Sixty years ago today, Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced my parents to death. He justified the death penalty for their “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage” (planning to commit espionage) conviction by saying their “conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding fifty thousand.”
The hoopla about Morton Sobell’s recent statements that he and my father engaged in non-atomic espionage to help the Soviet Union both during and after World War II serves to distract attention from Judge Kaufman’s towering lie: that the government of the United States knew that neither Ethel nor Julius Rosenberg stole the secret of the atomic bomb, and that Ethel Rosenberg did not actively participate in any illegal activity. Nevertheless, the government arrested, charged, tried, convicted and ultimately executed her, solely to put pressure on my father to acquiesce to the lie that he stole atomic secrets.
Judge Kaufman’s statement remains as false today as it was in 1951. The FBI, the Justice Department and Judge Kaufman were guilty of a much more serious conspiracy than any my father was involved in. The formers’ involved the fabrication of evidence, the subornation of perjury, the manipulation of the jury and the wrongful execution of two young parents. It subverted the rule of law, violated the constitution and damaged our democracy. Sixty years later, the government still refuses to come clean, and most of the corporate-controlled media continue to ignore this scandal.
I’d be less than honest if I did not admit that the latest news that Morton Sobell, my father and two others provided aeronautical information to the Soviet Union in 1948 gives me pause. My parents wrote in their last letter to me and my brother: “Always remember that we were innocent and could not wrong our conscience.” My father, at least, doesn’t seem quite so innocent anymore.
Right-wing cold warriors trumpet that Sobell’s recent statement proves that my parents were lying manipulators, but it is much more complicated than that. Neither Julius nor Ethel was guilty of the crime for which they faced the executioner. Ethel was not a spy and Julius was ignorant of the atomic bomb project. They were innocent of stealing the secret of the atomic bomb and they were fighting for their lives. It would have been next to impossible for them to explain to their children and supporters the subtle distinction between not being guilty of stealing atomic secrets and blanket innocence. Given that, I can understand the course of action they took from a political standpoint
But how does this impact me personally? How could they engage in such high-risk activities that could potentially leave their children orphans? When I wrote An Execution in the Family, I thought my father might only have engaged in helping the Soviet Union fight fascism during World War II and I asked, “How many tens of thousands of American men with young children willingly went to fight during World War II knowing that they might not survive the conflict? Was my father, whose poor eyesight disqualified him for military service, taking a greater risk by choosing this role in the battle?”
I disagree with my parents’ uncritical support for the USSR and the strategy my father employed to aid it after World War II. And knowing the terrible toll parents’ activism can take on the family, I believe parents should always take their children into account when they engage in risky activity. But I do not believe it axiomatic that all parents of young children should refrain from such activity. The RFC helps parents who engage the world and take courageous actions even though they have children. Our best chance of building a more humane and just society rests on the activism of ordinary citizens with family concerns.
Still, I question my parents’ actions more than I used to. I’ve had the luxury of living a much longer life than they did and hopefully I’ve learned from many experiences that were foreclosed to them. I may question my parents’ judgment, but I remain proud of them, even if my father did what he could to aid the Soviet Union throughout the 1940’s and my mother supported him. Despite the awful consequences of their choices and of Judge Kaufman’s lie, my parents acted with integrity, courage and in furtherance of righteous ideals, and passed their passion for social justice on to me and my brother.
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I subscribe to the view that parents have responsibilities for their children that go way beyond the home context. In order to give your kids the best possible world, you have to fight for a better society, whatever society we think is best, to the extent of our capabilities. Even in times, maybe more so, in times, where your life is at risk.
I admire your work and your parents too. And loved your book!
Then there is the issue of the inherent injustice in the death penalty itself. No government should ever have power over someone's life. Injustices like your parents execution are far too common and therefore intolerable.
Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
Not only was there no precedent for the death penalty in such cases (according to the NY Times) but the prosecution wasn't asking for it. Yet another crime on Kaufman's part.
It's been my personal belief that he wished to please his non-Jewish "superiors" by proving he can kill Jews better than they can. Just a theory though.
Keep up the good work.
Is there any way to posthumously sue Kaufman? He murdered twopeople and destroyed a famly.Awful that he should get away with it all. What do we know about him? Has anyone written a biography of him. Thanks for sending this.
As a young mother when your parents were executed, I couldn't believe it would really happen. Since then I have been firmly against the death penalty. Perhaps if your parents had lived, even if in prison, you could get the answers to your questions.
I have often thought of being an activist--during the Vietnam war, during the civil rights movement, fighting for union rights, and so many other causes I believe in; but I have only given token support because I was worried about the consequences to my husband and children.
I am a long time activist and former member of the CPUSa. I left before it imploded, but in it I met very many wonderful people sincere in their view that the only way to change society is through mass movements. Central to that is that one tenth should be committed to analyze, organze and lead those who are not so involved. Unfortunately the Red Scare of McCarthism cast a cloud over anyone who was active and even still exists in many areas.
