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Michael Meeropol at the Left Forum (NYC) in 2011
Michael Meeropol at the Left Forum (NYC) in 2011
Michael Meeropol (born Michael Rosenberg in 1943) is a retired professor of economics. He is the older son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Born in New York City, as Michael Rosenberg, Meeropol spent his early childhood living in New York and attending local school there. His father Julius, an electrical engineer, was a member of the Communist Party. His mother Ethel (née Greenglass), a union organizer, was also active in the Communist Party. When Michael was seven years old, his parents were arrested. In 1953, they were convicted and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage and passing secrets to the Soviet Union.
During the trial, Michael and his younger brother Robert lived first with their maternal grandmother, Tessie Greenglass (until November 1950). She placed them in a children's shelter, the Hebrew Children's Home, in the Bronx during the trial (until June 1951). Their paternal grandmother, Sophie Rosenberg, had them live with her in upper Manhattan (until June 1952). Next they were taken care of by family friends, Ben and Sonia Bach in Toms River, New Jersey, from June 1952 until the December after their parents' executions (June 19, 1953). The school superintendent "turned the boys away as non-residents."
The brothers were eventually adopted by the lyricist, librettist, and musician Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne, whose first children had been stillborn. Taking their last name, Michael and Robert grew up first in Manhattan and then (after 1961) in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
Michael graduated from Swarthmore College, before going on to graduate work at King's College, Cambridge University. He did his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he received his PhD in Economics in 1973.
Meeropol eventually became an economist, teaching at Western New England College. In 1998 he authored Surrender: How the Clinton Administration Completed the Reagan Revolution. Many of his articles have advocated liberal to left-wing economic policies, including, in 2005, his opposition to the Bush administration's efforts to partially privatize Social Security. Since September 2006 he has been a monthly commentator on the Albany NPR-affiliate WAMC radio.
He and his brother Robert have written about their parents as well as participating in documentaries about them. Together they wrote We Are Your Sons (1975). A second edition was published in 1986 (University of Illinois Press) with three new chapters, including a refutation of the book, The Rosenberg File. Meeropol said that even though they got it "right" about the (partial) guilt of Julius Rosenberg, Michael Meeropol said they were "right" like a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Meeropol separately edited a complete edition of his parents' prison correspondence, The Rosenberg Letters (1994). Though currently not speaking in public about his parents' case as much as his brother, he remains a strong advocate for his parents. His daughter Ivy Meeropol used his comments in her documentary, Heir to an Execution, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004 and shown extensively on HBO that June.
In 2013, he co-authored a textbook, Principles Of Macroeconomics: Activist vs. Austerity Policies.
Meeropol is married to Ann Karus Meeropol. They have two children, Ivy and Greg, and two grandchildren.
In 2008, after the Rosenberg co-defendant Morton Sobell admitted that he and Julius Rosenberg had engaged in espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union during World War II, Michael and Robert Meeropol agreed that their father was a Soviet spy. But, they reiterated the failures of the government prosecution: "[W]hatever atomic bomb information their father passed to the Russians was, at best, superfluous; the case was riddled with prosecutorial and judicial misconduct; their mother was convicted on flimsy evidence to place leverage on her husband; and neither deserved the death penalty." A month later, the brothers published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times reminding readers that the Sobell confession reveals nothing about the issue of the theft of the atom bomb secret. They noted that the witness Ruth Greenglass' recently released Grand Jury testimony said nothing about Ethel Rosenberg's alleged spying activities, for which the government convicted her.
The Meeropol brothers have endorsed the conclusions of Walter Schneir in his posthumously published book Final Verdict that the entire Greenglass story of the secret of the Atom Bomb was concocted – that Julius Rosenberg had been given a "pink slip" by the KGB in early 1945 and thus was out of the espionage loop when the famous cross-section drawing of an implosion-type Atom Bomb (exhibit 8 at the Rosenberg Trial) was passed to the Soviets. Schneir said that David and/or Ruth Greenglass turned that drawing and descriptive material over to a KGB agent in December of 1945 – not as testified at the trial to Julius Rosenberg in September of 1945.