December 9

This Day in History

Cold War

Dec 9, 1950:

Harry Gold sent to prison for his role in atomic espionage

Harry Gold--who had confessed to serving as a courier between Klaus Fuchs, a British scientist who stole top-secret information on the atomic bomb, and Soviet agents--is sentenced to 30 years in jail for his crime. Gold's arrest and confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass, who then implicated his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Gold's arrest was part of a massive FBI investigation into Soviet espionage, particularly the theft of atomic secrets. Gold, a 39-year-old research chemist, made the acquaintance of British atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs during the latter's trips to the United States during World War II. Fuchs worked at the Los Alamos laboratory on the Manhattan Project, the top secret U.S. program to develop an atomic weapon. David Greenglass was also employed at Los Alamos. In February 1950, Fuchs was arrested in Great Britain and charged with passing atomic secrets on to the Soviets. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in a British prison. Fuchs then accused Gold of having been the go-between with Soviet agents. Gold was picked up a short time later and eventually confessed to his part. He explained that, at the time, he did not believe that he was helping an enemy, but was instead assisting a wartime ally of the United States. Further questioning of Gold led him to implicate David Greenglass. Greenglass then informed on Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, claiming that both of them actively spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and after. The Rosenbergs were later convicted and executed for espionage.

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