MANUSCRIPT BY GEORGE DE MOHRENSCHILDT
The manuscript of the book George de Mohrenschildt was writing at the time of his death in March 1977 is included in this staff report as an appendix. In it de Mohrenschildt gave many details about his activities and associations, and perhaps most significantly, an insight into how he perceived his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald.
The facts and information in the manuscript in many respects differ from, and occasionally boldly contradict, statements that were made by de Mohrenschildt to several Government agencies at the time of the assassination and other information that has been made public. While there is no longer any way to resolve those factual conflicts or to confront de Mohrenschildt with the discrepancies, the manuscript is, nevertheless, included here to shed light on at least how George de Mohrenschildt himself viewed those facts and how he wanted the public record to read about himself and Oswald.
I AM A PATSY! I AM A PATSY!
Preface in Haiti.
I am a patsy! I am a Patsy! These last words of my friend, Lee Harvey Oswald still ring in my ears and make me think of the terrible injustice inflicted on the memory of this "supposed assassin".
November 1963 was fairly ineventful in Haiti-no shootings and no invasions. My young geologist Alson Boyd and I had worked in our office located on Avenue Truman in the center of Port-au-Prince. Since we started very early in the morning to avoid the infernal daily heat, our daily chores were over at 2 p.m. This office occupied a large room of a quanset building belonging to the Haitian Government and we were kept there virtually incommunicado since it contained government maps and other "strategic information".
Alston and I drove to my house overlooking Port-au-Prince in the area called Tonton Lyle and a block away from the presidential retreat, then we ate and took a siesta, like any self-respecting Haitian. Then later the afternoon we dressed and went to the reception at the Lebanese Embassy.
The usually animated streets of the capital seemed deserted. "I feel trouble in the air," said my wife Jeann. The air was balmy, the soldiers and the tontons macoutes were absent and we could not hear any shots.
We greeted the Lebanese Ambassador and joined the crowd. George Morel, head of the Pan-American Airways in Haiti came up to us immediately. "Didn't you know your president was killed?" He asked in a strained voice.
At first we thought he was talking about the President of Haiti, Docteur Francois Duvalier who was my nominal boss in Haiti. Seeing our blank expression, Morel explained. "President Kennedy was assassinated to-day."
I hoped that it wouldn't happen in Texas as especially in Dallas. But Morel summarily explained the situation-and it was in Dallas.
Gloomily we filed out of the Lebanese Embassy, were people did not seem to be too badly concerned about President Kennedy's fat, got in the car and drove away. "If he had his tonton-macoutes around, this would not have happened." I said angrily and this was my first serious criticism of our services supposed to protect the President of the United States.
We drove gloomily to the American Embassy, located near the sea-shore and not too far from my office. The doors were wide opened and two marines stood there on both sides of a book where the American residents would sign their names as a gesture of reverence to the dead head of state. Having signed our names, we were the first to have done it, we drove to the house of an old friend of mine Valentin (Teddy) Blaque, an attache at the Embassy.
Teddy's house was similar to ours, but more elaborate, with a large terrace overlooking the sparkling bay of Port-au-Prince. Several mutual friends stood around, looking at each other with stunned expression, and seemed to ask the same question: "Why him?"
"For the fist time we had a president who was young and energetic. And he was trying to solve the problems of the world," said Jeanne sadly, holding back her tears. "And he had to go..."
The beautiful view seemed funeral to us, as we stood there silently.
"And in Dallas," I mused aloud, why there? A conservative and somewhat provincial city, but successful and proud of its success. We knew the Mayor-a charming man-and many city fathers.
"But who did it?" I asked Teddy.
"I just listened to the radio and a suspect was arrested already," he said.
Before he mentioned the name, I thought of Lee and his rifle with the telescopic lense. "Could it be Lee? No it was impossible."
And driving back home, in stunned silence, we thought of Lee and the predicament he was in.
But since the official version had it that Lee Harvey Oswald was the main suspect, we made our deposition at the Embassy. We did know him and we were aware of the fact he owned a rifle. We would be happy to testify what we knew about him and about our relationship with him and his wife. Be we did not believe he was the assassin.
Then we learned that a letter was sent by someone influential in Washington to the official of the Haitian government to drop me from the payroll and to exile me as fast as possible. Fortunately I had good friends and the latter did not happen. And later, little by little, we were ostracized by the United States Ambassador Timmons, then by the American businessmen and government employees, with whom we had been on very good terms and, finally, came the news of the investigation of all our friends and even acquaintances in the United States.
Then came the man with the white teeths and a flannel suit, an FBI agent trying to scare us off. At last, after a long time, we were officially invited to come to Washington and help the Warren Committee in their investigation. Although we could contribute very little, we still accepted ot go to Washington and testify. Although our depositions were supposed to remain confidential, all the three hundred paged of irrevelant conversation were printed and promiscuously distributed. Actually our depositions were longer than Marina's and Mrs. Marguerite Oswald's put together! Why? We assume two reasons-to waste taxpayer's money and to distract attention of the American people from the people involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. All the gossipy, futile stuff, related to our private lives, half of it not relevant to Oswald, boring and useless. And all this because my wife and I liked Lee Harvey Oswald, tried to defend him and because Lee said, before he died: " I liked and admired George de Mohrenschildt." Getting to know Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife.
Early in the summer of 1962 the rumors spread out among the Russian speaking people of Dallas and Fort Worth of an unusual couple-the Oswalds. He was supposedly an ex-marine, an unfriendly and eccentric character, who had gone to Russia and brought back with him a Russian wife. He had lives in Minsk where I had spent my early childhood. And so I was curious to meet the couple and to find out what had happened to Minsk.
Someone gave me Lee's address and one afternoon a friend of mine, Colonel Lawrence Orloff and myself drove to Fort Worth, about 30 miles from Dallas. We drove over the dreary, sewage smelling miles separating the two cities. Texas does have lovely open spaces, but here they were degraded and polluted. After some searching, we found a shack on Mercedes street in a semi-industrial, slummy area, near Montgomery Ward.
I knocked and a tawdry but clean young woman opened the door. I introduced myself and the colonel, giving a reference the name of George Bouhe from whom I obtained the address. George was an elderly refugee, very friendly, the father superior of all the Russians in the Dallas Fort Worth Area. So this was Maring Oswald.
