Ruth Greenglass, Key Witness at the Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Dies at 84

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Another blog about the deceased puts me in the ghoul pool this week, but I couldn’t help myself when it was revealed today that Ruth Greenglass died on June 23rd.

In 1951, Mrs. Greenglass testified against her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Her testimony sealed all of their fates. The Rosenbergs were executed. David Greenglass (Ethel Rosenberg's brother) corroborated his wife’s testimony in his confession about a crucial issue and served ten years. Mrs. Greenglass was never indicted.

Perhaps with this death more information will come out of the woodwork about this Cold War espionage mystery. Most historians agree that the Rosenbergs did pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviets; the argument is the quality of the information that David Greenglass was able to gather as an Army Sergeant machinist. Many contend it wasn’t much.

Among many unanswered questions is who transcribed David Greenglass’s notes at the Rosenberg’s apartment in 1945? Was it Ethel Rosenberg or Ruth Greenglass?

Can you imagine being in a situation where you had to testify in a capital case against your wife, husband or sister? Conflicting testimony at different points on the timeline indicate someone was lying or “misspeaking’” (the newer term for lying).

The Ann Arbor District Library has several books you can read about this fascinating and dark period of American history.

The Brother: The Untold Story of Atomic Spy David Greenglass and How He Sent His Sister, Ethel Rosenberg, to the Electric Chair by Sam Roberts
The Rosenberg File: A Search for the Truth by Ronald Radosh
Early Cold War Spies by John Haynes