Note to parents and community members: If there is any information on which you would like to comment or provide feedback/insight, please click on the discussion tab above. You must be a registered user. Please click here for those directions.

David Greenglass


David Greenglass was a very key person in the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were two famous characters and victims of the infamous witch hunts for Soviet spies that the United States government carried through. They were also the first and only to be executed because of their acts of espionage. Without David Greenglass' testimony as a witness, the Rosenbergs might have been spared.

David Greenglass was born in 1922 in New York City. His sister was Ethel Greenglass. He married his wife Ruth at the age of 20 in 1942. David and Ruth were very vocal in the communist community. Greenglass entered the army and then he and his wife joined the Youth Communist League in 1943. He was set apart from his fellow soldiers because of the fact that he supported communist beliefs. His unit was shipped out of the training camp and Greenglass was asked to stay. At first, Greenglass believed that he was asked to stay because of his beliefs on communism, however, he was wrong. After a series of stops along the way, he was deported to Los Alamos, New Mexico to work on the secret Manhattan Project.

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret project run by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1941 and 1946. The headquarters for the project were in Los Alamos, New Mexico, with another plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The goal for the project was to create the first ever atomic bomb. We were successful in creating it. Three were created. The first was called the Trinity Test and was detonated on July 16, 1945 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The other two were more infamously known as "Little Boy", dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, and "Fat Man", dropped on Nagasaki, Japan just three days after "Little Boy". This project was considered by most as the beginning of the atomic age.

David Greenglass might have not had a significant role in the creation of the atomic bomb, his relationship to the Manhattan Project was still an important one. While he was working on it, he was completely unaware of the purpose of his workings. It was his wife, Ruth, that clued him on what was going on. His wife Ruth, being very "left-sided," had heard about the idea of the project from David's brother-in-law Julius and told him what was going on. She has asked him to feed information about the project to Julius. From this point forward, it is all speculation. Nobody knows what Greenglass actually gave to Julius and what secrets he said. Also, nobody knows what Julius actually fed to the Soviet government. It is speculated that he gave everything he heard and discovered to Julius for the two years that he worked there, from 1944 to 1946.

During Greenglass' trial, he claimed that he fed information to the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union and the United States were allies. His claims were ignored and he was charged with espionage by the FBI in June of 1950. He then brought the Rosenbergs down with him. In 1951, Greenglass testified to the Grand Jury saying his sister (Ethel Rosenberg) typed up his notes, while his brother-in-law, Julius Rosenberg, fed them to the Soviet Union. He went against his sister and her husband for immunity for his wife. Greenglass traded his testimony against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for his wife and their kids to stay together. Greenglass ended up being sentenced for 15 years in prison and served ten.

Citation for pictures and information:

Navigation: McCarthyism Home Page, Ms. Rice's Home Page