Your parents were caught in this vicious web, and the secret of the atomic bomb was available in books in public libraries at the time. Some of the best people I knew were caught in that web and suffererd immeasurably. Your suffering, as children, must have been thw worst of living nightmares.
I will support you as I can given the state of my physical health. I am not very mobile, but my brain seems to work just
Rayleen G. Nunez
Dear Robby: Of course the most important part of what you wrote is actually in the second to last paragraph about parents always taking their children into account. The question is how to do that. Do we take our children into account when we engage in protests for peace? I think so. Likewise we take our children into account when we work on international issues.
What we cannot anticipate is the reaction of the government to those actions. In the case of your parents I am not bothered by the fact that they were communists, nor by the apparent fact that at least your father supplied information to the USSR. Many would do the same even today in the hope of achieving peace.
On the other hand I am bothered by the reaction of a government (now and in the 1950"s) that labels all dissent as treason.
Daniel M. Mayfield
NLG member and Attorney
San Jose, Ca
I know something about what you've been through. Perhaps these observations may help answer questions. Your parents stood with that great American, Henry A. Wallace, against the preposterous charge that the Soviet Union intended to conquer the world militarily. We are living today with the consequences of the Truman Doctrine, a foreign policy debacle bottomed upon that falsehood. The Truman Doctrine crippled the United Nations, and in doing so has made peace impossible to this very day. In addition, historians agree; if the Soviets had not fought so long and so hard against the Germans, the Nazis might well now be in control of Europe. Your parents understood all that. History is verifying the truths that motivated their bold actions. (I recommend Another Such Victory, by Prof. Arnold Offner and American Dreamer by John C. Culver and John Hyde.)
Julius and Ethel tried their best. The fault was not theirs.
Kaufman receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Regan speaks volumes!
It's unfortunate your parents' ordeals were so severe - injustice is inherent in our profit-driven legal system. Very probably tens of thousands of Americans have been railroaded by our corrupt jurisprudence for one reason or another. If you're wealthy, you benefit - if not, tough. Had they been Dupont or Hearst, they'd've been freed. Addressing these profits, I enclose an excerpt from a book I wrote. Please excuse my hubris.
"As long as we use money as a medium of exchange, we will always have poverty. It's the basic economic principle of supply and demand. There must be a constant demand for money; otherwise it's valueless. Those who most need money must continually labor for it simply to survive. The more people need it, the more willing they are to do abominable things to get it. The wealthy and powerful control the money supply, restricting global trade for profits. Used for world domination and the spread of terrorism, those who control it wage war and pass trade agreements impoverishing the many to benefit the few. We don't have to barter goods individually. Voluntarily using our skills and abilities to benefit humanity by structuring and participating in service, social and industrial unions to produce, develop and distribute the world's resources, we can abolish poverty, homelessness, global environmental destruction, waste, illiteracy, war, injustice, crime, slavery, governmental and corporate corruption, overpopulation and ill health around the world. Only by abolishing money may international cooperation, aided by Esperanto, the international language, secure genuine world peace."
I was still an infant when the federal government essentially murdered your parents, but I have been fascinated with the case my entire adult life.
From what I read, Kaufman was a "schanda vor the goyim" and cared only for advancing his own career. Some say your parents' case kept him off the Supreme Court, his ultimate goal.
Word came out in the late 70s or early 80s that any competent undergraduate physics major could design an atom bomb, so your parents were killed for political expediency, and nothing more.
Keep up your good work, My donation will be coming shortly.
I appreciate your struggle in coming to terms with this highly complex issue. Sadly, the ability to cope with complexity is rare, even among the left.
I recall a conversation we had years ago on this subject, when I told you the story of a prominent professor I met in the GDR (East Germany). I’d like to share this again. This was a Jewish man from a communist family who had escaped from the Nazi regime and settled in Brooklyn – just a few blocks from where I grew up. He had hurriedly packed up his family and returned to Germany immediately following the Rosenberg execution. Failing to see the connection, I asked him why he did this. He gave me a look that said something like “oh to be so naïve”.
During the war, he, as did many German refugees and especially communists, volunteered to work with the OSS. In addition to these responsibilities, he took on the side job of working with Soviet intelligence. He explained to me that he was far from the only one doing this.
After returning to the states, his relationship with Soviet intelligence continued. He explained that many communists and sophisticated observers of history believed that the only sure way to prevent a return of fascism and to better the chances for a peaceful world, was to work for the social and technological development of the Soviet Union. Progressive Jews especially were all too aware of the ambivalent attitude in the U.S. toward fascism and they wanted to bolster anti-fascist forces, which for them meant the Soviet Union.
