On this day in 1951 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.
Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 25, 1915 – June 19, 1953) were American citizens executed for conspiracy to commit espionage, relating to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.
In 1995, the U.S. government released a series of decoded Soviet cables, codenamed VENONA, which confirmed that Julius acted as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets, but which were ambiguous about Ethel’s involvement. The other atomic spies who were caught by the FBI offered confessions and were not executed, including Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, who supplied documents to Julius from Los Alamos and served 10 years of his 15-year sentence; Harry Gold, who identified Greenglass and served 15 years in Federal prison as the courier for Greenglass; and a German scientist, Klaus Fuchs served nine years and four months.
Morton Sobell, who was tried with the Rosenbergs, served 17 years and 9 months of a 30-year sentence. In 2008, Sobell admitted he was a spy and confirmed Julius Rosenberg was “in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.”