Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Overview
Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 28, 1915 – June 19, 1953) and Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) were American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 communists
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 who were convicted and executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 during a time of war. The charges related to their passing information about the atomic bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This was the first execution of civilians for espionage in United States history.

In 1995, the U.S.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Julius and Ethel Rosenberg'
Start a new discussion about 'Julius and Ethel Rosenberg'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 28, 1915 – June 19, 1953) and Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) were American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 communists
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 who were convicted and executed in 1953 for conspiracy to commit espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 during a time of war. The charges related to their passing information about the atomic bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This was the first execution of civilians for espionage in United States history.

In 1995, the U.S. government released a series of decoded Soviet cables, codenamed VENONA
Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...

, which supported courtroom testimony that Julius acted as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets, but cast doubt on the level of Ethel's involvement. The decision to execute the Rosenbergs was, and still is, controversial. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of the execution (June 19, 2003) wrote, "The Rosenberg's case still haunts American history, reminding us of the injustice that can be done when a nation gets caught up in hysteria." This hysteria had both an immediate and a lasting effect; many innocent scientists, including some who were virulently anti-communist, were investigated simply for having the last name "Rosenberg." The other atomic spies who were caught by the FBI offered confessions and were not executed. Ethel's brother, David Greenglass
David Greenglass
David Greenglass was an atomic spy for the Soviet Union who worked in the Manhattan project. He was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

, who supplied documents to Julius from Los Alamos
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

, served 10 years of his 15-year sentence. Harry Gold
Harry Gold
Harry Gold was a laboratory chemist who was convicted of being the “courier” for a number of Soviet spy rings during the Manhattan Project.-Early life:Gold was born in Switzerland to poor Russian Jewish immigrants...

, who identified Greenglass, served 15 years in Federal prison as the courier for Greenglass and the British scientist, Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs was a German theoretical physicist and atomic spy who in 1950 was convicted of supplying information from the American, British and Canadian atomic bomb research to the USSR during and shortly after World War II...

. Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell is a former spy for the Soviet Union. Sobell was an American engineer working for General Electric and Reeves Electronics on military and government contracts. He was found guilty of spying for the Soviets , and sentenced to 30 years in prison...

, who was tried with the Rosenbergs, served 17 years and 9 months of a 30-year sentence. In 2008, Sobell admitted he was a spy and confirmed Julius Rosenberg was "in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb."

Early life and education


Julius Rosenberg was born to a family of Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 immigrants in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 on May 1, 1918. Census records show that his family lived at 205 East 113th when he was two years old. The family moved to the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 by the time Julius was eleven. His parents worked in the shops of the Lower East Side, as Julius attended Seward Park High School. Julius became a leader in the Young Communist League, USA
Young Communist League, USA
The Young Communist League USA is the fraternal youth organization of the Communist Party USA. Although the name of the group has changed a number of times over the years, it dates its lineage back to 1920, shortly after the establishment of the first communist parties in America.-Early years:The...

 while at City College of New York
City College of New York
The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

. In 1939 he graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

.

Ethel Greenglass was born on September 28, 1915, in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, also to a Jewish family. An aspiring actress and singer, she eventually took a secretarial job at a shipping company. She became involved in labor disputes and joined the Young Communist League, where she met Julius in 1936.

Marriage and family


Julius and Ethel married in 1939. They had two sons, Robert
Robert Meeropol
Robert Meeropol is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Meeropol was born in New York City. His father Julius was an electrical engineer and a member of the Communist Party. His mother Ethel , a union organizer, was also active in the Communist Party...

 and Michael
Michael Meeropol
Michael Meeropol is a retired professor of economics. He is the older son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Born in New York City, as Michael Rosenberg, Meeropol spent his early childhood living in New York and attending local school there. His father Julius, an electrical engineer, was a member of...

. After their parents' convictions and executions, the boys were adopted by the teacher and songwriter Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol was an American writer and song-writer, best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

 and his wife Anne (and took the Meeropol surname to protect their privacy while they were growing up).

Career


Julius Rosenberg joined the Army Signal Corps
United States Army Signal Corps
The United States Army Signal Corps develops, tests, provides, and manages communications and information systems support for the command and control of combined arms forces. It was established in 1860, the brainchild of United States Army Major Albert J. Myer, and has had an important role from...

 Engineering Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1940, where he worked as an engineer-inspector until 1945. He was fired when the U.S. Army discovered his previous membership in the Communist Party. Important research on electronics, communications, radar and guided missile controls was undertaken at Fort Monmouth during World War II.

According to a 2001 book by his former handler Alexandre Feklisov
Alexandre Feklisov
Aleksandr Semyonovich Feklisov was a Soviet spy, the NKGB Case Officer who received information from Julius Rosenberg and Klaus Fuchs, among others.-Biography:...

, Rosenberg was originally recruited by the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

 on Labor Day 1942 by former spymaster
Spymaster
A spymaster is a ring leader of a spy ring, run by a secret service.-Historical spymasters:*Dai Li *Francis Walsingham *James Jesus Angleton *Joseph Peters...

