Historic Diary

By Lee Harvey Oswald

Edited By W. Tracy and Carol Parnell


Note:Oswald may have suffered from Dyslexia, a learning disability that often results in poor language skills. His writing has been corrected here for spelling and punctuation only.


From Oct. 16 1959 Arrival -- Leaving




Oct. 16. Arrive from Helsinki by train; am met by Intourist Representative and in car to hotel "Berlin". Register as "student"(5 day Luxury tourist. Ticket). Meet my Intourist guide Rima Shirokova I explain to her I wish to apply for Russian citizenship. She is flabbergasted, but agrees to help. She checks with her boss, main office Intourist, then helps me add a letter to Supreme Soviet asking for citizenship, meanwhile boss telephones passport & visa office and notifies them about me.


Oct. 17. Rima meets me for Intourist sightseeing, says we must continue with this although I am too nervous, she is "sure" I'll have an answer soon. Asks me about myself and my reasons for doing this. I explain I am a communist, etc. She is politely sympathetic, but uneasy now. She tries to be a friend to me. She feels sorry for me; I am something new.


Sun. Oct. 18. My 20th birthday, we visit exhibit in morning and in the afternoon the Lenin-Stalin tomb. She gives me a present Book "Idiot" by Dostoevski and still no word from authorities about my request.


Oct. 20. Rima in the afternoon says Intourist was notified by the pass & visa department that they want to see me; I am excited greatly by this news.


Oct. 21. (am) Meeting with single official. Balding ,stout, black suit, fairly good English, asks what do I want? I say Soviet citizenship; he asks why, I give vague answers about "Great Soviet Union." He tells me "USSR only great in Literature wants; me to go back home." I am stunned. I reiterate, he says he shall check and let me know weather my visa will be extended (it expires today). Eve. 6.00-Receive word from police official. I must leave country tonight at 8.00 P.M. as visa expires. I am shocked!! My dreams! I retire to my room. I have $100 left. I have waited for 2 years to be accepted. My fondest dreams are shattered because of a petty official; because of bad planning I planned so much! 7.00 P.M. I decide to end it. Soak wrist in cold water to numb the pain. Then slash my left wrist. Then plunge wrist into bathtub of hot water. I think "when Rima comes at 8 to find me dead it will be a great shock. Somewhere a violin plays as I watch my life whirl away. I think to myself, "how easy to die" and "a sweet death," (to violins) About 8.00 Rima finds me unconscious (bathtub water a rich red color) she screams (I remember that) and runs for help. Ambulance comes, am taken to hospital where five stitches are put in my wrist. Poor Rima stays by my side as interpreter (my Russian is still very bad) far into the night, I tell her "go home" (my mood is bad) but she stays; she is "my friend". She has a strong will; only at this moment I notice she is pretty.


Oct. 22. Hospital- I am in a small room with about 12 others (sick persons), 2 orderlies and a nurse; the room is very drab as well as the breakfast. Only after prolonged (2 hours) observation of the other patients do I realize I am in the Insanity ward. This realization disquiets me. Later in afternoon I am visited by Rima; she comes in with two doctors, as interrogator she must ask me medical question: Did you know what you were doing? Answer, "yes". Did you blackout? No, etc. I then complain about poor food; the doctors laugh, apparently this is a good sign. Later they leave; I am alone with Rima (amongst the mentally ill) she encourages me and scolds me, she says she will help me get transferred to another section of Hospital (not for insane) where food is good.


Oct. 23. Transferred to ordinary ward (airy, good food), but nurses suspicious of me(they know). Afternoon. I am visited by Rosa Agafonova of the hotel tourist office who asks about my health; very beautiful, excellent English, very merry and kind; she makes me very glad to be alive. Later Rima visits.


Oct. 24. Hospital routine; Rima visits me in afternoon


Oct 25. Hospital routine; Rima visits me in afternoon


Oct. 26. An elderly American at the hospital grows suspicious about me for some reason, maybe because at Embassy I told him I had not registered as most tourists and I am in general evasive about my presence in Moscow and at hospital. Afternoon Rima visits.


