April 5th 1951: Rosenbergs sentenced
On this day in 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for alleged spying. The couple were American citizens, but were convicted for espionage after they were accused of giving information to the Soviets about the atomic bomb. They were both arrested in 1950, and became the face of the supposed Communist conspiracy, the fear of which gripped Cold War United States throughout the 1950s and beyond. The couple insisted upon their innocence, but they were still convicted and sentenced to die. In the years between their conviction and execution, public opinion was divided on the guilt of the Rosenbergs. Despite the reservations of some, they were executed on June 19th 1953 by electric chair. It remained unclear whether the pair were indeed Soviet spies, but due to evidence which has since come to light Julius Rosenberg does appear to have been guilty.
A fascinating anniversary with an unusual musical footnote. If you haven’t heard the story of Abel Meeropol—the man who took in and raised the Rosenberg’s children also wrote Billy Holiday’s haunting Strange Fruit—check out the NPR story …