By the winter of 1964, the mission was coming into focus. In Brazil, the spy continued to meet with Herbert Cukurs, stoking The Butcher's excitement for his coming wealth and making sure he’d be willing to travel outside of Brazil. Yosef Yariv had chosen his kill team and they were training under the Krav Maga master, Imi Lichtenfeld.
“Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher" came out of Stephan Talty's work on a related book, The Good Assassin. Explore other parts of this story in the book: Buy The Good Assassin
Herbert Cukurs was getting excited. He needed money, but more importantly, after being a pariah for years, he needed the encouragement that this high roller "Anton Kuenzle" gave him. Mio had sensed almost from the minute he met Cukurs that the guy was a narcissist.
What the spy didn’t know was that Cukurs was also playing a part. He pretended he was gung-ho, but the truth is he was deeply worried by the idea of leaving the country. Decades on the run had made him a worrier. He knew the Jews wanted him. Who’s to say this wasn’t the nightmare he’d been running away from ever since he left Latvia?
Cukurs thought about it. What Anton Kuenzle offered was so tempting. It was maybe his last chance at getting rich and getting his reputation back. It was too good to pass up. He was leaning towards going. But he wasn’t sure.
The spy flew to Uruguay and its capital, Montevideo. He wanted to see if it could work for the final act of the mission. He rented a car, studied the map, and started searching for a house. He needed something that looked like it could serve as the home base for a respectable company. It had to fool the Butcher.
Cukurs arrived in Montevideo a few days later. He was super excited. He probably hadn’t left Brazil in twenty years and now he was on a vacation with all expenses paid.
This was the important thing. Mio was starting to condition Cukurs, getting him to go in and out of strange houses.
This episode contains interviews with:
• Dr. Sarah Valente: visiting assisstant professor at The Ackerman Center at The University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Valente studies the legacy of World War II and the Holocaust in Brazil.
• Fernando Butazzoni: award-winning journalist and author of the 2020 book on Mossad's Cukurs mission, Los Que Nunca Olvidarán (Those Who Will Never Forget)
• Avner Avraham: former Mossad agent and renowned expert on Mossad operations
• Gad Shimron: former Mossad agent, journalist, author of several books on intelligence and history
GOOD ASSASSINS: HUNTING THE BUTCHER
• Written and Hosted by STEPHAN TALTY
• Produced and Directed by SCOTT WAXMAN and JACOB BRONSTEIN
• Executive Producers: SCOTT WAXMAN and MARK FRANCIS
• Story Editor: JACOB BRONSTEIN
• Editorial direction: SCOTT WAXMAN and MANGESH HATTIKUDUR
• Editing, mixing, and sound design: MARK FRANCIS
• With the voices of: NICK AFKA THOMAS, OMRI ANGHEL, ANDREW POLK, MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE, STEVE ROUTMAN, STEFAN RUDNICKI
• Theme Music by TYLER CASH
• Archival Researcher: ADAM SHAPIRO
• Thanks to OREN ROSENBAUM
Learn more about “Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher” at DiversionPodcasts.com
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