Oct. 27. Stitches are taken out by doctor with "dull" scissors.


Wed Oct. 28. Leave hospital in Intourist car, with Rima for Hotel "Berlin." Later I change hotels to "Metropole" all clothes packed, and money from my room (to the last kopeck) returned as well as watch, ring. Ludmilla Dimitrova (Intourist office head) and Rosa invite me to come and site and take with them any time. I get lonesome at new hotel. They feel sorry for me. Rima notifies me that passport & registration office wishes to see me about my future. Later Rima and car pick me up and we enter the offices to find four officials waiting for me (all unknown to me). They ask how my arm is; I say O.K. They ask "Do you want to go to your homeland. I say no; I want Soviet citizenship. I say I want to reside in the Soviet Union. They say they will see about that. Then they ask me about the lone official with whom I spoke in the first place (apparently he did not pass along my request at all but thought to simply get rid of me by not extending my Soviet visa at the time I requested it.) I describe him (they make notes). What papers do you have to show who and what you are? I give them my discharge papers from the Marine Corps. They say wait for our answer. I ask how long? Not soon. Later Rima comes to check on me. I feel insulted and insult her.


Oct. 29. Hotel Room 214 - Metropole Hotel. I wait. I worry. I eat once, stay next to phone, worry. I keep fully dressed.


Oct. 30. Hotel Room - I have been in hotel three days; it seems like three years. I must have some sort of a showdown!


Oct. 31. I make my decision. Getting passport at 12:00, I meet and talk with Rima for a few minutes. She says, "Stay in your room and eat well. I don't tell her about what I intend to do since I know she would not approve. After she leaves, I wait a few minutes and then I catch a taxi. "American Embassy," I say. 12:30 - I arrive American Embassy. I walk in and say to the receptionist, "I would like to see the Consular". She points at a large ledger and says, "If you are a tourist, please register". I take out my American passport and lay it in the desk. "I have come to dissolve my American citizenship," I say matter-of-factly. She rises and enters the office of Richard Snyder, American Head Consular in Moscow at that time. He invites me to sit down. He finishes a letter he is typing and then asks what he can do for me. I tell him I have decided to take Soviet citizenship and would like to legally dissolve my U.S. citizenship. His assistant (now Head Consular) McVickers looks up from his work. Snyder takes down personal information, asks questions, warns me not to take any steps before the Soviets accept me, says I am a "fool", and says the dissolution papers are a long time in preparing (In other words, refuses to allow me at that time to dissolve U.S. citizenship. I state "my mind is made up". From this day forward, I consider myself no citizen of the USA. I spend 40 minutes at the Embassy before Snyder says, "Now, unless you wish to expound on your Marxist beliefs, you can go." I wish to dissolve U.S. citizenship. Not today, he says in effect. I leave Embassy, elated at this showdown. Returning to my hotel, I feel now my energies are not spent in vain. I'm sure Russians will accept me after this sign of my faith in them. At 2:00 PM a knock; a reporter by the name of Goldstene wants an interview. I'm flabbergasted - "How did you find out?" "The Embassy called us," he said. I send him away; I sit and realize this is one way to bring pressure on me. By notifying my relations in U.S. through the newspapers. Although they would say, "itís for the public record." A half hour later, another reporter, Miss Mosby, comes. I answer a few quick questions after refusing an interview. I am surprised at the interest. I get phone calls from "Time"; at night a phone call from the States. I refuse all calls without finding out who theyíre from. I feel nonplused because of the attention. 10:00 - I retire.


Nov. 1. More reporters, 3 phone calls from brother & mother. Now I feel slightly exhilarated, not so lonely.


Nov. 2. 15 days of utter loneliness. I refuse all reports, phone calls. I remain in my room; I am racked with dysentery.


Nov. 15. I decide to give an interview; I have Miss Mosbyís card so I call her. She drives right over. I give my story, allow pictures; later story is distorted, sent without my permission, that is: before I ever saw and O.K.íd her story. Again I feel slightly better because of the attention.


