Harry Gold, the son of a cabinetmaker, was born in Bern, Switzerland, on 18th December, 1910. "My mother moved to Switzerland from France, where she had to move from Russia because of her revolutionary activities there. My father fled from Russia in 1903 to escape being drafted into military service." (1)
Gold's family arrived in the United States in 1913 and settled in Philadelphia. His father found work as a cabinetmaker. However, he earned modest wages and was often unemployed. According to one source Gold was brought up "on Philadelphia's grimy South Philip Street, where all the houses had false fronts and dirty narrow backyards." (2)
After leaving school Gold worked for the Pennsylvania Sugar Company as a laboratory assistant. He lost his job in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression. After a variety of menial jobs, Gold studied chemical engineering at Drexel Institute. In 1935 he completed his diploma and was able to return to the Pennsylvania Sugar Company.
Gold was recruited as a spy by Jacob Golos in November 1935. His first task was to steal information from his company "for the benefit of the masses of the Russian people". Over a period of time Gold became an important figure in the spy network. His contact officer was Semyon Semyonov Gold became someone who Moscow considered a "very valuable worker" for Soviet intelligence. Gold was so busy as a courier to hold down his day job as a chemist. In the summer of 1942, the station began paying him $100 monthly to supplement his income. Semyonov now met with Gold once or twice a week. (3) In June 1943, Gold was assigned the additional job of running an operation code-named Sulpho, aimed at acquiring materials on biological warfare.
Harry Gold was also asked to work with Klaus Fuchs, who was working on the Manhattan Project, which was the codename given to the American atomic bomb programme based in Los Alamos. However, Fuchs was based in the research unit in New York City. Gold sometimes went to the house of Fuchs' sister, who was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to meet with Fuchs. Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999), has pointed out: "The NKVD had chosen Gold, an experienced group handler, as Fuchs' contact on the grounds that it was safer than having him meet directly with a Russian operative, but Semyon Semyonov was ultimately responsible for the Fuchs relationship." (4)
Gold reported after his first meeting with Klaus Fuchs: "He (Fuchs) obviously worked with our people before and he is fully aware of what he is doing... He is a mathematical physicist... most likely a very brilliant man to have such a position at his age (he looks about 30). We took a long walk after dinner... He is a member of a British mission to the U.S. working under the direct control of the U.S. Army... The work involves mainly separating the isotopes... and is being done thusly: The electronic method has been developed at Berkeley, California, and is being carried out at a place known only as Camp Y... Simultaneously, the diffusion method is being tried here in the East... Should the diffusion method prove successful, it will be used as a preliminary step in the separation, with the final work being done by the electronic method. They hope to have the electronic method ready early in 1945 and the diffusion method in July 1945, but (Fuchs) says the latter estimate is optimistic. (Fuchs) says there is much being withheld from the British. Even Niels Bohr, who is now in the country incognito as Nicholas Baker, has not been told everything." (5)
Fuchs met Gold for a second meeting on 25th February, 1944, where he turned material with his personal work on "Enormoz". At a third meeting on 11th March, he delivered fifty additional pages. Gold reported to Semyon Semyonov that "(Klaus Fuchs) asked me how his first stuff had been received, and I said quite satisfactorily but with one drawback: references to the first material, bearing on a general description of the process, were missing, and we especially needed a detailed schema of the entire plant. Clearly, he did not like this much. His main objection, evidently, was that he had already carried out this job on the other side (in England), and those who receive these materials must know how to connect them to the scheme. Besides, he thinks it would be dangerous for him if such explanations were found, since his work here is not linked to this sort of material. Nevertheless, he agreed to give us what we need as soon as possible." (6)
On 28th March, 1944, Fuchs complained to Gold that "his work here is deliberately being curbed by the Americans who continue to neglect cooperation and do not provide information." He even suggested that he might learn more by returning to England. If Fuchs went back, "he would be able to give us more complete general information but without details." (7) Gold later admitted that he met Fuchs four times in New York City, once in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and twice in Sante Fe, New Mexico, between February 1944 and September 1945.
