Anton Kuenzle, an author writing under a pseudonym, tells of the extraordinary covert operation which began in 1964 and ended on the 23rd of February 1965 with the execution of Herbert Cukers, the infamous Hangman of Riga. Presenting himself as a well-to-do Austrian businessman, Anton Kuenzle, an Israeli and high-ranking officer of the Israel Defense Forces and a senior agent of the Mossad (Israel’s CIA equivalent) embarked on a journey to San Paulo, Brazil, to the fortressed home of Herbert Cukers, the Latvian flight pioneer and monster responsible for the death of 30,000 Jews in Latvia. The story tells of Mr. Kuenzle’s journey and his encounter with Cukers, whom he refers to as the ‘Deceased.’ It describes how he gained his trust so that the Nazi war criminal could be led to Uruguay to be trapped, overpowered and ultimately executed by a team of five men from the Mossad. Kuenzle spares few details in describing the barbaric, cruel and sadistic acts of Cukers. The book includes many black and white photographs of Cukers, his Jewish victims and Kuenzle, (with his face blackened out so that he cannot be recognized). Upon his death, Cuker’s bloodied body was laid in a trunk with a single piece of paper written in English: “VERDICT: Considering the gravity of the crimes of which HERBERT CUKERS is accused, notably his personal responsibility in the murder of 30,000 men, women and children, and considering the terrible cruelty shown by HERBERT CUKERS in carrying out his crimes, we condemn the said CUKERS to death. He was executed on 23 February 1965 by ‘Those Who Will Never Forget.’”
This amazing story is very well written, and translated masterfully by Uriel Masad. A must-read for anyone interested in this firsthand account by the courageous Mr. Kuenzle of the murder of the Hangman of Riga.
Barbara S. Cohen is a trial attorney in Los Angeles who specializes in child abuse cases. She is a member of NAMI and a supporter of NARSAD, and is an advocate for those who suffer from mental illness.