 Semyon Semenov. He had been introduced to Semenov by Bernard Schuster, a high-ranking member of the Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 as well as Earl Browder
Earl Browder
Earl Russell Browder was an American communist and General Secretary of the Communist Party USA from 1934 to 1945. He was expelled from the party in 1946.- Early years :...

's personal NKVD liaison. In fact, Feklisov, a life-long Communist, was covering the role of Jacob Golos
Jacob Golos
Jacob Golos, , was a Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary of ethnic Jewish heritage who became a secret police operative on behalf of the USSR in the United States...

, who in 1942 passed the Communist "information" cell of young engineers headed by Julius Rosenberg into direct contact with the Soviet operatives in New York. After Semenov was recalled to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in 1944, his duties were taken over by Feklisov.

According to Feklisov, Rosenberg provided thousands of classified (top secret) reports from Emerson Radio
Emerson Electric Company
Emerson Electric Company is a major multinational corporation headquartered in Ferguson, Missouri, United States. This Fortune 500 company manufactures products and provides engineering services for a wide range of industrial, commercial, and consumer markets.Emerson is one of the largest...

, including a complete proximity fuze
Proximity fuze
A proximity fuze is a fuze that is designed to detonate an explosive device automatically when the distance to target becomes smaller than a predetermined value or when the target passes through a given plane...

, the same device an upgraded model of which was used to shoot down Gary Powers
Gary Powers
Francis Gary Powers was an American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.- Early life :...

' U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

 in 1960. Under Feklisov's administration, Rosenberg is said to have recruited sympathetic individuals into NKVD service, including Joel Barr
Joel Barr
Joel Barr , also Iozef Veniaminovich Berg and Joseph Berg, was part of the Soviet Atomic Spy Ring...

, Alfred Sarant
Alfred Sarant
Alfred Epaminondas Sarant, also known as Filipp Georgievich Staros and Philip Georgievich Staros , was an engineer and a member of the Communist party in New York City in 1944. He was part of the Rosenberg spy ring that reported to Soviet intelligence...

, William Perl
William Perl
William Perl, whose real name was William Mutterperl, was an American physicist and Soviet spy.While a student at the City College of New York, Perl joined the Steinmetz Club, the campus branch of the Young Communist League, where he met and befriended Julius Rosenberg, Morton Sobell and Joel Barr...

 and Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell is a former spy for the Soviet Union. Sobell was an American engineer working for General Electric and Reeves Electronics on military and government contracts. He was found guilty of spying for the Soviets , and sentenced to 30 years in prison...

. The Venona intercept shows that Julius Rosenberg (code name LIBERAL) was the head of this particular spy ring.

According to Feklisov, he was supplied by Perl, under Julius Rosenberg’s direction, with thousands of documents from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

, including a complete set of design and production drawings for the Lockheed's P-80 Shooting Star
P-80 Shooting Star
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces. Designed in 1943 as a response to the German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter, and delivered in just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying but...

. Feklisov says he learned through Rosenberg that his brother-in-law David Greenglass
David Greenglass
David Greenglass was an atomic spy for the Soviet Union who worked in the Manhattan project. He was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

 was working on the top-secret Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

; he used Julius to recruit him.

The USSR and the U.S. became allies during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, after Nazi Germany's surprise attack on the USSR
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in 1941, but the U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 was highly suspicious of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's long-term intentions. The Americans did not share information or seek assistance from the Soviet Union for the Manhattan Project. The Soviets were aware of the project as a result of espionage penetration of the U.S. government and made a number of attempts to infiltrate its operations at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

. The FBI file CINRAD (Communist Infiltration of the Radiation Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory conducting unclassified scientific research. It is located on the grounds of the University of California, Berkeley, in the Berkeley Hills above the central campus...

) implicated J. Robert Oppenheimer, a consultant at the Radiation Lab and later, the key figure at Los Alamos, because of his earlier communist sympathies. A number of project members—some high-profile—voluntarily gave secret information to Soviet agents, many because they were ardent communists or were sympathetic to the Soviet Union's role in the war and did not feel the U.S. should have a monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 on atomic weapons.

After the war, the U.S. continued to protect its nuclear secrets, but the Soviet Union was able to produce its own atomic weapons by 1949. The West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 was shocked by the speed with which the Soviets were able to stage their first nuclear test
Nuclear testing
Nuclear weapons tests are experiments carried out to determine the effectiveness, yield and explosive capability of nuclear weapons. Throughout the twentieth century, most nations that have developed nuclear weapons have tested them...

, "Joe 1
Joe 1
The RDS-1 , also known as First Lightning , was the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon test. In the west, it was code-named Joe-1, in reference to Joseph Stalin. It was test-exploded on 29 August 1949, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR, after a top-secret R&D project...

", on August 29, 1949. In January 1950 the U.S. discovered that Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Fuchs
Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs was a German theoretical physicist and atomic spy who in 1950 was convicted of supplying information from the American, British and Canadian atomic bomb research to the USSR during and shortly after World War II...

