In his movie Crimes and Misdemeanors, Woody Allen plays Cliff Stern, a hapless documentary filmmaker who is making a documentary about his brother-in-law Lester (played by Alan Alda), a typical successful TV producer. Cliff, who despises Lester, his work, and what he stands for, is editing the film to make the slimy Lester look as stupid as possible. At one point, Cliff tells Lester that he loves him like a brother – David Greenglass.

In the 1950s, this was a common joke among liberals in New York. Sergeant David Greenglass was the brother of Ethel Rosenberg (as in Julius and Ethel Rosenberg). He served in the army as a machinist assigned to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos. Greenglass and Julius Rosenberg, a civilian engineer with the US Army Signal Corps, stole military secrets, including data on nuclear weapons.

They were caught, of course, and put on trial for espionage. While the Rosenbergs were executed, Greenglass ratted out his own sister by testifying as a witness for the prosecution. Greenglass actually stole secrets but served only 15 years, while his sister, who was merely a typist by some accounts, was killed.

Things like this make me glad I am an only child.

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