The Rosenberg Traitors: 60 Years Later

rosenAll those who treasure America’s liberties should solemnly observe the 60th anniversary this week of the execution of Communist spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Given that the Soviet Union they spied for is no more, why are the Rosenbergs still important?

They continue to matter because they remain part of the Left’s anti-American mythology. The Left denied the treachery of its pseudo-martyrs for decades, arguing that they were condemned to death in a wave of anti-Communist hysteria. This lie permeates American culture even today — in movies, plays, and literature — decades after Ron Radosh’s painstaking research conclusively established the Rosenbergs’ guilt.

Electrocuted at Sing Sing on June 19, 1953, the penalty they paid was more severe than the sentences handed down to other American traitors such as Alger Hiss, Robert Hanssen, and Aldrich Ames, who similarly jeopardized the nation by passing sensitive data to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. But the punishment meted out to the Rosenbergs was just because their actions led to the deaths of who knows how many Americans.

The Rosenberg spy ring gave the USSR sensitive information about U.S. air capabilities in the Korean War and the secrets of the A-bomb, allowing our totalitarian enemies to develop nuclear weapons years earlier than they otherwise would have. These spies helped to change the balance of power in the world and emboldened the irredentist Soviet Union as it became a superpower and went on the march enslaving tens of millions in Eastern Europe.

The Rosenberg saga, which cleared the way for the meteoric rise of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his high-profile investigations into anti-American activities by U.S. citizens, unfolded during the so-called Red Scare of the 1950s, a relative nonevent that gave imaginative radicals something to whine about for years as they indulged their persecution complex.

“In the entire Cold War period less than two hundred leaders and functionaries of the [Communist] Party ever went to prison, in most cases serving less than two years,” David Horowitz writes in Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. “This was not a small number or an insignificant price to pay for their political allegiances. But, considering the Party’s organizational ties to an enemy power armed with nuclear weapons poised to attack America, it was not a large one, either.”

Hollywood, long a hotbed of radicalism, came to the Party’s rescue, serving as a huge Soviet echo chamber. The dream factory helped the Communist cause by churning out product that falsely depicted anti-Communists as vicious opportunists conducting politically motivated witch hunts.

Because the Rosenbergs were unabashed Communists who didn’t hide their admiration of Stalin’s Soviet Union, the Left ran to their defense, using rationales that shifted over time as more and more damning evidence surfaced against the couple. When the Rosenbergs’ guilt could no longer be disputed, their defenders pivoted, saying they had noble intentions and that the information passed on to the Soviets was junk.

These are all lies.

It is important to understand what the Rosenbergs actually did.

Specifically, the Rosenbergs were “motivated by loyalty to the Soviet Union, not opposition to fascism as their defenders claim,” Radosh explains. The Rosenberg spy ring “provided vast quantities of technical data to the Soviet Union that helped it achieve near parity with the United States in the skies over Korea and Vietnam.”

“When the Cold War turned hot in Korea, this technology was used to kill American soldiers,” he writes. For example, the purloined information was “probably used in the design of the Russian high-tailed MiG fighter jet that was deployed in Korea against American airmen.”

“Rosenberg himself gave his Soviet handler Alexander Feklisov the proximity fuse, which was used to track Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 plane and to shoot it down during the Eisenhower administration,” Radosh writes. The Rosenberg network “passed on the 12,000 page blueprints for the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, airborne radars for nighttime navigation and bombing,” and for innovations in radar technology.

Radosh quotes Steven Usdin from his 2005 book, Engineering Communism:

“Rosenberg’s band of amateur spies turned over detailed information on a wide range of technologies and weapon systems that hastened the Red Army’s march to Berlin, jump-started its postwar development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and later helped Communist troops in North Korea fight the American military to a standoff.”

In sentencing the Rosenbergs, Judge Irving Kaufman was unsparing in his criticism:

“I consider your crime worse than murder. Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed. In committing the act of murder, the criminal kills only his victim. The immediate family is brought to grief and when justice is meted out the chapter is closed. But in your case, I believe your 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 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.”

Arguably the most insidious untruth that emerged over the years from the ever expanding crazy-quilt of rationalizations generated by Rosenberg apologists was that the U.S. government executed the couple for their political ideas. This falsehood has been regurgitated over and over and over again in popular culture, unchallenged by facts.