, a German refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 theoretical physicist working for the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 mission in the Manhattan Project, had given key documents to the Soviets throughout the war. Fuchs' identified his courier as Harry Gold
Harry Gold
Harry Gold was a laboratory chemist who was convicted of being the “courier” for a number of Soviet spy rings during the Manhattan Project.-Early life:Gold was born in Switzerland to poor Russian Jewish immigrants...

, who was arrested on May 23, 1950. Gold confessed and identified Sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 David Greenglass, a former machinist at Los Alamos, as an additional source.

Greenglass confessed to having passed secret information on to the USSR through Gold. Though he initially denied any involvement by his sister, Ethel Rosenberg, eventually he claimed that she knew of her husband's dealings and typed some documents for him. He also claimed that her husband, Julius, had convinced her sister Ruth Greenglass to recruit David while on a visit to him in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...

, in 1944. He said Julius had passed secrets, and linked him and Ethel to the Soviet contact agent Anatoli Yakovlev. This connection would be necessary as evidence if there was to be a conviction for espionage.

Another accused conspirator, Morton Sobell, was on vacation in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 when both Rosenbergs were arrested. According to his memoir, On Doing Time, he tried to figure out a way to reach Europe without a passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

. Abandoning that effort, he returned to Mexico City, where he claimed to have been kidnapped by members of the Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 and driven to the U.S. border, where he was arrested by U.S. forces. The government claimed Sobell was arrested by the Mexican police for bank robbery on August 16, 1950, and extradited the next day to the United States in Laredo, Texas
Laredo, Texas
Laredo is the county seat of Webb County, Texas, United States, located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. According to the 2010 census, the city population was 236,091 making it the 3rd largest on the United States-Mexican border,...

. He was charged and tried with the Rosenbergs on one count of conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 to commit espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

.

Grand jury


In August 1950, a federal grand jury was convened to hear the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

's case for indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

s. The grand jury transcripts, made public in 2008, record that on August 3, Ethel Rosenberg's sister-in-law, Ruth Greenglass, testified that in November 1944, Julius Rosenberg recruited her, and urged her to recruit her husband (Ethel's brother, David Greenglass
David Greenglass
David Greenglass was an atomic spy for the Soviet Union who worked in the Manhattan project. He was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

), into a conspiracy to engage in atomic espionage for the Soviet Union:

She added that Ethel participated in this effort, urging her to comply:

On August 17, the grand jury returned an indictment alleging 11 overt acts. Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were indicted, as were David Greenglass and Anatoli Yakovlev
Anatoli Yatskov
Anatoli A. Yakovlev was General Consul of the Soviet Union's delegation in New York City in the 1940s...

.

Trial and conviction




The trial of the Rosenbergs and Sobell began on March 6, 1951. The judge was Irving Kaufman
Irving Kaufman
Irving Robert Kaufman was a federal judge in the United States. He is best remembered for imposing the controversial death sentences on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

 and the attorney for the Rosenbergs was Emanuel Hirsch Bloch
Emanuel Hirsch Bloch
Emanuel Hirsch Bloch was an American attorney known for defending clients associated with left-wing and Communist causes. He and Marshall Perlin defended Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

. The prosecution's primary witness, David Greenglass, stated that his sister Ethel typed notes containing U.S. nuclear secrets in the Rosenberg apartment in September 1945. He also testified that he turned over to Julius Rosenberg a sketch of the cross-section of an implosion-type atom bomb (the "Fat Man
Fat Man
"Fat Man" is the codename for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the United States on August 9, 1945. It was the second of the only two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare to date , and its detonation caused the third man-made nuclear explosion. The name also refers more...

" bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, as opposed to a bomb with the "gun method" triggering device as used in the "Little Boy
Little Boy
"Little Boy" was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon...

" bomb dropped on Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

). The notes allegedly typed by Ethel apparently contained little that was relevant to the Soviet atomic bomb project and some suggest Ethel was indicted along with Julius so that the prosecution could use her to pressure Julius into giving up the names of others who were involved. However, neither Julius nor Ethel Rosenberg named anyone else and during testimony each asserted their right under the U.S. Constitution's
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 Fifth Amendment
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, protects against abuse of government authority in a legal procedure. Its guarantees stem from English common law which traces back to the Magna Carta in 1215...

 to not incriminate themselves whenever asked about involvement in the Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 or with its members. The then Deputy Attorney General of the United States William P. Rogers
William P. Rogers
William Pierce Rogers was an American politician, who served as a Cabinet officer in the administrations of two U.S. Presidents in the third quarter of the 20th century.-Early Life :...

, when later asked about the failure of the indictment of Ethel to extract a full confession from Julius, reportedly said, "She called our bluff."

The Rosenbergs were convicted on March 29, 1951, and on April 5 were sentenced to death by Judge Irving Kaufman under Section 2 of the Espionage Act of 1917
Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

, 50 U.S. Code
United States Code
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

 32 (now 18 U.S. Code 794), which prohibits transmitting or attempting to transmit to a foreign government information "relating to the national defense." The conviction helped to fuel Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

's investigations into anti-American
Anti-Americanism
The term Anti-Americanism, or Anti-American Sentiment, refers to broad opposition or hostility to the people, policies, culture or government of the United States...

 activities by U.S. citizens. While their devotion to the Communist cause was well documented, the Rosenbergs denied the espionage charges even as they faced the electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

.

