Why is Wiesenthal Important Today?
Filled with hope, humanity, and humor, Wiesenthal is the inspiring true story of Simon Wiesenthal, sometimes referred to as ‘the Jewish James Bond,’ Wiesenthal escaped death at the hands of Hitler’s S.S., lost 89 family members, and devoted more than six decades to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. Part memoir and part spy thriller, Dugan’s play introduces us to Wiesenthal on the day before his retirement as he welcomes his final group of Americans to his office in The Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna.” Wiesenthal’s dedication to justice can be remembered through this thoughtful, serious yet entertaining play.
During a post-show talkback, a young woman said, “My parents taught me that The Holocaust was a lie”. After assuring her that the facts in my play had been triple checked for accuracy, I asked her why her parents would teach her such a foolish idea. Tears came down her face as she explained that her great-grandfather was Adolf Eichmann.
Becoming Simon Wiesenthal
Preparing to play Simon Wiesenthal included, studying his particular Austrian/ Hungarian accent, shaving my head, wearing a fat suit, and applying an hour of old age make up every night.
Remembering the Holocaust
Clearly, the story of the holocaust is an emotional one, but Simon quickly learned that emotion won’t help you in a courtroom. Only verifiable facts, backed up by many credible witnesses, will get the job done when prosecuting war criminals. Simon learned to be cool under pressure.
Directly after the war, countries on both side wanted to sweep WW II’s ugliness under the rug, preferring to look only to the future, rather than analyzing the past. Simon understood that this apathy would lead to history repeating itself. He insisted that the world must never forget.
Simon Wiesenthal was a very entertaining and engaging man, who understood that the lessons of the Holocaust must be presented in a way that does not turn off the listener. Simon’s sense of humor was his secret weapon. That is why the play has been so well-received.