FAMOUS SPIES NUMBER TWO
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
1915 & 1918 -1953
Spied For: The Soviet Union
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were American Communists who were executed for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They met in the Young Communist League in 1936, where he was a leader. They had two sons. Julius was recruited by the KGB in 1942 and was regarded as one of their top spies. He passed classified reports from Emerson Radio, including a fuze design which was later used to shoot down a U-2 in 1960.
Julius also recruited many people sympathetic to the cause to assist the KGB. He provided the KGB with thousands of documents from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics including a complete set of design and production drawings for the Lockheed’s P-80 Shooting Star. A former machinist at Los Alamos (the US Nuclear Development Area), Sergeant David Greenglass confessed to having passed secret information on to the USSR, and in doing so, implicated his brother-in-law: Julius Rosenberg. He initially denied any involvement by his sister Ethel. The Rosenbergs were arrested.
In 1951 the case against the Rosenbergs began. Greenglass, the prosecution’s main witness, told the court that his sister Ethel had typed nuclear secrets he gave her at a meeting in their home, and that he gave Julius a sketch of a cross-section of an implosion type nuclear bomb. Both Rosenbergs were found guilty and sentenced to death. Their conviction gave fuel to Senator McCarthy’s investigations into anti-American activities. They were both executed by electric-chair in Sing Sing Prison in 1953.