National Affairs: What They Did

In 177 years of U.S. history, the Rosenbergs were the first native-born Americans to be executed by order of a civilian court for espionage. Sentencing them in April 1951, Federal Judge Irving Kaufman stigmatized their crime as "worse than murder."

The crime had ideological roots. Children of East European immigrants who settled in Manhattan's lower East Side, both Julius Rosenberg and his future wife Ethel Greenglass took to Communism in their adolescent years. In so doing, they rejected the Jewish faith of their parents (a sore blow to Julius' father, a garment worker who...

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