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Ron Radosh

The latter — which may never take place and therefore means waiting till Kingdom Come — is also misleading. Roberts does not mention that the KGB files collected by  former KGB agent Alexander Vassiliev have been scanned and are posted in both English and Russian on the website of the Cold War International History Project, and can be found here. A timeline created by Steve Usdin that has details about the complete nature of the espionage they committed is also online at the site. Moreover, Vassiliev, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have written at length about what the files contain, including much material about the Rosenbergs, in their book Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, which although a volume of the greatest importance (unlike the small volume by Walter Schneir), the NYTBR chose not to review.

In their book, the three co-authors provide new KGB messages which indicate that Ethel Rosenberg not only knew about her husband’s espionage activities, but actively recruited for the ring and indeed was the person who first suggested that her husband be recruited, as well as her own brother.

The Haynes-Klehr-Vassiliev book also reveals that Julius Rosenberg recruited another atomic spy, Russell McNutt, who was not only brought into espionage by Rosenberg but instructed by him to seek work in the area of atomic energy and the bomb. While Greenglass was, by chance, assigned by the Army to work on the bomb assembly, McNutt was recruited on Rosenberg’s “initiative…to cultivate ‘Enormous’” (the Manhattan Project). McNutt worked at the Kellex design office in New York, which had the contract for building the massive atomic facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. So contrary to what Miriam Schneir argues in the afterword that Sam Roberts terms “cogent,” and Walter Schneir, who as Roberts writes, “largely absolves the Rosenbergs of any involvement in atomic espionage,” the evidence shows that Julius Rosenberg did lead a major Soviet spy ring, that among other things, sought data relating to the atomic bomb.

The question to raise is a simple one: Why did The New York Times Book Review see fit to give attention to a minor and unimpressive book about the Rosenbergs, written by a late author and his wife who have been completely discredited for decades, thereby giving new grist for the mill for what Allen Hornblum rightfully and correctly terms “the Rosenberg propaganda mill”? That does exist, as the Schneir book, as well as two others soon appearing, makes quite clear. Yet Roberts calls Hornblum’s appropriate term and his other criticisms of the delusional “the Rosenbergs are innocent crew” simply “gratuitous put-downs.”

They are anything but gratuitous, as the constant barrage of propaganda shows. A recent example is from the Communist Party’s weekly newspaper, titled “Time for U.S. to exonerate Rosenbergs,” and it serves as a fine case of their never-ending campaign to indict the United States and depict the Rosenbergs as progressive heroes. Ironically, the author notes that all the protests about the Rosenbergs at the time came from the ranks of the CPUSA. As she writes:

[It] “is clear from the authors’ narrative of the remarkable history of the committee and the massive movement to save the lives of the Rosenbergs that Communists played an enormous role in the growth of the committee and the movement as a whole.”

If you are looking for new insight into the Rosenberg case, one thing is certain. You can’t any longer find what you want in the pages of The New York Times.

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