Leftists use the Rosenbergs’ story to attack all mid-century efforts to counteract subversive activity. They deny that Americans were ever justified in worrying about Communist infiltration or that the U.S. government was justified in prosecuting Communist spies like the Rosenbergs. But the historical record has confirmed that, as John Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev have documented in their book,  Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Soviet agents did in fact heavily penetrate the U.S. government, the Democratic Party, organs of culture such as Hollywood and Broadway, the news media, and the scientific research community.

Despite the facts, however, the Left continues to falsify history and to use its playbook to discredit its political enemies with slander and lies. But in terms of the Rosenbergs, and so many other traitors who helped to advance the Communist cause, the historical facts cannot be disputed. And despite the Left’s denial regarding these two traitors, one fact remains clear: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty — and they deserved what they got.

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  • American1969

    Wow! How many young people aren’t learning these facts in school?
    “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

    • glpage

      If they’re in public schools, pretty much all of them.

    • sotheby94

      How many? Millions.

      They are being indoctrinated today by the Rosenbergs’ allies and sympathizers.

      Modern-day, “Rainbow” Marxist-Leninists and “progressives” are all reconstructed, neo-Soviets, culturally. They are all autonomous, now…they self-brainwash. And this will continue on for many generations yet to come.

    • Alex

      I learned is school a few days ago that the Rosenbergs where innocent and so did 120 students this year from this one man’s class alone. He has also thought us that the great depression was caused by ‘greed’ and that neglected to mention anything about the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act but did inform us that the ‘compassionate’ federal government saved us from the great depression. I’m Canadian but I’m sure this shit is going on in American schools too.

  • bluffcreek1967

    The Rosenbergs were indeed traitors. Interestingly, America still has traitors among us – and they’re not always hidden or in the shadows. Sometimes they’re right out in the open – such as our ‘Gang of Eight’ that’s doing its best to hand over our nation to a mass of third-world, peasant invaders.

    These efforts on the part of the ‘Gang of Eight’ will not only help erode our national sovereignty, make useless our immigration laws, and drive the American people further into debt, but it will cause the founding stock (namely, whites) of our nation to be aliens in their own land.

    The Mexican invaders, contrary to naive opinion, will racially displace whites in America. The dominant white-eurporean American culture will decline along with the values and customs that made this nation the envy of the world. It will all be replaced by a third-world, Mexican barrio culture. Their ethnic and cultural influences will spread across the U.S. in ways no one ever imagined. Slowly, but surely, the U.S. will come to resemble Mexico more than being a distinct nation separate from it. The entire nation is guaranteed to look like L.A. County in Southern California with its huge Mexican gang problem, graffiti, taco trucks and venders on every street, Spanish signs, Cartel drug murders, short pregnant peasant mothers with multiple kids trailing behind, and an endless amount of squat monsters as far as the eye can see.

    Hey, did you ever hear the story about the frog in the kettle?

    “Traitors, Every One of Them,”

    • John

      Chief among the “Gang of Ocho” is Republican, John McCain, who is completely lacking in morals, integrity, or even common sense. He cheated on his physically disabled first wife when she was no longer pretty enough or rich enough to help him with his political aspirations. Then he dumped her to marry a younger richer woman, whose father is alleged to have connections with the Jewish mafia in Tucson. The younger richer woman is a smart cookie, though, because she made the senile old lecher sign a prenuptial agreement, files separate income tax returns, and will not even tell him how many houses she owns. McCain then chose the dingbat Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. Sarah needs to stay home and look after her trailer trash children and their illegitimate offspring. If John McCain were President, we would be in a new war every other week, and the dingbat Sarah Palin would be one heartbeat away. The only thing that matters to John McCain is what, at any particular moment, is good for John McCain.

  • Adam

    Edward Snowdon is just as much a traitor as the Rosenberg’s, and he is being defended by the left and the right, which exemplifies how deeply we have been ideologically infiltrated. The concept of allegiance to the country does not exist anymore, the left never had it and the right thinks in the case of Snowden that the end justifies the means. Between the Obama administration, the jihadist infiltration, and the proposed immigration amnesty there is no more rule of law we have devolved into chaos and soon it will be the law of the jungle.

