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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – The Crime Worse Than Murder

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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – The Crime Worse Than Murder

julius and ethel rosenbergThe espionage case of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg reveals the ease with which regular American citizens can make the tragic crossover from political activism to criminal treason against the United States government.

A memorandum written by the Domestic Intelligence Division of the FBI in 1953 provides a detailed overview of the entire espionage conspiracy concerning Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The memorandum was eventually published in a Look Magazine article that publicly revealed the details behind the espionage case.

On September of 1949, the President of the United States announced to the American people that the Soviet Union had, in fact, detonated its own atomic bomb. The moment marked the terrible point in American history when the Soviet Union gained knowledge of atomic weaponry – and the birth of the Cold War.

Details About the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Espionage

The FBI memo, in detailing the investigation of the Rosenbergs, outlined the path that eventually led the agency to the spy ring involved in nuclear espionage.

julius and ethel rosenberg

In 1949, after receiving a tip, the FBI established that atomic British scientist Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was involved in an espionage ring. Upon his arrest by the British government in 1950, he admitted being involved in Soviet atomic espionage. Later, in the course of interrogating Fuchs, the FBI identified Philadelphia chemist Barry Gold as the American counterpart in the espionage effort.

The final straw was in 1950 when the FBI, through interrogating the two scientists, finally identified the agent inside the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico. That agent was David Greenglass of the U.S. Army. The ring was organized and orchestrated by Greenglass’ brother-in-law Julius Rosenberg, and his sister, Ethel Rosenberg.

From Politics to Espionage

The FBI determined that from the days they first started dating, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg became interested in Communist Party literature and eventually “became violent Communists between 1932 and 1935”.

The sequence of events following their dedication to the Communist cause was as follows.

julius and ethel rosenberg–> When David Greenglass was 12 year sold, his 19 year old sister Ethel and her boyfriend Julius Rosenberg eventually converted David “to Communist ideals expounded by Ethel and Julius.”
–>David joined the Young Communist League at age 14.
–>David entered the U.S. Army in 1943.
–>By special order on July 24, 1944, Greenglass was transferred from the Mississippi Ordnance Plant to Oak Ridge, Tennessee (the “Manhattan Project”).
–>Two weeks later, in August of 1944, David was assigned to Los Alamos, NM.
–>During his work at the labs, David met Dr. Oppenheimer, Neila Bohr (code name Baker), Dr. Urey and Dr. Koski. During his work with Dr. Koski he prepared lens molds from sketches drawn by the scientists.
–>The Rosenburgs first introduced the idea of espionage regarding the atomic bomb information David had contact with, to Ruth Greenglass, David’s wife. Ruth initially declined the suggestion.
–>Eventually, David consented to share information about his work and started providing the Rosenburgs with details about the work at Los Alamos.
–>From July 1944 through 1945, David and Ruth Greenglass conspired with Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, secretly meeting and exchanging sensitive information between David and the Rosenburg’s Soviet contacts.
–>On January 12th, 1945, David Greenglass handed Julius Rosenburg “sketches of experiments conducted at the Los Alamos Project.”

The Convictions and Fallout

Once the FBI tracked down the core of the espionage ring – the Rosenbergs and the Greenglasses – the FBI finally arrested the ring members. On July 6th, 1950, Greenglass was arraigned and charged with espionage. On July 17th, 1950, Julius Rosenburg was also charged with espionage conspiracy. Finally, on August 7th, 1950, Ethel Rosenburg was charged with espionage conspiracy.

David Greenglass was sentenced to 15 years for his crime – a lighter sentence given the amount of information on the Rosenbergs that he provided to the court during the trial. The Rosenbergs were found guilty and given the death sentence. The judge stated:

“Your crime is worse than murder. Plain deliberate, contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed…”

The judge stated that the treason likely provided the Russians the A-bomb years before Russia would normally have developed one on their own.

The Disastrous Effects of Espionage

Many years later, we can reflect upon the terrifying years during the cold war, the Cuban missile crisis, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union – and wonder whether all of that history may never have existed, had Julius and Ethel Rosenberg never carried out their treason against the United States.

How long would it have taken the Russians to achieve atomic capabilities? How might the world look today? We will never know – but the one thing this case reveals is how dramatically espionage can completely change the future of the world.

Originally published on

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
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Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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