On this day April 5, 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for providing government secrets, including details of the atomic bomb, to the Soviet Union.

The Rosenbergs helped recruit a network of spies that passed on secrets that helped the Soviet Union to produce its own nuclear weapons by 1949. The speed with which the communists came up with the bomb surprised the West.

The FBI arrested a British scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project who ultimately led authorities to the Rosenbergs.

The decision to execute the Rosenbergs was controversial and tinged with claims of anti-Semitism.

They were killed in the electric chair in 1953, the √ěrst civilians executed for espionage in the United States.

- Scott McCabe