Anatoli Yatskov, the General Consul of the Soviet Union's delegation in New York City, became involved in the Soviet spy network. On 28th July, 1944, he reported: "At one time, when we instructed Gold to establish contact with (Fuchs), we drew special attention to the need for detailed accounts of (Fuchs's) work. After establishing his liaison with (Fuchs), we receive his information with every mail, but we do not have a single report from (Gold) about his work with (Fuchs) or about (Fuchs) himself. Missing also are precise data about where (Fuchs) works, his address, how and where meetings take place, (Gold's) impressions of (Fuchs), etc. Nor do we have the conditions of meeting (Fuchs) adopted by himself and (Gold in case of) sudden loss." (8)
Frustrated at the lack of success in the United States in October 1944 Major Pavel Fitin sent Leonid Kvasnikov to build up a network of atomic spies. The following month Kvasnikov was pleased to hear that Fuchs had been transferred to Los Alamos. This included Harry Gold, Klaus Fuchs, Theodore Hall, Julius Rosenberg, David Greenglass and Ruth Greenglass. On 8th January, 1945, Kvasnikov sent a message to Fitin about the progress he was making. "(David Greenglass) has arrived in New York City on leave... In addition to the information passed to us through (Ruth Greenglass), he has given us a hand-written plan of the layout of Camp-2 and facts known to him about the work and the personnel. The basic task of the camp is to make the mechanism which is to serve as the detonator. Experimental work is being carried out on the construction of a tube of this kind and experiments are being tried with explosive." (9)
The Soviet government was devastated when the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August, 1945. Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999): "On August 25, Kvasnikov responded that the station had not yet received agent reports on the explosions in Japan. As for Fuchs and Greenglass, their next meetings with Gold were scheduled for mid-September. Moscow found Kvasnikov's excuses unacceptable and reminded him on August 28 of the even greater future importance of information on atomic research, now that the Americans had produced the most destructive weapon known to humankind." (10)
In October 1945 Anatoli Yatskov had a meeting with Harry Gold after his return from Los Alamos. He complained that security surrounding the atomic camps was "much tougher than it was during his visit there in June. Local residents... treat outsiders very suspiciously." Klaus Fuchs gave Gold a copy of a memorandum that a number of scientist working on the Manhattan Project had sent to President Harry S. Truman. Yatskov sent a summary of the memorandum to Moscow: "This memorandum assesses the (atomic bomb) as a super-destructive means of war and expresses certainty in the possibility of exercising international control over the (bomb's) production." It urges creation of an international organization to control the use of atomic energy and purposes to let other countries know about secrets connected with the (bomb's) production." (11)
Elizabeth Bentley, confessed to the FBI she was a Soviet spy. On the 7th November 1945, she made a 107 page statement that named Victor Perlo, Harry Dexter White, Nathan Silvermaster, Abraham George Silverman, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, William Remington, Harold Glasser, Charles Kramer, Duncan Chaplin Lee, Joseph Katz, William Ludwig Ullmann, Henry Hill Collins, Frank Coe, Abraham Brothman, Mary Price, Cedric Belfrage and Lauchlin Currie as Soviet spies. The following day J. Edgar Hoover, sent a message to Harry S. Truman confirming that an espionage ring was operating in the United States government. (12)
When Kim Philby told the NKVD that Bentley had provided the names of Soviet spies, Yatskov was ordered to break-off all contact with his agents. However, on 19th December, 1945, he did have a meeting with Harry Gold, who warned him that a member of his network, Abraham Brothman, had already been interviewed by the FBI. Gold insisted that Brothman knew him as "Frank Kessler" and did not know his address: "I said that in case (Brothman) confessed about (Gold's) existence and described... what he knew about him, the FBI would try to find him. (Gold) should know that these links to him come only from (Brothman) and must not worry, since the (FBI) knows nothing about him and his work... However, (Gold) must be on the alert and demonstrate tenfold prudence and attentiveness in everything." (13)
When the FBI interviewed Brothman he admitted knowing Bentley. He also mentioned that he knew Harry Gold. As Kathryn S. Olmsted, the author of Red Spy Queen (2002), has pointed out: The name of this mysterious chemist was new to the bureau. Although the FBI's investigation of him did not turn up any evidence of espionage at the time, the bureau added Harry Gold's file to its collection of potential Soviet spies." (14) In May 1946, Gold went to work for Brothman.
