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Rosenbergs' Execution During McCarthy Era

June 21, 2003

After reading "A Test of Loyalty" (Commentary, June 16) by Robert Meeropol, the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, I feel vindicated for beliefs I have held for many years.

In New York in the early '50s, I was a member of a committee to save the Rosenbergs from execution. I did not take a firm stand on their guilt or innocence as spies, but I very much doubted that they gave the "secret" of the atom bomb to the Russians and felt they were being punished because of their communist beliefs at a time of Cold War McCarthyism. I was especially troubled by the lack of evidence against Ethel Rosenberg and the obvious prejudice of the judge and prosecutors.

It was one of the few occasions when my father, a die-hard Republican, and I, a dedicated liberal, were in total agreement.

Bernice Balfour

Anaheim

*

That the Rosenbergs' son supports the "principled" decision of his parents' to willingly die for their belief in Stalinism is touchingly ironic. More than 20 million people were murdered for the idealism of the communism revered by his parents. Meeropol should acknowledge that those opposed to totalitarianism have a similar "principled" position. Many Americans feel that, even if the U.S. government was rather extreme when executing his parents, it nevertheless was honoring the "principle" of democracy. The Rosenbergs would have agreed with the concept of furthering idealistic "principles" despite its impact on the innocent. A more perfect example of true irony is hard to fathom.

Ted Goldman

Los Angeles

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Substitute the word "Nazism" for "communism" in Meeropol's sad rationalization of his parents' crimes, and the seriousness of their spying becomes more evident. Soviet communism was responsible for the murder of many more people than Nazism. Any espionage that aided that scourge, no matter how well intentioned and no matter whether it led to a Soviet atomic bomb or not, was an act of treason against not only the U.S. but against humanity. The Rosenbergs committed the ultimate crime and deserved the ultimate penalty.

Carl Moore

Lomita

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