The outcome of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Trial for espionage in 1951 and their subsequent execution in 1953 was directly related to the political climate at that time. The governments evidence against the Rosenbergs was not over whelming but due to a combination of fear and political pressure the guilty verdict was inevitable. Even though Julius did not deliver the secrets of the bomb to Moscow and nor did they cause the Korean war, as Judge Kaufman claimed, they were sentenced to death. Their death confirmed their guilt because America would never kill innocent people. Their execution also reinforced the heinous nature of their crime and other soviet spy's crimes as well. The fear of communism and the cold war sealed the fate for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
"The cold war was the general term for the post 1945 political, ideological, strategic and military conflict between the western allies led by the United States and the Soviet Union and other communist countries (Fontain 4)." This global confrontation was fuel by mutual fear and distrust. Both camps defaulted on postwar agreements which led to further alienation(Flemeing 6). The end of WWII saw Europe economically devastated and in political turmoil(Parrish 147). The defeat of Germany left the European continent vulnerable to outside influence. In addition to the economic strength shown by the western allies, the United States not only had nuclear capabilities but without hesitation used it twice(Fontaine 8).
The Soviet Union, in an effort to contract the economic and military might of the United States and its allies, set about tightening its grasp on the east European countries it had occupied during WWII (Infopedia). Between 1945 and 1948 the Soviet Union gained control of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia(Parrish 210). The Soviet Union hoped that by adding these separate governments and militaries it could off set the United States nuclear capabilities and provide its western boarder with a buffer zone(Parrish 210). Though the Soviet Union was actively developing its own nuclear capabilities they realized that the U.S. had used their atomic bomb with devastating results(Fontaine 13).
Although the United States was putting much fear into the hearts of many soviets the post WWII conflict was affecting the United States in much the same way(Infopedia). The United States was worried about the leader of the Soviet Union and his power over many countries(Infopedia). The United States would come to realize that this would not be an easy fight to win.
The leader of the Soviet Union at that time was a man named Joseph Stalin(Parrish 234). He had much control over peoples ideas and beliefs and he used that to his advantage(Parrish 234). The United States feared his leadership because of his power and his dishonesty (Infopedia). Stalin went back on his word, to create a more democratic government inside the Soviet Union, and took total control of Poland when he said he would not at the Yalta conference in 1945(Infopedia).
Iran became the starting point of East-West confrontation(Infopedia). The United States and the Soviet Union had occupied parts of Iran during WWII in order to protect allied oil supplies. Both countries agreed to withdraw at wars end. But in 1945 the Soviet Union refused to withdraw its troops(Parrish 123). The conflict ended in 1946 when the USSR pulled out its troops in return oil rights in Iran(Parrish 123). Later in 1946 Stalin gave a speech declaring ideological war against the West(Fontaine 45). To counter Stalins aggressive actions in 1947 the president proposed the Truman Doctrine(Fontaine 47). The Truman Doctrine was designed to give military aid to Greece in its battle against communists backed rebel forces(Fontain 47-8). It also gave economic aid to Turkey who's economy was being stressed by the need to maintain a large army in order to resist the USSR and its demand for a naval base within its boundaries (Infopedia). President Truman's pitch to Congress was meant to scare the American people into action. It succeeded in getting the Greek-Turkish aid bill passed and it also set the tone for the cold war(Infopedia). Less than a year later the United States pressured Iran to take back the previously granted oil rights to the USSR thus creating more suspicion among the two superpowers(Fontaine).