Anatoli Yatskov did not see Gold again until 26th December, 1946. As Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999): "Yatskov had not seen Gold for an entire year. By the time they concluded their conversations, the Soviet operative undoubtedly regretted his neglect. Gold had been fired from his job as a chemist at a sugar plant in March 1946 when the company laid off a number of employees because of business losses. He remained unemployed until May, when Abe Brothman hired him as a chief chemist in his company. In short, the NKGB's chief courier in America now worked daily for one of his own leading sources!" (15) Yatskov also discovered that Gold had become a close friend of Brothman and had told him his real name and address. Yatskov was outraged and rebuked Gold angrily for having violated all the rules of spying.
In May 1947, Brothman was called before a federal grand jury and shown a photo of Gold and Jacob Golos. Although the prosecutor overseeing the grand jury told Brothman they knew "everything about their covert activities and urged him to confess, the engineer denied any involvement with Golos's work and claimed to have met him only once or twice. When asked who had introduced him to Golos, Brothman named Gold. Following Brothman's grand jury appearance, two FBI agents visited him, and asked him about his former employer. Gold denied that he was part of a Soviet spy network.
Gold was not called before the grand jury until 30th July, 1949. Gold testified that he and Brothman had met Golos as professional chemists seeking jobs in a new firm Golos claimed he was launching. Gold told the New York City station chief what had happened. They reported to Moscow that Gold remained a loyal agent, "devoted to us... but, taking into account everything that has happened to him lately, it is difficult to foresee how he will behave at an interrogation if the FBI undertakes further inquiry of the case." (16)
After the war Klaus Fuchs returned to England, where he was appointed by John Cockcroft as head of the theoretical physics division at the newly created British Nuclear Research Centre at Harwell. On 12th September 1949, MI5 was sent documents that had been uncovered by the Venona Project that suggested that Fuchs was a Soviet spy. His telephones were tapped and his correspondence intercepted at both his home and office. Concealed microphones were installed in Fuchs's home in Harwell. Fuchs was tailed by B4 surveillance teams, who reported that he was difficult to follow. Although they discovered he was having an affair with the wife of his line manager, the investigation failed to produce any evidence of espionage.
Fuchs was interviewed by MI5 officers but he denied any involvement in espionage and the intelligence services did not have enough evidence to have him arrested and charged with spying. Jim Skardon later recalled: "He (Klaus Fuchs) was obviously under considerable mental stress. I suggested that he should unburden his mind and clear his conscience by telling me the full story." Fuchs replied "I will never be persuaded by you to talk." The two men then went to lunch: "During the meal he seemed to be resolving the matter and to be considerably abstracted... He suggested that we should hurry back to his house. On arrival he said that he had decided it would be in his best interests to answer my questions. I then put certain questions to him and in reply he told me that he was engaged in espionage from mid 1942 until about a year ago. He said there was a continuous passing of information relating to atomic energy at irregular but frequent meetings." (17)
Fuchs explained to Skardon: "Since that time I have had continuous contact with the persons who were completely unknown to me, except that I knew they would hand whatever information I gave them to the Russian authorities. At that time I had complete confidence in Russian policy and I believed that the Western Allies deliberately allowed Russia and Germany to fight each other to the death. I had therefore, no hesitation in giving all the information I had, even though occasionally I tried to concentrate mainly on giving information about the results of my own work. There is nobody I know by name who is concerned with collecting information for the Russian authorities. There are people whom I know by sight whom I trusted with my life." (18)
