Maskotka: Nazistowski sekret mojego żydowskiego ojca
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Maskotka: Nazistowski sekret mojego żydowskiego ojca

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,249 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Niezwykła, przerażająca historia życia ojca spisana przez jego syna.Wstrząsająca opowieść przywołująca z mroków upiory przeszłości.Brutalna prawda o cenie, jaka gotowi jesteśmy zapłacić za życie.
Co jesteś w stanie zrobić by uniknąć śmierci?
Alex Kurzem od wielu lat mieszka w Australii. Wtopił się w tutejszą społeczność, a jego pochodzenie zdradza tylko lekki europejski akce...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 2008 by Replika (first published 2007)
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Shrina
Apr 11, 2008 Shrina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shrina by: Lisa Durst
This is an amazing story about a 5 year old Jewish boy surviving a masacre in his village only to roam the Belarus mountains during late autum/early winter. He is eventually "found" by a woodsman who takes him to a soldier's camp to be killed.

Because the boy can think on his feet, he makes a connection with Sergent Kulis who saves him from the firing squad. Jekab Kulis is a Latvian sergent on a mission to "liquidate" the ghettos in 1941.

The sergent, knowing that the boy is Jewish, saves him. H...more
Kristin
I'm not much of a history reader, and not much into WWII, but this book was gripping and entirely captivating. I liked the personal focus that didn't try to do too much with the horror of the time and didn't try to do too much with sentimentality, it was just well balanced and incredibly unique. Of all the stories you hear about WWII, you have not heard this one. I particularly enjoy that the book unfolded, it is as much a mystery novel as it is a book of personal history.
Hinch
Alex Kurzem is a retired television repair man living in Melbourne. In 1997 he arrived, without prior announcement, on the doorstep of his son Mark, an academic living in Oxford, England. In the days that follow, Alex takes the first of many tentative steps toward revealing his extraordinary past, a secret he has buried deep for almost 60 years.

As a Jewish boy, aged only 5 or 6, Alex witnessed the murder of his mother and siblings by a German-led execution squad. Fleeing into the nearby forest,...more
Shauna
This was our book club book, otherwise I would not have picked this book on my own because I shy away from dark, difficult subject matter for the most part. And this is some of the darkest: dealing with WWII, Nazis, Holocaust massacres, Russian and Latvian plots, and just unbelievable evil. It is also gut-wrenching to "watch" the author's father tap into his purposefully repressed memories of his horrific childhood. And yet there is something of the fascination of tragedy about it--like watching...more
Krista
A survival story, a grim fairy-tale, and a psychological drama, this memoir asks provocative questions about identity, complicity, and forgiveness. When a Nazi death squad raided his Latvian village, Jewish five-year-old Alex escaped. After surviving the winter by foraging for food and stealing clothes off dead soldiers, he was discovered by a Latvian SS unit. Not knowing he was Jewish, they made him their mascot, dressing the little "corporal" in uniform and toting him from massacre to massacre...more
Nicole
The story itself was very interesting, but the "voice" of the book just didn't feel authentic. It was written from the perspective of the author having conversations with his father about his (the father's) past, and it felt a bit too forced for my taste. Not that his story isn't believable, but for me the way the story was presented lacked something for me.

There was also a bit of "cloak and dagger" stuff that never really was explained, which took away from the main story too much. All in all,...more
Carrie
I've been drawn to Holocaust memoirs most of my life and have therefore read many. This, by far, is the most extraordinary story I've read -- and it's well documented as not being fictional (unlike some others I could mention). A remarkable human spirit and nearly feral desire to survive are demonstrated by a 5-year-old orphaned Jewish boy who, through his charm and desperation, manages to not only hide his ethnicity, but also survive World War II in Nazi-dominated Latvia as a "mini SS" soldier...more
Joseph
Wow, just wow. I don't know how to describe this book. It is in some ways like a detective story or putting together a jig saw puzzle. You read it and you wonder how the pieces will fit together. I've been in two death camps -- Auschwitz (5 times) and Majdanek (twice). The first time I travelled to Auschwitz in 1991 I went with a Polish Army Colonel whose uncle was killed there. I've read several books about the 'Shoah including "Night" and "the Diary of Anne Frank." I've pored over David Roskie...more
Becky
The Mascot is such a powerful and compelling biography. It is not your traditional biography--Holocaust or not. It is the story of how one man's past is revealed, how a father chooses to share his memories--some quite vivid, others very vague or fuzzy--with his adult son. The father's life is revealed to his son in a series of conversations and through the son's research to validate his father's story.

