

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People can get along, governments cant. All about money, oil and power.  :cry: :cry: I read a while back of a civilization that was discovered, an old one. They had no government, police, army. It was a VERY prosperous and apparently friendly happy community. Government is nothing but the few thinking they know better than the many.

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