The Rosenberg Trial Essay

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As the Cold War congealed in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the United States of America found itself ensnared in an atmosphere of fearful suspicion and paranoia. The Red Scare, which peaked during the roughly seven years between 1947 and 1954, came to dictate the mind-set of Americans during the early stages of Cold War. Marked by such unsettling events as the Alger Hiss Trial of 1948, the passage of the McCarren Internal Security Act and the rise of red-seeing Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Red Scare raged across the country, fueled by fear of the harmful doctrines of the rapidly advancing Soviet Union. It was on the pinnacle of this paranoia and distrust that the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg came to dominate the American headlines.
Following the first successful nuclear tests by the Soviets in 1949, America quickly began to fear the scientific strides of their eastern-hemisphere rival, and its citizens began to suspiciously eye those around them, believing that Soviet spies must have been responsible for passing the nuclear technology from the United States to Russia. On July 17, 1950, Julius Rosenberg, an electrical engineer and employee for the U.S. Army Signal Corps, was arrested for allegedly passing atomic secrets to Russia. One month later, on August 11, Julius’ wife, Ethel, was also arrested, charged with assisting her husband with his illicit activities. The Rosenbergs, former members of the American Communist Party, were implicated by Ethel’s brother-in-law, David Greenglass and a Philadelphia chemist, Harry Gold, who, after admitting to their own espionage activities, served as the primary witnesses in the trial. Despite the existence of only flimsy, circumstantial evidence (which included conflicting stories by Gold and Greenglass, a series of vague sketches that Greenglass presented as being identical to the secrets passed by Julius to the Soviets and government secrecy with its own evidence), Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were...

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