To Orlov she was beautiful not withstanding bad teeths and mousy blond hair.
I did not find her very attractive although she had a certain charm and she spoke beautiful, melodious Russian, so different from the language used by us who anglicized our language and bastardized it by foreign intonations and words.
Marina offered us some sherry and said that Lee would be over soon. We spoke a little fooling around; she had a pretty good sense of humour but the opinions she expressed seemed trite to me. And then entered Lee Harvey Oswald who was to become so famous or so infamous. He wore overalls and clean workingman's shoes on. Only someone who had never met Lee could have called him insignificant. "There is something putstanding about this man," I told myself. One could detect immediately a very sincere and forward man. Although he was average-looking, with no outstanding features and of medium size, he showed in his conversation all the elements of concentration, thought and toughness. This man had the courage of his convictions and did not hesitate to discuss the. I was glad to meet such a person and was carried away back to the days of my youth in Europe, where as students, we discussed world affairs and our own ideas over many beers and without caring about time.
Lee was looking tenderly from time to time at Baby June. He loved her. We shook hands and left. Driving back the colonel mused: "she is so charming and young!"
"But I found the ex-marine so much more interesting," I said. My friend, the retired air-force colonel resented Lee, his offhandedness, his ironic smiles and especially his ferocious spirit in independence. All his sympathy went to Marina, the poor Russian refugee.
We spoke English first and then, somehow, we switched to Russian. Lee spoke it very well, only with a slight accent. Maring did not say very much. "Doesn't your wife speak any English at all?" I asked Lee.
"No, and I don't want her to know English. I want her to continue speaking her own language. Russian is beautiful and I don't want to forget it." And he added with deep conviction. "Russian literature is marvelous and the people I met in the Soviet Union were so warm and nice to me. Yes, I made many friends there," he added thoughtfully.
"And how about the Soviet Government?" I asked anxiously.
"Well, that's another story. The trouble with me I always look for an ideal which probably does not exist."
"Maybe your friend does not understand Russian,: said Lee looking at Colonel Orloff. "Let's speak English then. you know I was a marine and have respect for the brass," he smiled and added a few kind words to my friend.
And then it was time for us to go. "My wife speaks Russian also and she would like to spend some time with you Marina, and the baby of course," I said.
"I would like to but it will depend on Lee," she answered humbly.
"I am sure Lee will let you go and will come himself." A bond of friendship was already formed between the two of us. First meeting with Lee.
Lee called me a few days after our trip to Fort Worth. "Marina and I will come over to-night, if you don't mind," he said.
"Maybe I could drive to Fort Worth and drive you?" I asked.
"No, thank you, we will come by bus," he answered laconically.
And here they were, Marina, Lee and the baby June. We lived at the time in a pleasant area called University Park, a few blocks from the Southern Methodist University, a conservative stronghold. Both my wife and I were fairly free at the time and welcomed our guests, so different from the local society. Jeanne liked Marina immediately and offered to help her with her English. "Yes, I have to know the language," she agreed and then added inexpectedly. "People already asked me why I liked Lee," and her eyes darted about the furniture and decoration of our rather modest home, "and I answer them, why did Lee like Me?" Jeanne liked this humble remark and her sympathy for Marina increased.
In the meantime Lee and I sat on a comfortable sofa and talked all evening. Naturally I do not remember the sequence, although a recorded what I remembered a few years later, but mostly I asked questions and he answered them. Naturally I wanted to know what make him go to the Soviet Union and he answered me by telling me of his youth in New Orleans. Since his childhood he was keenly aware of social and racial injustices. Instead of playing basketball or baseball, like any other red-blooded American youth, he read voraciously. Among the books he read was Marx's "The Capital" which made a deep impression on him. Ironically, he said, he borrowed this book from the Loyola University library.
"What did you like in it?" I remember asking him.
"It made clear to me the intolerable fact of the exploitation of the poor by the rich."
"But," I said, "Lee, you must have seen it all over the world, the weak or the poor are exploited everywhere by the powerful and the rich. Listen to this: two dogs meet on the crosspoint between East and West Berlin. One dog is running away from the capitalism, the other from communism. The capitalist dog asks-'why do you run away!'-'Because I can eat but I cannot bark. Why are you running away? 'If I bark I cannot eat' answered the capitalist dog"
Lee laughed and answered by a joke he heard somewhere in Minsk. "As you knew," he said, "Russians grab all the can from the satellite countries. So one day at the meeting of the communist party in Rumania, one of the workers stood up and said. 'Camrade Secretary, may I ask you 3 questions?'-'Go ahead." I want to know what happened to our wheat, our petroleum and our wine?" 'Well' said the Secretary, "it's a very complex economic question I cannot answer it immediately."
"Well a few months later the workers are holding the same type of a meeting and another comrade raises his hand and says: 'Comrade Secretary may I ask you four questions?' - 'Shoot' says the secretary. 'I want to ask you what happened to our petroleum, wine and wheat and also what happened to the comrade who had asked the three questions some time ago?' - Silence."
We both laughed. "At least here we are not being sent to a concentration camp," I said.
"You are wrong," answered Lee seriously, "most of the prisoners, convicts in American jail are political prisoners, the yare victims of the system."
I reak similar opinions recently in several liveral books and Lee was way ahead in thought of all of them. This was over fourteen years ago.
I remember concluding this conversation by telling Lee. "If you want to be a revolutionary, you have to be a fool or to have an inspiration. And your actions will be judged by the success or failure of your life."
Lee agreed. What I liked about him was that he was a seeker for justice-that he had highly developed social instincts. And I was disappointed in my own children for lack of such instincts.
Incidentally I remember some details pretty well because I made noted of them later and also made tapes of my recollections fairly soon after the assassination.
That night Jeanne served a Russian dinner which Marina found delicious but Lee hardly touched. He was ascetic in his habits, was indifferent to foods and didn't like deserts. In the meantime baby June slept quietly in bed all wrapped up. Lee looked tenderly at her. That night we learned a lot about him - he neither drank or smoked and objected if others, especially his wife did. Since neither my wife or I smoked and drank very little, he liked it and considered that we were on his side.
Jeanne was appalled finding out that baby June hadn't had any injestions usually given to a child. Also Marina would pick up a pacifier from the floor -then tried it herself before putting it in June's mouth. Unfortunately she had infected teeth at the time, so the baby was exposed also.
