Manage episode 293575501 series 2904635
The story of the spy and the murderer isn't over. There is something missing in the story: the answer to the question of *why*. Why did Herbert Cukurs go from being a national hero to a mass murderer? Stephan Talty speaks to some striking characters to try and finally answer that question. It turns out to have more sides than we originally thought.
The opinion of most people was that Cukurs had always been a secret anti-Semite. Before the war, he’d hidden this hatred inside himself. But really he hated Jews. And when the war came, the Nazis gave him a chance to use that hatred. And he did terrible things. End of story.
But that just didn’t fit the facts. So Talty kept looking. And in that search, he found Zelma Shepshelovich. Zelma was a bright, beautiful Jewish girl. During the war, on the day her family had been murdered, Zelma had been hidden by a Latvian guy who was hopelessly in love with her. And she stayed in hiding and learned things that take us to the heart of Cukurs’ life. Her story also involves psychiatric asylums, an escape to Sweden, suicide attempts and much more.
But Zelma's story is mostly about suffering and love and never forgetting. Zelma is the key to knowing the question of *why*. Or at least one side of it.
Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher came out of author Stephan Talty's work on a book called The Good Assassin: Buy the book
This episode contains interviews with:
• Zelma Shepshelovich, courtesy of The Institute for Visual History and Education at the USC Shoah Foundation
• Naomi Ahimeir, daughter of Zelma Shepshelovich
• Ilya Lensky, Director of the Jews in Latvia Museum in Riga, Latvia
• Dr. Sarah Valente, visiting assisstant professor at The Ackerman Center at The University of Texas at Dallas
• Written and Hosted by STEPHAN TALTY
• Produced and Directed by SCOTT WAXMAN and JACOB BRONSTEIN
• Executive Producers: SCOTT WAXMAN and MARK FRANCIS
• Story Editor: JACOB BRONSTEIN
• Editorial direction: SCOTT WAXMAN and MANGESH HATTIKUDUR
• Editing, mixing, and sound design: MARK FRANCIS
• With the voices of: NICK AFKA THOMAS, OMRI ANGHEL, ANDREW POLK, MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE, STEVE ROUTMAN, STEFAN RUDNICKI
• Theme Music by TYLER CASH
• Archival Researcher: ADAM SHAPIRO
• Thanks to OREN ROSENBAUM
Learn more about “Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher” at DiversionPodcasts.com
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