Exonerate our Mother, Ethel Rosenberg
Our parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed on June 19, 1953 during the anti-communist hysteria of the Cold War Era. They had been convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage, in what was called “the crime of the century.” We were six and 10 years old when they were killed.
Our mother was not a spy, and her execution was wrongful. Her conviction was based on perjured testimony and prosecutorial and judicial misconduct. The charges against our mother and the threat of the death penalty were meant to intimidate her and our father into cooperating. The U.S. government wanted Julius to falsely confess to passing “the secret of the atomic bomb” to the Soviet Union, and name others involved.
Their trial took place during a time of widespread panic about communism. The sentencing judge went so far as to blame our parents for the Korean War. In denying clemency, President Eisenhower accused them of causing future nuclear wars. These outrageous statements and our parents’ execution helped fuel a dangerous climate of fear and intolerance in our country which permitted political opportunists like Senator Joseph McCarthy to poison our society. Today, we face a similar climate of hatred which targets immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQI individuals and others.
A formal acknowledgement of the wrong done to our mother and our family will help prevent similar injustices in the future. A healthy democracy requires that the government acknowledge and correct its transgressions. The government cannot return our mother to her loving family. But it can admit this miscarriage of justice.
Please, join us in calling on Attorney General Lynch and President Obama to formally exonerate Ethel Rosenberg before they leave office. More than 60 years after her unjust conviction and execution, now is the time to clear her good name.
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