    • Steven Currie

      How does Edward Snowden exposing the fact that the NSA and the federal government are violating our Fourth Amendment rights make him a traitor? The NSA, James Clapper, et al, are the traitors for violating their oath to uphold the Constitution. Please show me the probable cause that I have committed a crime that allows the NSA to collect private data about my personal life. You can’t because I haven’t committed a crime. The FISA courts are a rubber stamp and have been corrupted to do what the NSA wants. This is a failure of Congress to oversee this program.

      On a side note, James Clapper should be prosecuted and thrown in prison for perjury and lying to Congress in his testimony in March. Why do you want to cover for known liars?

    • winston

      Revealing criminality, especially by those we entrust to serve our interests, is never a crime. This makes Edward Snowden is a hero. Same as Bradley Manning, Daniel Ellsberg, and John Kiriakou. Chaos (based on premeditated lies) is what we have wrought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and so forth. The traitors are those who lied and manipulated the US into two wars. The traitors are the people and scientists at NIST, who know these facts about 9/11: yet ignore them.

      • Steve Bryant

        Winston, be careful, THEY are watching you!!!

    • Steve Bryant


      Obama has indeed “changed” America since he has managed to make the Left and Right distrust their government. Perhaps “destroyed” would be a better description, eh? We will pay a heavy price…..

  • Rostis

    In the USSR my parents
    were never tired to be astonished at the motives of Rosenbergs, who were
    destroying the country known to them fairly well, for the sake of the country,
    whose realities they hadn’t the foggiest idea about. Many years later it was as
    strange for me to read in the declassified KGB revelations that peoples like
    Rosenbergs were working for Stalin without any pay, threats or brainwashing, – they
    were quite ready to betray their land just for the pleasure of being useful to
    some “future progress”. Their Soviet recruiters were honestly amazed
    at the great numbers of such always-ready-to-betray “progress
    seekers”, both in the USA
    and in the Western Europe too. Now, 60 years
    later, Rosenbergs
    are here no more, thanks God. But I think that the situation-2013 is even more
    dangerous. “Progress-seekers” seem to be so abundant today that no
    alien recruiters are needed to choose the most useful agents any more: it’s
    done by the White House administration quite successfully and at the expense of
    the taxpayers themselves… I think that Julius Rosenberg, should he get his
    pardon 60 years ago, would have the position of some all-powerful tsar (or at
    least the Columbia
    honored professor) now. Rostislav, Saint-Petersburg,

    • Steve Bryant

      You are not alone in your astonishment at the existence such “useful idiots” and you are probably correct that today, Rosenburg would be a highly praised professor at some elite college here in the US.
      I can only guess what motivates these clueless fools but I think it has something to do with guilt about the good fortune our political and social systems have produced. The appeal of “change” for the sake of change is also mystifying.

      • Rostis

        I understand your feelings, Sir, and the feelings of your honest compatriots, but in my opinion the worst thing is not so the existence of useful idiots itself, as their rapid multiplication (kind of cancer cells) nearly everywhere, be it your USA, my Russia, Europe (with a few exceptions) or faraway Australia. There is nobody to defend the attacked “healthy cells” on the Parliament level – Senator McCarthy’s times are clearly over, and those few who try to resist Big Brothers are laughed at, like your wonderful Sarah Palin or simply murdered, like our brave Galina Starovoitova. In twenties, thirties, fifties there was a slim chance to escape from the sick parts of the civilized world to the sane free lands, but now, in spite of iron curtains’ absence, there is simply nowhere to run! To Obama? To Cameron? To Gillard? God save me from such destinations – I’m not a jihadist… No, the only way left for honest folks all over the planet is to fight Evil. Of course, some may prefer to join it, but it’s not my option. Respectfully – Rostislav.

        • Steve Bryant

          Rostis, I agree with your alarm over the spreading pall. It’s almost like a real life version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Incredible…and scary

  • Softly Bob

    “The Rosenberg spy ring gave the USSR sensitive information about U.S.
    air capabilities in the Korean War and the secrets of the A-bomb,
    allowing our totalitarian enemies to develop nuclear weapons years
    earlier than they otherwise would have.”

    Yes, and indirectly it’s the same betrayal of information that has led to rogue Islamic states like Pakistan and Iran having nuclear capabilities. No way on Earth would Muslims have such technology. They are educational dullards. It would have taken another thousands of years for such people to discover the secrets of the atom if it wasn’t for us in the West giving them such knowledge.