A few days later J. Edgar Hoover informed President Harry S. Truman that "we have just gotten word from England that we have gotten a full confession from one of the top scientists, who worked over here, that he gave the complete know-how of the atom bomb to the Russians." (19) As Christopher Andrew, the author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009) pointed out: "What Fuchs had failed to realize was that, but for his confession, there would have been no case against him, Skardon's knowledge of his espionage, which had so impressed him, derived from... Verona... and unusable in court." (20)
Fuchs was interviewed by MI5 about his Soviet contacts. It was later recorded that: "In the course of investigation, Fuchs was shown two American motion picture films of Gold. In the first, Gold was shown on an American city street and impressed Fuchs as a man in a state of nervous excitement being chased.... After seeing the film... Fuchs identified Gold and gave testimony about him." (21)
Time Magazine reported: "Fuchs tried to cooperate... The go-between, he said, was a short stocky, soft-spoken fellow with Slavic features, an oval face and a penchant for pin-striped suits. His conversation reflected scientific training." (22) J. Edgar Hoover later discussed the case in The Reader's Digest: "Dr. Fuchs disclosed that while in the United States he had dealt with one Soviet agent only. The man's name? Fuchs had never known the agent's name. The man appeared to know chemistry and engineering but was not a nuclear physicist. Fuchs thought he was probably not an employee of an atomic energy installation.... He was from 40 to 45 years of age, possibly five feet ten inches tall, broad build, round face, most likely a first generation American." (23)
The FBI arrested Harry Gold and interviewed him about Klaus Fuchs. At first he denied knowing him. However, he suddenly broke down and made a full confession. On 23rd May, 1950, Gold appeared in court and was charged with conspiring with others to obtain secret information for the Soviet Union from Klaus Fuchs. Bail was set at $100,000 and a hearing scheduled for 12th June. The following day the newspapers reported that Gold had been arrested on evidence provided by Fuchs. (24)
Time Magazine reported: "That night his father a Russian-born cabinetmaker, and his brother, Joseph, 34, who had fought in the U.S. Army in World War II, heard astounding news - Harry Gold had been a spy for Russia." The journal quoted his father as saying "Harry was a good boy - maybe they gave him drugs." However, when his father and brother went to see him Gold confessed: "I've done something that can't be rubbed off." (25)
As a result of information provided by Gold, Alfred Dean Slack was arrested on 15th June, 1950. According to the newspapers he had been detained by FBI agents "in connection with the international atomic spying case." It was reported that he was a 44 year old, $75-a-week assistant production superintentendent at a Syracuse paint factory. He told journalists that "I am not now and never was a member of the Communist Party - and never will be." Slack was held in $100,000 bail. As he was taken away to prison he stated: "I believe the charges ultimately will be understood. Any charge against me with reference to the Manhattan project has no foundation. I am completely innocent of anything wrong." (26)
On 16th June, 1950, David Greenglass was arrested. The New York Tribune quoted him as saying: "I felt it was gross negligence on the part of the United States not to give Russia the information about the atom bomb because he was an ally." (27) According to the New York Times, while waiting to be arraigned, "Greenglass appeared unconcerned, laughing and joking with an FBI agent. When he appeared before Commissioner McDonald... he paid more attention to reporters' notes than to the proceedings." (28) Greenglass's attorney said that he had considered suicide after hearing of Gold's arrest. He was also held on $1000,000 bail.
The mood in the United States changed on 25th June, 1950, when the Korean War began. With the Soviet Union supporting North Korea, the country seemed to be at war with communism. The right wing journalist, Westbrook Pegler, commented: "The only sensible and courageous way to deal with Communists in our midst is to make membership in Communist organizations or covert subsidies a capital offense and shoot or otherwise put to death all people convicted of such." (29)
On 6th July, 1950, the New Mexico federal grand jury indicted David Greenglass on a charge of conspiring to commit espionage in wartime on behalf of the Soviet Union. Specifically, he was accused of meeting with Harry Gold in Albuquerque on 3rd June, 1945, and producing "a sketch of a high explosive lens mold" and receiving $500 from Gold. It was clear that Gold had provided the evidence to convict Greenglass.
