Robert Meeropol

Robby, Abel, Michael and trains

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"Robby & Elli" 1968

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

Robby and Cory work on the blog.

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David Greenglass is Dead

October 23, 2014

Tags: David Greenglass, Sam Roberts

My brother called me in early July to tell me David Greenglass had died. I think Michael heard this from his daughter, Ivy, but Iím not sure how she found out. Weíd known that Greenglass was ill, suffering from dementia in a nursing home, so we werenít surprised.

We expected the press to ask us to comment, so we composed a statement, but did not release it. No obituary had appeared, and since his immediate family did not publicize his passing, we decided to follow their lead. We didnít know his family, but we had nothing against them, and did not want to cause them any trouble.

As the weeks passed the lack of mention of Greenglassís passing in the New York Times perplexed us. I wasnít talking about it, but I heard the news through others, so by Labor Day it was hardly a secret.

In late September, I learned that Random House was about to publish a second edition of Sam Robertsí book, The Brother, about David Greenglass. Sam is the New York Times reporter who covered news related to my parentsí case for decades. He had the financial misfortune of publishing the first edition in September 2001, when almost no one, particularly in the New York City area, was buying books.

Ah ha, I thought. That explains it. The Times will publish the Greenglass obit just after the new edition comes out, generating lots of free publicity for Sam Roberts. That is what happened, but Sam Roberts wrote in a blog in the Huffington Post that he didnít know about Greenglassí death in July. He explained that he occasionally monitored Greenglassís status by calling the nursing home that housed him. He said when he called in September and learned Greenglass was no longer in residence, he realized David Greenglass had died.

Perhaps thatís true. You can decide which explanation is more likely.

My brother and I released our statement and a number of news outlets quoted from it. I received supportive notes from people who expressed the hope that I gotten some closure from Greenglassís death. I think that concept is overused, especially when it comes to the death penalty. Prosecutors tell victimsí family members that an execution will give them closure.

But closure is a static concept, the antithesis of the dynamic process that is life. When applied to a death, closure for those still alive is an illusion. David Greenglassís death gave me no sense of closure. Iíve lived with my parentsí case all my conscious life. Iíve gotten used to it. Iíve come to terms with it and Iíve done my best to make something good come out of it. But for me their case is never closed.

Selected Works

"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."
ĖPublisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
ĖJoyce Carol Oates

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