Nov. 16. A Russian official comes to my room, asks how I am. Notifies me I can remain in USSR till some solution is found with what to do with me; it is comforting news for me.


Nov.17 - Dec. 30. I have bought myself two self-teaching Russian Language books. I force myself to study 8 hours a day. I sit in my room and read and memorize words. All meals I take in my room. Rima arranged that. It is very cold on the streets so I rarely go outside at all for this month and a half. I see no one, speak to no one except every now and then Rima, who calls the ministry about me. Have they forgotten?. During December, I paid no money to the hotel, but Rima told Hotel I was expecting a lot of money from USA. I have $28 left. This month I was called to the passport office and met 3 new officials who asked me the same questions I answered a month before. They appear not to know me at all.


Dec. 31. New Yearís Eve, I spend in the company of Rosa Agafoneva at the Hotel Berlin; she has the duty. I sit with her until past midnight; she gives me a small "Boratin" clown, for a New Yearís present. She is very nice. I found out only recently she is married, has small son who was born crippled. That is why she is so strangely tender and compelling.




Jan 1 - 4. No change in routine.


Jan 4. I am called to passport office and finally given a Soviet document not the Soviet citizenship as I so wanted, only a residence document, not even foreigners but a paper called "for those without citizenship." Still I am happy. The official says they are sending me to the city of "Minsk." I ask, "Is that in Siberia?" He only laughs. He also tells me that they have arranged for me to receive some money though the Red Cross to pay my hotel bills and expenses. I thank the gentleman and leave. Later in the afternoon, I see Rima; she asks, "Are you happy". "Yes."


Jan. 5. I go to Red Cross in Moscow for money with Interpreter (a new one). I receive 5,000 rubles - a huge sum!! Later in Minsk, I am to earn 70 rubles a month at the factory.


Jan. 7. I leave Moscow by train for Minsk, Belorussia. My hotel bill was 2,200 rubles and the train ticket to Minsk 150 rubles, so I have a lot of money and hope. I wrote my brother and mother letters in which I said, "I do not wish to ever contact you again. I am beginning a new life, and I don't want any part of the old". Arrive in Minsk, met by two women Red Cross workers. We go to Hotel "Minsk"; I take room and meet Rosa and Stellina, two persons from Intourist in hotel who speak English. Stellina is in 40's, nice, married, young child Rosa about 23, blond, attractive, unmarried. Excellent English, we attract each other at once.


Jan 8. I meet the city mayor, comrade Shrapof, who welcomes me to Minsk, promises a rent-free apartment "soon", and warns me about "uncultured persons" who sometimes insult foreigners. My interpreter: Roman Detkof, Head Foreign Tech Institute next door.


Jan 10. The day to myself; I walk through city, very nice.


Jan. 11. I visit Minsk Radio factory where I shall work. There I meet Argentinean Immigrant Alexander Ziger. Born a Polish Jew, immigrated to Argentina in 1938 and back to Polish homeland (now part of Belorussia) in 1955. Speaks English with American accent; he worked for American com in Argentina. He is head of a department, a qualified Engineer in late 40's, mild-mannered, likable. He seems to want to tell me something. I show him my temporary document and say soon I shall have Russian citizenship.


Jan. 13 - 16. I work as "checker" metal worker, pay 700 rubles a month, work very easy. I am learning Russian quickly. Now, everyone is very friendly and kind. I meet many young Russian workers my own age; they have varied personalities. All wish to know about me, even offer to hold a mass meeting so I can say. I refuse politely. At night, I take Rosa to the theater, movie or opera. Almost every day, I'm living big and am very satisfied. I receive a check from the Red Cross every 5th of the month "to help." The check is 700 rubles. Therefore, every month I make 1400 rubles, about the same as the Directory of the factory! Ziger observes me during this time. I don't like: picture of Lenin which watches from its place of honor and physical training at 11-11:10 each morning (compulsory) for all. (shades of H.G. Wells!!)