The New York Daily Mirror reported on 13th July that Greenglass had decided to join Harry Gold and testify against other Soviet spies. "The possibility that alleged atomic spy David Greenglass has decided to tell what he knows about the relay of secret information to Russia was evidenced yesterday when U. S. Commissioner McDonald granted the ex-Army sergeant an adjournment of proceedings to move him to New Mexico for trial." (30)
On 17th July the FBI announced the arrest of Greenglass's brother-in-law, Julius Rosenberg. The New York Times reported that Rosenberg was the "fourth American held as a atom spy".(31) The New York Daily News sent a journalist to Rosenberg's machinist shop. He claimed that the three employees were all non-union workers who had been warned by Rosenberg that there could be no vacations because the firm had made no money in the past year and a half. The employees also disclosed that at one time David Greenglass had worked at the shop as a business partner of Rosenberg. (32) Time Magazine noted that "alone of the four arrested so far, Rosenberg stoutly insisted on his innocence." (33)
Harry Gold appeared before the grand jury on 29th July. He testified for several hours and later the same afternoon the FBI reported that several more spies had been arrested including Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz. While no information regarding Miss Moskowitz's alleged involvement in the spy ring was available, Brothman was revealed to have been named earlier by Elizabeth Bentley, self-confessed Soviet espionage courier, as a person who had supplied her with blueprints and other documents. It was reported by the New York Times: "The importance of the new arrests was stressed by official statements in Washington that Brothman and Gold were part of a Soviet spy apparatus under a Russian trade organization chief working to ferret out atomic secrets." (34)
Gold pleaded guilty of conspiring with Klaus Fuchs, Semyon Semyonov and Anatoli Yatskov to obtain atomic energy information for the Soviet Union. He appeared in court for sentencing on 7th December, 1950. Time Magazine commented: "There was something oddly inanimate about jail-pallid, soft-eyed little chemist Harry Gold... He had a strained unhealthy air and he sat almost immobile, with his eyes straight ahead." (35)
Gold made a statement before he was sentenced: "The most tormenting of all thoughts concerns the fact that those who meant so much to me have been the worst besmirched by my deeds. I refer here to this country, to my family and friends, to my former classmates... I have tried to make the greatest possible amends by disclosing every phase of my espionage activities, by identifying all of the persons involved, and by revealing every last scrap, shred and particle of evidence." (36)
Gold was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment. The New York Times reported: "The severity of the penalty... came as a surprise to most of the 150 persons in the courtroom. The defendant... heard the penalty without any sign of emotion." (37) It was later revealed that Gold had not done a deal with the prosecution: "Harry Gold, who had apparently provided all the evidence against himself, had cooperated fully with the FBI and prosecution, had never bargained regarding his sentence and now accepted the severe one imposed on him with his customary selfless manner, announced through his attorney that there would be no appeal." (38)
On 1st September, 1950, Alfred Dean Slack was indicted in Knoxville, Tennessee, charged with conspiring with Harry Gold and a Soviet agent, Semyon Semyonov, to obtain for the Soviet Union information "relating to the manufacture of explosive material." Slack was alleged to have met with Gold in Kingsport, in 1943 and to have turned over information to Gold there in the spring of 1944. The New York Times reported that Slack was linked "with the Klaus Fuchs spy ring that passed atomic secrets to Soviet Russia." (39)
At his trial Alfred Dean Slack "freely confessed that he did furnish to Harry Gold a technical write-up on the production process" of RDX. (40) At the suggestion of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the prosecutor recommended a sentence for Slack of ten years. He said the justice department had "pointed out that Slack's violation was a single, isolated violation," committed reluctantly.
As Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, the authors of Invitation to an Inquest (1983), had pointed out: "From the prosecutor's presentation of the government's case, a number of rather startling facts emerge: Newspaper publicity to the contrary, Slack was neither an atom spy nor a member of the Klaus Fuchs spy ring nor, in point of fact, a member of any spy ring. He was a man whose dealings with Harry Gold, to whom he had apparently sold commercial data, were - by the admission of the prosecutor-entirely legal, with one exception." (41)
Judge Robert L. Taylor pointed out that when Alfred Dean Slack gave this information to Harry Gold, the Soviet Union was an ally of the United States: "It is ironical... from the standpoint of this defendant that he committed his crime at a time when the United States and Soviet Russia were allies, but stands before the bar of justice to receive his punishment at a time when the United States and Soviet Russia are stirred by mutual distrust, torn by the clash of opposing ideologies and face each other across the world under the threat of devastating war. The human mind changes with the winds of passion. It is a quality of justice that it does not permit itself to be swayed unduly by the shifting tides." (42) Despite these comments, Taylor sentenced Slack to a term of fifteen years in prison.
