Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, to visit Marshall University for Rosenberg trial seminar Nov. 11

Robert MeeropolRobert Meeropol, one of the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, will share his story with the Marshall University community during a Rosenberg trial seminar  sponsored by Marshall University’s College of Health Professions and the college’s Department of Social Work. He will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in room BE-5 of  the Memorial Student Center on Marshall’s Huntington campus.

The Rosenbergs were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and executed for passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

Dr. Peggy Proudfoot Harman, assistant professor of social work at Marshall and organizer of the event, said this seminar will be the culmination of a semester-long exploration into the implications of the well-known Rosenberg trial by her First Year Seminar (FYS) students.

“My FYS ‘Investigation 101’ students have studied the connection of how social, biological and psychological factors shape human behavior,” Harman said. “From a social work standpoint, Mr. Meeropol’s story is interesting for many reasons, especially when one considers that he and his older brother were abandoned by family members after his parents’ execution until he was later adopted by the Meeropol family.”

Harman, a former federal investigator/ mitigation specialist for the Federal Public Defender in Pittsburgh, said Meeropol plans to discuss many themes, which are still relevant today.

“In light of the recent news associated with Edward Snowden, ISIS and acts of terrorism, the issues of national security, patriotism and the death penalty are still topics of great interest to many of us,” Harman said. “As far as we know, Mr. Meeropol is the only U.S. attorney to have had both parents executed and with this in mind, he will bring a fascinating personal perspective to the table.”

Meeropol, now in his 60s, was only six years old when his parents were put to death.  Until 2013, he was executive director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, a public foundation he started in his parents’ honor in 1990. Since retiring from that position, he speaks publicly about his parents’ case less frequently, but he said the opportunity given to him at Marshall University was one he could not pass up.

“When I found out there was a group of young students dedicated to delving into my parents case at Marshall, I saw an opportunity to explore these connections and create a level of interaction I have not had in other campus events,” Meeropol said.

RobertMeeropol_early1950sMeeropol said he hopes the Marshall community will see the relationship between what has happened in the past and what continues to happen.

“At the end of this, I want my audience to learn how to explore for themselves,” Meeropol said. “If they listen to everything I say and respond, ‘okay this guy is the fountain of truth,’ then they won’t have gotten the point. If they reject everything I say and then respond, ‘he’s living in a fantasy land,’ then they won’t have gotten the point either. The point I want them to take away is that the truth is rarely simple and oftentimes, keeping an open mind will help us understand things in a way we never thought possible.”

Meeropol also will participate in a morning session with the FYS students. It is open to the public and will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Drinko Library.

The Marshall University Department of Social Work will offer one Continuing Education Unit for licensed social workers for the morning session and two CEUs for the evening session.

Copies of Meeropol’s book, An Execution in the Family: One Son’s Journey, will be sold at the evening seminar. They will be available for $10, with proceeds to benefit the Rosenberg Fund for Children.

For more information on the Department of Social Work, visit online. To learn more about Meeropol and his work with The Rosenberg Fund for Children, visit online.


Photos: (Above) Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, will visit Marshall University to discuss the implications of his parents’ execution from a personal, social and political perspective.(Below) Meeropol and his brother, Michael, pose for a photo in the early 1950s, right around the time of their parents’ trial. Meeropol said he hopes the Marshall University community will see similarities between what happened in the 1950s and what is happening today.