He suggested without exactly saying it, that Julius Rosenberg was one of those involved in this type of activity, and that he had left the country because he feared this could be the beginning of a dragnet operation. While there were not great numbers who had been involved in this activity, it was more than one or two. They believed they were patriotic anti-fascist militants.
I recall when I told you this story I said that the position that Julius was “innocent” of everything was unrealistic and naïve. We on the left need to understand those times better. Was their adulation and unquestioning loyalty to the Soviet Union misplaced? Of course. Was their basic understanding of history and the threat of fascism incorrect? This is open to question but some very strong arguments can certainly be made in their favor.
Dear Robbie and Family,
The horrendous events as consequence of McCarthyism, antisemitism, and Red Baiting reverberate loudly.
The cruelty and lack of justice inherent in our government's policies have not changed over these many years and in
fact its self-serving goals are proliferating rapidly
with a compliant media and a grossly uninformed and essentially disinterested citizen base.
The endless wars and occupations as well the state of our economy effecting all the necessities of modern life and all people except the super rich are the results of America's short-term and self serving oriented goals.
Those of us who maintain our humanitarian values will continue to work for the common good.
But we need to educate and involve others in the work; this is and has been the dilemma of the left
especially since the events of your parent's executions.
I am a long time supporter of the RFC.
With hope for a Better World, in Solidarity;
I was in my teens and wearing a full leg brace and using crutches when I went on many marches and meetings and signed petitions begging for clemency. I was my high school "red" for that and other reasons. I knew that the death penalty had never been applied during peace time and could not understand why Judge Kaufman was "out to get your parents.
I cannot think of a better way to honor their memory than what you are doing.
Remember that a large number of intellectuals felt that helping the USSR in the 20s, 30s, and 40s was appropriate. It wasn't until the truth about what the Soviets were doing that most dropped out in disgust.
Keep up the fight!
I am old enough to remember the murder of your parents. Even if your father was a minor spy, the punishment of BOTH Julius and Ethel was a travesty. I do hope the judge lived out his days with the orphaned lives of you and your brother heavy on his conscience. I am terribly, terribly sorry, and admire your work now with the Fund for Children.
Marianne Makman, M.D., New Rochelle, N.Y.
My parents were lefties of the 30s (my dad went to Spain with the "Lincolns"). They were older when we were born but their values were deeply ingrained in us, not only in words and events but in lifestyle in a way. As small children, in Sunday School, our collections were for your parents' defense. Although my parents were well-educated professionals they sent us to an inner city public school that offered little in formal education, which was dramatic when I compared it with friends in college (on the East Coast). I wondered then about where to draw the line about beliefs and raising children. Now I know my education was invaluable! My compassion for oppressed minority groups comes naturally. I helped to start Head Start in Boston due to my comfortableness with diversity. The list goes on and on. Look how much good you have done thanks to your parents' "risks"! I for one applaud them and you. Thank you.
I was a young boy when these events happened and didn't understand a lot that was going on then. Now as an older adult, I oppose the death penalty in general. I am bothered by so many instances of injustice in our prisons and prison system today, and in or relations with the world. I also see how complicated life is for all of us, and how our lives are inter-mixed more than we realize; we all help cause things to happen iin others' lives, good and bad things. We all make mistakes, some through inability to make a good judgement at the time with the facts we have, and also at times through our own selfishness or perversity. That's why Jesus warned us not to judge others (I think he meant their intentions), but we still have to make decisions as to what is right and wrong. I don't know about Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg, but I'm very sympathetic as to their situation.
Your book, the work of the RFC, and posts such as these reinforce my desire to continue supporting the values we share. Bless you, and carry it on.
The terrible death of the parents left us with wonderful children...how lucky we are...and the terrible things that are emerging about the Rosenbergs will be forgotten by historians...but those of us who lived through that period of history will remember the good...Ethel Tobach.
I was just reading Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's account of the Lawrence textile strike of 1912. At that time three workers leaders were arrested and faced the gallows: Giovannitti, Ettor, and Caruso. They were held for months without trial, and then the workers, with Flynn, Carlo Tresca, Bill Haywood, and others in the lead, conducted a great general strike. This was a risky move, because its demands were political and not economic, and the chances of failure were high. But such was the revolutionary mood of the workers that the general strike succeeded and even spread.
The class war prisoners were being tried in Salem; Flynn addressed a solidarity rally on the common there, crying that Salem's barbaric past must not be repeated. Agitation was carried on in every language of the Massachusetts working class. The mood of the "public," given the high degree of solidarity among the workers and their revolutionary agitation, swung toward the imprisoned men. An acquittal soon came down for all three. The freeing of these revolutionaries remain a testament to the power of the working class, when it fights in its own name, and to its leaders then, who were worthy of being called leaders.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were murdered by the state because they defended the biggest strike against the capitalists in history, the USSR. We honor them because they fell in the long struggle of humanity to free itself from class oppression.
