Why Are So Many Eastern Europeans Suddenly Celebrating Nazi Collaborators?
New National Mythologies Rely on ‘Heroes’ That Help Downplay the Holocaust
When is a hero not really a hero? When a country resurrects a tainted figure to serve the needs of a new national mythology. Consider the case of Latvian national hero Herberts Cukurs and his role in the Holocaust.
At the end of World War I, aviator Cukurs fought alongside other Latvians for independence from the Russian Empire. He earned fame after building a single-engine plane, flying it to Gambia in the 1930s, and winning an international aviation prize.
But Cukurs’s celebrity shifted to notoriety in World War II, when he …