Exonerate Ethel Rosenberg

From Robert and Michael Meeropol:

Our parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed on June 19, 1953 during the anti-communist hysteria of the Cold War Era. They had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage, in what was called “the crime of the century.” We were six and 10 years old when they were killed.

Our mother was not a spy, and her execution was wrongful. Her conviction was based on perjured testimony and prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. The charges against our mother and the threat of the death penalty were meant to intimidate her and our father into cooperating. The U.S. government wanted Julius to falsely confess to passing “the secret of the atomic bomb” to the Soviet Union, and name others involved.

Their trial took place during a time of widespread panic about communism. The sentencing judge went so far as to blame our parents for the Korean War.[1] In denying clemency, President Eisenhower accused them of causing future nuclear wars.[2] These outrageous statements and our parents’ execution helped fuel a dangerous climate of fear and intolerance in our country which permitted political opportunists like Senator Joseph McCarthy to poison our society. Today, we face a similar climate of hatred which targets immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQI individuals and others.

A formal acknowledgement of the wrong done to our mother and our family will help prevent similar injustices in the future. A healthy democracy requires that the government acknowledge and correct its transgressions. The government cannot return our mother to her loving family. But it can admit this miscarriage of justice.

Please, join us in calling on Attorney General Lynch and President Obama:

We call on you to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg before you leave office. More than 60 years after her unjust conviction and execution, now is the time to clear her good name.



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  • 1-25 of 10158 signatures
    Number Date Name Location Please add comment.
    10158 4 months ago Julie Martin Frederic, WI , US
    10157 4 months ago Donye Sacco LA, CA , US
    10156 5 months ago Tamar Dick Bethlehem, PA , US
    10155 6 months ago Pedro Augusto Redondo Saraiva Lisboa , ot , PT
    10154 7 months ago Robert Roberts Chorley, ot , GB
    10153 7 months ago Chavorris Orr Orlando, FL , US
    10152 8 months ago Caitlin Henderson Cambridge, ON , CA
    10151 8 months ago Ash Decker Margate, FL , US
    10150 8 months ago Cornelia Kurz Arlington, VA , US She was a brave, brave woman to support her husband against nothing less than bullies, not knowing she was taking a mother away from her children.
    10149 8 months ago Christina Viljoen Irondale, AL , US
    10148 9 months ago Inga Jaeger Iowa City, IA , US
    10147 9 months ago Ulisses M. BROCKTON, MA , US
    10146 9 months ago matinah salaam santa monica, CA , UM responded to this missive previously. just making sure it goes through.
    thank you
    10145 10 months ago elwyn patterson vancouver, BC , CA Ethel Rosenberg was murdered by an inherently fascistic system looking for a scrape goat . The world will know her innocence,
    10144 10 months ago Zack Stills Santa Monica, CA , US
    10143 10 months ago Jim Head Oak Park, MI , US
    10142 10 months ago Bonnie Faith-Smith Cambridge, MA , US
    10141 10 months ago Bonnie Faith-Smith Cambridge, MA , US
    10140 10 months ago Timothy Lippert Tampa, FL , US
    10139 10 months ago Daniel Binding Falkensee, ot , DE
    10138 10 months ago Velda Serrant Hackensack, NJ , US
    10137 10 months ago Lisa James Waterbury , CT , US
    10136 10 months ago Susan Osada Buffalo Grove, IL , US
    10135 10 months ago Ana Rial Temecula , CA , US
    10134 10 months ago MICHAEL ERSKINE Whitehouse, OH , US
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    Why Ethel’s Execution Was Wrongful

    The grand jury testimony of a chief prosecution witness against our parents, our mother’s brother, David Greenglass, was made public recently. This material — along with previously released testimony and other records — proves that our mother was prosecuted simply for refusing to turn on our father.

    The evidence presented against our mother at her trial consisted of testimony by David, and his wife, Ruth. They stated that Ethel took part in two meetings between the Rosenbergs and Greenglasses in 1945 (including one at which David gave Julius a sketch of a cross-section of the bomb), and that our mother’s participation included typing notes. Our mother’s conviction hinged on these alleged actions of hers.

    The record now refutes these claims. David’s grand jury testimony made no mention of Ethel’s presence at either meeting, much less her typing. Instead, responding to questions about spying, David told the grand jury: “My sister has never spoken to me about this subject,” and, “I never spoke to my sister about this at all.”[3]

    Despite this testimony, prosecutors developed a plan to use our mother against our father. An assistant attorney general told the F.B.I. that there was “insufficient evidence” to charge Ethel, but that she could be used “as a lever against her husband.”[4] Furthermore, a month before the trial, a prosecutor told a congressional committee: “The case is not too strong against Mrs. Rosenberg. But for the purpose of acting as a deterrent, I think it is very important that she be convicted too, and given a stiff sentence.”[5]

    At our parents’ trial, David contradicted his sworn grand jury testimony and suddenly implicated our mother in the alleged spy ring by describing Ethel’s presence at the meetings. Decades later, David admitted on national television that this testimony was a lie.[6]  Therefore, Ethel’s conviction – which hinged on this story – was wrongful.

    Based on these revelations, on September 28th, 2015 (what would have been our mother’s 100th birthday), 13 Members of the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President issued proclamations declaring that our mother was wrongfully executed.[7] This was a step towards acknowledging a terrible injustice. Now, it is time for the federal government to do the same.

    Footnotes:
    [1] Judge Kaufman's Statement Upon Sentencing the Rosenbergs for Atomic Espionage, Digital History ID 1118, Author: Judge Irving Kaufman, Date: 1951.
    [2] “Eisenhower Statement on Spies,” New York Times, Feb. 12, 1953.
    [3] New Rosenberg Grand Jury Testimony Released, The National Security Archive.
    [4] (#151g) Belmont to Ladd, July 17, 1950, JR HQ 188. Quoted in Carmichael, Virginia, Framing History: The Rosenberg Story and the Cold War (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 73.
    [5] File #3201, US Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy, February 8, 1951, p.6. AEC Documents. Quoted in Carmichael, Ibid.
    [6] Cold War, Colder Brother, CBS News, aired December 5, 2001.
    [7] Full proclamations: here and here.