After seeing favorable results from the Truman Doctrine the United States implemented the Marshall Plan. This $13 billion program was a second part of the overall containment policy(Parrish 156). By restoring Europe's economy it would make communism less appealing and also give the United States strong trading partners. Angered by this program Stalin extended his control over Eastern Europe(Parrish 156). This in turn created possible threats for the West's position in Germany, and forced Truman to create a military alliance in order restore confidence in the European countries that were allying with the United States(Parrish 156). In an effort to counter the integration of the Western zones of Germany into a Western block the Soviets blockaded access to Berlin by the West(Infopedia). This blockade not only failed in its attempt to drive the United States, Briton and France from Berlin but it also strengthen the cooperation among western allies. This strengthened unity among western allies led to the formation of a military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The fight against communism was not only a occurring over seas but in the United States itself. People started to view communism as the downfall of human civilization thanks in big part to a senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy(Schrecker 3). Joseph McCarthy made communism a house hold word and being communist a sin. By using convincing speeches and intimidating and threatening accusations he lit the spark that ignited a series of witch hunts and caused America to question its own loyalty(Schrecker 3).
McCarthy made his debut on February 9, 1950, when he announced to a women's Republican club in West Virginia that he had a list of the names of 205 communists in the State Department(Schrecker 4). Thus the birth of McCarthyism. He continued to travel through out the West on his campaign for the Republican party, but when asked about the list his specifics changed from state to state(Schrecker 6). He began to change the number of names on his list when questioned by reporters, telling some it was 57 and then the next day somewhere else it was 81(Schrecker 10). His allegations would come to evolve as well from full fledged communist to loyalty risks or people with connections to the communist party(Schrecker 11).
Even though McCarthy was the most influential Senator to speak out about communism he was not the first(Schrecker 27). Many Republicans had spoke out before in the past years (Schrecker 28). In fact most of McCarthy's accusations he made where made by previous Republicans. Even his speeches were not original. One reported time one of McCarthy's speeches contained several paragraphs taken almost word for word from a speech the Nixon made a few days before(Schrecker 29).
All though many of his charges were false or had no evidence McCarthyism changed the way a lot of people inside and outside of the government thought about communism(Infopedia). He made a lot of people scared with his red-baiting and black listing(Infopedia). The Truman administration was constantly trying to defend themselves from the accusations from McCarthy that they were soft on communism and that they had communists working for their party(Parrish 286). These charges led to the governments loyalty and security programs that would show just how scared this country was of communism.
Congress was putting pressure on the Truman administration to implement some type of security program to fight against treason in our government (Parrish 286). Truman than implemented the Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty (Parrish 286). This program was designed to evaluate a government employee's's feelings on communism (Parrish 286). The Truman administration got mixed reactions to this program(Schrecker 186). Many civil rights activists felt that it was taking away peoples right and throwing away due process(Schrecker 186). On the other hand many Republicans thought that this program was still not enough and that more steps needed to be taken to rid the government of communists(Schrecker 186).
These types of loyalty oaths did not just effect jobs in the government all over the United States. Many job applications had some type of loyalty oath that had to be signed(Schrecker 170). Because of these types of procedures many people were turned down for jobs and many others who had jobs lost them(Schrecker 170). An example of this was the Hollywood Ten. The Hollywood Ten was a group of actors and writers in Hollywood that lost their job and were eventually jailed for their connections to communism(Schrecker 171).
Another way the government tried to control the subversive activity that was happening in the United States was the HUAC(Infopedia). The HUAC stood for the House Committee on Un-American Activities(Infopedia). The main job of the house was to investigate activity that could endanger American life(Infopedia). It was often criticized for using thoughtless and harmful tactics to arouse controversy and ideas of treason. Although the Committee did serve its purpose it also caused many hardships for people caught up in this massive witch hunt (Infopedia). Many people who had been black listed either lost their job, money, and respect and became homeless or they killed themselves(Infopedia).
