Killing the Rosenbergs

in The Trial in American Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226243252
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226243283 | DOI:
Killing the Rosenbergs

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It had been, in the phrase that J. Edgar Hoover made famous, “the crime of the century.” On April 5, 1951, Judge Irving R. Kaufman delivered the death sentence to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were accused of conspiring to steal the atomic bomb. The Rosenbergs were electrocuted two years later on June 19, 1953, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused clemency. But the accusations as stated were not true. The atomic bomb was not stolen from the United States. If stolen information accelerated Soviet development, it came from the British scientist Klaus Fuchs, a fact that American authorities knew full well at the time. The Rosenbergs were not found guilty of treason but of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union. This chapter discusses the Rosenberg trial, focusing on the narrative and the counternarrative of the case. The prosecution's master narrative was provided by U.S. attorney Irving Saypol, while the most powerful counternarrative came from E. L. Doctorow in his 197 novel The Book of Daniel.

Keywords: Irving R. Kaufman; Julius Rosenberg; Ethel Rosenberg; atomic bomb; espionage; Soviet Union; Irving Saypol; E. L. Doctorow; Klaus Fuchs

Chapter.  13543 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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