Last week I made a quick trip to Southern California. My busy schedule did not permit me to see Hunger: In Bed With Roy Cohn, a new play that recently premiered in L.A. Yet while I was there, I was able to meet with the playwright, the producers and some of the actors after one of the performances.
The 40th anniversary of the Attica Prison rebellion earlier this month transported me back to 1971 in a flash. I’m amazed at how the decades have flown by. It seems like we just commemorated the 50th anniversary of my parents’ execution, but already the 60th (June 2013) is coming into view on my temporal horizon. The 60th anniversary of my parents’ arrests, trial, sentencing and even my first visit to them at Sing-Sing prison are already behind us.
Ever since I first saw John Sayles’ film Lone Star in the late 1990’s I’ve dreamed about getting him to make a film about my parents’ case. One reviewer captured the essence of that film, which is set in a small Texas border town: “Sayles ingeniously sets this mystery against the backdrop of a developing, multicultural community losing its economic base while haggling over a history of racism. The overall effect is of a complicated American tragedy mitigated by the possibility of personal redemption.”
Sixty years ago today, Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced my parents to death. He justified the death penalty for their “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage” (planning to commit espionage) conviction by saying their “conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding fifty thousand.”
I left off my last blog by promising to discuss the impact of this new information on the phrase “I come from Julius” and the Jello box top.
I concluded my blog last week, "Surprise Ending," with an overview of how I would have summarized my parents’ case prior to reading Walter and Miriam’s Schneir’s new book Final Verdict, and promised in my next blog to report on how the new book altered my beliefs. I also reviewed the two key events that led to my parents’ conviction and execution:
I don’t consider myself the world’s foremost expert on my parents’ case. For one thing, my brother, who has a better head for details and more patience for pinning them down, can recount more of the finer points than I can. Still, there are very few people in the world who know more about my parents’ case than I do.
Last Saturday I joined a panel at the Left Forum at Pace University in NYC entitled, Exonerate the Rosenbergs? Robert & Michael Meeropol React to Morton Sobell and Other New Developments.