The Rosenbergs

Jimin Son


Julius Rosenberg was born in NYC May 12, 1918. His parents were Jewish Russian immigrants. Julius was originally considering to become a rabbi, but he had more interests in radical politics than religion. Julius attended Seward Park High School and went to NY city's College to study electrical engineering. He was a member of the NY city's College Young Communist League. Ethel Rosenberg was born on September 28. 1915, NYC and attended Seward Park High School. Her father was a Russian immigrant like Julius' parents. She worked for the National NY packing and shipping company where she was involved in a worker's Union in the company. She soon became a supporter of the Communist Party and became a member of the NY City's College Young Communist League.

In 1943 Soveit Union, as a wartime ally, was depicted as a Utopian way through Hollywood movies. General Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill complemented the Soviet Union's effort against the Nazi forces. The Soviet Union was idealistic before the Cold war time period which attracted young people to praise the Soviets. Therefore, growing up in such time period, Julius and Ethel. might have been tempted to provide the Soviet Union with secret information. Also, it is not surpising that the Rosenbergs had joined the Communist party at young age because both, Julius and Ethel, had parents who were Russian Immigrants.

The Rosenbergs met at the Communist League's New Years Eve party. Ethel was supposed to sing for the crowd that day but she was nervous. Julius suggested to practice in a seperate room together and from that day on they started dating. In the summer of 1939 the coupled married. The couple eventually had two children together: son Michael was born in 1943, and son Robert was born in 1947.

In 1943, Julius dropped out from the Communist League to do espionage work fro the Soviet Union. They said that they wanted more family time after their first born son that year. Julius convinced David Greenglass, his brother in law, to gather information for the Soviets. Greenglass, a member of the U.S. Army, was stationed at a base in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project. Rosenberg gave information, obtained by Greenglass, on how to make an important part called a Proximitiy Fuse. The Proximity Fuse was used in a weapon that shot down a U-2 spy plane in 1960.

The Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb in september 1949, based on the information they had obtained from the spies. The U.S began to hunt for spies. The U.S Army's Signal Intelligence Service broke the code used by the Soviets to send messages in the mid 1940s. Some of these decrypted messages revealed that Julius Rosenberg, known by the code name "Liberal", was involved with the Soviets.

Surprisingly, it was David Greenglass who was the first to be caught in this spy case. He told the authorities that Julius Rosenberg was involved in this case. He later testified that his sister, Ethel Rosenberg, took the classified notes about the atomic bomb and typed them up for the Soviets. Julius Rosenberg was arrested on July 17, 1950 and Ethel Rosenberg was taken into custody a few weeks later.

The Rosenbergs were bought to trial on March, 1950, and both proclaimed their innocence. Many experts believe that Ethel was chaged in the case as a way to force Julius to give up names for other spies because Ethel did not have clear evidence of espionage except for her brother's confession. Unfortunately, the U.S. was militarily involved in the Korean War and strong anti-communist sentiments were widely spread. Julius and Ethel were both convicted of conspiracy to commit esponiage, and in early April 1951, the couple was sentenced to death. A series of appeals delayed their execution for more than 2 years. The couple's supporters requested clemency for the Rosenbergs from presidents Harry. S. Truman and Dwight. D. Eisenhower, who both denied to issue pardon.

On the night of June 19, 1953, Julius Rosenberg was executed on an electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, NY. Minutes later, Ethel Rosenberg did in the same electric chair.The Rosenbergs were the first U.S. citizens to be convicted and executed for espionage during peacetime.

Ethel Rosenberg's case was very vague because there was no clear evidence other than her brother's confession. Many experts believe that Ethel was chaged in the case as a way to force Julius to give up names for other spies. Later Greenglass admitted that he had lied about his sister to protecth his own wife, Ruth Greenglass, who had been the actual typist of the classified documents he stole.


"I have no names to give. I'm innocent"

- Ethel Rosenberg

Minutes after Julius was executed, a rabbi asked Ethel to cooperate with authorities after Julius's death to stop her execution, but she refused.

Comparing to the American Revolution

The Rosenbergs compare to the Loyalists during the American Revolution. Like the Loyalists, the Rosenbergs would be seen as traitors and were oftenly terrorized. Both were seen as traitors because they were not loyal to America, but loyal to America's enemy at that time period. However, the Public was more sympathetic to the Rosenbergs compared to the public during the American Revolution.

If I had the bravery to secretly steal information without getting caught, Ithink I would be a spy too. However I would be Loyal to my country not to an enemy's because even though I get caught, I would be seen as a hero to my country.


The Rosenbergs were war time babies. They were born during WW1, they were teenagers during WW2, and they were adults during the Cold War. There had been many changes during this period especially the sentiments towards the Soviets. During WW2, the Soviet Union, a wartime ally, was depicted in a heroic way through movies which were greatly influential to the youth. Also, both Julius and Ethel had parents who were Russian Immigrants who knew about the Soviets well. Living through this time period with a Russian background formed a sense of pride and confidence to be a communist and built their loyalty to the Soviet Union. These factors greatly influenced the Rosenberg's espionage act later in their lives.

Political Cartoon

Big image


Ronald Radosh, the author of the secondary source, makes a conclusion to all the conspiracies theories about the Rosenbergs. He introduces many views and conspiriacy theories that were supported throughout time. Some saw the Rosenberg case as another McCarthy witch hunt and that it was framed by the repressive government. On the other hand, others believe that it was an actual major espionage act. In spite of all the conspriacy theories, it is proven true that the Rosenbergs were clearly Soviet spies(Peiodic Sentence). Morton Sobell, the co-defendant in the espionage trial, finally admitted that he and Julius had been giving information to the Soviets. Prevailing for more than 50 years, the conspiracy theories of the Rosenbergs finally have come to an end(Participial Phrase). The Rosenbergs' sons still believe that their parents were not heavily involved, especially their mother. Ronald Radosh is relieved that the long old mysteric case have finally come to an end.


The Rosenbergs' motivation had mostly come from their childhood. Since they both had parents from Russia, they were familiar with the communist government and the Soviets. Also, since the Soviets were once praised and depicted as a utopian society during their youth, the Rosenbergs had grown up looking up to the Soviets and were greatly influenced. The Rosenbergs had been building their loyalty for he Soviets which eventually led to their espionage act later on. The Rosenbergs helped the Soviets build many weapons and especially the atomic bomb which aided the Soviets in the Arms Race against the US. Julius Rosenberg was truely one of the spies that handed over information that helped the Soviets build the Atomic Bomb. However, this espionage act was against the Espionage Act of 1917 which was payed costly by his life and his wife's. If Julius and Ethel were in the 1770s during the American Revolution as Loyalists, they would have been influenced the same way. Since the Rosenbergs were heavily influenced by their childhood time period, if they were Loyalists, they would have been loyal to the British mostly because they had grown up in England or had parents that had strong British ideals.

Work Cited

  • "Julius Rosenberg." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  • "Ethel Rosenberg." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
  • "The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg." The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
  • "The Rosenberg Trial Begins." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
  • "The Cold War Museum." Cold War Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
  • "Case Closed: The Rosenbergs Were Soviet Spies." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.

Big image