Who are the Rosenbergs?
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were American communists who were ultimately executed for committing espionage against the United States Government. The Rosenbergs passed highly classified information to the Soviet Union concerning the United States’ progress and efforts regarding the atomic bomb. The Rosenbergs, as a result of their conspiracy against the United States government, were the first civilians to be executed in the history of the United States.
The Early Years:
Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were born into Jewish families in the United States; the Rosenbergs joined the Communist party during their youths. When the Second World War commenced, Julius Rosenberg was working for the single corps; however, he was later dismissed when his role within the Communist party was revealed.
After being dismissed, Julius Rosenberg went to work for Ethel’s brother; the pair gathered information concerning the United States Government and the atomic bomb.
When the Soviet Union successfully produced a nuclear weapon (following the close of the Second World War) the United States grew deeply suspicious. Subsequent investigations revealed a complex network of espionage and spies who according to the United States Government, passed information to the Russians. The United States Government believed that this information was passed because the spies sympathized with the Russian Government or because they felt that the United States should not possess sole control of nuclear weapons. Ethel’s brother was ultimately pinned for his role in this network; however, he immediately passed on the name of the Rosenbergs to reduce his involvement.
FBI Investigation of the Rosenbergs:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the Rosenbergs in hopes of forcing Julius to confess; the FBI assumed that Julius would be forced to confess to ultimately save his wife from prosecution. This strategy; however, proved unsuccessful for the Rosenbergs pled the Fifth Amendment during their trials.
During the Rosenbergs’ trials, the guilt of the couple was essentially assumed; it was not until after the trial ended that international outcry shed light on this assumed guilt. Despite two years of controversy and campaigning against the trial, the United States’ government convicted the Rosenbergs and sentenced them to death.
Later evidence involving the Rosenbergs revealed that Julius was most certainly involved in espionage against the United States Federal Government; the value in regards to the Rosenbergs punishment however, is widely disputed.
The Venona Project:
The majority of information and evidence surrounding the Rosenbergs and their role in espionage against the United States government came from the Venona Project—a cooperative effort between the United States and Great Britain to intercept and decode various Soviet communications. These efforts ultimately shed light on the Rosenbergs’ efforts in passing confidential information to Soviet Union concerning the atomic bomb. As a result of the controversy and public interest surrounding the Rosenbergs and their trial, numerous documents concerning the case have been made public through the Central intelligence Agency.