Heir to an Execution
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Top Customer Reviews
This documentary assumes the viewer is intimate with the Rosenberg case, the fervor of McCarthyism, and the red scare -at least from the perspective of what the official story was. With that assumption in place she tells the story from the inside out. This is a moving side of the story to tell and at times a tough film to watch; however, it is not filled with the saccharine sentiment one may expect.
While this documentary is expectedly one-sided, surprisingly it is not totally absent scrutiny. Ivy explores tough questions: Was Julius a communist? Yes. Was he a spy? Yes. Did he ever trade any secrets that compromised our national security or resulted in the death of any American? Very hard to tell, but probably not. Was Ethel a communist? Well, yes but mostly by association. Was she a dedicated wife and mother? My take is that she was more of a dedicated wife then mother, but I may be completely wrong. She was put in a very tough position where every choice was a lose/lose. All the government ever really had on her was being loyal to her husband.
This documentary may well upset supporters who view the Rosenbergs as leftist martyrs, as well as detractors who condemn them as agents of Stalin.Read more ›
Ivy's father Michael and her uncle Robert were young children abandoned by their relatives who did not want to be associated with anyone connected with the notorious Rosenberg trial. Ann and Abel Meeropol adopted the two boys; Michael became a college professor and Robert a lawyer. Both men have spent much of their adult lives attempting to learn the true facts of the case against their parents.
Ivy discovers that Ethel Rosenberg's brother, David Greenglass, by his own admission, gave false testimony against his sister. In one scene of the film she drives by the home of Greenglass, but decides against interviewing him. Greenglass has worked hard to disappear from the public view and has, for the most part, been successful. Ivy is not ready to question Greenglass about his false testimony. We respect her reticence in this sensitive matter.
Ivy does visit other relatives, some of whom are now ashamed that they did not have the courage to support the innocent children of the Rosenbergs. Ivy's purpose is to reestablish family ties; accusation and blame are not on her agenda.Read more ›
As a narrator, Meeropol offers charm and charisma. In fact, the whole family seems incredibly normal and, well, nice. Her father and uncle, the Rosenberg sons, survived what many would view as childhood trauma: reading about their parents in the media, visiting their parents in prison, temporary stays in group homes. They were lucky to live in a pre-pop-psych era and even luckier to be adopted by the loving Meeropols.
The Rosenberg sons always believed in the innocence of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Through release of formerly classified documents, it's obvious that Julius did some sort of spying. But realistically he probably was a small fish, in over his head, caught up in the government's search for a scapegoat.
Sure, Khruschev mentions the Rosenbergs in his biography, and Julius (but not Ethel) had a couple of code names, but another KGB agent came forward late in his life to say, "They really didn't amount to much." And another accused party member, Miriam Moskowitz, questions the Venona documents when she's interviewed: mostly scraps, she says, except for the Rosenbergs' very complete file.
Ivy's cousin Rachel, a newly-minted lawyer, summarizes the tragedy succinctly. Even if guilty, Ethel and Julius deserved a fair trial, and they didn't get one. The prosecutor engaged in illegal ex parte (out of court) communication with the judge. Ethel's brother David Greenglass has admitted he gave false testimony. The Rosenbergs were accused of accepting a console table with spy equipment; the table turned out to be what they claimed -- an ordinary table they bought at Macy's.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
NO stars. Rent, don't buy, if you really must. If you choose to watch this, gird yourself immediately for a smirking adult granddaughter's attempt at fame, admiration and sympathy. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Martha Rudman
I had to watch this movie more than once to get the true sense of this harrowing and deeply touching film. Ms. Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. George
Historical documentary. Always shocking when The Gov needs to fuel the fire of public ignorance and hatred. Revenge?! No thought for the children. Disgusting.Published 18 months ago by AlchemystAZ
This is a wonderful read about real survivors of the holocaust . They raised a family without mentioning what they had been through and I am amazed once again at the stamina of... Read morePublished on June 18, 2014 by Sonja Voss
First, prior to watching this film, I did take an undergraduate class on Communism and Joseph McCarthy I don't consider myself an expert, but I did know some facts regarding the... Read morePublished on April 10, 2014 by Dahlia Skwarlo
In this 2001 film documentary Ivy Meeropol combines archival file footage and interviews with the key survivors of the era of her grandparent's, Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, trial and... Read morePublished on August 26, 2013 by Gordon B. Thomas
It is true, as the Rosenberg's two sons and as the director of this film, the Rosenberg's granddaughter admits, available evidence does not clearly say that Julius and Ethel... Read morePublished on March 13, 2013 by Israel Drazin