The Atomic Bomb Spy Case (continued)		
 

Gold Testifies

Harry Gold testified that he was engaged in Soviet espionage from 1935 up to the time of his arrest in May, 1950, and that from 1944 to 1946 his espionage superior was a Russian, known to him as "John." He identified a picture of Anatoli A. Yakovlev, former Soviet Vice-Consul in New York City, as "John." Yakovlev's picture was admitted into evidence.

In June, 1944, Gold had an espionage meeting with Dr. Klaus Fuchs in Woodside, Queens, New York. As a result of this meeting, Gold wrote a report and turned it over to Yakovlev about a week or so later, when he told Yakovlev that at Gold's next meeting with Fuchs, the latter would give Gold information relating to the application of nuclear fission to the production of military weapons.

In the latter part of 1944, Gold met Fuchs in the vicinity of Borough Hall, Brooklyn, and received a package from Fuchs which Gold later turned over to Yakovlev.

Gold's next meeting with Fuchs was in July, 1944, in the vicinity of 9th Street and Central Park West, New York City. About a week or two later, Gold gave Yakovlev a report he had written concerning this conversation and told Yakovlev that Fuchs had given further information concerning the work of a joint American and British project to produce an atom bomb. Subsequently, Gold had a regularly scheduled series of meetings with Yakovlev, who instructed Gold how to continue his contacts with Fuchs. Gold stated that this was to obtain information from a number of American espionage sources and give it to Yakovlev. He pointed out he organized his meetings with these sources by using recognition signals, such as an object or a piece of paper and a code phrase in the form of a greeting, always using a pseudonym. He also stated that his sources lived in cities other than Philadelphia (Gold's home city) and that he paid money to these sources which he had in turn received from Yakovlev.

Early in January, 1945, Gold met Fuchs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received a package of papers which he later turned over to Yakovlev in New York City. He told Yakovlev that Fuchs had mentioned that a lens was being worked on in connection with the atom bomb. His next meeting with Fuchs was to be in Santa Fe on the first Saturday of June, 1945.

In February, 1945, Gold met Yakovlev on 23rd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues in New York City. At this meeting, Yakovlev indicated the Russians' interest in the plans mentioned by Fuchs.

On the last Saturday in May of 1945, Gold met Yakovlev inside a restaurant on 3rd Avenue in New York City, to discuss Gold's next meeting with Fuchs in Santa Fe. Yakovlev instructed Gold to take on an additional mission in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gold protested, but Yakovlev said it was vital, pointing out that a woman was supposed to go but was unable to make the trip. Yakovlev gave Gold an onionskin paper, on which was typed the name "Greenglass," an address on High Street, Albuquerque, and the recognition signal, "I am from Julius." Yakovlev also gave Gold a piece of cardboard cut from a food package. He stated that Greenglass in Albuquerque would have the matching piece and that if Greenglass was not in, Greenglass's wife would give Gold the information. Yakovlev then gave Gold $500 in an envelope to turn over to Greenglass and instructed Gold to follow an indirect route to Santa Fe and Albuquerque in order to minimize the danger of surveillance.

Gold arrived in Santa Fe on Saturday, June 2, 1945, and met Fuchs, who gave him a package of papers. Gold left Santa Fe in the afternoon on June 2nd by bus and arrived in Albuquerque that evening. He went to the High Street address, found that Greenglass and his wife were not in, and stayed at a rooming house overnight. The next day he went to the High Street address and David Greenglass opened the door. Gold said, "Mr. Greenglass." David answered, "Yes." Gold then said, "I come from Julius," and showed Greenglass the piece of cardboard which Yakovlev had given him. Greenglass requested Gold to come into his apartment, then took a piece of cardboard from a woman's handbag and compared it with the piece Gold had given him. The pieces matched. Gold introduced himself to the Greenglasses as "Dave from Pittsburgh."

Greenglass told Gold that the visit was a surprise and that it would take several hours to prepare the A-bomb material. He started to tell Gold about possible recruits at Los Alamos, but Gold cut him short and pointed out to David that it was very hazardous and that David should be circumspect in his behavior. Gold left and returned later that afternoon, when David gave him an envelope which he said contained information on the atom bomb. Gold turned over to David the envelope containing the $500. Greenglass mentioned to Gold that he expected to get a furlough sometime around Christmas and gave Gold Julius's phone number in New York City in the event that Gold wanted to reach Greenglass.