    The terrorists would be attacking us with bows, spears and clubs if they had stuck to the ‘science’ of the Qu’ran.
    Unfortunately they learn nuclear physics, chemistry and engineering in Western universities, because we let them. We have also sold them arms and airplanes.
    Islam would be nothing but a useless vicious cult, confined to the Middle East and of no threat to anyone other than themselves if we hadn’t behaved so treacherously and if we hadn’t been so generous with our knowledge.

    • Steve Bryant


      The irony is that the Arabs would actually use an atomic weapon, and our reluctance to do is why we have to worry about it in the first place.

  • Steeloak

    Unfortunately, the Soviets did their job too well. The network of dedicated communists they created around the world is still functioning over 20 years after the Soviet Union’s demise. They are now self funding and self-organizing and no longer need their Soviet masters.
    The best example of their success is the current band of Chicago Communists now running the country and their front man Barrack Obama.

    • Knucklehead


  • JoeKidd

    America Betrayed By Elites
    By Malcolm A. Kline

    (Quoting) When you compare meticulously researched commercial histories with the extended blogs that pass for academic ones, you come to a startling revelation: Just about everything we’ve been taught about our history is wrong.

    In the former category, we have Diana West’s epic American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character. In the latter group, you have just about everything assigned on a syllabus.

  • knowshistory

    in the 50’s we exected traitors. now, we elect them to high office.

    • Lake_rs

      Yeah, like Bush sacrificing over 4000 soldiers for……….nothing

      • Steve Bryant

        Lake_rs, it is Obama’s foreign policy incompetence that has rendered the sacrifice as worthless.

  • Harry Black

    Julius passed secrets; Ethel probably did not. (She also didn’t want to die and leave her children orphans, but Julius insisted she be a martyr and ultimately she obeyed.) However, by the mid-1940s, any advanced physicist knew how to make an A-bomb. The Russians, who had plenty of brilliant scientists, didn’t need help from Julius. They had the theoretical knowledge; they only lacked the resources, which they acquired soon enough after 1945. Also, before anyone gets on a super-patriotic high horse about the Rosenbergs, it might be worthwhile to examine the extent to which anti-Semitism played a role in the proceedings. Finally, despite all the hard words being thrown around here, the death penalty is never justified, at least never among civilized people.

    • El Duchy

      The death penalty is justified for serial killers and the Rosenbergs qualify.

      • Lake_rs

        The Rosenbergs didn’t kill anyone.

    • Geoffrey Britain

      “However, by the mid-1940s, any advanced physicist knew how to make an A-bomb.”

      Really? Then how do you account for the Manhattan Project and the first atomic explosion occurring in 1945? If anti-Semitism played such “a role in the proceedings”, then why did it not result in more severe penalties in the roughly two hundred leaders and functionaries of the Communist Party sent to prison? two years for sedition and treason? That’s some antisemitism…

      You’re another leftist apologist, just as described in the article.

      “the death penalty is never justified, at least never among civilized people”

      You call yourself ‘civilized’ yet refuse to allow proportional consequence. Those who promote the injustice of disproportional consequence, which opposition to the death penalty entails, define ‘civility’ as what is, in fact, capitulation to evil.

      • Harry Black

        No real point in arguing with people who keep playing the same old tapes or descend to the Kindergarten level of “you’re another [fill in the blank].” If the death penalty is always “proportional,” what do you make of the killing of Ethel Rosenberg, who was very likely innocent of the crime of which she was accused. One problem with the death penalty is that it doesn’t too well discriminate between the guilty and the innocent. Another problem is that as it’s applied disproportionately to the poor and minorities. It’s ipso facto classist and racist, but this never troubles the sages of Front Page who have not a shred of concern for social justice, which is to say no concern for any sort of justice.

      • peoplearesheep

        Totally agree Geoff, how is it that people who are good, cannot fathom that those whom are evil, actively oppose that which would punish evil? Surely even the non-religious know evil, and if they do not, then they are animals, and do not deserve the fruits of good men, namely; Freedom.
        Freedom for my friends.
        Freedom for my Enemies.
        No Freedom for the Enemies of Freedom.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Thanks for mentioning Herbert Klehr et al. Their works beginning with The Secret World of American Communism have made it clear just how much the U.S. was penetrated by Soviet agents.

