RIGHTEOUS is a new play by Jeff Cohen. It had its first public readings in 2017 at The Pasadena Playhouse and the Lincoln Center Library. In the Spring of 2019, it will receive a workshop culminating in a staged reading at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.
If you had secret information that the government was planning genocide against an entire race of people, what would you do? Would you do the right thing? Would you do the right thing even if it put you and your family in mortal danger?
In July, 1942, a wealthy German industrialist whose vast business empire was essential to the Nazi war effort, learned of Hitler’s plan for the Final Solution to the “Jewish problem” – the extermination of all the Jews in Europe. This German tried to warn the world. His information was relayed to the British and American governments in what became known as the Riegner Telegram. This telegram made its way to the desk of FDR in December of 1942. Where it was promptly ignored.
The name of the German industrialist was a closely guarded secret, even twenty years after his death. When his identity was finally disclosed, it came as a shock to his American grand-daughter; she embarks on a journey to discover the grandfather she never knew.
Her grandfather was posthumously honored by Yad Veshem as Righteous Among the Nations – a Righteous Gentile.
Righteous is the true story of heroism in the face of futility. Who among us would stand up for what’s right, whatever the cost? That question is as pertinent today as it was in 1942.