Continuing the We Didn't Start the Fire roll call . . .
Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television,
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were American communists arrested in 1950 and executed in 1953 for passing secrets of the atomic bomb to the Russians. Criticism and controversy remain over their guilt, trial and sentence.
“There is a consensus among historians that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty, but their trial was marred by clear judicial and legal improprieties and they should not have been executed. Distilling this consensus, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote that the Rosenbergs were "guilty – and framed".
The Rosenbergs’ last letter before their execution, to their children Robert (6) and Michael (10):
June 19, 1953
Dearest Sweethearts, my most precious children,
Only this morning it looked like we might be together again after all. Now that his cannot be, I want so much for you to know all that I have come to know. Unfortunately, I may write only a few simple words; the rest your own lives must teach you, even as mine taught me.
At first, of course, you will grieve bitterly for us, but you will not grieve alone. That is our consolation and it must eventually be yours.
Eventually, too you must come to believe that life is worth the living. Be comforted that even now, with the end of ours slowly approaching, that we know this with a conviction that defeats the executioner!
Your lives must teach you, too, that good cannot really flourish in the midst of evil; that freedom and all the things that go to make up a truly satisfying and worthwhile life, must sometimes be purchased very dearly. Be comforted then that we were serene and understood with the deepest kind of understanding, that civilization had not as yet progressed to the point where life did not have to be lost for the sake of life; and that we were comforted in the sure knowledge that others would carry on after us.
We wish we might have had the tremendous joy and gratification of living our lives out with you. Your Daddy who is with me in these last momentous hours, sends his heart and all the love that is in it for his dearest boys. Always remember that we were innocent and could not wrong our conscience.
We press you close and kiss you with all our strength.
DADDY AND MOMMY
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg shown leaving New York City Federal Court after arraignment.
On 19 June, 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair of Sing Sing Prison for conspiracy to commit espionage. The photo above shows their last embrace before being executed.