The FBI Took the Pictures

We Are Your Sons, the book my brother and I published in 1975, was translated into several languages, including Turkish.  Last year the woman who did that translation contacted me again and asked my brother and me to update the manuscript so they could publish a new edition.  We agreed, and so Turkey is now the only country in the world where you can purchase an updated version of We Are Your Sons.

Last fall, as the new edition was about to enter production, the Turkish publisher asked if I could provide him with a picture of me with my parents.  I responded that I had none.  I believe my parents did have family photographs, although they were poor people so I doubt they had a huge number.  However, when the FBI arrested my parents they also seized most of their meager personal property as evidence.  Some relatives did manage to retrieve a few items like shoes, but not photographs.  After my parents were killed the only items we received were those they had with them in their prison cells.  Many years later when we inquired about our parents’ property, the government was unable to tell us anything about what had happened to it.  It might have been destroyed, or to this day, it may languish in a few old boxes in the corner of some government warehouse.

I have a few photos salvaged from my father’s mother, Sophie Rosenberg, as well as from a couple of other relatives.  There are pictures of my brother and me, a few of our parents together, and even one of my brother riding on my father’s shoulders before I was born.  None of them show me with my mother or father, however.

It is hard to believe that there weren’t other photos of my parents with their children taken by family or friends during the late 1940’s.  But many people who knew us were so terrified of being associated with my parents after the arrests, that I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the pictures were quietly destroyed.  I’ve heard many stories of people during that period throwing out their left-wing books, so it is likely that people with photos of my parents in their family albums would have removed them.  This may seem irrationally paranoid to younger people today, but given that a man in New Jersey, who had no relationship to my parents or connection to left-wing politics, was fired because his last name was Rosenberg, these were not unreasonable precautions to take. (See for his story.)

Still, several errant photos of me with my parents might have survived the Red Scare of the 1950s.  Maybe a couple have been preserved in an old album or stored in someone’s shoebox.  Perhaps someone who reads this is aware of such a photo, but doesn’t think it is important after all these years.  However, I’d love to have at least one picture of me with my mother or father.  If anyone who reads this is aware of one, please let me know.  It would mean a great deal to me and would be a most fitting way to mark the 60th anniversary of their deaths.

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