Gold returned to New York City by train on June 5, 1945. While en route, he examined the material David had given him and put it in a manila envelope. He put the material he had received from Fuchs into a different manila envelope. That evening Gold met Yakovlev along Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn and gave him both envelopes.

About two weeks later Gold met Yakovlev on Main Street in Flushing, New York. Yakovlev told Gold that the information he had received from him on June 5 had been sent immediately to the Soviet Union and that the information he had received from Greenglass "was extremely excellent and valuable." At this meeting, Gold related the details of his conversation with Fuchs and Greenglass. Fuchs had stated that tremendous progress had been made on the atom bomb and that the first explosion had been set for July, 1945.

In early July, 1945, Gold met Yakovlev in a seafood restaurant. Yakovlev said it was necessary to make arrangements for another Soviet agent to get in touch with Gold. At Yakovlev's instructions, Gold took a sheet of paper from his pocket which had the heading of a company of Philadelphia. Gold tore off the top portion containing the name and on the reverse side of the sheet wrote in diagonal fashion, "Directions to Paul Street." Yakovlev then tore the paper in an irregular fashion. He kept one portion and Gold kept the other. Yakovlev said that if Gold received two tickets in the mail without a letter, it would mean that on a definite number of days after the date on the ticket Gold was to go to the roadway stop of the Astoria Line for a meeting which would take place in a restaurant-bar. Gold's Soviet contact would be standing at the bar and approach Gold, asking to be directed to Paul Street. They would then match the torn pieces of paper.

In August, 1945, Gold again met Yakovlev in Brooklyn and was told to take a trip in September, 1945, to see Fuchs. Gold suggested to Yakovlev that since he was going to see Fuchs, he might as well go to Albuquerque to see David Greenglass. Yakovlev answered that it was inadvisable because it might endanger Gold to have further contact with Greenglass.

In September, 1945, Gold met Fuchs in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On his return to New York City on September 22, 1945, Gold went to a prearranged meeting place to see Yakovlev, who failed to appear. About ten days later, Gold met Yakovlev at Main Street, Flushing, and turned over to him a package he had received from Fuchs. He told Yakovlev that Fuchs has said there was no longer the open and free cooperation betwen the Americans and the British and that many departments were closed to Fuchs. Fuchs also stated that he would have to return to England and that he was worried because the British had gotten to Kiel, Germany, ahead of the Russians and might discover a Gestapo dossier there on Fuchs which would reveal his strong Communist ties and background. Fuchs and Gold also discussed the details of a plan whereby Fuchs could be contacted in England.

In November, 1945, Gold had another meeting with Yakovlev at which time Gold mentioned that Greenglass would probably be coming home around Christmas for a furlough. Gold said plans should be made to get in touch with Rosenberg in an effort to obtain more information from Greenglass.

In January, 1946, Gold again met with Yakovlev, and was told about a man Yakovlev had tried to contact who was under continuous surveillance. Yakovlev used this story to illustrate that it was better to give up the contact than endanger their work.

Early in December, 1946, Gold received two tickets to a boxing match in New York City through the mail. The tickets were addressed to Gold's Philadelphia home incorrectly and too late for Gold to keep the appointment. At 5 p.m. on December 26, 1946, Gold received a telephone call at his place of employment. The voice said, "This is John." Gold then arranged with John to meet an unidentified man in a certain movie theater that night. The man identified himself by handing Gold the torn piece of paper containing the heading which Gold and Yakovlev had previously prepared. This man asked Gold to proceed to 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue, New York City, to meet Yakovlev.

He met Yakovlev, who asked if Gold had anything further from Fuchs, apologized for his ten months' absence and explained that he had to lie low. He stated that he was glad Gold was working in New York and told Gold he should begin to plan for a mission to Paris, France, in March 1947, where Gold would meet a physicist. He gave Gold an onionskin paper setting forth information for his proposed meeting in Paris. During the coversation with Yakovlev, Gold mentioned the name of his employer, and, upon hearing this, Yakovlev became very excited. He told Gold that Gold had almost ruined eleven years of work by working for this individual because he had been investigated in 1945. Yakovlev dashed away, stating that Gold would not see him in the United States again.

