The Good Assassin
Mossad's Hunt for the Butcher of Latvia
- Stephan Talty
15th April 2022
Before the Second World War, Herbert Cukurs was a world-famous aviator and a hero in his hometown of Riga, Latvia. During the war he joined the SS, led a militia and was responsible for the genocide of 30,000 Latvian Jews. By the 1960s the man who became known as the Butcher of Riga was living in South America. And Mossad were coming for him.
In 1965, a statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes threatened to expire and Germany was seeking to reintegrate concentration camp commanders, pogrom leaders and executioners. The global hunt for Nazi criminals was stepped up, and a target was painted on the back of Cukurs. Yaakov Meidad, the Mossad agent who had kidnapped Adolf Eichmann three years earlier, was called into action once more, leading to an astonishing undercover operation that saw Meidad travel to Brazil in an elaborate disguise before befriending Cukurs and earning his trust.
Uncovering a little-known part of Holocaust history and telling the story of one of the most daring operations in the history of the Israeli intelligence community, The Good Assassin is a thrilling story of a forgotten monster and the twenty-year quest to bring him to justice, told by a master of narrative non-fiction.