Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Russian and East European Studies

First Advisor

Kristin Bidoshi




Soviet Espionage, Cold War, Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg, David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs, Venona Project, Red Scare, Manhattan Project


The Cold War escalated at the end of World War II when the tension between the United States and Soviet Union significantly increased. The stakes of the Cold War were considerably high, especially during the atomic age. Hence the creation of the Venona Project, which began in 1943 and was originally a small project intended to break down Soviet diplomatic communications, but later expanded to be a full-blown counterintelligence operation. The project’s American cryptologists took nearly two years to decode the first Soviet coded telegraph cable. The project exposed multiple Soviet Spies in the United States, some of the most famous being Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were implicated when Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass alerted the FBI to their involvement in a Soviet spy ring. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg never confessed to conspiracy to provide atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, and both were ultimately executed by electric chair in 1953. David Greenglass, who turned his family into the FBI, did not experience the same fate as his sister and brother-in-law. Through analysis of court documents, decoded cables, and media coverage of the trial, I discuss the four factors that led to the execution of the Rosenbergs and the legitimacy of their trial and its outcome. These factors include the location of the Rosenbergs, their Communist party membership, Ethel Rosenberg’s submissive position as a woman in the 1950s, and anti-semitism in the United States.