The following is an updated re-posting originally authored by Dana Schulz.
It was on this date in 1951 that the infamous Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage. The Jewish-American Communists, along with Soviet spy Morton Sobell, were accused of selling nuclear secrets to Russia. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and allegedly supplied Julius with information regarding the atomic bomb. Harry Gold, an acquaintance of Greenglass and a chemist, is alleged to have passed the information on to the Soviet Union. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded their first atomic bomb, purportedly at least in part based upon information gathered from U.S. spies, beginning a tense and deadly chapter in the Cold War.
The trial was held at the New York Southern District federal court, presided over by Judge Irving R. Kaufman. It lasted less than four weeks, having begun on March 6th. The only direct evidence of the Rosenbergs’ involvement was the confession of Greenglass. However, the couple was sentenced to death . Sobell was sentenced to 30 years and Greenglass to 15. The execution of Julius and Ethel was the first execution of civilians for espionage in the country’s history, and remains a haunting symbol of the Red Scare. In 2003, on the 50th anniversary of the couple’s death by the electric chair at Sing Sing, the New York Times said, “The Rosenberg case still haunts American history, reminding us of the injustice that can be done when a nation gets caught up in hysteria.”
Did you know, though, that the Rosenbergs’ story has many chapters rooted in the Village?
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