Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (1915–1953) and Julius Rosenberg (1918–1953) were American Communists who were thrust into the world spotlight when they were tried, convicted, and executed for spying for the Soviet Union. The safety of their convictions remains a contentious issue.
The FBI website gives the official account of the case of Ethel & Julius Rosenberg:
In the summer of 1949, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned that the secret of the construction of the atom bomb had been stolen and turned over to a foreign power … Interrogation of Greenglass and his wife, Ruth, resulted in admissions of espionage activity under the instructions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, brother-in-law and sister, respectively, of David Greenglass … On August 17, 1950, a Federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York returned an indictment alleging 11 overt acts. Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg, and Anatoli Yakovlev were charged with violation of Title 50, U.S. Code, section 34 … Julius and Ethel Rosenberg testified and denied all espionage allegations against them … On cross-examination, they were asked questions as to their Communist affiliations but refused to answer on the grounds of self-incrimination … On March 28, 1951, counsel for each side summed up their respective case to the jury. On March 29, 1951, the jury rendered a verdict of guilty against the three defendents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Morton Sobell … On April 5, 1951, the following sentences were imposed: Julius Rosenberg, death, such sentence to be carried out during the week of May 21, 1951; Ethel Rosenberg, death, such sentence to be carried out during the week of May 21, 1951; and Morton Sobell, imprisonment for a term of 30 years … At 8:05 pm on June 19, 1953, Julius Rosenberg was executed at Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York. At 8:15 pm on the same date, Ethel Rosenberg was executed at Sing Sing Prison.
After their conviction there was an international outcry and appeal for clemency. Since their execution there have been repeated claims that they were wrongfully convicted, and appeals for a posthumous pardon (most recently by their son).
In taped reminiscences published by Time magazine in 1990, Nikita Khrushchev recalled be: ‘… I heard from both Stalin and Molotov, then minister of foreign affairs, that the Rosenbergs provided very significant help in accelerating the production of our atom bomb’.
Subsequent release of VENONA transcripts in the 1990s clearly showed that Julius Rosenberg had been the head of a productive Soviet spy-ring, and that Ethel was his accessory. Whether or not Ethel, in particular, deserved the death penalty is another question.
Angels In America (2003): Overblown, over-hyped, over-long and gimmicky it must have won all those Golden Globes for having it’s hea in the right place. Meryl Streep played a number of characters including Ethel Rosenberg. J Roy Helland was the makeup and hair designer; Joseph A Campayno was was the key makeup artist; Kelly Gleason was the makeup artist.
Citizen Cohen (1992): Coming soon …