The Rosenbergs were the only two American civilians to be executed for espionage-related activity during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. In imposing the death penalty, Kaufman noted that he held them responsible not only for espionage but also for the deaths of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

:
After the publication of an investigative series in The National Guardian
Guardian (United States)
The Guardian was a radical leftist independent weekly newspaper published between 1948 and 1992 in New York City. The paper was founded by James Aronson, Cedric Belfrage and John T. McManus.-Formation:...

 and the formation of the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case, some Americans came to believe both Rosenbergs were innocent or received too harsh a punishment, and a grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 campaign was started to try to stop the couple's execution. Between the trial and the executions there were widespread protests and claims of antisemitism; the charges of antisemitism were widely believed abroad, but not among the vast majority in the United States, where the Rosenbergs did not receive any support from mainstream Jewish organizations nor from the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 as the case did not raise any civil liberties issues at all.

Marxist Nobel-Prize-winning existentialist philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

 called the trial "a legal lynching
Lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

 which smears with blood a whole nation. By killing the Rosenbergs, you have quite simply tried to halt the progress of science by human sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

. Magic, witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

s, autos-da-fé
Auto-da-fé
An auto-da-fé was the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed...

, sacrifices — we are here getting to the point: your country is sick with fear... you are afraid of the shadow of your own bomb." Others, including non-Communists such as Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and Nobel-Prize-winning physical chemist Harold Urey
Harold Urey
Harold Clayton Urey was an American physical chemist whose pioneering work on isotopes earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934...

, as well as Communists or left-leaning artists such as Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren was an American writer.-Early life:Algren was born Nelson Ahlgren Abraham in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Goldie and Gerson Abraham. At the age of three he moved with his parents to Chicago, Illinois where they lived in a working-class, immigrant neighborhood on the South Side...

, Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

, Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María...

, Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade , Nick and Nora Charles , and the Continental Op .In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on...

, Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits....

 and Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

, protested the position of the American government in what the French termed America's Dreyfus affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

. In May 1951, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

 wrote for the communist French newspaper L’Humanité, "The hours count. The minutes count. Do not let this crime against humanity take place." The all-black labor union International Longshoremen’s Association Local 968 stopped working for a day in protest. Cinema artists such as Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

 registered their protest. Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 appealed to President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 to spare the couple, but Eisenhower refused on February 11, 1953, and all other appeals were also unsuccessful.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, investigated how much the Soviet spy ring helped the USSR to build their bomb. In 1945, Moynihan found, physicists Hans Bethe estimated that the Soviets would be able to build their own bomb in five years. “Thanks to information provided by their agents,” Moynihan concluded in his book Secrecy, they did it in four. That was the edge that espionage gave them: one year.”

Execution



Because the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is a federal law enforcement agency subdivision of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for the administration of the federal prison system. The system also handles prisoners who committed acts considered felonies under the District of Columbia's...

 did not operate an electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

 at the time, the Rosenbergs were transferred to the New York State-run Sing Sing Correctional Facility
Sing Sing
Sing Sing Correctional Facility is a maximum security prison operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services in the town of Ossining, New York...

 in Ossining
Ossining (town), New York
Ossining is a town in Westchester County, New York, United States. The population was 37,674 at the 2010 census. It contains two villages, the Village of Ossining and part of Briarcliff Manor, the rest of which is located in the Town of Mount Pleasant....

 for execution. The couple were executed at sundown in the electric chair on June 19, 1953. This was delayed from the originally scheduled date of June 18 because, on June 17, Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

 William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

 had granted a stay of execution
Stay of execution
A stay of execution is a court order to temporarily suspend the execution of a court judgment or other court order. The word "execution" does not necessarily mean the death penalty; it refers to the imposition of whatever judgment is being stayed....

. That stay resulted from the intervention in the case of Fyke Farmer
Fyke Farmer
Fyke Farmer , was a Tennessee lawyer who worked on the behalf of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:He was born on November 25, 1901 in Tennessee. He married Fanny Richards Leake, daughter of Charles Richards Leake...

, a Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 lawyer whose efforts had previously met with scorn from the Rosenbergs' attorney.

On June 18, the Court was called back into special session to dispose of Douglas' stay rather than let the execution be delayed for months while the appeal that was the basis of the stay wended its way through the lower courts. The Court did not vacate Douglas' stay until noon on June 19. Thus, the execution then was scheduled for later in the evening after the start of the Jewish Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

. Desperately playing for more time, their lawyer, Emanuel Hirsch Bloch
Emanuel Hirsch Bloch
Emanuel Hirsch Bloch was an American attorney known for defending clients associated with left-wing and Communist causes. He and Marshall Perlin defended Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

, filed a complaint that this offended their Jewish heritage, so the execution was scheduled before sunset, at 8 pm on Friday instead of the regular time of execution at Sing Sing of 11 pm. which usually took place on Thursday.

