On June 19th 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed. They were accused of being Communist spies during the McCarthy era.They died as lasting symbols of American cold war fear and paranoia; and Ethel Rosenberg died a lasting symbol of American Injustice.
The sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are trying to change that. Michael and Robert Meeropol are asking President Obama to pardon their mother. After the election they aim to submit their request the the president, outlining how the prosecution faked evidence that sent her to the electric chair.
Robert Meeropol talked to Jim and Margery about this and the evolution of his feelings about his parents’ execution.
While he was originally convinced of both parents’ innocence, Meeropol had to acknowledge his father’s involvement when some documents were declassified after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“I couldn’t very well claim that my father was innocent,” he said. “However, that same material that came forward provided powerful proof that there was no credible evidence that my mother, Ethel Rosenberg, committed any illegal acts.”
Meeropol said he and his brother worked toward the release of information, rather than the achievement of a particular agenda.
“We wanted to make sure that the public knew what was going on, whether or not it supported our position,” he said. “We felt the truth was more important than our perspective, and we felt that the American people had the right to know.”
He said their fight for the presidential proclamation came as a result of the facts they uncovered.
Meeropol said it was difficult growing up in the shadow of his parents’ infamy.
“Being the child of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in the early 1950s, when they were on trial for stealing the secret of the atomic bomb, putting the lives of every single American in jeopardy... That’s kind of like in modern times, being the child of Osama Bin Laden,” said Meeropol.
“It’s not something you get over,” he said. “It’s something you live with for the rest of your life.”
Meeropol, in addition to hoping for a nullification of the jury verdict for his mother, has created a fund that helps children whose parents are targeted activists. He said that his own resilience inspired him to help provide that for children today.
“You give kids half a chance and they will bounce back,” he said. “If I could do the same thing for other kids, it would be incredibly personally satisfying for me, and it would do good.”
To hear Robert Meeropol’s interview in its entirety, listen to the audio link above.