For decades, the Rosenbergs' sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol and many other defenders maintained that Julius and Ethel were innocent of spying on their country and were victims of Cold War paranoia. After the fall of the Soviet Union, much information concerning them was declassified, including a trove of decoded Soviet cables, code-named VENONA, which detailed Julius's role as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets and Ethel's role as an accessory. In 2008 the National Archives of the United States published most of the grand jury testimony related to the prosecution of the Rosenbergs; it revealed that Ethel had not been directly involved in activities, contrary to the charges levied by the government.
In 2014, five historians who had published works based on the Rosenberg case wrote that newly available Soviet documents show that Ethel Rosenberg hid money and espionage paraphernalia for Julius, served as an intermediary for communications with his Soviet intelligence contacts, relayed her personal evaluation of individuals whom Julius considered recruiting, and was present at meetings with his sources.They support the assertion that Ethel persuaded her sister-in-law Ruth Greenglass to travel to New Mexico to recruit her brother David Greenglass as a spy.
Ethel Greenglass was born on September 25, 1915, to a Jewish family in Manhattan, New York City. She had a brother, David Greenglass. She originally was an aspiring actress and singer, but 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. They married in 1939. Together they had two sons, Michael and Robert, born in 1943 and 1947, respectively.