Rosenbergs, Julius and Ethel, Soviet Spies

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage under the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917. Members of the communist party, the Rosenbergs were convicted of passing secret information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union in 1945. Their case remains a cause celebre today, with claims it was the result of Cold War hysteria. Their guilt has been confirmed by Soviet documents made available after the fall of communism.

One of the first decisions facing newly elected President Eisenhower was whether to grant executive clemency to the Rosenbergs. Eisenhower declined stating: "The nature of the crime for which they have been found guilty and sentenced far exceeds that of the taking of the life of another citizen; it involves the deliberate betrayal of the entire nation and could very well result in the death of many, many thousands of innocent citizens..."

  1. Documents