Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
Wartime is harrowing — and people survive however they can. Imagine, though, that you're a 5-year-old child, the Nazis have just massacred your village, and you're hiding in the woods. What are your chances of survival — of even knowing what survival might mean? That's just what happened to Alex Kurzem. But his story took a dramatic twist when he was rescued by the Latvian SS. They fed him and clothed him — and adopted him as their own. They never knew he was Jewish. He became their "mascot," and for years kept the secret — even from his own family. When he finally told his son, Mark Kurzem, it took them ten years to piece together his fragmented family history — and Mark wrote a book about his father's experiences, called The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood. Today we'll talk to both father and son about the long road they took together.