Eyewitness
Witness
A witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about an event, or in the criminal justice systems usually a crime, through his or her senses and can help certify important considerations about the crime or event. A witness who has seen the event first hand is known as an eyewitness...

 testimony (as given by a newsreel
Newsreel
A newsreel was a form of short documentary film prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, regularly released in a public presentation place and containing filmed news stories and items of topical interest. It was a source of news, current affairs and entertainment for millions of moviegoers...

 report featured in the 1982 documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 The Atomic Cafe
The Atomic Cafe
The Atomic Cafe is an American documentary film produced and directed by Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, and Pierce Rafferty.-Synopsis:The film covers the beginnings of the era of nuclear warfare, created from a broad range of archival film from the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s - including newsreel...

) describes the circumstances of the Rosenbergs' death, noting that while Julius Rosenberg died after the first series of electrocutions, his wife did not. After the normal course of electrocutions, attendants removed the strapping and other equipment only to have doctors determine that Mrs. Rosenberg had not yet died (her heart was still beating). Three courses of electrocution were ultimately applied, and at conclusion eyewitnesses reported, Bob Considine
Bob Considine
Robert "Bob" Bernard Considine was an American writer and commentator. He is best-known for co-writing Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and The Babe Ruth Story.-Biography:...

 among them, that smoke rose from her head in the chamber.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were buried at Wellwood Cemetery
Wellwood Cemetery
Wellwood Cemetery is a Jewish cemetery in Pinelawn, New York. The cemetery comprises many sections, each under the auspices of a synagogue, landsmanschaft, or group such as the Brooklyn Jewish Postal Workers Union. Each of these is marked, most commonly by a stone arch or a pair of stone columns...

 in Pinelawn, New York.

Memoir of Nikita Khrushchev


The posthumous memoir of Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

, leader of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 from 1953 to 1964 records that he learned from Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and Vyacheslav M. Molotov that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg "had provided very significant help in accelerating the production of our atomic bomb." The memoir adds:

Boris V. Brokhovich


The engineer who later became director of Chelyabinsk-40, the plutonium production reactor and extraction facility which the Soviet Union used to create its first bomb material, denied any involvement by the Rosenbergs. In 1989, Boris V. Brokhovich told The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 in an interview that development of the bomb had been a matter of trial and error. "You sat the Rosenbergs in the electric chair for nothing", he said. "We got nothing from the Rosenbergs."

Alexandre Feklisov


According to Alexandre Feklisov
Alexandre Feklisov
Aleksandr Semyonovich Feklisov was a Soviet spy, the NKGB Case Officer who received information from Julius Rosenberg and Klaus Fuchs, among others.-Biography:...

, the former Soviet agent who was Julius' contact, he had not provided the Soviet Union with any useful material about the atomic bomb, "He didn't understand anything about the atomic bomb and he couldn't help us."

Venona


In 1995 the results of the Venona decryption project were released by the US government. Among these was a Soviet Intelligence cable of September 21, 1944, from New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 station to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 Center which read in part:

Notes by U.S. Signals Intelligence Service
Signals Intelligence Service
The Signals Intelligence Service was the United States Army codebreaking division, headquartered at Arlington Hall. It was a part of the Signal Corps so secret that outside the office of the Chief Signal officer, it did not officially exist. William Friedman began the division with three "junior...

 cryptographers identify the code-names LIBERAL as "Julius ROSENBERG," GOROZhANKA as "American Citizen," FIZKUL'TURNITsA as "Probably a Member of the Young Communist League," and ENORMOZ as "Atomic Energy Project."

David Greenglass


David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg's brother and key prosecution witness, recanted his testimony about his sister's typed notes. He stated in an interview in 2001: "I don't know who typed it, frankly, and to this day I can't remember that the typing took place. I had no memory of that at all—none whatsoever." He said he gave false testimony to protect himself and his wife, Ruth, and that he was encouraged by the prosecution to do so; "I would not sacrifice my wife and my children for my sister." He refused to express any remorse for his decision to sacrifice his sister, saying only that he did not realize that the death penalty would be invoked.

Release of grand jury transcripts


In a hearing, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein decided to make public the grand jury testimony of 36 of the 46 witnesses but not that of Greenglass. Citing the objections of Greenglass and two other living witnesses, the judge claimed that their right to privacy "overrides the public’s need to know." Georgetown University
Georgetown University
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

 law professor David Vladeck
David Vladeck
David C. Vladeck is the current Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the United States government...

 argued on behalf of historical groups that because of recent interviews, Greenglass forfeited the privacy he now claims and that the testimony should be released. Hellerstein was not convinced. The testimony of the other seven witnesses will be released upon their consent, or confirmation that they are dead or impossible to find.