My wife had high ideas on Russian hygiene and generally on the high standards of the Soviet youth, so she was outspokenly critical. "Your infected teeth have to be removed as soon as possible," she told Marina. When Marina objected that she didn't have any money and couldn't speak English, Jeanne promised to help her.
After dinner Lee and I went back on the sofa and renewed our conversation.
"I served in the Marine Corps not because I was a patriot but I wanted to get away from the drudgery and to see the world," admitted Lee.
"Did you like the service?"
"Not particulary. But I had time to study, to read and indeed we traveled a LOT."
"You told me you lived in Japan. How did you land there?"
"Just an accident of the Marine Corps duty. The military duty was boring and stupid. But fortunately I moved around, began visiting places where youngsters meet and established contacts with some more progressive and thinking Japanese." "and this," said Lee thoughtfully, "is what led me to Russia eventually. I also learned there of other, Japanese, ways of exploitation of the poor by the rich. Semi-feudal, industrial giants which act paternalistically yet exploiting the workers - proletarians. the wages in Japan were ridiculously low," Lee added.
"Well, it's changing now," said I. "Say, Lee, it's in Japan that you got your discharge from the marine corps?"
Lee did not like to elaborate on this touchy subject. "I had to work to support my mother."
But it developed later, as we all know, that he did not go back to USA to support his mother but changed his mind and instead went to Russia. He obviously used the money obtained at his discharge for this trip. He first went to Western Europe then drifted to USSR via Finland if I remember well. Later on Lee's honorable discharge was changed to undesirable discharge and he hated to talk about it and considered it unfair to him. This explains his hatred of Connelly who was Secretary of the Navy at the time of this change of Lee's discharge.
But that day he did not discuss this subject and went on talking about Russia. "I got to Moscow and stayed there until the Russians had confidence in me and gave me a permit to work." He did not mention that he tried to commit suicide in desperation and cut his wrists.
Marine took part in the conversation. "Lee, you threw your passport in the face of the American consul and you said that you denounced your citizenship," she said.
Later Lee talked to me about his ordeal in Moscow but not this time. He went talking about his impressions of Minsk because he knew I was interested in this subject. He have me a general description of the city I know from my early childhood. "I was assigned to work there without any particular reason, in a TV factory, possibly because I had a little electronic training in the Marines," he said candidly.
"Tell me more about the countryside," I asked him.
"Swisloch river is pretty clean, we used to go by row-boats to the forest nearby to picknich on weekends. The forests are beautiful there, huge pine trees, clean grass, full of berries of all kinds."
I remembered the cathedral, several other picturesque churches and the main building - GPU, NKVD, KGB - police headquarters, where my father spent several months and where he almost died of starvation and was finally sentenced to life exile in Siberia. But these were childhood memories and resentment on my part had disappeared. Lee have me a perfect description of all these landmards, they were still there, unchanged. But there were many new factories built, one of them where he worked.
"Did you like your job?"
"Not particularly, but the pay was sufficient, about a hundred rubles a month, an average for the Soviet Union. I could live on it. My apartment and all utilities were burnished by the factory for a nominal fee, as well as medical insurance etc."
He gave me the prices of bread, produce, milk etc., which were reasonable and of clothing, which were outrageoulsy high. "Sometimes I used to run short of meat, but you know I am not a big eater, it was of no importance to me."
Marina listened in and gave more precise information, especially complaining about clothing and shoes. She was a practical one.
"You must have been somewhat privileged," I said, "being a foreigner, but how did the other workers live in Minsk, the Russians?"
"Not too well. Usually one roof for a couple, community kitchens and lavatories," he admitted. "This led to quarrels, gossip, jealousy a rather dismal situation. But what does it matter if everyone is in the same boat, if everyone suffers. No rich exploiters like here, not great contrasts between the rich and the poor."
"Butter and meat were out of my reach," said Marina bitterly, "but you foreigners could afford these luxuries."
She was ready to continue talking more but since she was from Smolensk, the town I was not familiar with, I asked Lee to talk mor about minsk and he did. To me his sescriptions were most touching.
That night Maring announced that Lee was going to be laid off from his job in Fort Worth at Leslie Welding Company, if I remember correctly. It was a poor job anyway, minimal wages long hours, unhealthy conditions but Lee did not complain, he never complained, it was Maring who was containtly dissatisfied. The air of American prosperity bothered her, he was envious of other people's wealth or wellbeing. Lee's mind was of a stoical, philosophical type, that's why, I guessed, he had gotten along so well with the other Russians he met in the Soviet Union. Russians do not mind to suffer and even go hungry if they can spend entire nights talking and speculating on some ezotheric matters.
Next time the Oswalds came to visit is, we began speaking of Minsk again. I reminisced that when I was five years old, my father used to talk to me to the forst and I helped him as well as I could in his awkard efforts to cut down a big pine tree. It was a tough job for my father who had never been a physically able man and he constantly hurt himself. Once he jammed his finger to badly that the bone abrode and the finger remained useless for the rest of his life. Surprisingly I grew adept at that sort of thing and quite able with an ax.
"Is that lovely forest north of town still in existence?" I asked Lee and explained exactly where it was.
"Yes, we used to go there frequently by bus with my fellow workers. We took food along and spent the whole day talking freely. I explained the United States to them and they informed me on life in Russia."
Lee generally did not complain about his life in Russia but Marina did very frequently, sincerely or not, I do not know. She considered me a capitalist and tried to please me.
I promised Lee that night to give him introductions to a few influential people, since I wanted him and his family to move away from the gruesome of Fort Worth slum. I hoped that the other members of the Russian community would help him also and told him so.
"Thanks a lot, I can take care of myself, I don't need those creeps, I shall find something," he answered gruffly. This was an example of Lee's independence, he refused help, objected even to my help. Rather than to be indebted to someone, he would rather starve on his own.
While Marina was usually a lot of fun, laughed easily but did not say anything that would make you think - Lee was serious and did not take life as a joke. But if he happened to be in a good mood, he became an excellent companion, remembered political jokes, told them well and laughed at yours.
"Do you know this one about an American tourist carrying a small transistor radio in Moscow?" Lee asked me.
"No, I don't know the story.
"Well, the Moscovite stopped the American and said: 'we make them much better than you do. What is it?'"
