European Neo-Nazi demonstration (file)
European Neo-Nazi demonstration (file) Reuters

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday "strongly condemned" the Lavian musical production honoring the memory of Latvian Nazi war criminal Herberts Cukurs, infamously known as the "Butcher of Riga" for his atrocities against Jews in the Riga ghetto.

"There must be no tolerance for any attempt to turn a heinous criminal into a cultural hero. This is a cynical attempt to deny history and constitutes an insult to all victims of the Nazis and their collaborators," said the statement.

The ministry added "Israel both welcomes and shares in the criticism issued by the Latvian authorities and the international community against the presentation of the musical."

On October 11 the musical launched a nationwide tour in Latvia, featuring singer Juris Miller, in part of a recent push to whitewash the record of the Nazi collaborator.

Cukurs was a Latvian aviator and deputy commander of the Arajs Kommando, a notorious Nazi killing unit in Latvia similar to the SS that reportedly killed tens of thousands of Jews, itself responsible for killing half of Latvia's Jewish population.

Despite the overwhelming amount of witness testimony to Cukurs's brutal atrocities, he never stood trial thanks to having fled to Brazil. However, the Mossad caught up with him, assassinating the Nazi member in Montevideo in 1965.

Latvia has been seeing a resurgence of anti-Semitism, with Nazi collaborators in March holding their annual march in Riga.

The musical whitewashing of Cukurs brings to mind another similar musical, "The Death of Klinghoffer," which opened on Monday at New York's Metropolitan Opera.

The play has been widely condemned for glorifying and justifying the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorists who murdered 69-year-old wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer and tossed his body off of a cruise ship 29 years ago.