ethel and julius rosenberg

Six-year-old Robert and ten-year-old Michael read the newspaper announcing that their parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, have one more day to live. New Jersey. June, 1953. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were a  married couple who were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951. They were put to death in the electric chair. 

Sylvia Plath and The Rosenberg Execution

On this day (19 June) in 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of conspiring to pass U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviets, were executed at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.

Sylvia Plath began The Bell Jar with this sentence: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

Elliott Erwitt     Demonstrators Against the Framed-up Trial and Conviction of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the First U.S. Civilians to be Executed for Espionage Despite the Lack of Any Real Evidence of Their guilt, New York City     1953

Miller says he was surprised to learn the song was written by a white Jewish guy from the Bronx. “Strange Fruit,” he says, took extraordinary courage both for Meeropol to write and for Holiday to sing…

And that’s where the second part of Meeropol’s story begins. The link is the pseudonym he used when writing poetry and music: Lewis Allan.

“Abel Meeropol’s pen name ‘Lewis Allan’ were the names of their children who were stillborn, who never lived,” says his son, Robert Meeropol. He and his older brother, Michael, were raised by Abel and his wife, Anne Meeropol, after the boys’ parents — Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — were executed for espionage in 1953.