We both laughed. Then I countered and asked Lee.
"What is the difference between the capitalism and the socialism?"
Lee did not know.
"Capitalism makes social mistakes and socialism makes CAPITAL mistakes."
"A Russian Commissar is asked at the holy gates where he would like to go - to a capitalist hell or to a communist hell," said Lee.
" The Commissar answers: ' would like to go to a capitalist hell, I am so tired of communist hell."
Then I told Lee a few foolish jokes about Kennedy, they were very po-
"President Kennedy tells a group of businessmen: 'the economic situation is so good that if I weren't your president I would invest in the stock market right now! And the businessmen answer in unison:' so would we if you were not our president."
We both laughed.
"Kennedy had a terrible nightmare. He wakes up Jacquie: 'honey what a terrible thing, I dreamed I was spending my own money, not government's."
Again we laughed, but without resentment, we both liked President Kennedy. So I finished my foolish jokes by this one:
"John Kennedy runs to his mother at night. 'Mama! Mama! Help! Bobby tries to, run MY country."
I think it was at that time that I told Lee that I had known Jacqueline Kennedy as a young girl, as well as her mother, father and all her relatives and how charming the whole family was, I especially liked "Black Jack" Bouvier, Jacquie's father, a delightful Casanova of the Wall Street.
Lee was not jealous of Kennedy's and Bouviers' wealth and did not envy their social positions, of that I was sure. To him wealth and society were big jokes, but he did not resent them.
Now I want to tell something which my seem foolish to people who are not dog lovers. At the time we had two lovely black Manchester Terriers. Nero and his faithful wife Poppea. Nero had followed us on a long trip over the mountains of Mexico and Central America and saved our lives on several occasions; Poppea was bought for him upon our return to USA and was a wonderful wife for him. I cannot tell how much intuition Nero developed during our trip and how easily he recognized friends from enemies. Well, on the first evening our dogs did not express any interest in Marina or in Baby June but they were fascinated by Lee. Nero especially showed his complete confidence and affection for him. He seldom did it to anyone even to our close friends. He snugged up to Lee and looked at him with affection. He sensed that he was an utterly sincere person and was deprived of hatred. Poppea also licked his hand in a rare display of affection.
Incidentally, many of our friends and even our own children complained that our dogs were either unfriendly or totally indifferent to them.
And do Lee finally found a job at Taggart's Reproduction Company through the Texas Employment Agency without help from anyone. I was a good job for him as he had been interested in photography for a long time. I guessed that he took a course at the Marine Corps. Anyway he brought a good camera from the Soviet Union and took excellent pictures. Later he showed me excellent enlargements he made himself. These were in black and white he was not advanced enough to develop and enlarge colored photographs.
But Lee's job did not pay well and as began to trust me more, he accepted an introduction to a successful businessman-banker, Sam Ballen, who owned, among other companies, a large reproduction outfit, for maps, electric logs, and records. It was not a successful meeting. Lee and my friend did not like each other. To the businessman Lee was a radical and a maverick. and Lee considered Sam an ordinary bourgeois with no redeemin features to this credit. Actually, both were interesting people, they just did not appeal to each other.
Another conversation comes to my mind. One evening Lee was in a blue mood and confided that he was not particulary pleased with this reception in Minsk. Somewhat naively, he expected to be treated as a special person, a prominent refugee, and nothing happened, there was little difference between his condition in Minsk and that of an ordinary Soviet worker. And do he had become depressed. That evening Lee expressed an opinion that he did not appreciate the Soviet type of government.
"Why?" I asked.
"it is somewhat too regimented for me," he said. "We were obliged to go to the meeting at the factory after work, dead tired and listened to inflammatory speeches. It was lucky if I was able to to to sleep. Indoctrination of any kind are not to my taste."
I saw his point.
Our first evenings with the Oswalds were spent in conversations and discussions and we got to know each other bery well. New something else happened in our relationship. Before Lee got his job at Taggart's, I asked my daughter Alex and my son-in-law Gary Taylor to help the Oswalds moving to Dallas. The Taylors went to visit the Oswalds in Fort worth and right there they offered Marina to stay with them and to keep the baby. Whatever furniture they had would be stored in her garage. This generous proposition was accepted, Marina moved to Dallas. Lee stayed for a short time in the apartment in Fort Worth and then moved to a small room at YMCA in Dallas, close to his work at Taggart's. During Marina's stay at my daughter's place, my wife helped her, drove her to the Baylor Hospital where they pulled out her rotten teeth. Thus baby June was kept healthy and well fed. But this short separation did not prevent Lee from coming to see us, even alone. Further conversation with Lee in 1962.
At the time we knew Lee, nothing could be further from our minds that he might become such a historical figure. His visits were very frequent - sometimes he would come for a short time, sometimes he would spend the whole evening with us. Some bribes of our semi-bantering, semi-serious repartees remain in my memory.
"You are an extremely sincere person, Lee," I told him. "You do not lie even to yourself. Most of the people I know are the opposite of you. They put ou a front, they confuse, they deceive, they lie even when thinking.:
"I guess it's dangerous to be that way. I know I make a lot of enemies. But what the hell," he acknowledged, "my position is that I am afraid of a very few things in life. I am not cautious. I am not," he smiled, "a turket which lives only to become fat." And he showed me his non existing belly. He was becoming very thin.
"Lee, your way of life is so un-American, it scares me to think what may become of you."
"It is true," Lee said, "I am probably committing a sin in not being interested in possessions or money. When a rich man dies, he is loaded with his possessions like a prisoner with chains. I will die free, death will be easy for me."
"Stop talking about death, you are only 22. If you want to talk about gruesome subjects, let me tell you this joke: a usurer is on is deathbed. A priest gives him a crucufux to kiss and to confess his sins. And the usurer blabbers: 'I cannot loan you much money for it'".
"Regarding your attitude on money and possessions," I said, "I couldn't agree more with you. You would rather do something unusual than drive a Cadillac. I am the same way."
"Life for me," continued Lee, "is like a hungry crocodile. I'd better defend myself. I have to defend myself against the studpidity of this would. It is enormous! Life must be the work of a perfect idiot. Or maybe the stupidity, like breaking of the atom, is selfperpetuating?"
"Not too bad for a 22 years old American proletarian and a high-school dropout," I thought. "Lee, you have a very original mind."