March 16. I receive a small flat one-room kitchen-bath near the factory (8 min. walk) with splendid view of the river from two balconies, almost rent free (60 rubles a month). It is a Russianís dream.


March 17 - April 31. Work, I have lost contact with Rosa after my house moving. I meet Pavel Golovachev. A young man my age, friendly, very intelligent, an excellent radio technician. His father is General Golovachev, Commander of Northwestern Siberia. Twice hero of USSR in World War II.


May 1. May Day came as my first holiday; all factories etc. closed after spectacular military parade. All workers parade past reviewing stand, waving flags and pictures of Mr. K. etc. I follow American custom of marking a holiday by sleeping in the morning. At night, I visit with the Zigersí daughters at a party thrown by them. About 40 people came, many of Argentine origin. We dance and play around and drink until 2 AM when party breaks up. Leonara Ziger, oldest daughter, 26, formerly married, now divorced, a talented singer. Anita Ziger, 20, very gay, not so attractive, but we hit it off. Her boyfriend, Alfred, is a Hungarian chap, silent and brooding, not at all like Anita. Ziger advises me to go back to USA; its the first voice of opposition I have heard. I respect Ziger; he has seen the world. He says many things, and relates many things I do not know about the USSR. I begin to feel uneasy inside; itís true!


June-July. Summer months of green beauty, pine forest very deep. I enjoy many Sundays in the environments of Minsk with the Zigers who have a car "mos.vick" Alfred always goes along with Anita; Leonara seems to have no permanent boyfriend, but many admirers. She has a beautiful Spanish figure, long black hair, like Anita. I never pay much attention to her; sheís too old for me. She seems to dislike my lack of attention for some reason. She is high strung. I have become habituated to a small cafe which is where I dine in the evening. The food is generally poor and always exactly the same menu in any cafe, at any point in the city. The food is cheap, and I donít really care about quality after three years in the U.S.M.C.


Aug-Sept. As my Russian improves, I become increasingly conscious of just what sort of a society I live in. Mass gymnastics, compulsory after-work meeting, usually political information meeting. Compulsory attendance at lectures and the sending of the entire shop collectively (except me) to pick potatoes on a Sunday at a State collective farm. A "patriotic duty" to bring in the harvest. The opinions of the workers (unvoiced) are that itís a great pain in the neck. They don't seem to be especially enthusiastic about any of the "collective" duties, a natural feeling. I am increasingly aware of the presence, in all things, of Lebizen, shop party secretary, fat, fortyish, and jovial on the outside. He is a no-nonsense party regular.


Oct. The coming of Fall, my dread of a new Russian winter, are mellowed in splendid golds and reds of Fall. In Belorussia plums, peaches, apricots, and cherries abound for these last fall weeks. I am a healthy brown color and stuffed with fresh fruit (at other times of the year, unobtainable).


Oct. 18. My 21st birthday sees Rosa, Pavel, Ella at a small party at my place. Ella, a very attractive Russian Jew I have been going walking with lately, works at the radio factory also. Rosa and Ella are jealous of each other; it brings a warm feeling to me. Both are at my place for the first time. Ella and Pavil both give ashtrays (I don't smoke); we have a laugh.


Nov. Finds the approach of winter now. A growing loneliness overtakes me in spite of my conquest of Ennatachina, a girl from Riga, studying at the music conservatory in Minsk. After an affair, which lasts a few weeks, we part.


Nov. 15. In November, I make the acquaintances of four girls rooming at the Foreign language dormitory in room 212. Nell is very interesting, so is Tomka, Tomis and Alla. I usually go to the institute dormitory with a friend of mine who speaks English very well. Eraich Titov is in the forth year at the medical institute. Very bright fellow. At the dormitory, we six sit and talk for hours in English.


Dec. 1. I am having a light affair with Nell Korobka.




Jan 1. New Yearís, I spend at home of Ella Germain. I think I'm in love with her. She has refused my more dishonorable advances; we drink and eat in the presence of her family in a very hospitable atmosphere. Later, I go home drunk and happy. Passing the river homeward, I decide to propose to Ella.