It is interesting to note that the Soviet intelligence services, in utilizing Gold to contact Greenglass, made a mistake in security which ultimately led to the uncovering of the Rosenberg spy ring, a network independent of the one Gold was involved in. From FBI knowledge of Soviet intelligence activities, it is known that the Soviets with their stress on security will not usually allow a member of one network to know of the existence of another network so that in the event one network is detected, the other will not be compromised. It will be recalled that Gold's protest to Yakovlev about contacting Greenglass in Albuquerque went unheeded. The Soviets undoubtedly found good reason to regret this error in judgment.

A nuclear chemist testified that from 1944 to 1947 he was associated with the atom bomb project at Los Alamos. He stated that his own work was related to implosion research and classified secret. He further stated that he would go to the machine shop, furnish sketches to the supervisor of the shop and determine what was needed. The nuclear chemist recalled seeing David Greenglass in the machine shop. He identified the sketches prepared by David Greenglass at the trial and entered as exhibits reasonably accurate replicas of the type of sketches he, himself, submitted to the machine shop. These specimens could have been of value to a foreign power, the nuclear chemist stated, and would reveal to any expert what was going on at Los Alamos and indicate to the expert its relation to the atom bomb.

Elitcher Testifies

Elitcher testified that he first met Sobell while both were attending a high school in New York City. He further stated that he and Sobell also attended college together in New York from 1934 to 1938. Elitcher graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and pointed out that Julius Rosenberg also studied engineering at the same college during this same period. Elitcher saw Sobell daily at school but saw Rosenberg less frequently. After graduating, Elitcher was employed with the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., from November, 1938, until October, 1948.

In December, 1938, Elitcher resided in Washington, D.C. During December of that year Sobell came to Washington and stayed at a house next to Elitcher's place of residence. In April or May, 1939, Elitcher and Sobell took up residence in a private home, and in May of 1940, they moved into an apartment. During the period they lived together Sobell was also employed at the Bureau of Ordnance. In September, 1941, Sobell left his employment to go to a university in Michigan in order to continue his studies.

Elitcher further advised that during the period he lived with Sobell they had conversations concerning the Communist Party and that, at Sobell's request, Elitcher joined the Young Communist League. About September, 1939, Elitcher attended a meeting with Sobell at which there was a discussion about forming a branch of the Communist Party. This branch was formed and Elitcher joined the Communist Party at the end of 1939. Meetings of this group were held at the homes of various members and dues were paid to the chairman of the group. Elitcher stated that Sobell was the first chairman of the group. At meetings, discussions were conducted of news events based on the "Daily Worker" and literature such as "The Communist." The group also discussed Marxist and Leninist theory. Suggestions were made to the members to join the American Peace Mobilization and to assist the American Youth Congress convention. Discussions were also held concerning the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and members were instructed to strive to get support of other people for the Russian position. Elitcher continued to go to these meetings until September, 1941. In 1942, Communist Party branches were formed which contained groups of employees from particular Government agencies, and Elitcher joined the Navy branch of the Communist Party.

Elitcher testified that around June, 1944, he received a telephone call from Julius Rosenberg who identified himself as a former college classmate of Elitcher. At Elitcher's invitation Rosenberg visited the Elitcher home the same evening. Rosenberg told Elitcher what the Soviet Union was doing in the war effort and stated that some war information was being denied that country. Rosenberg pointed out, however, that some people were providing military information to assist the Soviet Union. Rosenberg asked Elitcher to supply him with plans, reports, or books regarding new military equipment and anything Elitcher thought would be of value to the Soviet Union, pointing out that the final choice for the Soviet Union of the value of the information would not be up to Elitcher, but that the information would be evaluated by someone else.

In September, 1944, Elitcher went on a one-week vacation in a state park in West Virginia with Morton Sobell and his future wife. During this vacation, Elitcher told Sobell about Rosenberg's visit and request for information to be given to the Soviet Union. When he remarked that Rosenberg had said Sobell was helping in this, Sobell became angry and said that Rosenberg should not have mentioned his name.

In the summer of 1945, Elitcher was in New York on vacation and stayed at the apartment of Julius Rosenberg. Rosenberg mentioned to Elitcher that Rosenberg had been dismissed from his employment for security reasons and that his membership in the Communist Party seemed to be the basis of the case against him. Rosenberg had been worried about this matter because he thought his dismissal might have had some connection to his espionage activity, but he was relieved when he found out it concerned only his Communist activity.

