The Rosenberg File revisited

Tomorrow night 60 Minutes will broadcast a story on the Rosenberg spy case featuring the Rosenbergs’ two sons, Michael and Robert Meeropol. 60 Minutes has posted a preview of the segments here. According to the preview, Michael argues that Ethel Rosenberg was “collateral damage” – framed by prosecutors for a crime she did not commit in an effort to get their father to cooperate with FBI investigators. Robert asserts: “Our mother was killed for something she did not do, she was taken away from us.”

60 Minutes interviewed Ronald Radosh to dispute the Meeropols. Ron wrote the book on the case (with Joyce Milton), first published in 1983 (a second, revised edition was published by Yale in 1997). According to the preview, Ron points out that Ethel was not an innocent victim; she assisted Julius. “She was an accessory to spying,” he says, “by helping, identifying people, urging people to be recruited, suggesting that her own brother be recruited, this is aiding those who are spying.”

In February 2015 C-SPAN recorded an outstanding panel including Ron, Harvey Klehr, John Haynes, Steven Usdin, Allen Hornblum and Mark Kramer discussing the Rosenberg case. Collectively, these participants know just about everything there is to know about the case.

The video appears to be unembeddable, but it is accessible here. Ron summarizes new evidence in the case since the first edition of his book was published at 00:12:45. At 01:12:00, an audience member asks about Ethel Rosenberg in particular. At about 01:24:00, Allen Hornblum specifically addresses the Meeropols, “who continue to trot out this canard.” He adds: “They’ve been running a confidence game.” In the panelists’ final statements Ron wraps up with comments about the the persistence and animus of the left. Harvey Klehr concludes with observations on the Rosenbergs’ abiding Communist mania maintained at the expense of their children.

In 2013 I caught up with Ron at the West Coast Retreat of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. After my meandering attempt to frame a question, Ron briefly addressed some of the evidence that has emerged since his book on the case was first published in 1983 and added a few words anticipating the Meeropols.

The Rosenberg case is an eternal cause of the left. Ron has written updates presenting new evidence bearing on it with Steve Usdin in “Rosenbergs redux” (2010), “The Sobell confession” (2011) and “Ethel Rosenberg should not be pardoned” (2015).