The case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, two American citizens convicted of espionage for providing classified information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were born to NYC Jewish immigrant families and were lifelong supporters of the Communist Party. They were convicted of espionage and sentenced to death in 1951 after providing classified information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union.
Some believe that Julius was the ringleader and recruited Ethel’s brother’s wife, Ruth, to convince her husband David to provide information from the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
While some of their works were not illegal, they directly contributed to the Soviet Union’s ability to develop the atomic bomb.
On June 19, 1953, within hours of each other, their sentence was carried out. Julius’ execution went as planned, but Ethel was not as lucky. After multiple shocks, she was still alive. She was then shocked until smoke came from her head and she was pronounced dead.
Julius and Ethel were the first Americans to be executed for espionage during peacetime.
The Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It took place from 1942 to 1946, and was led by the United States with contributions from the United Kingdom and Canada.
The project was organized into three main sites: Los Alamos, New Mexico, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.
The project was highly secretive and the US government went to great lengths to keep it so. However, the Rosenbergs provided sensitive information regarding the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union, allowing them to develop their own atomic bomb and make the arms race between the two nations possible.
In conclusion, without the help of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, it is possible that the Soviet Union would not have been capable of developing their own atomic bomb. This would have led to a great advantage in the Cold War and an earlier end to World War II.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
-Ethel Greenglass/Rosenberg (September 28, 1915 – June 19, 1953)
-Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953)
-1940. Rosenberg joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories in, where he worked as an engineer/inspector until 1945.
-1944 Julius Rosenberg convinced David Greenglass’ wife Ruth to recruit him to provide information from Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
-February 1944, Julius Rosenberg recruited a second source for the Manhattan Project information, Russell McNutt, an engineer that worked on designs for the plants at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
-August 29, 1949, The Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test, “Joe-I”.
-June 15, 1950, David Greenglass was arrested for espionage and soon confessed to passing secret information on to The Soviet Union.
-July 17, 1950, Julius Rosenberg was arrested on suspicion of espionage based on David Greenglass’s confession.
-August 11, 1950, Ethel Rosenberg was arrested after testifying before a grand jury.
-March 06, 1951, the Rosenbergs went on trial for espionage.
-March 29, 1951, the Rosenbergs were convicted of espionage and were sentenced to death under Section-II of the Espionage Act of 1917.
-June 19, 1953, the Rosenbergs were executed. Ethel was 31 years old at the time of her death and Julius was 35. David Greenglass served nine years in prison and Russell McNutt served two years. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were the only people executed as a result of the trial.
Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out our other blog posts for more information on subject such as – Military Intelligence: What You Need to Know and Counterintelligence (CI) side of Military Intelligence (MI)
Photo By: San Antonio Express News; June 19, 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg