The relationship between The United States and The Soviet Union after World War II was tense. This time was known as The Cold War. Although the two countries were allies during the war, they soon became enemies. Each country was trying to build up their nuclear arms and wanted to know what the other had in their arsenal. Although both countries had their share of spies, two very famous spies from the Soviet Union were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Julius Rosenberg was born on May 12, 1918 in New York City. After attending high school and the City College of New York, he graduated in 1939 with a degree in electrical engineering. Less than a year later, he married Ethel Greenglass and had two sons, Michael and Robert. Ethel was born on born September 28, 1915 in New York. The two met at the Young Communist League, which Julius was a leader in 1936 and later on they both joined the American Communist Party. Ethel worked as a secretary and Julius worked at a company until 1945 when Julius was fired from his job because he was suspected of being part of the American Communist Party, when in fact, he and Ethel dropped out of the party in 1943 so they could focus on Julius’s espionage doings.
Julius Rosenberg was arrested on June 17th, 1950 for suspicion on espionage. His brother in law, David Greenglass gave his name when he confessed to espionage and was arrested. David also gave the name of his wife but not yet of Ethel. Ethel wasn’t arrested until August 11th. Although many people they were involved with gave names of other spies, the Rosenberg’s didn’t give any names. The FBI though Julius was “just the next in a row of falling dominoes, but unlike the dominoes in line before him, Julius did not tip over”(law2.umkc.edu).They were arrested for telling secrets to the soviet union. They were also involved with the Manhattan Project, the “top-secret effort of Allied scientists to develop an atomic bomb” ( law2.umkc.edu). When the Rosenberg’s wouldn’t give any Intel about the Manhattan project or anyone else in the spy ring, they were brought to trial.
The Rosenberg’s were put on trial on March 6th, 1951. They were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. “Treason could not be charged because the United States was not at war with the Soviet Union” (www.history.com). The Rosenberg’s attorneys were Emanuel and Alexander Bloch. “From the beginning, the trial attracted a high amount of media attention and generated a largely polarized response from observers” ( atomicarchive.com). Some people thought the Rosenberg’s were clearly guilty, others believed they were innocent. During the trial David Greenglass told the jury about the secrets Julius told to the Soviet Union. Bloch argued that “Greenglass was lying in order to gain revenge because he blamed Rosenberg for their failed business venture and to get a lighter sentence for himself” (sparticus.schoolnet.org).
The trial ended on April 4th, it lasted almost a month. David Greenglass was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for his cooperation and admission of his guilt. Sobell was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted and sentenced to death row on March 29th, 1951 under the espionage act. Although they had a way out of this by admitting to espionage and by giving names of other people in the spy ring, they refused. A lot of people were shocked and thought it was bad for the courts to orphan 2 young boys when there wasn’t even any evidence of the espionage, but they continued with it anyways. The Rosenberg’s continued to state their innocence until there execution. They were on death row for 26 months before they were executed by electric chair on their wedding anniversary, June 19th, 1953.
Since the cold war ended, there has been confirmation that the Rosenberg’s were in fact spies and were guilty of espionage. This trial was so important to the cold war because it was the first time spies with little proof, were executed. The Rosenberg’s sons tried for many years to prove there parent’s innocence.
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