(b. 12 May 1918, d. 19 June 1953) and Ethel (b. 28 Sept. 1915, d. 19 June 1953).
Spies against the US In September 1949, the USA became aware that the Soviet Union had developed nuclear technology years ahead of expectations and was thus capable of dropping atomic bombs. The following year Klaus Fuchs, a physicist involved in the development of the American atomic and hydrogen bombs, was arrested in England and confessed to having been part of a spy-ring. As a result, Henry Gold was arrested in the USA, and he identified Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who worked on atomic weaponry and had admitted Communist sympathies, as spies. They were arrested, found guilty of conspiracy and treason in a sensational trial at the height of McCarthy's anti-Communist campaigns, and sentenced to death. Many believed that their Jewish background helped to single them out from a number of spies uncovered at the time. They appealed to every court, including the Supreme Court, and their executions were stayed several times; but finally, amid great controversy, they were electrocuted in June 1953. The memoirs of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, written after he had been deposed, appear to support the contention that the Rosenbergs had worked for the USSR between 1944 and 1945.