In September 2008, hundreds of pages of grand jury transcripts were released. With this release, it was revealed that Ruth Greenglass had irreconcilable differences in her grand jury testimony in August 1950 and the testimony she gave at trial. At the grand jury, Ruth Greenglass was asked, "Didn't you write [the information] down on a piece of paper?" She replied, "Yes, I wrote [the information] down a piece of paper and [Julius Rosenberg] took it with him." But, at the trial she testified that Ethel Rosenberg typed up notes about the atomic bomb.

Morton Sobell


In 2008, after many years of denial, Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell is a former spy for the Soviet Union. Sobell was an American engineer working for General Electric and Reeves Electronics on military and government contracts. He was found guilty of spying for the Soviets , and sentenced to 30 years in prison...

 finally admitted he was a Soviet spy and confirmed Julius Rosenberg was "in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information ... [on] the atomic bomb." However, he stated that the hand-drawn diagrams and other atomic-bomb details that were acquired by David Greenglass
David Greenglass
David Greenglass was an atomic spy for the Soviet Union who worked in the Manhattan project. He was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

 and passed to Julius were of "little value" to the Soviet Union, and were used only to corroborate what they had already learned from the other atomic spies. He also stated that he believed Ethel Rosenberg was aware of her husband's deeds, but took no part in them. In a subsequent letter to The New York Times, Sobell denied that he knew anything about Julius Rosenberg's alleged atomic espionage activities – that the only thing he knew for sure was what he (Sobell) did with Julius Rosenberg.

The Rosenbergs' children


The Rosenbergs' two sons, Robert Meeropol
Robert Meeropol
Robert Meeropol is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Meeropol was born in New York City. His father Julius was an electrical engineer and a member of the Communist Party. His mother Ethel , a union organizer, was also active in the Communist Party...

 and Michael Meeropol
Michael Meeropol
Michael Meeropol is a retired professor of economics. He is the older son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Born in New York City, as Michael Rosenberg, Meeropol spent his early childhood living in New York and attending local school there. His father Julius, an electrical engineer, was a member of...

, spent years trying to prove the innocence of their parents. After Sobell
Morton Sobell
Morton Sobell is a former spy for the Soviet Union. Sobell was an American engineer working for General Electric and Reeves Electronics on military and government contracts. He was found guilty of spying for the Soviets , and sentenced to 30 years in prison...

, at age 91, confessed in 2008, they acknowledged their father had been involved in espionage, but not passing secrets of the bomb. They noted that new evidence cast more doubt on their mother's guilt and said they considered her an innocent person, set up by the government. The Rosenberg children were orphaned by the executions and no relatives adopted them. They were adopted by the songwriter Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol
Abel Meeropol was an American writer and song-writer, best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.-Biography:...

 and his wife Anne, and they assumed the Meeropol surname. Under the pen name of Lewis Allan, he wrote the classic anti-lynching anthem "Strange Fruit
Strange Fruit
"Strange Fruit" is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday, who released her first recording of it in 1939, the year she first sang it. Written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred...

", made famous by singer Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing...

.

Robert and Michael co-wrote a book about their and their parents' lives, We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1975). Robert wrote a later memoir, An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey (2003). In 1990, he founded the Rosenberg Fund for Children
Rosenberg Fund for Children
The Rosenberg Fund for Children is a public foundation started in 1990 by Robert Meeropol and named in honor of his parents Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the only two United States civilians to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage during the Cold War.Orphaned at age 6, Robert was adopted...

, a nonprofit foundation that provides support for children of targeted progressive activists, and youth who are targeted activists. Michael is recently retired as the Chair and Professor of Economics, School of Arts and Sciences, Economics at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

. Michael's daughter, Ivy Meeropol
Ivy Meeropol
Ivy Meeropol is the director and producer of the 2004 documentary Heir to an Execution. She is the daughter of Michael Meeropol and Ann Karus Meeropol and granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and adoptive granddaughter of Abel Meeropol author of "Strange Fruit" and "The House I Live In"...

, directed a 2004 documentary about her grandparents, Heir to an Execution, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is a film festival that takes place annually in Utah, in the United States. It is the largest independent cinema festival in the United States. Held in January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, as well as at the Sundance Resort, the festival is a showcase for new...

.

Michael and Robert Meeropol believe that "whatever atomic bomb information their father passed to the Russians was, at best, superfluous; the case was riddled with prosecutorial and judicial misconduct; their mother was convicted on flimsy evidence to place leverage on her husband; and neither deserved the death penalty." Their mother, they concluded, had not been a spy, but rather had been framed by the false testimony of her brother, and should never have been tried, much less executed.

In popular culture

  • Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday
    Melih Cevdet Anday
    Melih Cevdet Anday , Turkish poet and writer who has been one of the forefront poets of the Garip movement together with Orhan Veli and Oktay Rifat....

     has written the poem "Ani", "Memory/Remembrance" in English, dedicated to Rosenbergs and Zulfu Livaneli has composed the same named song for the lyrics.
  • The Rosenbergs are referred to in Sylvia Plath
    Sylvia Plath
    Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. Born in Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College, Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a professional poet and writer...