"Thank you," he said. "I do not often hear the compliments. But let me tell you more why I despise money-loving middle-class. Such people are simply stupid, not serious, they are curiously attracted by crooks and aventurers. And so you hear how often they are sheared off their wook, like sheep, by various financial schemers."
"Diderot," I said, "thinks very much like you. "You have nothing, I have very little now, so a real friendship is possible between us. We are sincere with each other."
"Another thing Diderot said," I continued, "he was very happy being poor and living in a shack. When he achieved opulence and found a nice apartment in Paris, he knew he was going to die..."
"The philosophers talk but you did it," said Lee enviously. "This trip of your, what a freedom! 3,600 miles on foot on tough trails of Latin America. This demanded a complete change in life - willingly, suddenly, for this you needed an extradorinary moral audacity."
"This time I want to thank you, Lee. But do not exaggerate; this was an act of desperation rather than audacity, after the death of my only son. Finally this trip was very satisfying to Jeanne and to me."
And so we chatten in an open and friendly manner and I must of Lee. "My opinion of this guy changes completely and frequently, which happens only with people who are close and important to me. I usually judge the others superficially and label them once for for all."
But now I should explain the reasons why I had introduced the Oswalds to my daughter Alex and to her husband. They were about the same age. Gary was a scatter-brained, simple-minded but pleasant young man and as most of his financial schemes failed, he had plenty of time on his hands. His fondest ambition consisted of becoming rapidly another Clint Murchison or H.L. Hunt and that was hard to achieve. Frankly I hoped that my daughter and her husband Gary would acquire some of the world-wide interests that Lee certainly possessed. His serious approach to life contrasted sharply with the foolish flippany of Gary's; I also hoped that Marina would teach my daughter some interesting facts about Russia. When these two were together that they were somehow able to communicate, as my daughter was and is an excellent linguist.
But, introducing people of such different backgrounds led to unpleasant results. First of all we caused a separation between Marina and Lee. We did understand that it was not the first separation between them, but we actually caused this one. It amazed my daughter that Lee called Marina on the phone unfrequently and did not express much desire to be with her. But he missed baby June. It was peculiar for a young husband but I already suspected that he was pleased being alone at YMCA and was already bored with Marina's company. Next the personalities of Lee and of Gary clashed. Lee considered Gary a spoiled, rich American, foolish youngster and Gary looked down at him as a supercilous, unpractical lunatic with revolutionary ideas. My daughter's opinion of Marina was low also, she was slovenly and didn't know anything about baby-care. Although she had obtained a degree of "registered pharmacist" in USSR.
My daughter's opinion of Lee was low also, he was not good-looking, did not care about his appearance, neither was he inclined to make money. As for me, I regretted that Alex did not see any qualities I liked in Lee - the fact that he was socially motivated, was a dreamer and a seeker of truth. But such people was a very hard time in life and that's why so many people considered him a failure and a loser (in quotation marks).
Maybe, had he lived longer, he would have fitted better into the scheme of American life, he would have joined the group of love-children, would have grown a beard and certainly would have been among the protesters against the was in Viet-Nam.
It was probably Marina, dissatisfied with my daughter's attitude, who made Lee hustle and find an apartment. Very soon the Oswalds settled in their own ground-floor apartment on Elsbeth street, in Oak Cliff, suburb of Dallas. it was far away from us, while we wanted them to live nearby. Probably Lee wanted to be as far away as possible from the other Russian refugees, whom he disliked. Anyway, the apartment was ten miles or more away from our place at University Park.
With Lee's job secured at Taggart's and away from the gruesome slum in Fort Worth, Jeanne and I though the the Oswald family would be happy. Jeannne registered the baby in children's clinic for regular check-ups and Marina was treated almost gratis in the dental clinic of the Baylor hospital. This involved long trips for Jeanne to drive back and forth but she did not mind.. Staying so far away from anyone put Marina in a condition of total dependancy on Lee, since she could not communicate with anyone around, we were the only source she could understand. to invite the couple for dinner, we drove back and forth, almost forty miles for a four-way trip.
Jeanne became quite close to Marina at the time, while Lee and I saw each other frequently. Soon, however, these trips became difficult for us as we both became busy in our professions, yet we wanted to continue seeing the Oswalds. One solution would be for them to buy some second-hand car but Lee did not know how to drive, nor did Marina of course. I did not doubt Lee's word. I mention this here because later Lee's lack of driving ability became a contoversial issue. I believed him because I knew about the abject poverty of his childhood in New Orleans. In these prospersous United States, Lee's family occupied a position at the poverty line, similar to poor Blacks and Mexican-Americans.
Due to my wife's help, Marin's four spoiled teeth were removed and her system was not poisoned by them any mor. Baby June became healthy also.
99 The Russian colony collected a small amount of money for Marina and the care of the baby June. Lee did not know about it, he would not have accepted any charity, so it was done secretly. I think Jeanne handled the operation and Marina spent nights in the house while the next morning Jeanne would drive her to Baylor dental clinic or to the child care center.
An amusing incident happened on the way to Baylor, recalls my wife. We had to drive by the predominantly section of town, gaudy but cheerful Hall and Washington streets, almost every decrepit house lodging either a night-club, strip-tease joint or a dance hall. Hookers and flashy pimps strolling along the broden payments. Suddenly Marina excitedly attracted my wife's attention shouting in Russian to slow down. She looked at the tall, muscled, black youngster standing proudly at the corner and surveying the situation.
"Look at him! Look!" She pulled at my wife's sleeve in a frenzy. "What a handsome man!"
"Oh yes," agreed Jeanne, "he is very handsome."
"No, he is fantastic, fantastic!" Exulted Marina.
Such an enthusiasm surprised my wife.
"He is so big and strong! What muscles he must have..."
As my wife related this incident, she observed that is was not a question of an attraction of a nordic woman to an exotic man of a dark race, but addressing fact that a young married woman with a child would show such an uninhibited admoration for a sexy male.
I drove her myself on the same street and teased her myself about her attraction to black men. "Marina," I guessed, "you did not see in Russia such, uninhibited, natural men."
She laughed: "neither Russians nor American whites can compare to such beautiful men," she said candidly. "Maybe the Cubans I met in Minsk were just as attractive." The Oswalds in Minsk.