Jan. 2. After a pleasant hand in hand walk to the local cinema, we come home, standing on the doorstep I propose. She hesitates, then refuses; my love is real, but she has none for me. Her reason besides lack of love: I am American and someday might be arrested simply because of that example. Polish Intervention in the 20's led to arrest of all people in the Soviet Union of Polish origin. "You understand the world situation; there is too much against you, and you don't even know it." I am stunned; she snickers at my awkwardness in turning to go (I am too stunned to think!). I realize she was never serious with me, but only exploited my being an American, in order to get the envy of the other girls who consider me different from the Russian Boys. I am miserable!


Jan. 3. I am miserable about Ella. I love her, but what can I do? It is the state of fear which was always in the Soviet Union.


Jan. 4. One year after I received the residence document, I am called in to the passport office and asked if I want citizenship (Russian). I say no, "Simply extend my residential passport". They agree, and my document is extended until January 4, 1962.


Jan. 4-31. I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab; the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys, no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough.


Feb. 1. Make my first request to American Embassy, Moscow, for reconsidering my position. I stated, "I would like to go back to U.S.".


Feb. 28. I receive letter from Embassy. Richard E. Snyder stated "I could come in for an interview anytime I wanted".


March 1-16. I now live in a state of expectation about going back to the U.S. I confided with Ziger; he supports my judgment, but warns me not to tell any Russians about my desire to return. I understand why now.


March 17. Erich and I went to trade union dance. Boring, but at the last hour I am introduced to a girl with a French hairdo and red dress with white slippers. I dance with her, then ask to show her home. I do, along with 5 other admirers. Her name is Marina. We like each other right away. She gives me her phone number and departs home with a not-so-new friend in a taxi. I walk home.


March 18-31. We walk; I talk a little about myself. She talks a lot about herself. Her name is Marina N. Prusakova.


Apr. 1-30. We are going steady and I decide I must have her. She puts me off, so on April 15, I propose; she accepts.


April 3. After a 7-day delay at the marriage bureau because of my unusual passport, they allow us to register as man and wife; two of Marinaís girl friends act as bridesmaids. We are married at her auntís home, we have a dinner reception for about 20 friends and neighbor who wish us happiness (in spite of my origin and accent), which was in general rather disquieting to any Russian since foreigners are very rare in the Soviet Union, even tourist. After an evening of eating and drinking in which uncle Wooser started a fight and the fuse blew on an overloaded circuit. We take our leave and walk the 15 minutes to our home. We lived near each other; at midnight, we were home.


1st May Day 1961. Found us thinking about our future. In spite of fact I married Marina to hurt Ella, I found myself in love with Marina.


May. The transition of changing full love from Ella to Marina was very painful especially as I saw Ella almost every day at the factory. But as the days and weeks went by, I adjusted more and more to my wife mentally. I still hadnít told my wife of my desire to return to U.S. She is madly in love with me from the very start, boat rides on Lake Minsk, walks through the parks, evenings at home, or at Aunt Valia's place mark May.


June. A continuance of May, except that we draw closer and closer, and I think very little now of Ella. In the last days of this month, I revealed my longing to return to America. My wife is slightly startled, but then encourages me to do what I wish to do.


July. I decided to take my two-week vacation and travel to Moscow (without police permission) to the American Embassy to see about getting my U.S. passport back and make arrangements for my wife to enter the U.S. with me.


July 8. I fly by plane to Minsk on an Il - 20. 2 hrs. 20 min. later, after taking a tearful and anxious parting from my wife, I arrive in Moscow. Departing by bus from the airfield, I arrive in the center of the city. Making my way through heavy traffic, I don't come in sight of the Embassy until 3:00 in the afternoon. Itís Saturday; what if they are closed? Entering, I find the offices empty, but manage to contact Snyder on the phone (since all Embassy personnel live in the same building). He comes down to greet me, shake my hand. After interview, he advises me to come in first thing Monday (see - July 8 - 13).