    's novel The Bell Jar
    The Bell Jar
    The Bell Jar is American writer and poet Sylvia Plath's only novel, which was originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963. The novel is semi-autobiographical with the names of places and people changed...

     (1963), including in the famous opening line, "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."
  • The E. L. Doctorow
    E. L. Doctorow
    Edgar Lawrence Doctorow is an American author.- Biography :Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent...

     novel The Book of Daniel
    The Book of Daniel (novel)
    The Book of Daniel is semi-historical novel by E. L. Doctorow, loosely based on the trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg...

     (1971) is based on the Rosenberg case as seen through the eyes of the (fictionalized) son. Doctorow wrote the screenplay of the Sidney Lumet
    Sidney Lumet
    Sidney Lumet was an American director, producer and screenwriter with over 50 films to his credit. He was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Director for 12 Angry Men , Dog Day Afternoon , Network and The Verdict...

     film, Daniel, starring Timothy Hutton
    Timothy Hutton
    Timothy Tarquin Hutton is an American actor. He is the youngest actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, which he won at the age of 20 for his performance as Conrad Jarrett in Ordinary People . He currently stars as Nathan "Nate" Ford on the TNT series Leverage.-Early life:Timothy...

    .
  • Robert Coover
    Robert Coover
    Robert Lowell Coover is an American author and professor in the Literary Arts program at Brown University. He is generally considered a writer of fabulation and metafiction.-Life and works:...

    's The Public Burning
    The Public Burning
    The Public Burning, Robert Coover's third novel, was published in 1977. It is an account of the events leading to the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg...

     (1977) dealt with the case. Unlike Doctorow, Coover uses real names for most protagonists of the case, and uses a fictionalized Richard Nixon
    Richard Nixon
    Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

     as his narrator for half of the chapters. This sparked a long delay in the publication of the novel, since publishing houses feared lawsuits from persons portrayed in the book.
  • French singer Jean Ferrat
    Jean Ferrat
    Jean Ferrat was a French singer-songwriter and poet. He specialized in singing poetry, particularly that of Louis Aragon.-Biography:...

     released a (fictional?) letter by Ethel Rosenberg to her sons as a chanson under the title "Si nous mourons" (If We Die) (1979).
  • In the 1992 film Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn
    Citizen Cohn is a 1992 cable film covering the life of Joseph McCarthy's controversial chief counsel Roy Cohn. James Woods, who starred as Cohn, was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance...

    , Ethel Rosenberg is portrayed by Karen Ludwig.
  • Ethel Rosenberg is a major supporting character in Tony Kushner
    Tony Kushner
    Anthony Robert "Tony" Kushner is an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film, Munich.-Life and career:Kushner was born...

    's critically acclaimed play Angels in America
    Angels in America
    Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is the 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning play in two parts by American playwright Tony Kushner. It has been made into both a television miniseries and an opera by Peter Eötvös.-Characters:...

     (1993), in which her ghost haunts a dying Roy Cohn
    Roy Cohn
    Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

    . In the HBO 2003 miniseries adaptation of the play
    Angels in America (miniseries)
    Angels in America is a 2003 HBO miniseries adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by Tony Kushner. Kushner adapted his original text for the screen, and Mike Nichols directed...

    , she was portrayed by Meryl Streep
    Meryl Streep
    Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film.Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with...

    .
  • In Season 1 Episode 12 (Prison Story) of the television show "The Pretender (TV series)
    The Pretender (TV series)
    The Pretender is an American television series that aired on NBC from 1996 to 2000. The series starred Michael T. Weiss as Jarod, a genius and former child prodigy with "the ability to become anyone he wants to be," i.e., to flawlessly impersonate anyone in virtually any line of work...

    ", the main character Jarod is subject to a simulation where he supports Rosenberg's innocence.
  • Faiz Ahmed Faiz
    Faiz Ahmed Faiz
    Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a Pakistani intellectual, poet, and one of the most famous poets of the Urdu language. He was a member of the Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind and an avowed Marxist. In 1962, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union...

    , a celebrated revolutionary poet of Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    , praised Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's sacrifices in his poems, which are now classics of Urdu
    Urdu
    Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

     poetry.
  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are portrayed in the episode "Time Again and World" of the television show Sliders
    Sliders
    Sliders is an American science fiction television series. It was broadcast for five seasons, beginning in 1995 and ending in 2000. The series follows a group of travelers as they use a wormhole to "slide" between different parallel universes. The show was created by Robert K. Weiss and Tracy Tormé...

    . The episode, which takes place in an alternate universe in which the United States Constitution
    United States Constitution
    The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

     was abridged in 1963 by President J. Edgar Hoover, has the Rosenbergs mentioned as the ones who assassinated John F. Kennedy
    John F. Kennedy
    John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

    . After the Rosenbergs are executed, Hoover becomes President due to his popularity with the execution, abridges the Constitution, and places the country under martial law, which lasts well into the 1990s.
  • The Rosenbergs are noted in the lyrics of We Didn't Start the Fire
    We Didn't Start the Fire
    "We Didn't Start the Fire" is a song by Billy Joel. Its lyrics are made up from rapid-fire brief allusions to over a hundred headline events between March 1949 and 1989, when the song was released on his album Storm Front...

     by Billy Joel
    Billy Joel
    William Martin "Billy" Joel is an American musician and pianist, singer-songwriter, and classical composer. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man", in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States, according to...

