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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  • 176-200 of 10158 signatures
    Number Date Name Location Please add comment.
    9983 11 months ago Franz Kraft Ligornetto, ot , CH
    9982 11 months ago Robin Lande Los Angeles, CA , US
    9981 11 months ago André Rousseau Bègles, ot , FR
    9980 11 months ago James Handel
    9979 11 months ago Richard Harmon Round Rock, TX , US
    9978 11 months ago Dolores Jacques El Paso, TX , US Please formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg.
    9977 11 months ago Josh Steinmetz Prescott, AZ , US
    9976 11 months ago Karen Kravcov Malcolm Scottsdale, AZ , US
    9975 11 months ago Lou Reynolds Madison, WI , US We were taught in grade school that the charges were made up! Let's end this farce and free all the political prisoners.
    9974 11 months ago Stephanie Asplund Layton, UT , US
    9973 11 months ago Robert Wilcox Saint Louis, MO , US
    9972 11 months ago Sheila Mandell Fort Lauderdale , FL , US
    9971 11 months ago Kali Robson Woodland, WA , US
    9970 11 months ago Marjorie Laboy-Vagell Tolland, CT , US
    9969 11 months ago John Czachurski Huntsville , AL , US
    9968 11 months ago Carol Lynn Kent Antelope, CA , US Please - it is TIME to correct history - not wash it away in another wave of hysteria!
    9967 11 months ago Erico Martins Brasilia, ot , BR
    9966 11 months ago Charlotte Lee Anchorage, AK , US
    9965 11 months ago Mnombatha Shabaka Philadelphia , PA , US FBI STOP! Messing up peoples lives. Black or white,your anti-democratic attacks thru multiple administrations expose an organizational predisposition for maliciousness.
    9964 11 months ago Susan Wills Pensacola, FL , US
    9963 11 months ago Lisa Trainer London, ot , GB
    9962 11 months ago Rachel Scofield Canterbury , ot , GB
    9961 11 months ago Melita Pepper Post Falls, ID , US
    9960 11 months ago Marc Shulman Scarsdale, NY , US
    9959 11 months ago Ed Pool Myrtle Point, OR , 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.