Fascinating electronic archive of primary source documents about the Rosenberg case now online

Historians in the News

The release of notes taken in the KGB archives by Alexander Vassiliev makes it possible for the first time to draw a nearly complete picture of the recruitment, operations and exposure of the Rosenberg espionage ring. The Vassiliev notes reveal that the Rosenberg ring was more deeply involved in atomic espionage than prosecutors or investigators had suspected, and that several individuals who were previously believed to be only peripherally involved supplied the USSR with valuable military technology.

As the Rosenberg Archive makes clear, the Rosenberg case is probably the most well-documented major espionage case of the 20th century. The archive provides a chronology for the recruitment of members of the ring, provides some insight into the valuable military technology they gave to the USSR -- information about the Oak Ridge facility where techniques for enriching uranium and creating plutonium for the first atomic bombs was developed; secrets from the New Mexico desert where the atom bombs were created and first tested; details on virtually every radar set created by the US during WW II, the proximity fuse, jet engine and aircraft designs, analogue and early digital computer designs -- and suggests the counterintelligence failures that allowed the ring to continue stealing classified information for years after the FBI had identified most of its members as security risks. The Archive also details the cat and mouse game that was played as the FBI eventually closed in on the Rosenberg ring, and the combination of luck and blunder that allowed several members of the Rosenberg ring to escape to the Soviet bloc, or to stay home and avoid detection.

The Rosenberg Archive was compiled by Steven T. Usdin. It was created using timeglider, a web-based timeline program. Please report any broken links, send suggestions or comments, and especially leads on other primary source documents, to rosenbergfeedback@wilsoncenter.org.
Read entire article at Rosenberg Archive (Wilson Center)

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