The year was 1950. The Cold War with the Soviet Union was raging, and McCarthyism and the Red Scare were reaching a fever pitch.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a young married couple living in New York with their two small sons, were arrested for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage in what was then dubbed “The Crime of the Century”. Following a trial and conviction, Julius Rosenberg was led on June 19, 1953, followed just moments later by his wife Ethel, to the electric chair, where they were both executed. They were the only spies executed during the Cold War.
Few death-penalty executions can equal the controversy created by the electrocutions of the Rosenbergs, accused of overseeing a spy network that stole American atomic secrets and handing those over to the Soviet Union.
Michael Meeropol, the oldest son, and attorney Craig Bluestein, who developed a keen interest in the case while in college, share their experiences and views on the case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Their discussion takes you on a journey from how the prevailing anti-communist hysteria influenced the case, to the arrest, trial and execution of Michael’s parents, to the aftermath and campaign to have Ethel Rosenberg pardoned.
- The Cold War context and its impact on the Rosenberg case.
- The applicability of the Espionage Act of 1917 and The Atomic Energy Act of 1946
- The arrests, trial, sentence and appeals
- The worldwide pleas for clemency and exoneration
- The characters, including David Greenglass, who named Julius a co-conspirator
- The cross examination of Ethel Rosenberg and her use of the 5th amendment
- The jury and what was shared in interviews following the trial
"Very powerful to hear from Michael about his parents, Michael’s life, and the information that came to light after the execution of his parents."
A presentation you will not soon forget. Moving and inspirational, this program will have you combing through past articles and posts to learn more about the infamous trial. More reflections from past attendees:
"Best CLE I have ever attended. So beautiful and emotional."
"Wonderful. I will dip into this more."
"One of the most entertaining and informative CLEs I have ever attended."
"This was an absolutely fascinating CLE. Two hours flew by."
Welcome & Introductions
Overview of the Program
The Rosenberg Case: Summary, Cold War Context, Overview of Relevant Case Law
Questions & Answers
What We Have Learned Since the 1995 Release of the Venona Decryptions
Questions & Answers
All attendees will receive the course book as a digital download. A printed copy of the course book is available, at a discount to attendees, for $40. Additional copies are available at full price. If you wish to purchase the printed version of the course book, please call PBI Customer Service at 800-932-4637.
Recorded in October 2021.