Elitcher also testified that in September, 1945, Rosenberg came to Elitcher's home and told him that even though the war was over, Russia's need for military information continued. Rosenberg asked Elitcher about the type of work he was doing, and Elitcher told him he was working on sonar and anti-submarine fire-control devices.

In the early part of 1946, Elitcher visited an electric company in connection with official business and stayed at the home of Sobell in Schenectady. At the time, Sobell was working at this electric company. On this occasion Sobell and Elitcher discussed their work.

Later that year Elitcher again saw Sobell, and Sobell asked about an ordnance pamphlet, but Elitcher said it was not yet ready. Sobell suggested that Elitcher see Rosenberg again.

At the end of 1946 or in 1947, Elitcher telephoned Rosenberg and said he would like to see him. At this time Rosenberg advised Elitcher that there had been some changes in the espionage work, that he felt there was a leak, and that Elitcher should not come to see him until further notice. He also advised Elitcher to discontinue his Communist activities.

Elitcher testified that in 1947, Sobell had secured employment at an instrument company in New York City doing classified work for the Armed Forces. Elitcher saw Sobell there several times and on one occasion had lunch with him at a restaurant in New York City. Sobell asked Elitcher on this occasion if he knew of any progressive students or graduates and if so, whether he would put Sobell in touch with them. Elitcher said he did not know any.

In October, 1948, Elitcher left the Bureau of Ordnance and went to work for the instrument company in New York City where Sobell was employed. He lived in a house in Flushing, New York, and Sobell lived on a street behind him. They went to work together in a car pool. During a trip home from work one evening, Sobell again asked Elitcher about individuals Elitcher might know who would be progressive. Sobell pointed out to Elitcher that because of security measures being taken by the Government, it was necessary to find students to provide information whom no one would suspect.

Elitcher further testified that prior to leaving the Bureau of Ordnance, he had discussed with Sobell his desire to secure new employment during a visit Elitcher made to New York City in the summer of 1948. Sobell told Elitcher not to leave the Bureau of Ordnance until Elitcher had talked to Rosenberg.

Thereafter, Sobell made an appointment for Elitcher to meet with Rosenberg. They met on the street in New York, and Rosenberg told Elitcher that it was too bad Elitcher had decided to leave because Rosenberg needed someone to work at the Bureau of Ordnance for espionage purposes. Sobell was present at this meeting and urged Elitcher to stay at the Bureau of Ordnance. Rosenberg and Elitcher then had dinner together at a restaurant in New York City where they continued to talk about Elitcher's desire to leave his job. Rosenberg wanted to know where important defense work was being done, and Elitcher mentioned laboratories at Whippany, New Jersey. Rosenberg suggested that possibly Elitcher could take courses at college to improve his status.

Elitcher also testified that in July, 1948, he took a trip to New York City by car during which he believed he was being followed. He proceeded to Sobell's home and told him of his suspicion. Later that evening, Sobell mentioned to Elitcher that he had some information for Rosenberg which was too valuable to destroy, and he wanted to get it to Rosenberg that night. He requested Elitcher to accompany him.

Elitcher observed Sobell take a 35-millimeter film container with him and place it in the glove compartment of Sobell's car. Sobell and he then drove to a building in New York City and parked on Catherine Street. Sobell took the container out of the glove compartment and left. When he returned, Elitcher asked him what Rosenberg thought of Elitcher's suspicion that he was being followed, and Sobell answered that Rosenberg thought it was nothing to worry about.

Elitcher testified that Sobell possessed a camera, some 35-mm film and an enlarger, and that all of the material Sobell worked on in his various places of employment was classified. He stated he last saw Sobell in June, 1950.

On cross-examination, Elitcher recalled that during Rosenberg's visit to his house in June, 1944, which was after D-Day, Rosenberg mentioned that he had a drink with a Russian in celebration of this event. Elitcher testified that Rosenberg contacted him at least nine times from 1944 to 1948 in an attempt to persuade him to obtain information for him, but that he always put Rosenberg off. In 1948, Elitcher told Rosenberg that he definitely would not cooperate with him.

