The Cold War is traditionally presented as an irreconcilable conflict between the USSR and the USA. But on both sides there were people who were closer to the views of an enemy state and did not have their own. The American couple Rosenberg was like that. About spouses who paid with their lives to help the Soviet Union in the material of RIA Novosti.
From capitalist collapse to communism
Julius Rosenberg was born in New York in 1918 to Jewish immigrants from the Russian Empire. In 1929, the Great Depression swept the United States. Seeing the “charm” of capitalism while studying as an electrical engineer at City College of New York, young Julius became interested in the ideas of communism and became the leader of the US Communist Youth League.
There he met his future wife Ethel. Her maiden name is Greenglass, and she comes from a Jewish family. The Great Depression also affected his life: while he dreamed of becoming an artist, he eventually got a job at a shipping company. Faced with pressure from employers, the woman joined the American communists.
The couple married in 1939, and a year later Julius began working at the Army Combat Corps Engineering Laboratory in New Jersey. He served there until 1945, when he was discharged after learning of his communist past. By that time, the Rosenbergs were already working for the USSR.
Julius was recruited in 1942 by the head of the spy network, Semyon Semyonov. An American engineer and a Soviet intelligence officer were brought together by Bernard Schuster, a senior member of the US Communist Party. After Semyonov Rosenberg was recalled, Alexander Feklisov, an agent of the NKVD, oversaw. He learned that Ethel’s brother David was working on the famous Manhattan Project and instructed Julius to hire Greenglass.
The wife helped her husband put pressure on a relative, and at that time allegedly compiled reports for the transfer to the USSR.
Later, Rosenberg kidnapped another Manhattan Project engineer and gained access to military uranium production technologies through him.
Exposure and betrayal
Despite the fact that all recruits live in the United States, they managed to stay in the shadows for a long time.
In January 1950, US intelligence determined that Klaus Fuchs, a theoretical physicist working on the Manhattan Project, had transmitted important documents to the USSR throughout the war. He pointed to his “courier” named Gold. He was caught and quickly “delivered” Greenglass, who also benefited from his services. On June 15, 1950, Ethel Rosenberg’s brother was arrested by the FBI for espionage and soon betrayed his sister and son-in-law.
Julius was arrested in July, his wife in August of the same year. Both were accused of spying to pass on classified documents about American nuclear developments.
It passed between Greenglass and, in this case, creeks. He avoided a detailed trial by signing a plea agreement. For the Rosenbergs, the United States took on a tough job under the Cold War conditions.
The couple’s lawsuit began on March 6, 1951, in New York District Court. The prosecution’s main witness, the same Greenglass, said he gave Rosenberg a sketch of a cross-section of an explosion-type atomic bomb, like the “Fat Man” dropped on Nagasaki. It was also about less important, but secret materials.
Three weeks later, the Rosenbergs were convicted and sentenced to death under Section 2 of the Espionage Act, which provides for the death penalty.
Because the decision was unprecedented, US authorities offered to reduce the sentence in exchange for the names of other members of the spy network. “By asking us to refute the truth about our innocence, the government admits its own suspicions of our guilt. Even under pain of death, we will not be forced to perjure ourselves,” the Rosenbergs replied.
A broad campaign was launched to pardon the communists before the execution. The court’s accusations of antisemitism were used, given the origin of the prisoners, the Pope defended the pair of prominent thinkers who did not even share the ideas of communism.
He was executed on 19 June 1953. Julius died in the electric chair after the initial shock, he bought three for Ethel. The couple is buried in the Jewish Wellwood Cemetery. According to The Times, 500 people were there, and about 10,000 were standing behind the fence. The Rosenbergs became the only American civilians executed for espionage during the Cold War.
Impact and rehabilitation initiatives
The debate over how spy data helped the Soviet nuclear program continues to this day. For example, Feklisov claimed that Julius did not convey anything important because he was not competent: “He did not understand anything about the atomic bomb, so he could not help us.”
Daniel Moynihan, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who wrote the book “Confidentiality,” spoke of the Rosenbergs in a slightly different way. According to him, in 1945 it was assumed that the USSR would create its own bomb in five years. “Thanks to the information provided by their agents, the Soviets did it in a quarter,” he said.
Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his posthumous memoirs that, according to Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov, the Rosenbergs “provided very important assistance in accelerating the production of our atomic bomb.”
The executed couple’s sons, Michael and Robert, who were adopted by foreigners, decided to seek justice for their parents. In their opinion, Julius was involved in the conspiracy, but did not deliver the materials. Ethel was wrongfully convicted, the boys are sure.
Under the presidency of Barack Obama, Michael, Robert and their associates turned to the president to request rehabilitation after his death. The question hung in the air, but they returned in 2021 when Joe Biden became president, but the result is still the same.
I’m Harold O’Connor and I work as an author and editor for News Unrolled, a news website dedicated to delivering the latest world events. With my in-depth research skills, passion for news writing, and keen eye for detail, I strive to provide readers with accurate information on current affairs from around the globe.