Robert Meeropol was six years old in 1953 when his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed after being convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union at the height of the McCarthy era. Just before they were put to death, the Rosenbergs wrote a letter to their two sons saying they were "secure in the knowledge that others would carry on after them."
The Rosenbergs left their young sons a legacy that was both a burden and a gift, as well as an aching emotional void. Robert Meeropol grew up torn between the need to pursue his political values and his intense fear that personal exposure might subject him and his family to violence or even death.
An Execution in the Family details Robert Meeropol's political odyssey from being the Rosenbergs' son to becoming a prominent political activist in his own right, and it chronicles a very personal journey of self-discovery. This is the story of how he tried to balance a strong desire to live a normal life and raise a family with a growing need to create something useful out of his childhood nightmare. It is also a poignant account of how, at age forty-three, he finally found a way to honor his parents and be true to himself.
Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs. His story, which is a story of postwar America, is compelling. He chronicles with vision and clarity his personal and political journeys and the lengthy battle to uncover the truth about his parents' case. "For as long as I could remember we'd suffered whatever was said about our parents in silence. We had never had the opportunity or the emotional freedom to give voice to our opinions about our parents' trial and execution." When Meeropol and his brother did, in the 1970s, the floodgates opened and over the years, the case's full horror was exposed. The Rosenbergs were charged with "conspiracy to commit espionage," not with selling atomic secrets. According to Meeropol, the person who confessed to that crime, Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, was pressured to reveal co-conspirators in exchange for his wife's freedom. And he succumbed mouthing the words an FBI agent later testified he supplied. New documents reveal the Rosenbergs were executed for a crime the government knew they did not commit. Their sons have battled valiantly to clear their names and to lead productive lives, and Meeropol's captivating memoir deserves a spot on American history bookshelves.
This is a joke, right?