We can recognize today how a conservatizing bureaucracy took hold in the Soviet Union. They murdered Lenin's central committee, sent the veterans of October to Siberia or worse, and relentlessly sought an illusory class-peace with the capitalists abroad, in fulfillment Stalin's and Bukharin's fantasy of "Socialism in One Country" at home.
While all of this is true, it is no less true that many militants around the world recognized that capitalism had been abolished in the USSR and they defended it with great courage, while fighting for the advance of revolution in their own countries. In looking back over the history, it is necessary to see the USSR dialectically, with a bureaucratic deformation beginning at the top (the result of specific material causes), but with a core economy comprehending the gains of a great revolution.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were defending what we had achieved so far, in order that we all may go forward. They gave their lives for us, and will never be forgotten.
I lived around the corner from the Greenglass' apt. Whent he news broke about David people called me and wanted to know what to do. I said to wait and I would try to find out something. Many years before that I had met your mother and father, and I would see him going to his shop as he passed my apt. I did not then, nor I do now, believe that your parents were guilty of anything. I do know that the Russian government released so called documentation that your father did spy. As I said, I still beleive in their innocence and nothing will ever change my mind. The entire trial was a farce. A Jewish Judge and prosecutor to prove that the government was not anti semetic. That era was bluilt on fear, and today we find ourselves living in fear because it serves the purpose of those in power to try to scare us again. Some may fall for it, but those of us who lived in the era of terror must make sure it does not happen again. We must meet the fear mongers head on, and expose them
Your post raises the question of whether people with children should engage in activism; I believe having children can be one of the greatest motivators for activism. My wife and I shared a disgust at the actions of the Reagan regime during our first years together, but after adopting our two daughters, our concern for the future became less abstract and more urgent. We realized we had an obligation to do all we could to leave our children a more just and peaceful world, and were often motivated to leave the comfort of our home and join a march or demonstration as if our children's future depended on it - because it did. In fact, we often brought our daughters with us on those marches, so they could see mass movements in action.
My father fought fascism as a soldier in World War II, but sadly did not recognize the ongoing need for that fight here at home. He was all too willing to believe what the government and media told him, and I am ashamed to say he angrily denounced both of your parents as "traitors" whenever the case was mentioned in the news. I somehow managed to be much more skeptical than he was, as well as much further to the left. While we may never know the complete truth about Julius' activities, we can be sure of I.F. Stone's observation: "All governments lie". Judge Kaufman and the "Justice" Department certainly lived up to that statement in their behavior during your parents' trial, and it's a point I've made sure my daughters understand.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this difficult anniversary, and also for the ongoing work you do to help other families as they try to leave a better world for their children.
Just in case anyone is interested, I agree with every word my brother wrote in his blog.
It is refreshing that you are so honest about how Morton Sobell's revelations affected you. Like you, I disagree with my parents' uncritical support for the USSR (which they eventually withdrew, as your parents might have, had they lived longer). But I too am proud of the work my parents did. They were role models of good citizens that I try to emulate. Though it's more painful to see the world as the nuanced, tangled complexity it is than to distort reality to fit into our ideological dream of what it should be, in the long run it makes us more fulfilled and productive. Carry on!
I feel your pain and can only say that your parents saved the world by helping the Soviet Union. I love Russia. Consider that the US dropped the most lethal weapon ever devised by mankind on Japan, a nation who did not have nuclear weapons. And they targeted 2 Civilian Cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was and still is a War Crime and terrorist act committed by the United States.
In fact Robert the Atomic Bomb has destroyed Democracy.
OK here are the facts. The reason we do not really have a Democracy is because of the Atomic Bomb.
The atomic bomb you say? Yes. Because of this diabolical weapon, who do you really believes that there are two parties competing with each other? They are the same. They are the same to assure that the controls of the atomic bomb stay in the hands handed down to the indoctrinated. Elections are but a social exercise that make people believe they live in a free society. But in fact it is not free. We are all controlled by the US Military Complex, and those who have their hands on the Atomic Bombs.
Think about it, and you will see this is truth and clear. How can we have a secret service that will serve either Democratic party, or Republican President who is in the executive office? The Secret Service are men and women who vote, and have a party backing. Do you think they are so loyal to opposing party candidates who are said to win the office?
The reason they are is because they are really one party, and there is no Democracy. It is a dictatorship quasi government club, that supports people for office, given they follow the indoctrination process to the status quo. Things never really change, they just maneuver to make it look like change. Obama followed the Status Quo indoctrination process, and is why he is supported, because he is really a Republican. We saw what happened to President Kennedy, when he tried to establish his own way, by going against the Military establishment.http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22071
All I know is if we are going to win a Revolution we can only win it by being NonViolent. That is we resist without guns and threats, but move our agenda forward to free ourselves from the Dictatorship in the United States. We need to disarm America, and defuse it's Nuclear threat, and ban the Atomic Bomb in order to have a real Democracy at work in the US.