July 8. Interview


July 9. Receive passport; call Marina to Moscow also.


July 14. Marina and I return to Minsk.


July 15. Marina at work, is shocked to find out there everyone knows she entered the U.S. Embassy. They were called at her place of work from some officials in Moscow. The bosses hold a meeting and give her a strong browbeating. The first of many indoctrinations.


July 15 - Aug 20. We have found out which blanks and certificates are necessary to apply for an exit visa. They number about 20 papers: Birth certificates, affidavits, photos etc. On Aug 20, we give the papers out; they say it will be three and a half months before we know whether they'll let us go or not. In the meantime, Marina has had to stay four different meetings at the place of work held by her Boss at the direction of "someone" by phone. The young Communist league headquarters also called about her, and she had to go see them for one and a half hours. The purpose (expressed) is to dissuade her from going to the USA. Net effect: Make her more stubborn about wanting to go. Marina is pregnant; we only hope that the visas come through soon.


Aug. 21 - Sept. 1. I make expected trips to the passport and visa office, also to Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Minsk, also Min. of Internal Affairs, all of which have a say in the granting of a visa. I extracted promises of quick attention to us.


Sept - Oct 18. No word from Minsk ("They'll call us.") Marina leaves Minsk by train on vacation to the city of Khkov in the Urals to visit an aunt for 4 weeks. During this time, I am lonely but Erich and I go to the dances and public places for entertainmemt. I havenít done this in quite a few months now. I spend my birthday alone at the opera watching my favorite "Queen of Spades". I am 22 years old.


Nov. 2. Marina arrives back, radiant, with several jars of preserves for me from her aunt in Khkov.


Nov. - Dec. Now we are becoming annoyed about the delay; Marina is beginning to waiver about going to the U.S., probably from the strain and her being pregnant. Still we quarrel and so things are not too bright, especially with the approach of the hard Russian winter.


Dec 25. Xmas Day - Tuesday, Marina is called to the passport and visa office. She is told we have been granted Soviet exit visas. She fills out the completing blank and then comes home with the news. Itís great (I think!). New Yearís, we spend at the Ziger's at a dinner party at midnight attended by 6 other persons.




Jan. 4. I am called to the passport office since my residential passport expires today. Since I now have a U.S. passport in my possession, I am given a totally new residence passport called, "Passport for Foreigners," and since they have given us permission to leave, and know we shall, good to July 5, 1962.


Jan 15.


Feb. 15. Days of cold Russian winter. But we feel fine. Marina is supposed to have baby on March 1st.


Feb 15. Dawn. Marina wakes me up. Itís her time. At 9:00, we arrive at the hospital; I leave her in care of nurses and leave to go to work. 10:00 Marina has a baby girl. When I visit the hospital at 5:00 after work, I am given news. We both wanted a boy. Marina feels well, baby girl O.K.


Feb. 23. Marina leaves hospital; I see June for first time.


Feb 28. I go to register (as prescribed by law) the baby. I want her name to be June Marina Oswald. But those Bureaucrats say her middle name must be the same as my first. A Russian custom supported by a law. I refuse to have her name written as "June Lee". They promise to call the city ministry (city hall) and find out in this case since I do have a U.S. passport.


Feb. 29. I am told that nobody knows what to do exactly, but everyone agrees, go ahead and do it, "Po-Russki." Name: June Lee.


March. The last communiqués are exchanged between myself and Embassy. Letters are always arriving from my mother and brother in the U.S. I have still not told Erich, afraid he is too good a young communist league member to. I'll wait till last minute.


March 24. Marina quits her job in the formal fashion.


March 26. I receive a letter from Immigration and Naturalization Service at San Antonio, Texas, that Marina has had her visa petition to the U.S. (Approved!!). The last document. Now, we only have to wait for the U.S. Embassy to receive their copy of the approval, so they can officially give the go ahead.


March 27. I receive letter from a Mr. Philles (an employer of my mother) pledging to support my wife in case of need.


April -

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