Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg NYWTS.jpg
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in 1951
Born
  • (1918-05-12)May 12, 1918 (Julius)
  • (1915-09-25)September 25, 1915 (Ethel)

Died
  • June 19, 1953(1953-06-19) (aged 37) Ethel
  • June 19, 1953(1953-06-19) (aged 35) Julius

Ossining, New York, U.S. (both)
Resting placeWellwood Cemetery
Suffolk County, New York
OccupationActress, singer, secretary (Ethel); electrical engineer (Julius)
Criminal statusExecuted via electric chair
ChildrenMichael Meeropol, Robert Meeropol
Criminal chargeConspiracy to commit espionage
PenaltyDeath

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were American citizens, who spied on behalf of the Soviet Union and were tried, convicted, and executed by the federal government of the United States. They provided top-secret information about radar, sonar, and jet propulsion engines and were accused of transmitting valuable nuclear weapon designs; at that time the United States was the only country in the world with nuclear weapons.[1][2][3]

Other convicted co-conspirators were sentenced to prison, including Ethel's brother, David Greenglass (who had made a plea agreement), Harry Gold, and Morton Sobell. Klaus Fuchs, a German scientist working in Los Alamos, was convicted in the United Kingdom.[4][5]

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.[3]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.[3]

Early lives and education

Corner of Orchard and Rivington streets, Lower East Side (2005)

Julius Rosenberg was born on May 12, 1918, in New York City to a family of Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire. The family moved to the Lower East Side by the time Julius was 11. 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 while at City College of New York (CCNY), during the Great Depression. In 1939, he graduated from CCNY with a degree in electrical engineering.[6]

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.[7] Together they had two sons, Michael and Robert, born in 1943 and 1947, respectively.

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