They use every conceivable trick in the book to assure a Military,by the fake bomb scares, or the paying of terrorists to commit the acts, for their control agenda. 911 was the perfect false flag attack. It worked beautifully, even with all the evidence that proves 911 was an inside job. We have been impotent to having a real investigation, when Obama and Holder play the Indoctrination Game plan in their Political Club.
Yes it is about money, power, politics, murder, and assuring that members support each other. Everything else is fake. It does not matter if you vote. Because Votes are never really counted. It is the Media who steps in with their own number tabulations, who decides who wins any election in the US.
Does it make you feel safe, that no strange hands are allowed to get their hands on the Atomic Bomb? Do you feel like a Kidnapped Victim being controlled by the Military, and the Elite Generals who plan schemes to assure their job and tasks in making War. You see they know Politics is War, and will always follow the Club.
It is up to Americans whether they clearly see, and what they do. Do they go along with the program or abandon it? Myself I abandoned it, because I want real freedom, and not controlled by the Military State, or subjected to the throes of the Atomic Bomb Club.
My job is more difficult than theirs, because I don't threaten people, to gain support, while they coherse, and extort people to the daily torture and arguing everyday in the US.
Disarming is more honorable, than committing bloodshed. And the main reason I abandoned the US, is because I will not support the killing of Americans for the sake of the Military Establishment. That was what 911 was all about. I just refuse to work there, and pay taxes to the Atomic Bomb Club.
So you Americans decide for yourself. You will never over throw them, because they have the Military, to take you all down. The most we can do is always resist them, and forsake their slavery, and torture to the American People, and the innocent people in the world. Never call me an American. Never call me a Member to The Nuclear Bomb Club.
All Nuclear Bombs need to be disarmed, taken apart, with main components destroyed. War heads, disengaged, and sent to nuclear facilities to use for electrical production. SAC Command will be closed down, along with the CIA, and FBI. All nuclear weapon manufacturing information destroyed. Now you can see what being brave really means. Or be cowards and hide behind Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The 65 year old Anniversary of the atomic bomb Little Boy was delivered to Japan in 1945 has now passed, marking the use of the most deadliest weapon ever used on mankind; has again been unnoticed by the President of the United States.
Nonetheless; at least the Japanese bombed the US Military Installation in Pearl Harbor, and didn't drop bombs on Honolulu, and target civilians, like Harry Truman did in dropping the Atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And the only reason they bombed the US first, is because the US was planning to bomb them.
The real reason they bombed Pearl Harbor is because The Western Countries led by the US had imposed crippling sanctions on Japan because of it's invasion of China. Why did they invade China? Because the West controlled China in those days, shipping in Opium, and turning China into a society of degenerate Addicts.
The British seized Hong Kong, and the US wanted to do the same with Japan, by infiltrating and controlling Japan with the prosperous Opium Trade. Japan was vehemently against Opium as China was in trying to keep the drugs out of their country. Japan was defending itself, by attacking the Western Powers who controlled China.
Instead US historians try to make us believe through their lies that Japan invaded China, to topple the China Government. But that was impossible because the West meaning Britain and the US controlled China's capitol city NanJing.
Japan killed thousands of Chinese in NanJing, because many chinese also were supporting the opium trade. Chinese were trapped. Either support the Western Foreign drug trade, or be shot.
In fact give credit its due, and that is Japan was successful in stopping the Opium trade in China, and caused the emergence of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party to boot out not only the Western Foreign Powers, but also the Kuomintang run by ChangKaishek the chief drug lord for the West in China.
Brainwashed University Graduates can go on believing the phoney Pacific War accounts, fact is they were all duped by the politicians.
Prescott Bush was arrested for aiding and and abetting the enemy through the Union Corp Bank by financing Hitler and his Nazi Party. Roosevelt shut him down, but before Prescott was put on trial, Roosevelt died. He never went on trial, because Prescott also sat on the board of directors of Vanadium Corporation that was responsible for funding the Manhattan Project.
The realization was they had to convince Truman to use the bomb, in order to save the neck of Prescott Bush. Since Prescott would be responsible in having the bomb developed it needed to be used, to exonerate him, in giving claim that he was duly responsible for ending the War in the Pacific. That achievement would out weigh the crime he was caught redhanded in helping create the war in Europe. by financing Hitler. http://home.earthlink.net/~thetabus/BushHist/BushHist01.htm.
From 1947 to 1950, Bush served as Connecticut Republican finance chairman, and was the Republican candidate for the United States Senate in 1950. A columnist in Boston said that Bush "is coming on to be known as President Truman's Harry Hopkins. Nobody knows Mr. Bush and he hasn't a Chinaman's chance." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Bush " "Note how Wikipedia mentions nothing about Vanadium Corporation."
