Cold War Spies: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg--The Boys


Figure 1.--Unlike the case of most children who parents are accused of heinous crimes, the Rosenerg boys were not shielded from the media and public glare. In fact, there are large numbers of images of the boys. The boys were constantly trotted out for the press and photographs. Pure and simple they served the purpose of Soviet propaganda. Notice how Michael here is protecting his little brother. The wire service caption for this photograph reprinted in 1974 read, "Overtaken by tragedy: Michael Rosenberg, left, aged 9, and his brother, Robert, 5, peer out from the car which brought them to visit their partents, Julius and Ethel, convicted atomic spies, in Sing Sing Prison in 1953. Today Michael remembers visiting the death house and asking his parents if they were innocent. 'But of course we are', they said." Think of the millions of Soviet citizens (the vast majority of whom were innocent of any crime) that disappeared into the Gulag and how many of their children never appeared in images like this.

Unlike the case of most children who parents are accused of heinous crimes, the Rosenerg boys were not shielded from the media and public glare. In fact, there are large numbers of images of the boys. The boys were constantly trotted out for the press and photographs. Pure and simple they served the purpose of Soviet propaganda. They were used as pawns in an effort to elicit public sympathy for their parents. Two innocent boys made far better propaganda fodder than their guilty parents. After the execution of their parents, Robert and Michael, were adopted by Abel and Ann Meeropol. They were a childless couple with left-wing sympathies who believed that their parents were being proceuted because they were Communists and Jews. Both boys took the names of their foster parents in an effort to hide their identity. The Communists made the Rosenberg name a cause celebre in Europe. In America, however, they were seen for what they were--traitors. One might say that they were idealists that misjudged the character of the Soviet Union. That seems to be the case, but there is no doubt that they were spies and traitors. The boys with new names after the execution grew up in relative anonymity. They thrived within a community of progressive activists who were largeky sympathetic to their parents, most believing them to be innocent. [Meeropol] The boys went public in the 1970s, launching an effort to get the government to reopen the case. Robert has founded the Rosenberg Fund for Children. The RFC provides assistance for children of progressive activists who alegedly have been targeted for their political activity. (Notice that the RFC took no interest in Soviet citizens, including Soviet Jews, targeted for political activity.) It helped them with money to attend summer camp, take music lessons, and special schools. The Rosenberg trial was attacked on the basis that there was a Government vedetta against leftists and Jews. At the same time the Doctors' Trials (Jewish doctors) took place in Moscow which was ignoredvbyb the lerftist media in the United States. Notice that Robert now focuses on the first aspect. This is because by the 1970s, the press began covering the Refyusniks anbd the extent of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.

Sources

Meeropol, Robert. An Execution in the Family: One Sonís Journey.





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Created: 8:08 AM 6/12/2011
Last updated: 8:09 AM 6/12/2011