Who Were Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and What Was Their Fate?

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Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were a married couple from New York and active members of the Communist Party. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951 and executed by electric chair in 1953.

Ethel Rosenberg was born on Sept. 28, 1915 in New York City. She worked as a clerk after graduating from high school. Julius Rosenberg was born on May 12, 1918 in New York City. He earned a degree in electrical engineering and became a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. They married in 1939.

The couple received information about the building of the atomic bomb from Ethel's brother, Sgt. David Greenglass, who was a machinist on the Manhattan Project. The Rosenbergs turned this information over to Harry Gold, who then gave it to Anatoly A. Yakovlev, the Soviet Union's vice-consul in New York City. In 1945, Julius was discharged from the army after it was found that he had lied about his affiliation with the Communist Party. Gold was arrested in May 1950. Shortly after, Greenglass and Julius Rosenberg were arrested.

Ethel Rosenberg was also arrested in August of that year. The Rosenbergs were brought to trial for espionage in March 1951. Less than a month later, they were sentenced to death. They were executed on June 19, 1953. Their executions were highly controversial, and there was a great debate about their guilt in the years following their deaths.