Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood

A new book, The Mascot, details the story of the boy touted in propaganda films as “the Reich’s youngest Nazi,” who, in fact, escaped the fate of his Jewish family.

Found by a sympathetic German officer in Latvia, Alex Kurzem was passed off as a Russian orphan.  Taken with his Aryan looks, the SS dressed him in a uniform and paraded him in front of cameras as an example of the German ideal.

After the war, Alex made a new life in Australia, finding work in the circus and as a television repair-person.  He didn’t tell his wife and family about his life as “The Mascot” until 1997, when the secret became to much for him to bear.

This story illustrates the amazing complexity of the average person’s life.  True, this man has a unique story, but how many other people have experienced amazing events or done fascinating things that they don’t share with all their friends?

Our job, as funeral professionals, is to provide unique funeral experiences.  If we remain “order-takers,” content to hand a limited “menu” to our client and wait for them to pick between Traditional Burial, Traditional Cremation and Direct Cremation, we overlook the unique traits of the people we’re helping to commemorate.

And we hasten our own obsolescence.