  • UCSPanther

    The Rosenbergs got it easy with “Old Sparky”

    In old England, they would have been hung, drawn and quartered…

  • edgineer

    Sad fact is we have thousands of Americans like the Rosenbergs, some in high office. Very high office. And they should get the same treatment.

  • Aizino Smith

    “The Rosenberg network “passed on the 12,000 page blueprints for the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, airborne radars for nighttime navigation and bombing,” and for innovations in radar technology.”

    I thought it was just about the atomic bomb, which is bad enough and worthy of the death penalty. the left wants to narrowly focus in on the atomic bomb theft while at the same time propagandize us that it is for the bes t that the Soviet union had it too.

    It is true the the Rosenberg theft led directly to the Korean War. Mao was willing to back Kim Il sung if Stalin did. Stalin was only willing to back North Korea because he had or soon would have the bomb. So the Rosenbergs are guilty of killing every American soldier who died in Korea.

    The blood is on their hands.


    Re: “…rationalizations generated by Rosenberg apologists was that the U.S. government executed the couple for their political ideas.”

    Well, … yeah, … the same as we killed lots of Germans and Japanese during WW-II for their political ideas.

    Most liberal/Leftist apologist arguments boil down to one: “We’ve got to take politics out of politics.” It is nothing more than a diversion.

  • Van Grungy

    FDR really screwed America
    what a douche

  • OfficialPro

    Unfortunately, the Rosenbergs are usually held up as an example of how awful (and what communists) Jews supposedly are, amongst the antisemitic conspiracy theory crowd.

    • StevenDobbs

      I am ethnically a Jew, and when it comes to the “being a communist” charge, they are essentially right more than half the time, at least as far as America goes. But that is probably just a coincidental correlation as oppose to causative. I tend to put the blame on the ideology of the progressive movement, the leftward march of the democrats, as opposed to religion. There are after all also a lot of Catholics in the progressive movement too and you don’t hear people blaming the catholic church for the democrats being a bunch of marxists.

      • Bonchamps

        It’s complicated. You’re right, Western European Jews actually tend to vote conservative/free-market liberal. It’s less “Jews” per se, and more the fraction of world Jewry that still nurses the wounds of shtetl and pogrom – in the United States, that’s more or less our population of first-wave Eastern European Jewish immigrants. The earlier German Jews and the current Russian Jewish wave both lean right for various reasons. They’re the children of Tevye’s generation, and, alas, they’ve never quite grown up. And the world has been continually vexed by their descendents – from Trotsky to Finkelstein.

        I think it goes back to the exile mentality. Antisemites have repeated the dual loyalty canard for a while now, but I think there really is a level on which the Jewish soul yearns for Zion, and if that hope is frustrated, they will naturally turn to other means of “immanentizing the eschaton.” That’s why it’s so crucial for us to support Israel. Without Israel, there will always be the latent potential for Jewish
        radicalism. With Israel, Jews can join their efforts to the creation of a
        lasting world order.

        As Winston Churchill says, the choice really is between Zionism and Bolshevism. And the path we take will influence the course of the Jewish soul through history.

        (Your point about the Catholic Church is well taken. For every Trotsky there’s a Dorothy Day. And the parallels are quite striking indeed between the inquisitors and bureaucracy of the Church and the commissars and dogmas of the Communist Party. For every Christ there is an Antichrist.)

  • tom_billesley

    The left will also defend Edward Snowden who has just left Hong Kong on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, with rumours of onward flights to Havana and Caracas.

  • tagalog

    The latest effort to whitewash the Rosenbergs is to claim that Ethel Rosenberg didn’t deserve the death penalty because she didn’t do as much as Julius Rosenberg did. But it was Ethel who decided to plead not guilty to espionage and take her chances with the electric chair. She got what she played for.

  • John

    If you are a Canadian, learn something about U.S. history before you express an opinion on it. The Great Depression was caused by unregulated banks and unregulated securities trading. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was a Republican effort to fix things, and it obviously was a disaster. Under Franklin Roosevelt, the GDP rose each year from 1933 to 1936. Beyond that, he restored hope in a nation where 25% of the work force was unemployed thanks to the Republicans having wrecked the economy.