Japan had surrendered months earlier, but the US under the CIA control from the Bush bomb makers insisted on an Unconditional Surrender. Truman authorized the use the of the most deadly weapon known to man, and used it on Civilian Targets instead of Japanese Military Installations.
So ask yourself. Why didn't they use Phospherous bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, like they used on Dresden and Tokyo instead of the Atomic Bomb? Because it was about Prescott Bush, clearing his name, and using the Atom Bomb as the means of taking the World Hostage to US and Western Demands.
The rehetoric about using the Atom bomb on Japan to keep Russia out, is complete nonsense, because if that was the case, the US would have targeted Russia as well. Harry Trumans Little Boy wasn't enough but he sent another lethal Fat Boy to Nagasaki; delivered August 9, 1945.
The US committed a terrorist act that day on Aug. 6 1945 and Aug.9, 1945, making the US no better than Hitler in authorizing the extermination of Jews, by exterminiating Japanese citizens, and threatening more bombs, if Japan did not agree to an Unconditional surrender.
The use of the bomb did not end the War as they claim it did. The use of the Bomb has created a new never ending War called Terrorism. More and more countries want the Atom Bomb for their protection, thus we have Iran and North Korea. In the future I am sure other countries such as Syria, Vietnam, and Myanmar will want the bomb as well. Certainly Japan wants it, to be able to use as well.
Half of America gives wild cheers of praise to GW Bush for his lying war in Iraq, without knowing he knows much about 911. Clearly that was an inside job, applying the military arm in honoring Trumans declaration in granting Israel its Statehood.
And so ask yourself this as well. If Niger sold Yellow Cake Uranium to Iraq, why didn't the US invade Niger? That is where all the Weapons of Mass Destruction material was coming from, not to mention all the weapons the US sold to Saddam during the Reagan Administration.
No they did nothing to Niger. Same as doing nothing to Libya for the Pan Am flight 103 Lockerbie Bombing. Libya blew it out of the sky. Did Saddam attack a Western Foreign Country? Never. But Qudaffi did, and the US and UK did nothing. Why?
Reagan bombed him once, and clearly Lockerbie was in response. But no invasion, and Libya knows how to make Nuclear Weapons. Where is Libya? It is on the same border just North of Niger, where the biggest Uranium mines in the world are located.
Now it has been 65 years since that terrible occurance authorized by Harry Hitler in targeting innocent Japanese. Not once has an American President gone to the Hiroshima Anniversary in recognizing that pitiful day.
It is one of the most significant days known to mankind. How is it possible that the US President will not show his face? After 65 years we have for the first time seen the United Nations President Banki Moon attend the event in Hiroshima. Heart wrenching to say the least, after 65 years of torture placed on the Japanese for the West in avoiding their tragedy through the ignoring and silence on their part. Yet Banki Moon gave us hope when he stood up for the renunciation of nuclear weapons on the planet.
President Obama has made statements to rid the world of nuclear weapons, but he has not taken the actions to really remove them. Instead he stands behind the facade in keeping them to assure the US is never attacked for defending its criminal past.
And so people who bring the issues of this to the forefront for understanding are labeled Anti-American; when in fact real Americans want their history to show that what Harry Truman did was wrong. In fact doing so, would prove no one was the winner in WWII, and that we as nations see how wrong it is by going down the path of War. War is a crime.
We should also recognize that sanctions on Nations never work, and that in order to have real peace in the world is to have less Military, not more.
Put a gun to my head, when I have none pointed at you, is a criminal act. Why do people want to commit criminal acts? For money? For power? For control? This all leads to unhappiness really.
The American philosophy should be to do things that help other countries assure their cultural identity. It is not about having America take over the world. Or forcing other countries to accept Americanism. In fact Americans who support the invasion, and take over of other countries by using the excuse to promote Democracy is without a doubt futile and ill conceived.
Americans can not make Democracy work in the US, let alone thinking foreign countries forced to accept US Democratic standards will achieve it. Iraq is case in point. Japan is case in point.
Japan can't keep a PM in office. They are always resigning, and Iraq has no government now.
The lesson is if America is to be admired from countries around the world, it needs to first take all military options off the table.
I was a child (b. 1949) when the Rosenberg trial hit the news, but I have been interested in it since my early years. I have just read the Schneir's book on the issue, a strong and firm blow in the heart.
Certainly, it was sad for you and your brother to become orphans. Certainly it was sad for relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers to lose the Rosenbergs in such a "cruel and barbarous treatment". Certainly it was sad to see the Greenglasses lie and lie again to save their necks. But the most sad thing was to see the most powerful Government of the World creating a crime out of those lies, making them grow out of proportion, to crush two common persons and establish FEAR, INJUSTICE AND DESPAIR as an American Way of Life.
Through RFC, you turned all those into good deeds, a wonderful finale to a never ending story.
