Linda KinstlerOct 26, 2023
Come to This Court and Cry
How the Holocaust Ends
In 1965, five years after the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, one of his Mossad abductors was sent back to South America to kill another fugitive Nazi, the so-called “butcher of Riga,” Latvian Herberts Cukurs. Cukurs was shot. On his corpse, the assassins left pages from the closing speech of the chief British prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg:
“After this ordeal to which mankind has been submitted, mankind itself . . . comes to this Court and cries: ‘These are our laws—let them prevail!’”
Years later, the Latvian prosecutor general began investigating the possibility of redeeming Cukurs for his past actions. Researching the case, Dr. Linda Kinstler discovered that her grandfather, Boris, had served in Cukurs’s killing unit and was rumored to be a double agent for the KGB. The proceedings, which might have resulted in Cukurs’s pardon, threw into question supposed “facts” about the Holocaust at the precise moment its last living survivors—the last legal witnesses—were dying.
Rich with scholarly detective work and personal reflection, Come to This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends (PublicAffairs, 2023) (Public Affairs, 2023) is a fearlessly brave examination of how history can become distorted over time, how easily the innocent are forgotten, and how carelessly the guilty are sometimes reprieved.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.