Jewish Boy Made Mascot by Nazis Discovers Relative in Arkansas

MAY 3, 2005 - Posted at 4:36 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - An Australian man who once thought his whole family had been murdered in the Holocaust and escaped as a small boy by becoming an Aryan mascot for a Nazi battalion, has found his closest surviving relatives in Little Rock.

Alex Kurzem, who was given that name by the Latvian Nazis who took pity on him and saved him from extermination in 1941, is in the Arkansas capital this week to see his newly discovered first cousin, Emmanuel Krupitsky.

The two relatives will appear together Thursday at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the Clinton Presidential Library, where they will screen "The Mascot," a 2003 documentary by Kurzem's son, Mark.  The movie won a major award at the 2003 Sydney Film Festival by depicting Alex Kurzem's journey to reclaim his Jewish roots.

Kurzem didn't tell his own wife and children in Australia that he was a Jew until 1996.  The film shows the memories flooding back to him on his return to his birth village in Belarus as he remembers sneaking out of his house, hiding behind a hill and watching his whole family be shot by Nazis.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)