A big break came for the HUAC when in 1948 the committee started to investigate Alger Hiss(Milton 2). Alger Hiss was former State Department official who was accused of giving top secret documents in the past(Milton 2). Because he had committed these acts more than 20 years before, he could not be charged for spying but was charged for lying under oath about his involvement with the Soviet Union(Milton 3). Alger Hiss was the first of many spies who either confessed or were caught by the government in a domino effect that eventually led to the capture and final execution of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Twelve days after the Hiss conviction a physicist from England who worked first hand with the Manhattan project confessed to spying for the Soviet Union(Milton 23). The physicist was Klaus Fuchs and the Manhattan project was America's name for it nuclear experimenting project(Milton 25). Klaus Fuchs was working for the British on a type of war-related project that he later found out to be atomic-bomb research. During his research with the British, Fuchs traveled many times to the United States to work with American scientists on the problem of the fission bomb(Schneir 34). During his travels to the U.S. he was instructed to meet with an American courier for which he was supposed to give information about his work and the status of the United States nuclear power(Schneir 35).
Only after about four meetings with the secret courier he knew only as Raymond, Fuchs was transferred to work on the Manhattan project in Los Alamos(Schneir 40). He did not inform Raymond or his Soviet leaders of this change and left without a trace(Schneir 43). He started working on the Manhattan project in 1944 and for a nearly a year he worked with other scientists and physicists on developing the atomic bomb not once thinking of his previously assigned duties to the Soviet Union(Schneir 45). Not until 1945, when Fuchs came to visit his sister in Massachusetts, did he talk to Raymond again(Schneir 45).
When they met together, Fuchs outlined the new developments that were taking place and what information he had on the bomb(Milton 30). He told Raymond he would as much as he could and that he would keep him informed. Later that year he reported on the test of the bomb and exact specifications and size of such bomb(Milton 34). He gave the Soviets our most precious secret at that time to some of the most dangerous people in the world.
Now that Fuchs was under arrest the FBI wanted to know the identity of the secret American courier known only as Raymond(Milton 38). Unfortunately Fuchs had no idea what Raymond's real name was and could only provide a vague description(Milton 38). Through varies background checks the FBI came up with the name Harry Gold(Milton 45). Harry Gold was later questioned and soon after confessed to being Raymond(Milton 46).
He confessed to passing the information he received from Fuchs about the atomic bomb and other information concerning the activities that had take place while Fuchs worked their (Milton 53). He confessed to giving it to the Soviet Union(Milton 54). In one of his confessions he named David Greenglass as one of s(Fineberg 45). He confessed that he met with David Greenglass in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their he received information from David concerning the atomic bomb and other vital information(Fineberg 45).
David was then brought in for questioning not less than a week later. He was told that Gold had already confessed and that he should do the same(Fineberg 53). He said that he would as long as his wife was left out of it(Fineberg 54). He confessed to talking Gold in New Mexico about his Job(Fineberg 56). He confessed to having talked to Julius Rosenberg about his job at Los Alamos. They talked about the progress that was being made, specific information on how that bomb worked and several drawings and sketches of the bomb itself(Fineberg 57-8).
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were very active in the communist party(Fineberg 24). They became members of the Young Communist League as teenagers and grew up in the party ever since(Frost 94). They read the newspapers that were printed for the communist party and held meetings for their for their party's branch in their own living room(Schneir 12).
On July 17, 1950 Julius Rosenberg was arrested for conspiracy to commit espionage and 25 days later Ethel Rosenber was also arrested for the same charge. They were brought to the attention by the FBI after David Greenglass acussed Julius in his statement to the FBI. They were both taken down to jail and were placed at 100,000 dollars bail. There they waited for half a year before they got their day in court.
Prior to the opening of the trial a jury had to be selecte. The judge presiding over this case was Judge Irving R.Kaufman. He made it a point to decide who was on the jury and who was not. Judge Kaufman had a long list of requirments each person had to meet in order to stay on the jury. Some of his questions dealt with being familiar with any orginzations on the attorney general's list, having any personal s with the FBI or HUAC, and finally if they were against capital punishment. If any of the perspective jurors answered unsatisfactory to any of these questions they were dismissed.
On March 6, 1951 Juluis and Ethel Rosenber and Morton Sorbell were put on trial. Morton Sorbel was a friend of Julius who was employed by the Navy's Bureau of Ordinance. The opening statement by Saypol, the prosecuting attorney, was aimed at putting the Rosenbergs and Sobell's loyalty towards the United States at question and communism on trial. Even though their participation in the communist party did not concern this trial, Saypol insisted that the fact that they were active in the communist party shows motivation for what they were acused of.