At the trial Harry Gold admitted that he became a Soviet spy in 1935. Time Magazine reported that "as precisely and matter-of-factly as a high-school teacher explaining a problem in geometry". (43) During the Second World War his main contact was Anatoli Yatskov. In January 1945 he met Klaus Fuchs at his sister's house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Fuchs was now stationed at a place called Los Alamos, New Mexico; that this was a large experimental station.... Fuchs told me that a tremendous amount of progress had been made. In addition, he had made mention of a lens, which was being worked on as a part of the atom bomb.... Yatskov told me to try to remember anything else that Fuchs had mentioned during our Cambridge meeting, about the lens." (44)
Yatskov told Gold to arrange a meeting with David Greenglass in Albuquerque. Yatskov then handed Gold a sheet of onionskin paper "and on it was typed... the name Greenglass." According to Gold the last thing on the paper was "Recognition signal. I come from Julius." Yatskov also gave Gold an odd-shaped "piece of cardboard, which appeared to have been cut from a packaged food of some sort" and said that Greenglass would have the matching piece. An envelope, which Yatskov said contained $500, was to be given to Greenglass or his wife.
Gold met Greenglass on 3rd June, 1945. "I saw a man of about 23... I said I came from Julius... I showed him the piece of cardboard... that had been given me by Yatskov... He asked me to enter. I did. Greenglass went to a women's handbag and brought out from it a piece of cardboard. We matched the two of them." The New York Times reported: "By an ironic quick of Gold's testimony, the cut-out portion of a Jello box became the first tangible bit of evidence to connect the Rosenbergs, the Greenglasses, Gold and Yatskov." (45)
On 26th December 1946, Harry Gold met Anatoli Yatskov in New York City. Gold told him he was now working for Abraham Brothman, a Soviet spy who had been named by Elizabeth Bentley as a spy. Yatskov was furious and he said: "You fool... You spoiled eleven years of work." Gold claimed in court that Yatskov "kept mumbling that I had created terrible damage and... then told me that he would not see me in the United States again." Records show that Yatskov and his family left the United States by ship on 27th December. (46)
Emanuel Bloch argued: "Is there anything here which in any way connects Rosenberg with this conspiracy? The FBI "stopped at nothing in their investigation... to try to find some piece of evidence that you could feel, that you could see, that would tie the Rosenbergs up with this case... and yet this is the... complete documentary evidence adduced by the Government... this case, therefore, against the Rosenbergs depends upon oral testimony."
Bloch attacked David Greenglass, the main witness against the Rosenbergs. Greenglass was "a self-confessed espionage agent," was "repulsive... he smirked and he smiled... I wonder whether... you have ever come across a man, who comes around to bury his own sister and smiles." Bloch argued that Greenglass's "grudge against Rosenberg" over money was not enough to explain his testimony. The explanation was that Greenglass "loved his wife" and was "willing to bury his sister and his brother-in-law" to save her. The "Greenglass Plot" was to lessen his punishment by pointing his finger at someone else. Julius Rosenberg was a "clay pigeon" because he had been fired from his government job for being a member of the Communist Party of the United States in 1945. (47)
In his reply, Irving Saypol, pointed out that "Mr Bloch had a lot of things to say about Greenglass... but the story of the Albuquerque meeting... does not come to you from Greenglass alone. Every word that David and Ruth Greenglass spoke on this stand about that incident was corroborated by Harry Gold... a man concerning whom there cannot even be a suggestion of motive... He had been sentenced to thirty years... He can gain nothing from testifying as he did in this courtroom and tried to make amends. Harry Gold, who furnished the absolute corroboration of the testimony of the Greenglasses, forged the necessary link in the chain that points indisputably to the guilt of the Rosenbergs."
In his summing up Judge Irving Kaufman was considered by many to have been highly subjective: "Judge Kaufman tied the crimes the Rosenbergs were being accused of to their ideas and the fact that they were sympathetic to the Soviet Union. He stated that they had given the atomic bomb to the Russians, which had triggered Communist aggression in Korea resulting in over 50,000 American casualties. He added that, because of their treason, the Soviet Union was threatening America with an atomic attack and this made it necessary for the United States to spend enormous amounts of money to build underground bomb shelters." (48)
The jury found all three defendants guilty. Thanking the jurors, Judge Kaufman, told them: "My own opinion is that your verdict is a correct verdict... The thought that citizens of our country would lend themselves to the destruction of their own country by the most destructive weapons known to man is so shocking that I can't find words to describe this loathsome offense." (49) Judge Kaufman sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the death penalty and Morton Sobell to thirty years in prison.
