A CONTEMPORARY RECORD OF TESTIMONY IN THE TRIAL OF ETHEL AND JULIUS ROSENBERG
(ROSENBERG CASE) (ROSENBERG, Julius) (ROSENBERG, Ethel) (SOBELL, Morton). Transcript of Record. Supreme Court of the United States. October Term, 1961. No. 111 Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg, Petitioners, vs. The United States of America. No 112 Morton Sobell, Petitioner, vs. The United States of America. Petitions for Writs of Certiorari and Exhibit Thereto. Filed June 7, 1952. New York: National Committee to Secure Justice in Rosenberg Case, circa 1952. Two volumes in eight. Oblong quarto (5-1/2 by 7-1/4 inches), original printed gray-green wrappers, staple-bound as issued, original cardboard slipcase. $2000.
First edition of the Transcript of Record in the 1951 trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg that led to their electrocution in June 1953—"without precedent in peacetime American history"—an extraordinary contemporary record in eight volumes, in original wrappers and original slipcase.
"Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were arrested by the FBI in July 1950, put on trial in March 1951, and received the death sentence in April of that year. Their electrocution two years later, on June 19, 1953, was without precedent in peacetime American history." To J. Edgar Hoover, theirs was "'the crime of the century'… the elevation of this event into a cause celebre of the Cold War was due, in no small measure, to the efforts of the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case, formed on October 10, 1951" (Deery, "'Never Losing Faith"). By late 1952, with rumors that the Rosenbergs would be executed early the next year, "more than 40 Rosenberg Committees had been established nationwide… After the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case, the sentences became agenda-setting flags… the death-house watch" (Neville, Press, 81). This first edition of the Transcript of Record of the March 6-29, 1951 trial in New York before Judge Kaufman, prosecuted by Irvin Saypol, Roy Cohn and James Kilsheimer III, was published by the National Committee, in their words, "to tell the true story from the false one." As the eight volumes in the Transcript reveal, the key witnesses against the Rosenbergs were David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg's brother, and his wife Ruth. "The defense's case consisted only of the testimony of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg… the jury returned a verdict of guilty for all three defendants [the Rosenbergs and Morton Sobell]. Judge Kaufman sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death and Sobell to 30 years in prison"(Alavi, "Government Against Two," Case Western Reserve Law Review 53:4).
The complex and still controversial trial, and the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, makes this Transcript, published circa June 3, 1952, especially significant not only as a trial record, but also in documenting the testimony of Ruth Greenglass against her sister-in-law (I:4, 677-787), and that of Ethel Rosenberg, which specifically and consistently contradicts Ruth Greenglass' testimony (II:203, 1293-1402). "The prosecution's case against Ethel was very weak until Ruth and David Greenglass 'remembered' something that placed her in the eye of the spy ring… Ruth said that in September 1945, when David gave his handwritten notes and sketches of the lens mold to Julius in the Rosenberg's living room, Ethel, at Julius' command, 'sat down at the typewriter which she had placed on a bridge table in the living room and proceeded to type the info which David had given to Julius'… Recently released documents show that from the very beginning Ethel was seen not as a key accomplice of Julius… When he failed to give FBI any information, Hoover made it clear that arresting Ethel would be advantageous and serve as 'lever' to induce Julius to confess… With the passage of time and the 'theory' that it was Ethel and not Julius who was the stronger of the two and the 'mastermind' behind the spy ring, Hoover and President Eisenhower became determined that Ethel's death was justified… The contents of the one of the FBI's memos, dated June 17, 1953 [not in this Transcript], makes for shocking reading. Among the list of questions FBI agents were to ask Julius was only one question concerning Ethel. It read 'Was your wife cognizant of your activities?' The U.S. government was about to execute Ethel as a 'full-fledged partner' in her husband's crimes when the FBI was not sure if she was even aware of Julius' espionage activities" (Alavi, "Government Against Two"). The Rosenbergs' co-defendant, Morton Sobell, later "concurred in what has become a consensus among historians: that Ethel Rosenberg, who was executed with her husband, was aware of Julius' espionage, but did not actively participate. 'She knew what he was doing,' he said, 'but what was she guilty of? Of being Julius' wife'" (New York Times). Each page printed in double columns, each column numbered as a page. With original cardboard slipcase.
Only faint toning to spines, mild edge-wear to slipcase. A fine copy.