History

Europa Europa

|

The BBC tells the tale of Alex Kurzem, a little boy who became the mascot of the SS during World War II:

"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."

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."

Whole story here.

(Hat tip: Dave Rahbari.)

NEXT: Our Porn Bureaucracy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Stranger than fiction…

  2. “”””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”””

    If only late 1920’s Germany would have had a Total Information Awareness project. Hitler would have made good use of it in 1940. Kids like that would have never got away with it.

  3. That’s nowhere near as good a story as Jerry Lewis entertaining the “campers”.

  4. Reading the whole BBC story, this may be another fictional child Holocaust memoir, like that of Swiss musician Binjamin Wilkomirski, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binjamin_Wilkomirski, who wrote about supposedly surviving Auschwitz as a young child. Kurzem seems to have had unusually good foresight, ability to care for himself and negotiating skills for a 5 year old. How did a 5 year old survive in a forest for 9 months, which included Belarus’ harsh winter of 1941-42, by scavenging clothes from dead soldiers?

  5. Not sure if Jay’s prediction will turn out to be right, but the ‘9 months in a forest’ thing did raise an eyebrow with me also.

  6. Que trombone going “wah waaaaaaaaaaah”.

  7. Someone will make a movie and get rich off of that story.

  8. Someone will make a movie and get rich off of that story.
    I call dibs.

  9. The story does say that he begged from door to door and that nobody would take him in. The implication is that he was able to find food but not shelter.

    I’m not sure if Jay’s right or not but it is also difficult to project backwards from our safe culture where kids remain adolescents until late into their twenties to a war torn foreign country in a harsh era.

    I’d say it’s likely an older child could get by.

  10. Let’s be blunt about it. Kids in our culture nowadays are pussies. Could the average modern American five year old survive like that? Hell no. A kid raised sixty years ago in war-torn Europe who wasn’t used to having his butt wiped for him all the way through high school might be a different story.

    (Note: I am 26 though I sound like a cranky old man.)

  11. Someone will make a movie and get rich off of that story.

    They did. It was called Europa, Europa (hence the above title). It had Julie Delpy in it and was quite good.

    Also see The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski for a great WW2 feral child story.

  12. Let’s be blunt about it. Kids in our culture nowadays are pussies. Could the average modern American five year old survive like that? Hell no. A kid raised sixty years ago in war-torn Europe who wasn’t used to having his butt wiped for him all the way through high school might be a different story.

    You’re right. Life fucking sucked back then. Quit whining about having it so good.

  13. Take that Nazis!

  14. “They did. It was called Europa, Europa (hence the above title). It had Julie Delpy in it and was quite good”

    Yes, but Europa Europa was not about the same individual.

  15. “Let’s be blunt about it. Kids in our culture nowadays are pussies. Could the average modern American five year old survive like that? Hell no. A kid raised sixty years ago in war-torn Europe who wasn’t used to having his butt wiped for him all the way through high school might be a different story.”

    I understand your sentiment, but I disagree. No generation is any “better” or “tougher” than another. When I hear the phrase, “the greatest generation”, I roll my eyes. I don’t mean to belittle the quys who put it all on the line in WWII in any way. They were magnificent, but no more so than any other generation, they just happened to be unlucky enough to be placed in a situation where they had to scratch around to survive.

    I agree with Jay’s 5:42 comment. This sounds like BS to me.

    Each of us is able to rise to the situation at hand.

  16. I too think it’s unlikely that a kid could survive the ’41-’42 winter without shelter and with all his appendages apparently intact. His appearance does seem similar to that of the kid in the photos, though. Perhaps he was the real “mascot” but is embellishing his prior history?

  17. Maybe the Pope helped him out?

  18. Kosinski’s The Painted Bird was fiction, yet many people were led — by the author — to believe the boy and his experiences were based on Kosinski. Here’s a Wikipedia note about the book:

    “. . . it was read by the people with whom the Lewinkopf [Kosi?ski] family lived during the war. They were scandalized by the tales of abuse that never happened. They recognized names of Jewish children sheltered by them during the war – children who survived thanks to them, now painted as victims of their abuse. They were bitter and offended by Jerzy’s ingratitude and obsession to slander them.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.