Bentley Testifies

Elizabeth Bentley, a confessed former Communist, testified that she was a member of the Harlem section of the Communist Party from 1935 to 1938. In July, 1938, she secured a job in the Italian Library of Information, and for the remainder of that year was instructed to go underground and to pretend not to know other Communists. While employed there, she came to know Feruccio Marini, a Communist Party official who handled Italian Communist activity in the United States. She knew Marini under the name of F. Brown. In October, 1938, she met Jacob Golos through Marini. Golos was in the Communist underground and operated World Tourist, Inc., a travel agency set up in 1927 by the Communist Party. Until his death in November, 1943, Golos had been a member of the three-man control commission of the Communist Party in the United States.

According to Bentley, the Communist Party of the United States was part of Communist International. After Golos died, Bentley had other contacts, the last one being Anatole Gromov, First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in the United States; her final contact with Gromov being in December, 1945. She stated that the information which Golos had obtained was passed on to the Soviet Embassy.

After Golos died, Bentley's duties consisted of collecting information from Communists employed in the U.S. Government and passing it on through Communist superiors to Moscow. She stated that the Communist Party in the United States served the interests of Moscow. She revealed that she transmitted orders to Earl Browder from Moscow which he had to accept. Pointing out the close relationship between the Communist Party in this country and Communist International, Bentley stated that this close relationship was preached at Communist Party meetings. Any member who did not adhere to the Party line, as dictated by Communist International in Moscow, was expelled. She revealed that all of her contacts in her work were obtained from the Communist Party.

In the summer of 1945, Bentley reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all her activities and was asked if she would continue her activities under FBI guidance, which she did until the spring of 1947.

Bentley stated that, during her association with Golos, she became aware of the fact that Golos knew an engineer, named "Julius." In the fall of 1942, she accompanied Golos to Knickerbocker Village but remained in his automobile. She saw Golos conferring with Julius on the street but at some distance. From conversations with Golos, she learned that Julius lived in Knickerbocker Village. She also stated that she had telephone conversations with Julius from the fall of 1942 until November, 1943.

In interviews with FBI Agents, Bentley had described Julius as being about 5'10", slim, and wearing glasses. She had also advised that he was the leader of a Communist cell of engineers which was turned over to Golos for Soviet espionage purposes. Julius was to be the contact between Golos and the group. Golos believed this cell of engineers was capable of development.

Investigation by the FBI disclosed that Julius Rosenberg resided in a development known as Knickerbocker Village, was 5'10" tall, slim, and wore glasses. Bentley, however, was unable to make a positive identification of Julius.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg testified and denied all espionage allegations against them. They admitted having a console table, but denied it was a gift from the Russians, as claimed by David Greenglass and his wife. They stated that they bought the table at a New York City department store in 1944 or 1945. On cross-examination, they were asked questions as to their Communist affiliations but refused to answer on the grounds of self-incrimination.

On March 28, 1951, counsel for each side summed up their respective case to the jury. On March 29, 1951, the jury rendered a verdict of guilty against the three defendents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Morton Sobell.

On April 5, 1951, the following sentences were imposed: Julius Rosenberg, death, such sentence to be carried out during the week of May 21, 1951; Ethel Rosenberg, death, such sentence to be carried out during the week of May 21, 1951; and Morton Sobell, imprisonment for a term of 30 years.

Communist Party Front Activities and Propaganda on Behalf of the Rosenbergs

The desperate legal struggle waged on behalf of the Rosenbergs was matched in intensity by an extraordinary propaganda drive to "Save the Rosenbergs." Significantly, the Communists' frenzied effort to rescue the Rosenbergs from what they termed "legal murder" was deferred for more than a year after their arrests and for more than four months after they had been found guilty in a trial which the Communists later called a "monstrous frame-up" and "a travesty of justice."

At first the Rosenberg trial went completely unnoticed in the usually vigilant Communist Party press. Not a word about the alleged Rosenberg "frame-up" appeared in the "Daily Worker" until the day after the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Moreover, the Party's first public recognition of the Rosenberg case gave no hint whatever of the tremendous propaganda storm that the Communists would later raise over the Rosenbergs. Buried inconspicuously on page 9 of the March 30, 1951, "Daily Worker," the Rosenberg conviction was reported in routine fashion.