The storied related by lee and Maring about Minsk were especially interesting to me. It seems that Lee was very unhappy at the beginning of his stay there and he even tried to slash his wrists out of despair. Since he was supposed to have done it already in Moscow, in order to obtain a permit to remain in the Soviet Union, the wrist-slashing became somewhat of a habit if not a subterfuge with him. Marina held a job of a pharmacist in the hospital where Lee was treated, she took care of him flirted with him very nicely and began conquering his heart. Later he polyps problem so he dept on going to the some hospital. An that's how the romance began and flourished.
Marina came from a fairly good family from our point of view, since her father belonged to a former tharist officer group. After his death her mother married a man called Prussakov. Later her mother died and Marina got tired of living with her stepfather and her half-brothers and sisters. And so she decided to move from Smolensk to Minsk where she received soon a degree of a registered pharmacist. I remember Marina's amusing repartee when I asked her is she linked her half-brothers and sisters.
"They were good, normal children, not like me. I was a bad one." And she laughed, showing a good sense of humour and a great deal of charm.
After the hospital meetings, Lee and Marina began going out together to dances and movies and eventually the relationship of affection and love developed between them.
"I remember looking at the new apartment building near the river Svisloch," reminsced Marina, "but only high technical and political personnel lived there, as well as some foreigners, Lee among them."
It was a wonderful setting for a Soviet romance - love, an American refugee, a rever and a new apartment building... Actually the building belonged to the factory where Lee worked at the time, his staying there was no particular favor. But for the girl who had lived in crowded rooms with a stepfather and several children, this new house seemed a real paradise.
And so they married and moved to that apartment building. Why did she marry him? She could have cohabitated with him, this happened frequently with young couples in Russia. the reasons are unknown to me and known only to Marina: love, pity or desire to come to the United States. Probably the latter, as soon after their wedding Lee decided that he wanted to go back to the United States. He traveled to Moscow without a permit, went to the United States embassy, got back his passport and borrowed there $500 for the return.
While in Texas, he paid religiously back each month installments due on that loan. Marina freqently complained that he was too punctual in his payments - but he was. I ask you where do you find another man in Lee's position, on the verge of starvation, who would be in such a hurry to repay a government loan, which would be very difficult to collect from a poor man like Lee. But somehow Lee felt this obligation very sincerely.
Another question puzzled and still puzzles us: how come the Soviets permitted Marina to leave her homeland so easily, while it was hard for Lee to obtain a permit to leave USSR. The had to make another trip to Moscow to arrange it and he never explained to me clearly how he got the permit to take Marina along. "Well, I did it," Lee smirked, "because all bureaucrats, all over the world, are stupid..."
Marina had an uncle, a colonel of special forces NKVD - KGB to-day - Department of Interior, called Medvedev; I think he was her mother's brother.. For some time she had loved with him, in Smolensk I think, and Lee told me that this important man was dead set against his niece marrying him. Later something made him change his mind. We were not interested at the time in the why's and the wherefore's of this colonel activities, now it is too late to find out. Maybe this colonel for his own reasons helped his niece to get out of Russia. Possible it was a good reddance of a Prussakova niece, possibly something else...
The loyal decrepit Russian refugees liked Marina only because her real father had been a prerevolutionary officer or some tzarist official. This matter was indifferent to us and we did not inquire further. But the permission to leave USSR was puzzling to us, uncle or no uncle, because we knew of many cases of Americans who never obtained a permit to leave Russia for their Soviet wives. Personally I know of one case, one of the reporters of the Christian Monitor successfully extracted his wife from Russia at the time of Stalin.
One day jeanne asked Lee a straightforward question: "why did you decide to go to USSR, answer frankly! "You risked never to return to your country."
"I was looking for an ideal," Lee answered sadly.
"And why did you decide to return here?" Jeanne insisted.
"Because I did not find my ideal. Obviously utopia does not exist. I could travel and change countries the rest of my life and never find it."
We liked this statement and agreed with Lee. We are becoming close friends.
From time to time my wife would prepare a special Russian or French dinner for the Oswalds, always deeping in mind that both of them were under furnished. And I would talk with Lee in the meantime, often late into the night. Although he unquestionably had had some unpleasant experiences, as the slashing of his wrists proved, Lee was never hostile or emotionally upset about his life in the Soviet Union. He spoke of his co-workers humbly and engagingly. "They were hospitable, friendly and sincere, they invited me to their homes, fed me from their meagre supplies and we discussed all the subjects frankly as we do it here."
"Did they tell you any jokes about their regime? I asked.
"Here is one I remember," Lee said. "And American worker comes to the Soviet Union and sees big apartment complexes. He asks: 'to whom do they belong?' - 'To the state' - 'They belong to the state also.''" Then lee smiled. "The Russian worker comes to visit United States. He asks: 'these huge factories, to whom do they belong?" - 'To the capitalists' comes the fast answer. 'Aha says the Russian this is terrible!' Then he notices nice suburban homes, now cars. He asks: 'to whom these belong?' - 'To the workers', comes an immediate answer."
Then I asked Lee: "did you ever hear that one about a Soviet worker who was wandering from one factory to another asking 'is there a place that would pay as little as the little work I intend to do?'"
Lee did not laugh. "That is a rather vicious joke. Soviet workers work almost as hard as here and certainly they get paid much less."
Then he reminisced: "nobody in the Soviet Union tried to intimidate me or influence me. But I encounter these tendencies here. Nobody ever tried to make a communist out of me. I was a sympathzed but I never joined the party."
He is probably on the level, I thought.
"And what were your living conditions there?" I asked.
"Not bad at all, ample meals, clean surroundings, good companionship."
"And they pay?"
"Sufficient; the apartment cost me five per cent of my pay, and I don't eat much, as you know. With Marina's additional salary we could manage quite well."
"Expensive but adequate and I am not interested, as you know, in stylish clothes. Of course, the Cubans dressed to kill." he smiled.
Marina must have missed good clothes there, I thought.
"And how about transportation? I asked.
"Of course I could not afford a motorcycle, but I like to walk and the public transportation was cheap and good."
"What was most annoying to you in the Soviet Union?" Asked Jeanne who was listening in.
