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Rosenberg Essay, Research Paper
In 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Julius
Rosenberg (1918-53), an electrical engineer who had worked
(1940-45) for the U.S. army signal corps, and his wife Ethel
(1916-53); they were indicted for conspiracy to transmit
classified military information to the Soviet Union. In the trial
that followed (Mar., 1951), the government charged that in
1944 and 1945 the Rosenbergs had persuaded Ethel’s
brother, David Greenglass-an employee at the Los Alamos
atomic bomb project-to provide them and a third person, Harry
Gold, with top-secret data on nuclear weapons. The chief
evidence against the Rosenbergs came from Greenglass and
his wife, Ruth. Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found
guilty (1951) and received the death sentence; Morton Sobell,
a codefendant, received a 30-year prison term, as did Harry
Gold; and David Greenglass was later sentenced to 15 years
imprisonment. Despite many court appeals and pleas for
executive clemency, the Rosenbergs were executed on June
19, 1953. They became the first U.S. civilians to suffer the
death penalty in an espionage trial. The case aroused much
controversy. Many claimed that the political climate made a fair
trial impossible and that the only seriously incriminating
evidence had come from a confessed spy; others questioned
the value of the information transmitted to the Soviet Union and
argued that the death penalty was too severe. Communists in
the United States and abroad organized a campaign to save
the Rosenbergs and received the support of many liberals and
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