Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

The following news item caught my attention lately due to the reference to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg:

The Cuban and the US flags fluttered together on June 19 by a monument dedicated to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were unjustly executed 55 years ago by fascist forces in the United States.

The vice-president of the Cuban Friendship Institute, Basilio Gutiérrez, and Georgina Chavau, an official from the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, placed a wreath by the monolith located at Zapata and Paseo Streets, in Havana, as a tribute of the Cuban people to the first victims of US fascism.

The president of the Cuban Peace and Sovereignty Movement, José Ramón Rodríguez, condemned the act of genocide and repressive policy by the US administration, which acted with absolute impunity by condemning the married couple -Ethel and Julius Rosenberg – to the electric chair. He added that it is the same policy that maintains five young Cubans incarcerated in the US for fighting terrorism, while at the same time that country protects and supports perpetrators of crimes against humanity, like Luis Posada Carriles.

Surrounded by a network of lies, denunciations, and false evidence, the Rosenbergs were treated by McCarthyism as two dangerous pro-Soviet spies. Declared guilty of giving the former Soviet Union military secrets, related to the construction of the atomic bomb, Ethel and Julius were executed on June 19, 1953.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg faced their death with an impressive courage and dignity while standing strong to their principles. In the last letter to their children, they wrote:

Your lives must teach you, too, that good cannot flourish in the midst of evil; that freedom and all the things that go to make up a truly satisfying and worthwhile life, must sometime be purchased very dearly. Be comforted then that we were serene and understood with the deepest kind of understanding, that civilization had not as yet progressed to the point where life did not have to be lost for the sake of life; and that we were comforted in the sure knowledge that others would carry on after us.

So powerful was their message that the couple found an permanent place in the poetry of sub-continent as Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote one of his most famous poems after being inspired by the letters of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. The enligh translation of the poem, Hum jo tareeq rahoon mein mare gaye, is as follows:

We, Who Were Slain In Unlit Pathways

Wishing for the roses of your lips
we offered ourselves to a gallows’ twig
Longing for the radiance of your glowing hands
we let ourselves be slain in unlit pathways

On the gallows away from our face
darted the redness of your ruby lips,
waved the playfulness of your youthful locks,
shone the glow of the silver palms.

When the evening of suffering settled in your alleys
we came, as far as our steps could bring
Words of poetry on our lips, a lamp of anguish in our hearts
Our suffering was a testimony to your beauty
See, we were faithful to our pledge
We, who were slain in unlit pathways.

If failure was our destined end
your love was indeed our own doing.
Who is to blame if all the roads of passion
led to the killing grounds of separation.

Picking up our flags from these grounds
will march forth more caravans of your lovers
For whose journeys’ sake, our footsteps have
shortened the lengths of the agonizing quest
For whose sake we have made universal
by losing our lives, the pledge to your faithfulness
We, who were slain in unlit pathways.

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