A large number of people were shocked by the severity of the sentence as they had not been found guilty of treason. In fact, they had been tried under the terms of the Espionage Act that had been passed in 1917 to deal with the American anti-war movement. Under the terms of this act, it was a crime to pass secrets to the enemy whereas these secrets had gone to an ally, the Soviet Union. During the Second World War several American citizens were convicted of passing information to Nazi Germany. Yet none of these people were executed.
Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg were executed on 19th June, 1953. "Julius Rosenberg, thirty-five, wordlessly went to his death at 8:06 P.M. Ethel Rosenberg, thirty-seven, entered the execution chamber a few minutes after her husband's body had been removed. Just before being seated in the chair, she held out her hand to a matron accompanying her, drew the other woman close, and kissed her lightly on the cheek. She was pronounced dead at 8:16 P.M." (50) According to the New York Times the Rosenbergs went to their deaths "with a composure that astonished the witnesses." (51)
Harry Gold was paroled in May, 1966, after serving just over half of his sentence.
Harry Gold died in Philadelphia on 28th August 1972.
Harry Gold's testimony before the 1947 grand jury included a resume of his education. He attended a year-and-a-half at the University of Pennsylvania; then from 1933 to 1936, earned a diploma in chemistry at Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. From 1939 to 1940 he attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he obtained a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. Between Drexel and Xavier he also took a course in psychology, an organic chemistry course at Columbia, and at St. Joseph's School in Philadelphia he took courses in engineering management, science, a war training program, fermentation chemistry, distillery operation and laboratory glass-blowing.
Gold had testified that he met Golos in the fall of 1940 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, having been introduced to him by a colleague, Carter Hoodless. Gold went to dinner with Golos, during which the latter proposed a business arrangement. He needed someone to check on the technical validity of some proposals and related drawings of chemical processes which an engineer by the name of Abraham Brothman was submitting to him, and he was willing to pay for those evaluations. Golos gave him Brothman's telephone number and asked him to call. Gold said he thought some of the evaluations might involve "paper chemistry," but some would have to be checked in a laboratory.
Gold reported after his first meeting with Klaus Fuchs: "He (Fuchs) obviously worked with our people before and he is fully aware of what he is doing... He is a mathematical physicist... most likely a very brilliant man to have such a position at his age (he looks about 30). We took a long walk after dinner... He is a member of a British mission to the U.S. working under the direct control of the U.S. Army... The work involves mainly separating the isotopes... and is being done thusly: The electronic method has been developed at Berkeley, California, and is being carried out at a place known only as Camp Y... Simultaneously, the diffusion method is being tried here in the East... Should the diffusion method prove successful, it will be used as a preliminary step in the separation, with the final work being done by the electronic method. They hope to have the electronic method ready early in 1945 and the diffusion method in July 1945, but (Fuchs) says the latter estimate is optimistic. (Fuchs) says there is much being withheld from the British. Even Niels Bohr, who is now in the country incognito as Nicholas Baker, has not been told everything.
At one time, when we instructed Gold to establish contact with (Fuchs), we drew special attention to the need for detailed accounts of (Fuchs's) work. After establishing his liaison with (Fuchs), we receive his information with every mail, but we do not have a single report from (Gold) about his work with (Fuchs) or about (Fuchs) himself. Missing also are precise data about where (Fuchs) works, his address, how and where meetings take place, (Gold's) impressions of (Fuchs), etc. Nor do we have the conditions of meeting (Fuchs) adopted by himself and (Gold in case of) sudden loss.
Yatskov had not seen Gold for an entire year. By the time they concluded their conversations, the Soviet operative undoubtedly regretted his neglect. Gold had been fired from his job as a chemist at a sugar plant in March 1946 when the company laid off a number of employees because of business losses. He remained unemployed until May, when Abe Brothman hired him as a chief chemist in his company. In short, the NKGB's chief courier in America now worked daily for one of his own leading sources!