In 1951 the American citizens Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg, were convicted of spying on behalf of the Soviet Union.

In June 1953 the Rosenbergs were both executed in the Sing Sing correctional facility in Ossining, New York, becoming the first American civilians to be executed for espionage during peacetime.

For decades, the Rosenbergs’ sons and other defenders maintained that Julius and Ethel were innocent of spying on their country and were victims of Cold War paranoia.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, much information concerning them was declassified, including a trove of decoded Soviet cables (code-name: Venona), which detailed Julius’s role as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets. Ethel’s role was as an accessory who helped recruit her brother David into the spy ring and she typed documents for her husband that were given to the Soviets.

In 2008, the National Archives of the United States published most of the grand jury testimony related to the prosecution of the Rosenbergs.

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