In order to charge a person with conspiracy to commit anything very little hard evidence is needed. Hearsay and rumors constitute as enough evidence for a conviction. Because the prosecuting team did not have enough hard evidence to convict the rosenbergs of treason they decided to try to convict them of conspiracy to commit espionage, something for which they could easily gather enough evidence for, seeing as how they only needed one strong witness.
One of the key witnesses for the prosecution and probably the only man who had enough evidence against the Rosenbergs was David Greenglass. He testified that Julius had on many occacions accepted atomic bomb information from himself. He also testified that Julius had by himself stolen a proximity fuse. He also talked about an entire spy ring headed by Julius that had stolen information and material concerning an atomic airplane and space platform.
The biggest question that was on everybody's mind during the trial was whether or not the Rosenbergs, if found guilty, would have to face the death penalty. Judge Kaufman made it very clear during the jury selection that if anyone was against using capital punishment they should not be on the jury. Even though at that time being found guilty of conspiracy against the government did not call for the death penalty many people were woried that because of the situation with the Soviet Union and communism the death penalty could be used. Enenitably Judge Kaufman had the final say in whether the death penalty would be implemented or not.
When it came time for the trial the prosecutors had close to 120 witnesses that would all testify that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were involved with espionage(Fineberg 67). They had testimony from David and Ruth Greenglass and many people they had worked with or associated with in the past(Fineberg 69). When the verdict came it was very shocking not that they were found guilty but the were going to receive the death penalty. On June 19, 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing Sing prison(Fineberg 74).
Because of widely spread fear and hatred for the communist party and its beliefs and the pain and turmoil the cold war put us through the United States government was extra hard on the Rosenbergs. Although the government will never say they did not give the Rosenbergs a fair trial they might admit that because of the situation at the time they were given a harsher penalty for their mistakes. In the past 5 years two United States citizens, one a CIA agent and another a navy officer, were found guilty of espionage and treason. In their cases Americans actually lost their lives because of their acts, but neither of them received the death penalty. The reason the got of without the death penalty was because we were not fighting a war at that time. Because the United States was in a war with the Soviet Union at the time of their trial, Julius and Ethel were executed for their crime that should have only got them a long prison term.
Here is the work cited
"Cold War." Infopedia. Vers 2.0. CD-ROM. Soft Key International Inc. MA: 1995.
"Ex-spy offers Rosenberg account." National/World March 1997. Associated Press, Nov 2, 1998. http:// www. thonline.com/th/news/031797/National/50588.htm, AOL.
Fineberg, S. Andhill. The Rosenberg Case, Fact and Fiction. Oceana Publications, 1953.
Flemeing, D.F. The Cold War and it Origins. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc, 1961.
Fontaine, Andre. History of the Cold War. New York: Pantheon, 1963.
Frost, Bob. "The Debate that won't Die." Biography Feb. 1998, 92-98.
Milton, Joyce and Ronld Radosh. The Rosenberg File. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983.
Parish, Thomas. The Cold War Encyclopedia. NewYork: Henry Holt and Company, 1996.
Pizzo, Stephen. "The Rosenberg Communiques." Web Review. 1998. Nov 2, 1998. http://www. web review.com/news/natl/rosenberg/index.html, AOL.
Schneir, Miriam and Walter. Invitation to an Inquest. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Schrecker, Ellen. Many are the Crimes, McCarthyism in America. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1998.
Finally the outline
Thesis: The fear of communism and the cold war sealed the fate for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
II. Cold War
1. In Russia
2. In United States
B. Moves and Counter moves
A. Affect on America
2. Loyalty Oaths
3. Special House Committee on Un-American Activities
B. Espionage in America
A. Rephrase Thesis
I hope this is good enough i got a 96% on it thanks
Word Count: 3324