Mark, our narrator, always knew his father had his secrets. His father had a brown bag he carri...more
Zinta
A mesmerizing read, painfully revealing of the dark that lurks inside us, and beside that shadow, the light. I first heard about The Mascot on NPR, with both son and father being interviewed. It touched upon some part of my own heritage as a Latvian born of immigrant parents, come to the United States during WWII as refugees fleeing the Soviet occupation in Latvia.

This is the story of Uldis Kurzemnieks, by birth Ilya Galperin, a Jewish boy caught in the turning wheels of the Holocaust. To the b...more
Meghan
This is an amazing and heartbreaking story of a young boy who witnessed the death of his mother and siblings at the hands of SS soldiers only to go on to become a young "soldier" himself in order to survive. The narrative is told through the eyes of the "little soldier's" adult son, who helped his father sort through the fragmented memories in order to find out his true identity. It is one of the most unbelievable stories of survival I have ever read. One cannot blame the Oxford professors who f...more
Laura
The narrative of this biography is naturally very intriguing,a young Jewish boy 'rescued' by the Nazi supported Latvian military during WWII and used as a mascot for one of the battalions. The boy (Alex) eventually grew up and emigrated to Australia where he buried his past, hiding it even from his family. Late on in his life he decided to share the truth with one of his sons, the author.

The structure of the book is similar to a detective story as Alex is only able to remember fragments of what...more
Margi
This is great story of a father and son trying to piece together a past that has been hidden for 60 years. Mark has chosen to write his father's story in a most spellbinding and compelling way. It feels as though you are in the center of this mystery searching along with him and his father. Alex, a young child, runs away from his home after a Nazi death squad massacres sixteen hundred Jews from his village including his mother. Alex is then found and picked up by Latvian SS soldiers. He hides hi...more
Simone
Feb 10, 2012 Simone rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Simone by: Lea
Shelves: 2012-read

So Lea recommended this to me forever ago. And I finally got around to reading it. Probably because it's not exactly the kind of book that makes you want to run right out and read depressing stories about Nazi's. However, this was really interesting. In part because it's not the typical Holocaust narrative, this isn't a story you've heard before, and it doesn't go where you thought it might. Either way, interesting. Glad I finally read it!
Phillipa
Well, this book would be fascinating even if I didn't happen to be vaguely near the area it happened in. Although the forests we've been traveling thru have certainly fueled my imagination.

I have said before that I adore books (and movies) that leave you wanting to scour the internet, searching for more information and this along with the next book I read on the Trans-Mongolian train have both inspired exactly that reaction in me.

This book is fascinating although I didn't always like the way it...more
Carole
The whole idea of this book was intriguing, but I didn't feel like it was very well written. An interesting, but rather odd book. When I finished it, I had a lot of ambiguous feelings toward the people portrayed. Since it is about real people, maybe that was the way I was supposed to feel.
Ruth
I would give this a 3.5 book rating. The story is fascinating but the writing is not the best I have ever read. Still, the circumstances of the writer's father is so interesting that it is worth reading.
Arabella
An interesting underlying story, but the author's style drove me nuts and made the whole thing sound implausible.
Diane
In 1941, a young boy’s family is killed in a purge, but he escapes and is eventually taken in by a group of Latvian soldiers who treat him like a mascot – dressing him as a soldier and having him do special tasks. Eventually he is sent to live with a Latvian family in Riga. After the war he emigrates with the family to Australia, where is grows up, marries and has 3 sons. He never talks about his early experiences in the war except in a vague, dramatized way. As he ages, he becomes obsessed with...more
Amy
After some research, I have decided to make a comment on my review. There is much speculation about whether this story is true. I was intrigued with it but all through reading it, was doubtful myself. That being said, the man in the story was only a child when the events took place and he openly admits throughout the book that many things he cannot remember or explain, so I was obviously taking that into consideration and recognized that to prove either way might not be possible. The photos are...more
Readingmonk
As a parent of a one-year old baby girl, one of the most difficult things for me to read about and yet find so intriguing is the subject of children in times of war. Perhaps it is the stark contrast between childhood innocence (and helplessness) and the animal-like cruelty that Man is capable of inflicting to himself.

