Press/Journalists

Press Release
September 9, 2008

National Archives to Open Rosenberg Grand Jury Transcripts

WHAT:  The National Archives will make available certain formerly secret Grand Jury testimony transcripts from the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The opening of these records consists of more than 900 pages of transcripts of grand jury proceedings from August 1950 through March 1951.

Transcripts of 40 witnesses are being opened in whole or in part. Testimony of three witnesses:  David Greenglass, Max Elichter, and William Danziger, is being withheld due to objections by the witnesses. Testimony of ten additional witnesses, which was ordered to be released by the Court, is being withheld for 60 days while the government decides whether to appeal. Six testimonies that will be opened have minor redactions, for medical privacy and to protect the names of jurors.

This records opening is in response to court orders by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (dated July 23 and August 27, 2008). The release includes testimony from Ethel Rosenberg, Ruth Greenglass, Harry Gold, and others.

WHERE:  The transcripts will be available on the National Archives web site (www.archives.gov/research/court-records/rosenberg-jury.html).

  • The National Archives Regional Archives Research Room in New York City, located at 201 Varick Street 12th Floor, will open reference copies of the documents.

WHEN:  These records will be opened on Thursday, September 11, 2008, at noon.


Background

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - along with Morton Sobell, David Greenglass, and Antoli Yacovlev - were indicted on the charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. The charges related to industrial and atomic espionage for the Soviet Union. Specifically, Rosenberg began furnishing the Soviet’s with industrial secrets from Emerson Radio beginning in late 1942. By 1944, the government had alleged that Julius had engaged his brother-in-law David Greenglass, an army scientist working on the atomic bomb, in the atomic spy network. During his trial testimony, Greenglass detailed how he passed on secrets he learned while working at the atomic laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Rosenbergs were convicted on March 29, 1951, and were sentenced to death by Judge Irving Kaufman on April 5, 1951. The Rosenbergs were executed at Ossining, NY on June 19, 1953 despite world-wide protests, many from deeply religious anti-communists-- people who considered the Rosenbergs guilty of espionage, but opposed the death penalty.

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For press information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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