American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Convicted Spy


"Always remember that we were innocent..." --written in a final letter to her sons

Ethel Rosenberg and her husband Julius, a former engineer for the Army Signal Corps, were convicted of providing atomic information to the Soviet Union--a case that incited controversy among Americans who believed that the 1950s Cold War made a fair trial impossible. During sentencing, the trial judge noted that Julius was "the prime mover in this conspiracy," but that Ethel also was guilty:
           "Instead of deterring him from pursuing his ignoble cause, she encouraged
           and assisted [him].She was a full-fledged partner in his crime."

Numerous appeals--including those from Ethel herself, from the Pope and from the Rosenbergs' two sons--were written to President Eisenhower to commute their death sentence. Yet the President wrote "application denied" on February 11, 1953, and four months later, Ethel and Julius were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison.

According to a Special Report published in U.S. News & World Report, October 18, 1999, documents from the recently-opened KGB archives now confirm that Julius gave atomic secrets to Moscow. Ethel was "little more than a witness."

Historic Artifacts:

HANDWRITTEN LETTER from Ethel Rosenberg to President Eisenhower begging for clemency, 6-16-53
POSTER depicts a photo of the Rosenberg children with their own letter to President Eisenhower
-- On loan from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library-Museum, Abilene KS

POSTER, "The Electric Chair Can't Kill the Doubts in the Rosenberg Case"
-- On loan from Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries, East Lansing MI

SKETCH (facsimile) of a cross-section of the atomic bomb, used by the prosecution in the Rosenberg trial
MUGSHOT PHOTOS of Ethel Rosenberg
-- On loan from the National Archives Northeast Region, New York NY

JELLO BOX (facsimile), Government Exhibit 33 produced by the prosecution to represent the recognition signal supposedly devised by the Rosenbergs for the exchange of atomic secrets between David Greenglass (Rosenberg's brother-in-law) and Harry Gold.
--On loan from the National Archives Northeast Region, New York NY

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