On June 19, 1953, in a hideous example of US anti-communist hysteria, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, accused of spying for the Soviet Union. They had two young children, six-year-old Robert and 10-year-old Michael.
"First I lived in a shelter", Robert Meeropol later said. "Later I lived with friends of my parents in New Jersey, but I was thrown out of school after the Board of Education found out who I was.
"After my parents' execution, the police even seized me from the home of my future adoptive parents [Abel and Anne Meeropol], and I was placed in an orphanage."
In 1957, the boys officially took the Meeropols' last name for personal security. Only the Meeropols' closest friends and family members knew the brothers' true identities. In the late 60s and early 70s the brothers were active in the movement against the US war in Vietnam. In 1975, they co-wrote the book We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
In 1990, Robert founded the Rosenberg Fund for Children, a non-profit organisation that helps pay for the educational and emotional needs of children whose parents have suffered because of their progressive political activities. The fund also provides grants for "targeted activist youth in the United States".
In 2003, he wrote An Execution in the Family: One Son's Journey, about his quest to get classified documents about Ethel and Julius.