"Those endless, endless meetings we had to attend after work, listening to those deadly, monotonous speeches. You were lucky if you were in the back and could take a nap...We listened to those bureaucratic outpourings half-dazed, like children during a very boring lesson. Then we voted, rather indifferently, on various trivial issues. Later we would file out, exhausted and would return home. And, "Lee smiled, "we never received any extra pay for the hours lost, and we certainly deserved it."
I approved his attitude, nodding agreement. I would also hate to waste my time on such meetings.
Lee spoke of other foreigners living there, some Cubans whose names I forgot, one family of refugees from Argentina; the father was an experienced engineer and Lee had a great respect for him. It wasn't once that he mentioned this family to me, taking mainly of the daughters who "were so pretty" and so friendly to him. All in all Lee spoke frequently to me of his interest in women and he even bragged amusingly and somewhat naively of his conquests in Russia.
Here in the United States Lee wasn't certainly a ladies' man, he felt depressed and confined. I think he frequently regretted having left Minsk.
But there I can visualize him cutting a path of Casanova among the Russian women. And why not? He was a foreigner, he acted freely, he looked pleasantly and his interest in Russian people was warm and genuine.
Marina admitted herself one day. "He was something out of the ordinary. He looked like an American, he was easygoing, loose and alert - not like the other guy." That Lee was a perfectly normal and well adjusted individual of Minsk - Marina insisted frequently. "The only trouble with him was, his interest in books - serious books - serious books, politics, discussions, rather than sex."
Maybe it is not nice to talk about confidential sex matters, between the Oswalds, but might as well do it, they show light on the personalities of this interesting couple. Marina was close enough to my wife ot be completely one with her. "Lee does not have sex with me but rarely," she admitted, "very rarely, about once a month and he is in such a hurry, poor fellow, that I do not get any satisfaction. It's most frustrating." When Jeanne repeated this matter to me, I laughed and told Marina a well-known Texas joke translating it, probably for the first time, into Russia.
"Mandy was a good-looking black prostitiute. A handsome, tall Black, by the name of Rastus came to see her. How much do you charge Mandy?' - For fifteen dollars I does it all, for ten we does it, for five you do it all! Rastus had only five dollars, so they agreed and went to bed. But while Rastus began making love to Mandy he turned out to be such a formidable male that in extasy Mandy ailed: 'Rastus I shall do it all on credit, you have such an honest face!"
Naturally in Russian it did not sound very hot, but we all laughted and possibly it was the beginning of Marina's arden interest in our racial minority - the Blacks.
But aside from such foolishness, we talked with Oswalds of their lives in the Soviet Union. And soon we acquired a certainty that Marina wanted a richer and materialistically more rewarding life then the one she had at home and it was she who convinced Lee to go to the American Embassy, to ask for the return of this passport and for money all this in view to go with him to the United States. Another interesting fact: the first time he went from Minsk to Leningrad or Moscow he did it illegally, but the second time he obtained a legal Soviet permit to go there by train. As a foreigner Lee was not supposed to leave town without notifying the police and obtaining a permit. Not an easy matter for some of the people who had tried to leave Russia.
I remember Marina telling me without any emotion that she had been discharged at the time from the Komsomol, an organization of communist youth, and that it happened because she had married an American. In the Soviet Union it was a disgrace, but she did not attach any importance to it while in Minsk, because obviously she know she would leave her country anyway. Both Lee and I laughed about her naive belief that the streets of the United States were paved with gold and that the poor people were the ones who had to wash themselves their Cadillacs. I remember Lee telling us a joke, which circulated at the time among the young Russian. Capitalism to them meant champagne, luxurious cars, jazz, caviar for dinner and Gina Lollobrigida for a girl-friend. Marvelous! Communism to them meant vodka, dirty tramway, balalaika, black bread and their own mother!
Marina laughed goodnaturedly.
Very often people ask me with suspicion why I, a person with several university degrees and of fairly good financial and social standing - with friends among the rich of the world - became such a friend of that "maladjusted radical" - Lee Harvey Oswald? Well, I hope that this book clarifies Lee's personality and endows him with a lot of most attractive features. I already spoke of his straightforward and relaxing personality. of his honesty or his desire to be liked and appreciated. And I believe it is a privilege of an older age not to give a damn what others think of you. I choose my friends just because they appeal to me. And Lee did.
It never occurred to me that he might be an agent of any country, including United States - although he might have been trained in Russian for some ulterior motive - Lee was too outspoken, naively so. In this way I was similar to him. In 1946 when I was working in Venezuela for William Buckley's family company- Pantepec Oil Company- I met the soviet Ambassador there who had been before world was one a rostabout for Nobel Oil interests, and my uncle was a director of that outfit. So the Ambassador knew my name and was extremely friendly to me. We spent many an evening talking and drinking vodka. As a result he suggested that be would offer me a contract to work in the Soviet Union. But after listening to me and my outspoken opinions, he advised me: "my friend, you talk too much, you critize too much, you would be a babe in the woods in my country and would end up in Siberia."
Also Lee was very interested in other people, in their work, he tried to improve his own education by reading, observing and studying. Sometimes he was amusing when he used long, difficult words in English - words like charisma, politicomania, extravaganzas, eletism - the knowledge of which he liked to display. We even laughed together about his use of such words, the exact meaning of which eluded him. Occasionally Lee's constant search for truth, for the answers to the mysteries of life, seemed tragic and disturbing to me. But this proves also that it seems highly improbable that any government would try to make an agent of such a man. He own element of sel-inquiry, self-denial and self-doubt, mixed with instability worried Lee. But I told him not to worry, in my opinion instability, doubt, constant search were elements of youth and were indicative of exuberant life.
I told Lee that I pitied people who did not possess such characteristics, were living dead, they form the mass of obedient slaves in all countries.
A strong desire for adventure was also one of Lee's motivations. That's why he became a marine, that's why he switched jobs just because he did not like what he had to do so far. And routine was deadly to him. However his last job at the printing company fitted him well and he seemed fairly happy.
"Why didn't you stay in the Marine Corps?" I asked him one day.
"Oh, did not care for the military, not much fun being and underline, not much adventure either."
"You could become an officer, you are intelligent enough," I countered.
"Oh, no, to hell with being an officer, I don't like to command other guys."
Often I was asked with suspicion, long before the assassination, "how did you get along so well with Lee Oswald?"
