Robert (1968) Michael (1974)
(photos from Meeropol, We Are Your Sons)
Michael and Robert Meeropol are the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The two boys were just 7 and 3 years old when their parents were arrested for espionage.
During the trial and the various appeals of their parents the boys had no home of their own. When Ethel Rosenberg was arrested the children were sent to live with Tessie Greenglass, Ethel's mother. Tessie Greenglass was unable to take care of the boys, and after staying with her for three months they were moved to the Hebrew Children's Home. Sophie Rosenberg, Julius' mother removed Michael and Robert from the shelter after they had been there for several months. She decided to take care of the boys herself. During this time Michael and Robert were allowed to visit their parents in Sing Sing prison. After about one year with their paternal grandmother the boys were forced to relocate once again, this time moving in with the Bach family, friends of the Rosenbergs, who lived in New Jersey.
On June 14, 1953 Michael and Robert traveled to Washington, D.C. to appeal for their parents lives to be spared. The Rosenbergs' will named their attorney, Manny Bloch, as guardian of the boys. Bloch placed the Rosenberg's children with Abel and Anne Meeropol, and in 1957 the couple legally adopted the boys. (Abel Meeropol, incidentally, wrote the music and lyrics for "Strange Fruit," a haunting song about lynching. The song became a Billie Holliday trademark. Time Magazine recently picked "Strange Fruit" as "the song of the century.") With a new family and a new last name the boys were able to try to live a normal life. They kept the identity of their parents a secret from all but their closest friends.
Michael attended Swarthmore and later Kings College at Cambridge, England where he studied economics. Robert studied at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana then transferred to Michigan University. Like their parents both Michael and Robert became very interested in politics, especially leftist politics. Robert in particular became active in the anti-war effort.
During the 1970's the Meeropol's became more open about their biological parent's identity. Using the Freedom of Information Act they were able to obtain previously undisclosed documents related to their parent's case, documents that they felt showed their parents innocence. In 1975, they authored We Are Your Sons, a book detailing their experience as sons of the Rosenbergs, as well as proclaiming the innocence of their parents. Michael Meeropol edited The Rosenberg Letters in 1994. Robert is a lecturer and creator of the Rosenberg Fund for Children.
In 2008, following Morty Sobell's admission that he spied for the Soviets, Michael and Robert Meeropol finally came to terms with their father's guilt.