No further notice appeared in the "Daily Worker" concerning the Rosenberg case until April 6, 1951, when it was announced under a feature headline as follows: "Rosenbergs Sentenced to Death, Made Scapegoats for Korean War." The article, noting that the Rosenbergs were parents of two small children, appeared to be aimed chiefly at condemning the severity of the sentence, rather than the verdict itself. The word "frame-up," later to become virtually synonymous with the Rosenberg trial in Communist propaganda, was not yet used. In the same issue of the "Daily Worker," a front-page editorial charging that American "panic mongers" were deliberately trying to create an atmosphere of war made several oblique references to the Rosenberg case without, however, directly questioning the verdict.

It was not until midsummer of 1951 that the propaganda campaign on behalf of the Rosenbergs began in earnest. Even at this late date, the Communist Party did not immediately commit itself to the task of vindicating the Rosenbergs and exposing the "hideous plot" against them. Instead, the campaign was intitiated in the form of a series of articles in the "National Guardian." This publication was described in 1949 by the California Committee on Un-American Activities as notoriously Stalinist in its staff, writers, management, and content.

It is evident that the clemency drive on behalf of the Rosenbergs was from the beginning a highly artificial affair, and was carefully promoted rather than a spontaneous public reaction which the Communist press sought to show. This was indicated from the mere fact that the "Daily Worker" was about to print the names and addresses of hundreds of clergymen and intellectuals who had written to the President asking for clemency. Unless the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case (NCSJRC), or the Communist Party, had solicited such letters themselves, the Party press would have had no way of knowing who had written to the White House except in a few isolated incidents. At a number of rallies sponsored by the NCSJRC, individuals in attendance were handed telegrams, post cards, or letters which were completely filled out and addressed to the President and which lacked only a signature. In addition, it was reported that representatives of the NCSJRC conducted intensive house-to-house canvasses in an effort to obtain signatures for clemency petitions.

From December 27, 1952, to January 17, 1953, a continuous round-the-clock picket line was maintained by Rosenberg sympathizers at the White House during the period that former President Truman was presumably studying a plea for executive clemency. This "White House Clemency Vigil" was called off on January 17, 1953, after more than 500 consecutive hours, only when it became evident that President Truman would not rule on the petition for clemency prior to his retirement from office. According to the "Daily Worker," this affair climaxed on January 5, 1953, when more than 2,000 persons from 22 states arrived at the District of Columbia to take part in the "vigil."

As the final legal moves were being made by the Rosenbergs' defense attorneys, thousands of pickets formed around the White House in June, 1953. The majority of these pickets poured into Washington, D.C., from New York City, where the NCSJRC had arranged for several special "clemency trains" to carry these Rosenberg sympathizers to the Nation's Capital.

The picketing at the White House began at approximately 1:30 p.m. on June 14; at 4:00 p.m. the pickets marched to Ninth Street and Constitution Avenue, Northwest, where the NCSJRC held a "prayer meeting" at which the Rosenbergs were eulogized by officials of the Committee and several clergymen.

An official count of the pickets by the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department indicated that there were approximately 6,800 persons involved in this attempt to pressure the President of the United States into granting clemency for the convicted atom spies. The NCSJRC's own estimate of the number of pickets was set at 13,000.

Following this "prayer meeting," the majority of pickets returned to New York City, leaving a small handful of pickets to continue the "24-hour vigil" at the White House. The picketing of the White House continued until June 17, 1953, when after the U.S. Supreme Court recessed for the summer, one of the Supreme Court justices announced that he had granted a stay of execution in order that new points of law brought before him by defense attorneys could be heard by the lower courts.

Upon receiving the news that the Government was successful in petitioning for an extraordinary session of the U.S. Supreme Court, the NCSJRC went into action and again sent pickets to parade before the White House. The picketing continued until the execution of the Rosenbergs was announced at approximately 8:45 p.m. on June 19, 1953, at which time about 500 pickets were on hand at the White House.

This case has been used by Communist Parties thoughout the world for propaganda purposes against the United States. American embassies in Canada and Europe were flooded with petitions for clemency by various people and organizations. During the last few days prior to the execution of the Rosenbergs, demonstrations were held in major capitals of Europe, such as Paris, Rome and London. In a news release on June 20, 1953, foreign reaction to the execution was reported as follows: " ‘Paris - Communist-led groups swarmed through European streets last night and early today in generally orderly demonstrations protesting the execution of atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. A French teenager was shot and wounded and 386 persons were arrested in Paris."

Court Action Following Convictions

The Communists employed every conceivable trick in their efforts to aid the atom spies, including high-pressuring the courts by innumerable appeals. The case was dragged out for a period in excess of two years.

