Robert Meeropol





Robby, Abel, Michael and trains








my perennial chaos

"Robby & Elli" 1968


http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/carboncalculator



Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

Robby and Cory work on the blog.

Click Edit on the top toolbar to begin blogging.


Tags

STILL OUT ON A LIMB

Annual Annoyance

April 7, 2015

Tags: Ethel Rosenberg, Conspiracy verses espionage

I write this on April 5th, exactly 64 years after Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced Ethel and Julius Rosenberg to death. I can’t help being annoyed that today the New York Daily News, and the TV news station New York 1 both incorrectly reported that my parents were convicted of “espionage.”

Ethel and Julius were actually charged with and convicted of “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage.” Lawyers will tell you that there is a significant difference between conspiracy and espionage charges. The former requires that two or more people get together, plan espionage and take one act in furtherance of their scheme, while the latter requires the actual commission of espionage.

But wait a minute, you ask. Why should it matter now? After all, in 2008 Morton Sobell admitted that he and Julius committed espionage in the 1940’s. So while accurately reporting the details of the charge might matter to legal scholars, what is the political consequence now?

It might not matter in Julius’ case, but it’s a game-changer for Ethel.

David and Ruth Greenglass’ testimony at trial was the only evidence against my mother. The Greenglasses claimed that Ethel was present at a September, 1945 meeting and that she typed David’s handwritten espionage notes. In 2001 David admitted that this testimony was perjury and we now know that the September meeting never took place. Ruth Greenglass also testified that when Julius asked her to help enlist David in a spy ring, she was reluctant and Ethel pressed her by saying let David decide. However the KGB files indicate that Ruth was enthusiastic, and that Ethel just said “be careful.” While giving encouragement might qualify as an act in furtherance of a conspiracy, the ambiguous statement “be careful” is subject to a range of interpretations.

And to be clear, those statements are the only evidence presented against Ethel. Beyond that, both the US and USSR governments’ files indicate that Ethel was never an active espionage agent. Our government knew Ethel was not an agent but held her as a hostage to coerce her husband into cooperating with the authorities. The FBI files never claimed she was guilty, but consistently described her as “cognizant and recalcitrant.” Whatever Julius did, Ethel was neither charged with, nor did she commit, espionage.

Given this, I hope you can understand my annoyance when the media gets it wrong. New York City area mainstream media outlets have reiterated this “mistake” for 64 years. To repeat inaccurate information – without mentioning that we now know Ethel never committed espionage – is outrageous.

Selected Works

Memoir
"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

Quick Links