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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

 

In June 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for conspiracy to commit espionage under the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917. Members of the communist party, the Rosenbergs were convicted of passing secret information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union in 1945. Their case remains a cause celebre today, with claims it was the result of Cold War hysteria. Their guilt has been confirmed by Soviet documents made available after the fall of communism.

One of the first decisions facing newly elected President Eisenhower was whether to grant executive clemency to the Rosenbergs. Eisenhower declined stating: "The nature of the crime for which they have been found guilty and sentenced far exceeds that of the taking of the life of another citizen; it involves the deliberate betrayal of the entire nation and could very well result in the death of many, many thousands of innocent citizens…"

Memorandum, Edward O'Connor to Admiral Kirk, regarding possibility of Rosenberg case carrying over into Eisenhower Administration, January 7, 1953 [NSC Staff Papers, PSB Central Files Series, Box 26, PSB 383.4]

Application for Executive Clemency, denied by President Eisenhower, January 10, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (2)]

Memorandum, Kirk to Smith re: foreign response to Rosenberg case, January 16, 1953 [NSC Staff Papers, PSB Central Files Series, Box 26, PSB 383.4]

Letter, Tom Stephens to Attorney General Herbert Brownell and Draft Presidential Statement by the Psychological Strategy Board, January 30, 1953 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 32, Rosenberg Case Statement]

Press Release, February 11, 1953 [NSC Staff Papers, PSB Central Files Series, Box 26, PSB 383.4]

Minutes of Cabinet Meeting, President Eisenhower's view of case, February 12, 1953 (page 3 only) [DDE's Papers as President, Cabinet Series, Box 1, Cabinet Meeting of 2/12/53]

Memoranda, Hopkins to Stephens re: public response to President's action in Rosenberg case, February 12, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 411, 101-R Rosenbergs (1)]

Memo of telephone conversation between Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Press Secretary James Hagerty regarding story of Pope's intervention, February 13, 1953 [John Foster Dulles Papers, JFD Chronological Series, Box 1, Chronological - JFD February 1953]

Letter, C.D. Jackson to Herbert Brownell, February 23, 1953 [C.D. Jackson Records, Box 2, Herbert Brownell]

Memoranda for file regarding Michael Rosenberg's note to President Eisenhower, February 27, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (1)]

Memorandum, Korns to Craig regarding communism and Rosenberg case, March 3, 1953 [NSC Staff Papers, PSB Central Files Series, Box 26, PSB 383.4]

Telegram, Ambassador Douglas Dillon to President regarding foreign response to Rosenberg case (and reply), May 20, 1953 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 32, Rosenberg Case Statement]

Flyer, clemency rally announcement (includes Michael Rosenberg's letter to President Eisenhower), no date [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 32, Rosenberg Case Statement]

Memoranda for file from C.D. Jackson, May 27, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (1)]

Memorandum, Taquey to Johnson re: influencing foreign response to Rosenberg case, May 29, 1953 [NSC Staff Papers, PSB Central Files Series, Box 17, PSB 092 (1)]

Memorandum, report of interview with the Rosenbergs, James Bennett (Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons) to Herbert Brownell, June 5, 1953 [Herbert Brownell Papers, Box 75, B (3)]

Letter, Clyde Miller to President Eisenhower urging clemency for the Rosenbergs, June 8, 1953 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 32, Rosenberg Case Statement]

Letter, President Eisenhower's response to Clyde Miller, June 10, 1953 [DDE's Papers as President, Administration Series, Box 32, Rosenberg Case Statement]

Memoranda of Telephone Conversation between Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Attorney General Herbert Brownell re: foreign response to Rosenberg case, June 12, 1953 [John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Conversation Series, Box 1, Telephone Memo May-June 1953 (1)]

Memoranda of Telephone Conversation between John Foster Dulles and Herbert Brownell re: Justice Douglas' stay of execution, June 16, 1953 [John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Conversation Series, Box 1, Telephone Memo May-June 1953 (1)]

Telegram, Sophie Rosenberg to Mamie Eisenhower, June 16, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 2672, The Rosenbergs (1)]

Typescript copy of letter, Ethel Rosenberg to President Eisenhower, June 16, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (1)]

Telegram, Michael Rosenberg to President Eisenhower, June 17, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Alphabetical File, Box 2673, The Rosenbergs]

Letter, Herbert Brownell to President Eisenhower regarding petition for executive clemency, June 17, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (2)]

Letter, President Eisenhower to C.C. Burlingham, June 17, 1953 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (2)]

Memoranda of Telephone Conversation between Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA director Allen Dulles regarding Justice Douglas' stay of execution, June 17, 1953 [John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Conversation Series, Box 1, Telephone Memo May-June 1953 (1)]

Commutation of Sentence of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Attorney General, no date, pages one thru six of seventeen [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 354, 101-R Rosenbergs (2)]

For additional information please see:

Rosenbergs Subject Guide