SPIES: Worse Than Murder

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Judge Irving Kaufman looked down at the man & woman before him. "Plain, deliberate, contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed," he told Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in a hoarse, faint voice. "I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb . . . has already caused the Communist aggression in Korea . . . and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason."

Judge Kaufman, one of the youngest (40) federal judges, had had only ten hours' sleep in a week, had spent long hours in prayer at his synagogue. Tearful Mrs. Tessie Greenglass, mother of convicted spies Ethel Rosenberg and David Greenglass, had visited him to plead for her children. "I have deliberated for hours, days and nights," said Judge Kaufman. "I have searched my conscience to find some reason for mercy. I am convinced, however, that I would violate the solemn and sacred trust that the people of this land have placed in my hands were I to show leniency . . . The sentence of the court upon Julius and Ethel Rosenberg is that, for their crime, they are sentenced to death."

Sallow Julius Rosenberg and his wife were led away. Later, in their adjoining cells, the Rosenbergs sang to each other: her choice was Puccini's One Fine Day, his The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

After a brief recess, Judge Kaufman went back to the bench to sentence sullen Morton Sobell, because of his "lesser degree of implication," to 30 years. Next day, Judge Kaufman sentenced David Greenglass, the ex-Army sergeant who had fed atomic secrets to the Rosenbergs and whose testimony had convicted his sister and brother-in-law, to a milder 15 years because of his help to the Government.

There would be appeals. But though higher courts may reverse the convictions, none may reduce the sentences. If the sentences are carried out, the Rosenbergs will be the first spies ever executed by order of a U.S. civil court.

The Trail. With the conviction of the Rosenbergs, the U.S. could take an appalled backward look at the furtive efficiency of Soviet spies. In a long report entitled "Soviet Atomic Espionage," the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy this week reviewed the many men and means that the Soviet had used to crack the nation's most closely guarded secret.

The story led back to one night in 1945 when Igor Gouzenko, a Russian clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, abruptly defected and fled to Canadian police with an armload of files. Those files convicted British Dr. Allan Nunn May of handing over a sample of U-235 and U-233 to a Russian in Montreal. May also admitted that he had written out a report for the Russians on what he knew of atomic energy. He knew a great deal. He was in & out of the secret lab at the University of Chicago, where— under the stadium—the first controlled chain reaction was achieved, had been a senior member of the Anglo-Canadian research team at Montreal's McGill University. His sentence: ten years in prison.

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