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2003-06-19

The Rosenberg Execution 50 Years Later

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It was 50 years ago today. June 19, 1953. At around 8 p.m. the U.S. government sent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. Thousands demonstrated around the world demanding a last minute stay. It would become the most controversial death sentence in U.S. history.

They are the only U.S. citizens to be executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. The government alleged the couple along with Morton Sobell helped the Soviet Union acquire the secret of the atomic bomb.

They were survived by two sons. Robert Meeropol was six-years-old at the time. His brother, Michael was 10. They were adopted by the Meeropol family, friends of their parents.

One of their son’s Robert Meeropol’s book, An Execution in the Family, has just been published an autobiography by St. Martin’s Press. Tonight there will be a commemoration titled "Celebrate the Children of Resistance" at the City Center in New York City. Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger and others.

On the anniversary of the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Democracy Now! talks with their children Robert and Michael Meeropol, their granddaughter Rachel and their co-defendant Morton Sobell.

  • Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He was six years old when his parents were executed on June 19, 1953. He recently published an autobiography An Execution in the Family: One Son’s Journey. He now heads the Rosenberg Fund for Children.
  • Michael Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Economics professor at Western New England College and author of Surrender : How The Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution.
  • Morton Sobell, friend of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He was also tried and convicted in a case related to spying. He spent 18 years in prison and including five at Alcatraz.
  • Rachel Meeropol, granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. She is a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Links:

Rosenberg Fund for Children

Center for Constitutional Rights


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