He’s a Jew, a survivor, AND a Nazi

Holocaust Survivor Kurzem Finds Cousin

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — After seeing his mother and siblings shot to death by Nazis, 5-year-old Ilya Solomonovich Galparin went into survival mode, concealing his Jewishness and assuming the role of fair-haired Aryan mascot for a Latvian Nazi military unit.


Kurzem was likely known as Ilya Solomonovich Galparin on Oct. 20, 1941, the day his mother gathered her children in her arms and informed them they would be shot the next day. Kurzem, the oldest boy, decided he didn’t want to die and sneaked away after getting ready for bed.


Kurzem wandered the countryside, eating berries and begging. For how long, he doesn’t remember. Then, a man who likely suspected Kurzem was Jewish took the boy to a Latvian battalion of the Nazi SS, apparently to be killed.

But a Latvian soldier, discerning the boy was Jewish, took pity on him, giving him a new name and fabricating a background for him. He ordered him to never tell any one of his heritage.

Members of the Latvian unit took Kurzem under their wing and the boy […] became the unit’s mascot, wearing a Nazi uniform and carrying the unit’s standard.



The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 4, 2005; 7:36 AM