Leaving Shards of Self’s Heart, All Over the Floor

There won’t be much left of self, after she finishes Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy. Really agree with the title. Ethel Rosenberg’s story is a tragedy.

She’s at Chapter Five: Prison.

After Julius Rosenberg is arrested, Ethel Rosenberg goes home to their squalid little apartment, and continues caring for her young sons. BUT NO ONE WILL SPEAK TO HER. And Ethel is too afraid to approach any of her friends for fear of incriminating them.

Ethel even stops her psychotherapy sessions with Dr. Saul Miller (the only thing she had going for her)

  • When he called her, having read about Julius’s arrest in the newspapers, Ethel responded by telling him, “Oh, you don’t have to see me anymore.” Miller tried to reassure Ethel that he was not worried about being “tainted.” Ethel started crying, said she would be in touch, and hung up. According to Miller, he got the impression that Ethel was trying to protect him.

She is called to testify twice. After the second time, she is immediately arrested and taken to jail. She asks if she can call her sons, who she has left with a babysitter. When the older one gets on the phone, and she tells him she cannot come for him, he breaks into a loud wail. When the babysitter realizes that Ethel will not return, she deposits the children at their grandmother’s, Ethel’s mother. This kind (NOT!) woman almost refuses to take the boys. She calls Ethel’s lawyer to complain. She threatens to drop the boys off at the nearest police station, a comment that “shocked” the lawyer. You see, the mother always thought Ethel was too big for her britches. Her daughter entertained some fancy notions about becoming a singer, now look where that got her, and so forth.

Per Hoover’s instructions, bail was set astronomically high ($100,000, around $1 million today), in the hopes that seeing his wife in prison would cause Julius to crack and give up some information.

Well, we all know how that turned out.

Ethel doesn’t know yet that it was her own brother who implicated her. This delightful person was a REAL spy, stealing things from Los Alamos, which he would then pass on to the Russians. After his arrest, he knew he had to give the Feds something, or they would put him in prison. So he gave them his sister. NICE! 2016, the brother’s on 60 Minutes. He said he had no choice, it was either Ethel or him. And I guess he didn’t think twice about his nephews, Ethel’s sons? I can’t imagine that the boys would have anything to do with their uncle today!

In prison, she is strip-searched and given an enema. She writes to Julius, but always tries to sound “cheerful and not complain.”

(You might wonder what happened to the boys after? They were adopted by a very nice childless couple, changed their names, and tried never to think about the past. The younger boy calls it “the long nightmare.” WAAAAH! And all their mother wanted was to be the best mother in the world for them)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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