Hi Robby and I am happy to receive others comments above so I can send this to others who are not on your mailing list. I was in high school in Denver the day of the execution and the morning newpaper showed a sketch of Ethel in the electric chair. My mother was NOT "Political" and did not know much about the case but said "something is wrong here!.....you better believe sommething was WRONG...and I proceeded to U.C. Berkeley that fall and being an original (!!!) member of the Committee to reopen the Rosenberg case - and our committee was active . I agree with most of everything said here by others. I was involved in the Los Angeles commitee as well as the Bay Area committee for around 17 years. I feel strongly that the horror of this case from beginning to end truly added to my education, my political activism, commitment and continued participation for a better world as long as I live. My personal library has an entire shelf of books on the Rosenberg case...and my children, who you know, have learned so much and will continue where we will leave off. The struggle around the Death Penalty is still a major issue.
I am/ was disappointed by Morton Sobel's remarks ( and I don't agree with him as well...The film that Rachel did and your daughter's( name slips me just now)leadership and commitment toi the Childrens Fund is really outstanding.
I will continue to participate in any way I can, and when you plan to come to the BayArea let me know and I/we can figure out some event. I am sure that Dan will also participate. I am a member of Kehilla Community Synagogue and there are many friends/comrades and a younger generation as well to reach.This is not over.... warmest regards to you, and the newsletter was terrific....Jae Scharlin
Not so long ago, we sat on a panel together in Paris for Richard Wright's Centennial in Paris, named "Inconvenient Heroes" by his daughter Julia Wright.
Your parents, like my own, were and still are my heroes, however inconvenient. I believe that our parents loved us responsibly and did the best they could. Today it is perhaps difficult to imagine for most people what it was to be American Communists during the McCarthy period. Your parents paid the highest price of all and you and your brother with them.
They wanted their own children and all children to have a better more human and more just world. They lived according to their ideas and were ready to die for them.
We are taught by the books we read about our founding fathers that the United States of America would not have come into existence without men ready to die for freedom.
We are not taught by the books or the press or other media that our government is capable of outrageous lies to perpetuate itself in a system of exploitation of human beings and denial of human rights.
We have had the lie of the "inferiority" of the African American and the Native American to justify territorial conquest and slavery at the very foundation of our country.
More recently we have had the lie of "weapons of mass destruction" to justify the war in Iraq and the takeover of its oil resources.
Today I live in a country where it is NOT a crime to be a communist or to believe that the market economy is not the best way for mankind. It is in France that I have learned not to hide who I am or who my parents were and what they did.
I remember when we had to live in hiding and when we refused to hide it was at terrible sacrifice.
Your parents were innocent and were murdered by our United States government. Their only crime was to be communists and to remain loyal to their own beliefs. They refused to hide betray others, or betray themselves. Their sacrifice was the highest of all.
Your work today is a living tribute to their spirit.
This is a great heritage and you do it justice.
Wendy Kay Johnson
I can't imagine the turmoil you face dealing with such issues. I admire your brute honesty. Sometimes I wonder whether or not my children will continue to fight for the same injustices that my husband and I vehemently oppose. So, reading your thoughts hit close to home for me.
Robert and his brother are rightfully proud, and, for those of us who are fortunate to know them, two wonderful people. And the honesty of this blog?! Do we ever see this kind of honesty coming from anyone on the right? No, we do not.
In this tragic saga, the villain, as Robert clearly points out, is Judge Kaufman, not Julius Rosenberg.
The Soviet Union was allied with the United States in a war against Nazi Germany. Julius Rosenberg out of his strong socialist convictions provided classified information to the nation that had the biggest burden in defeating Germany. Aiding an ally should not have taken his life, but the cold war was instrumental in biasing the feelings of the leaders of this country (USA). It is interesting to note that Jonathan Pollack is in prison for aiding another ally, Israel, but is not being executed. And Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy, but it seemed fit for this country under the cold war and anti-red hysteria of the McCarthites to execute her also. It is a shame on the history of our country.
Thank you for this message, for your honesty, your effort to examine your family’s history, however painful. Like yours, my parents also were Communists. Like yours, they were idealists, activists who devoted their lives to their belief in a peaceful world in which social justice and equality would be supreme guiding principles. Like yours, they tragically misjudged the Soviet Union. Like yours, they were persecuted for their beliefs. My parents were not always truthful about their beliefs and actions. They had secrets from their children that they never revealed to us although they both lived into their 80s. My father was arrested, tried and convicted, not for espionage, but for “conspiracy to teach and advocate” the overthrow of the United States government. Not a capital offense, but just as much a product of the Cold War hysteria that motivated the prosecutors and jurors and Judge who condemned your parents. As a child, I believed fully in your parents innocence and grieved their death. At age 13 I stood in vigil on 17th street in New York the night they were executed, hoping against hope for a stay of execution, an act of clemency that never came.