Children and war. It is a pain that strikes me in deep the heart, the same way I feel when I read about babies abandoned at birth or children neglected and abused. War is that great...more
Scrittevolmente
Ho cominciato a leggere avendo già alle spalle uno studio approfondito dei racconti delle Grandi Guerre: libri, testimonianze, filmati e visite a musei. Tutto però si riduceva all’ambito dell’olocausto, dei campi di concentramento, della vita al fronte e dell’attività dei partigiani. Leggendo la trama ero perplesso: che cosa potevo aspettarmi da una storia narrata dal punto di vista delle famigerate squadre di SS, per quanto filtrata attraverso il punto di vista di un bambino di pochi anni. Così...more
Maude
I have read many, many Holocaust stories but this one was unlike any I had read before. His mother had told her son, five-year-old Alex Kurzem that they would all die the next day and not to be afraid. He escaped in the morning and saw his family shot by the soldiers after being placed in a large hole with many others. After running away he was picked up by a Nazi who was the only one who knew he was Jewish. He became a mascot and "honorary corporal" in the SS with his own uniform, and stayed wi...more
Nancy
Orphaned at an early age, Kurzem's father, Alex, immigrated from Europe to Australia after World War II, with a Latvian family that had been caring for him during the war. An inveterate storyteller, Mark's father would pull one item at a time from a special travel case that was off limits to the family, and using it as a prop for yet another of his amazing tales.

After decades of silence, Alex finds himself compelled to confide his true history--as much as he can remember of it, to his son Mark....more
Becki
I finished reading the book in four days. Although the story is nothing short of unimaginable, it is written in a way that draws the reader in but with less secondary trauma while reading compared to other Holocaust narratives (at least for me). Drawn to stories from the Holocaust, I was anxious to know how Alex's/Ilya's story unfolded. His story was captivating, the voice of his son--not so much. I believe his angle could be more detailed and more attention paid to the complex layers in this st...more
Carol
This was lent to me by my daughter in law, Britta. Thanks Britta! Wonderful read. I would love to recommend this to my book club but there are those that are not as fond of non fiction (historical)as I am. Alex Kurzem is searching for his roots. He came to Australia as a young man, married and raised a family. His family knows that he wandered lost for a time in the forests of Russia as a mere five year old but they do not know that Alex suspects that he was a Jew and his family was slaughtered...more
Suzanne
Author Mark Kurzem's father Alex (anglicized from "Uldis Kurzemnieks") has had a fascinating, surprising, and sometimes horrifying life. As far as his wife and children in Australia knew for most of their lives, a five- or six-year-old Alex was found wandering alone in the forests near the Russian border in 1942 by Latvian soldiers. The trauma of surviving alone for an unknown time (the shortest possible time guessed in the book is several weeks; it might have been longer) had made the little bo...more
Sharon Lippincott
Initially I was reluctant to dig into Mark Kurzem’, sensing that the content would be challenging and brutal. However, it had been strongly recommended, enough to overcome my reluctance. I can’t say it was a treat, but it was rewarding to read. As I expected, there were horrifying scenes that would give me nightmares if I dwelled on them. It was also brutal in ways I had not expected, like discovering all the ways a very young boy was ensnared, robbed of his childhood and identity and used for n...more
K.
The book shows us what happens when a child is forced to deny his identity, his family, his religion, and his heritage--in order to survive in a world in which atrocity is commonplace. Survivor-guilt, shame, a horror at his own complicity (if a child's actions can be complicit), and a deep confusion about who he is, who is good, and who is bad, swirl around in this man's psyche. His son's story about their search for answers is a love story in itself. I especially appreciate the way the book end...more
Alison
This is the unbelievable true story of a man who kept silent about his childhood for 50 years. It is about memory, identity, fear and survival. At 4 or 5 years of age, Alex Kurzem watched his family be killed by Latvian soldiers. He escaped into the woods. Some time later, a group of soldiers "rescues" him from the woods and adopts him as one of their own. One of the soldiers warns him to keep his Jewish heritage a secret. Kurzem is given his own military uniform, and travels with the soldiers....more
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The Mascot: Truly an amazing story 5 27 Mar 19, 2013 11:38AM  
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