    .
  • Millicent Dillon dealt with these figures in her fictional biography Harry Gold (2000).
  • Tema Nason wrote Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography (2002), based on Ethel Rosenberg.
  • Julius Rosenberg is available in the computer game Civilization 4 as a Great Spy.
  • In The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

     episode "The Color Yellow
    The Color Yellow
    "The Color Yellow" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons twenty-first season. It aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 21, 2010...

    " Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are briefly mentioned as being members of the Simpson family.
  • In You've Got Mail
    You've Got Mail
    You've Got Mail is a 1998 American romantic comedy film directed by Nora Ephron, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It was written by Nora and Delia Ephron based on the play Parfumerie by Miklós László. The film is about two letter-writing lovers who are completely unaware that their sweetheart is in...

    , Meg Ryan
    Meg Ryan
    Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra , professionally known as Meg Ryan, is an American actress and producer. Raised in Bethel, Connecticut, Ryan began her acting career in 1981 in minor roles, before joining the cast of the CBS soap opera As the World Turns in 1982...

    's character's first boyfriend Frank (played by Greg Kinnear
    Greg Kinnear
    Gregory "Greg" Kinnear is an American actor and television personality who first rose to stardom in 1991. He has appeared in more than 20 motion pictures, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in As Good as It Gets.-Early life:Kinnear was born in Logansport, Indiana, the son of...

    ) is a journalist referred to as 'the greatest living expert on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.'
  • In the episode Scardey Dick of 3rd Rock From The Sun
    3rd Rock from the Sun
    3rd Rock from the Sun is an American sitcom that aired from 1996 to 2001 on NBC. The show is about four extraterrestrials who are on an expedition to Earth, which they consider to be a very insignificant planet...

    , Sally and Tommy are dressed as Julius and Ethel for Halloween.

See also

  • Atom Spies
  • Roy Cohn
    Roy Cohn
    Roy Marcus Cohn was an American attorney who became famous during Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into Communist activity in the United States during the Second Red Scare. Cohn gained special prominence during the Army–McCarthy hearings. He was also an important member of the U.S...

    , member of the prosecution team
  • Soviet atomic bomb project
    Soviet atomic bomb project
    The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...


Works cited

  • Feklisov, Aleksandr, and Kostin, Sergei. The Man Behind the Rosenbergs. Enigma Books (2001). 978-929631-24-7.
  • Roberts, Sam. The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case. Random House, 2001. ISBN 0-375-76124-1.
  • Schneir, Walter. Invitation to an Inquest. Pantheon Books, 1983. ISBN 0-394-71496-2.
  • Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America. Little, Brown and Company, 1998. ISBN 0-316-77470-7.

Further reading

  • Alman, Emily A. and David. Exoneration: The Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell — Prosecutorial deceptions, suborned perjuries, anti-Semitism, and precedent for today's unconstitutional trials. Green Elms Press, 2010. ISBN 13: 978-097790583-6 or ISBN 10: 097790583-7.
  • Nason, Tema. Ethel: The Fictional Autobiography of Ethel Rosenberg. Delacourt, 1990. ISBN 0-440-21110-7 and by Syracuse, 2002, ISBN 0-8156-0745-8.
  • Meeropol, Robert and Michael. We Are Your Sons, The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. University of Illinois Press
    University of Illinois Press
    The University of Illinois Press , is a major American university press and part of the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1918, the press publishes some 120 new books each year, plus 33 scholarly journals, and several electronic projects...

    , 1986. [chapter 15 is a detailed refutation of Radosh and Milton's scholarship.] ISBN 0-252-01263-1.
  • Meeropol, Robert Meeropol. An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey. St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 0-312-30637-7.
  • Radosh, Ronald and Joyce Milton. The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth. Henry Holt (1983). ISBN 0-03-049036-7.
  • Wexley, John. The Judgment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Ballantine Books
    Ballantine Books
    Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann AG in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a...

    , 1977. ISBN 0-345-24869-4.
  • Trahair, Richard C.S. and Robert Miller. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. Enigma Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-929631-75-9.
  • Yalkowsky, Stanley. The Murder of the Rosenbergs. Crucible Publications (July 1990). ISBN 978-0-9620984-2-0.
  • Meeropol, Michael, ed. The Rosenberg Letters: A Complete Edition of the Prison Correspondence of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg NY, Garland Publishing, 1994 ISBN 0-8240-5948-4
  • Zinn, A People's History of the United States, page 434
  • Roberts, Sam. The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case, Random House, 2003, ISBN 0375761241.
  • Schneir, Walter. Final Verdict: What Really Happened in the Rosenberg Case, Melville House, 2010. ISBN 1935554166.
  • Hornblum, Allen M. The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb, Yale University Press 2010. ISBN 0300156766. wang

External links