I find it difficult, even now, to weigh the beliefs and actions of my parents on the scales of “right” and “wrong”. So many just causes embraced; so many horrors denied or condoned. I am grateful to them for seeking all their lives for a peaceful, just and equitable world, and for instilling similar beliefs in me that continue to guide my life today.
As a child I took sustenance from believing in a struggle to achieve a better world, from being part of an international movement. At the same time I learned fear and secrecy, terrified that my school friends and teachers would find out that my parents were Communists, that I was a Communist. I built an internal wall between myself and people around me, even some of my best friends, that took decades to acknowledge and tear down. I don’t believe my parents ever understood and certainly never acknowledged the cost to me of growing up leading a secret double life. Nor did they acknowledge the costs to me of losing faith in Communism; they were too wrapped up in the psychic consequences of losing their own faith.
I honor and acknowledge the work you, your family and colleagues are doing in the Rosenberg Foundation for Children. I know how much it meant to me growing up to be able to attend summer camp, to have music lessons. I realized years later that my parents could not afford those luxuries; some kind friends or relatives must have helped make them possible. Children whose parents take unpopular stands and are persecuted for those stands need the kinds of ordinary experiences that your foundation provides for them. Thank you for initiating and persevering in this work.
Dan Lynn Watt
Robert, I just want to thank you for this blog posting. It caused me to do much soul-searching and made me even more committed to supporting RFC. I have no children, so I cannot imagine the difficult choices that activist parents, like yours, must face. But I do think political activism is essential for a better world and that all children benefit when we act politically.
Robert - I am deeply touched by your anguish and the conflicts you are experiencing and express so eloquently in your blog on this sad anniversary.
I was a young progressive in New York City during the time of your parents' trial and execution. I participated in every protest I could get to throughout their long fight to prove their innocence of the charges, and then in every vigil I could to stop their execution. I was devastated by their final fate, and particularly so because of knowing that they had two much adored young children whose lives would be forever scarred by this terrible miscarriage of justice..
As I raised my own family in subsequent years and continued to support progressive causes that I believed ardently in I was often tormented, as your parents must have been, knowing that any citizen who stands up for a cause that is, for whatever reason not popular with the government in power, is placing himself or herself (and therefore his or her family) in potential danger - REGARDLESS OF HOW TOTALLY LEGAL THE CAUSE OR ACTIVITY MIGHT BE. Inevitably I ended up as your parents must have knowing that in the long run neither I nor my children would ever condone my compromising principles for safety and comfort.
That some more recent reports seem to suggest that your dad may have willingly, intentionally, knowingly, secretly participated in actions that he thought would advance the cause of defeating fascism and other causes he believed in - well, maybe. Maybe he suffered from imperfect judgment. But many who unreservedly admired the Soviet Union, as I gather he may have, were obliged eventually to do some reevaluating, That is not a crime. And most certainly not a capital crime. And nothing proven in that case at that inflamed time could conceivably justify the utterly cruel and wicked and immoral sentence. It will forever remain a gruesome stain on our nation's history and conscience.
One of the few positive outcomes of that tragic time was the emergence of the wonderful, generous, noble family that took you and your brother into their warm embrace and raised you to be the model responsible selfless citizens that you both are. I am personally grateful to them and to you for the work you do. And I think your mother and dad would be enormously proud of you - and grateful that you are carrying on the family tradition.
I hope that the many wise and heartfelt replies to your blog on this site are helping you to come to terms with the tortuous ruminations inhabiting you mind at this sad memorial time.
Charlotte Flanner, California
I am overwhelmed by the dozens of comments I received in response to this blog. There are too many for me to answer individually, but I want all who commented to know that I’ve read them all (in fact, more than once). I will make a few, more general replies, however.
First, for the umpteenth time I am so impressed with both the caring and thoughtfulness of the RFC community. It makes me feel so good to be amongst you all.
Beyond that, at least a half dozen of you commented that children often benefit from their parents’ activism, and that parents engage in activism to make the world a better place for their children. Perhaps, a few of you got the impression that I might disagree with these sentiments. I don’t, but I think it is important to recognize that activism and parenting can present some very difficult choices, and can have both positive and negative consequences.
At least one of you wondered if we could take legal action against Kaufman’s estate. We continue to explore avenues for legal redress, but it is unlikely that the current court system, stacked with conservative judges and very deferential to executive branch claims of national security, will give the Rosenberg family a fair day in court.
Finally, a number of readers expressed empathy for my ongoing “anguish.” Perhaps I’m repressing it, but that’s not the way I feel about continuing to wrestle with some of these very thorny questions. I find these issues fascinating, and ever since founding the Rosenberg Fund for Children, I’ve been able to put what I’ve learned from considering them to good use helping the children of targeted activists today. Moreover, these are the circumstances I’ve lived with for a very long time. I’ve come to terms with them.