On February 11, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower denied the petition for executive clemency filed by the Rosenbergs. In denying this petition, President Eisenhower stated, "These two individuals have been tried and convicted of a most serious crime against the people of the United States. They have been found guilty of conspiring with intent and reason to believe that it would be to the advantage of a foreign power, to deliver to the agents of that foreign power certain highly secret atomic information relating to the national defense of the United States. 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. By their act these two individuals have, in fact, betrayed the cause of freedom for which free men are fighting and dying at this very hour."

President Eisenhower continued, "The courts have provided every opportunity for the submission of evidence bearing on this case. In this time-honored tradition of American justice, a freely selected jury of their fellow citizens considered the evidence in this case and rendered its judgement. All rights of appeal were exercised and the conviction of the trial court was upheld after full judicial review, including that of the highest court in the land. I have made a careful examination into this case, and I am satisfied that the two individuals have been accorded their full measure of justice. There has been neither new evidence nor have there been mitigating circumstances which would justify altering this decision and I have determined that it is my duty, in the interest of the people of the United States, not to set aside the verdict of their representatives.

On May 29, 1953, the District Judge set the date of execution of the Rosenbergs for the week of June 15, 1953. At the time, the usual execution date at Sing Sing Prison was Thursday night, which meant the Rosenbergs were scheduled to die on June 18, 1953.

Still, additional appeals both to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court followed.

Finally, on June 16, 1953, a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court requested the Rosenberg defense attorneys to submit their petitions for a stay of execution in writing. On that date, two attorneys appeared at the Supreme Court and attempted to file petitions for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the Rosenbergs. Their action in attempting to file these writs was opposed by attorneys for the Rosenbergs. These petitions for a writ of habeas corpus were heard by the Supreme Court Justice in his chambers.

The main issue made in the petition was that, under the 1946 Atomic Energy Act, the death sentence might be imposed only upon the recommendation of the jury and then only when the defendants were charged with intent to injure the United States. It was argued that, inasmuch as the conspiracy for which the Rosenbergs were convicted commenced in 1944 and existed until 1950, the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act applied to the sentencing, rather than the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917.

On June 17, 1953, a stay of execution was granted by this Justice in order that the question raised could be argued in the District Court and more evidence received in order to determine whether there was merit to the argument.

On June 19, 1953, a special session of the U.S. Supreme Court, which had been called by the Chief Justice, vacated the stay of execution granted two days previously.

On June 19, 1953, the President of the United States refused to grant executive clemency to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In this refusal, the President stated, "Since its original review proceedings in the Rosenberg case by the Supreme Court of the United States, the courts have considered numerous further proceedings challenging the Rosenberg convictions and the sentences imposed. Within the last two days, the Supreme Court, convened in a special session, has again reviewed a further point which one of the justices felt the Rosenbergs should have an opportunity to present. This morning the Supreme Court ruled that there was no substance to this point. I am convinced that the only conclusion to be drawn from a history of this case is that the Rosenbergs have received the benefit of every safeguard which American justice can provide. There is no question in my mind that their original trial and the long series of appeals constitute the fullest measure of justice and due process of law. Throughout the innumerable complications and technicalities of this case, no judge has ever expressed any doubt that they committed most serious acts of espionage. Accordingly, only most extraordinary circumstances would warrant executive intervention in this case. I am not unmindful of the fact that this case has aroused grave concern both here and abroad. In this connection, I can only say that by immeasurably increasing the chances of atomic war the Rosenbergs may have condemned to death tens of millions of innocent people all over the world. The execution of two human beings is a grave matter, but even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose death may be directly attributable to what these spies have done."

The President continued, "When democracy's enemies have been judged guilty of a crime as horrible as that of which the Rosenbergs were convicted; when the legal processes of democracy have been marshaled to their maximum strength to protect the lives of convicted spies; when in their most solemn judgment the tribunals of the United States have adjudged them guilty and the sentence just, I will not intervene in this matter."

At 8:05 p.m. on June 19, 1953, Julius Rosenberg was executed at Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York. At 8:15 p.m. on the same date, Ethel Rosenberg was executed at Sing Sing Prison.

David Greenglass, who received a 15-year sentence after a guilty plea, was released from Federal prison on November 16, 1960. He was required to report periodically to a parole officer until November, 1965.

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