"In my life I have done many things, I was often a promoter, an originator of new ideas, so I liked now ideas, even if they seemed strange and outlandish, I enjoyed meeting people of various types, evaluated their thoughts, did not criticize them," I retorted.
Later on, when I was in the hot water because of my friendship with Lee, a friend of mine testified: "George always liked stray dogs and stray people."
Many people considered Lee a miserable misfit, an insult to the American way of life, and completely disregarded him. A Russian refugee living in Dallas told me once: "I am scared of this man Oswald, he is a paranoid."
"Paranoid or not, he is as intelligent as you are. Listen to him, there is a lot of sense in what he says," I would reply.
Probably to annoy Lee, the Russian refugees and some ultra-conservative Americans showered Marina with gifts and gave her too much attention. Since Americans could not communicate with her, their efforts were wasted. But the gifts give his wife by the refugees annoyed Lee. Unquestionably Marina added oil to the fire bragging about the gifts and talking how successful some of the donors were - owning their own homes and two automobiles. He might have been wounded in his pride, although he never complained to me.
At the time Lee did not want Marina to learn English. She could only say yes and no and if she went to the store, he had to point out the articles she wanted. "It''s ver egotistical on your part Lee," Jeanne told him, "you have to let her study English so she can communicate with other people than the Russian refugees. You cannot keep her a recluse."
Sensing that Lee resented them, the members of the Russian colony gave Marina some hundred dresses. Baby June received a new crib, a carriage and a lot of toys. Unquestionably it annoyed Lee. The more people gave Marina, the more it disturbed Lee. Disturbed is not the right word - maddened. And so he declined invitations to these "benefactor's" homes, he was often rede to them. That situation had very sad consequences for this family.
As far as we are concerned, we continued our good relationship with the Oswalds, even after the situation in Soviet Russian and in Minsk especially have been thoroughly discussed. Instead of questioning them, we became concerned in the welfare of this couple. Be nice to the poor was always Jeanne' motto.
Seeing that Lee's situation was also gradually deteriorating, I became even nicer to him. Never kick a man who is down, help him, was my belief. Sometimes Lee's action and his sensitivities annoyed me, but I did not try to show any resentment and attempted to find a solution for him and his wife. Contrasts between the Oswalds.
One day Lee brought to me typescripts of his experiences in Russia. He was interested in publishing them in a form of an article in a magazine or possibly to develop them into a book. A few typed pages, and poorly at that, in substance could not add much to what he had already told me. And what he had told me was of interest only to me, because I was familiar with the locale, but not to other readers. But it was important for him to get my recognition since he knew that I published many articles in Europe and in this country did some theatre reviews for the Variety Magazine. And so Lee sat on the sofa and looked hopefully at me.
"What do you think of this?" he asked.
"Remember I am not a professional writer, I was lucky enough to have had some articles published, your story is simple and honest but it is very poorly written. It is deprived of any sensational revelations and it's really pointless. Personally I like it because I know Minsk but how many people know where Minsk is. And why should they have interest in your experiences? Tell me!"
"not many," Lee agreed mildly.
I did not say, not to affend him, that his grammar was poor and the syntax was atominable. And those long, pompous words...
But that was the result of his poor, formal education. And the only things in his favor stood out - his sincerity and his obvious good will to inform correctly.
"If you add some sensational, detective story type details, a beautiful female spy, depraved, mesochistic policemen, if you depict all Russians as degenerate monsters, then your script will be published.
"No, thank you," said Lee proudly. "I do not want to tell lies. My purpose is to improve Soviet-American relations." And he added quickly, "People here should know how decent and generous Russians are. How well they treated me, a simple American ex-marine, with kindness and generosity - I did not find anything monstrous in Soviet Russia."
"I agree with you personally. Also you talk about some individuals you met there. It's good and factual, they are decent people. But who is interested in comrate this or that, in refugees from Argenina or in some cheerful Cuban students? Correct?"
Lee agreed and I handled him back his pages.
The same typescripts were shown me later for identification by the Warren Committee Lawyer and they were printed in the Warren Committee report. So Lee's wishes came true after his death.
This was a period of relative tranquillity for Lee, as he was working for Taggart's developing and enlarging photos, posters and maps and he seemed to enjoy his work. But Marina was dissatisfied and complained to Jeanne again. "He comes home tired, hardly talks to me, only to the baby, then reads Russian books and is seldom tender and loving to me."
Incidentally I never saw him interested in anything else except Russian books and magazines. He said he didn't want to forget the language - but it amazed me that he read such difficult writers like Gorki, Dostoevski, Gogol, Tolstoi and Turgenieff - in Russian. As everyone knows Russian is a complex language and he was supposed to have stayed in the Soviet Union only a little over two years. He must have had some previous training and that point had never been brought up by the Warren Committee - and it is still puzzling to me. In my opinion Lee was a very bright person but not a genius. He never mastered the English language yet he learned such a difficult language! I taught Russian at all level in a large University and I never saw such a profficiency in the best senior students who constantly listened to Russian taped and spoke to Russian friends. As a matter of fact American-born instructors never mastered Russian spoken language as well as Lee did.
The fact that Lee reserved Marina as a perfect Russian conversationalist for himself was foolish and selfish. Being in close relationship with the Oswalds we noticed the signs of the coming disintegration of their already fragile relationship. Lee seemed to be fond of Marina but he mostly cherished baby June. Maybe he was too secretive a person to show his affection and Marina's slavic nature demanded more attention and tenderness. But Lee never spoke badly to us about his wife, he never criticized her but neither did he ever express any deep feeling for her. Even in his typewritten memoirs he spoke very little of her.
Marina, on the other hand, annoyed and criticized Lee, due possibly to a perversity of her Russian character. "He is so puny, so dull, he never drinks, only works, tries easily, is only interested in books" she complained to me and my wife. And she said that behind his back and obviously to him directly when we were to there. Never did we hear from her that she loved her husband. But there was nevertheless an element of strong attachment which tied together these two so different people, but we did not notice it at the time.
Lee was indeed all wrapped up in his work, books, his ideas on equality of all people, especially of all races; it was strange indeed for a boy New Orleans and Texas poor white family, purely Anglo, to be so profoundly anti-racist. "Segregation in any form, racial, social or economic, is one of the most repulsive facts of American life", he often told me. "I would be willing any time to fight these fascistic segregationalists - and to die for my black brothers."
He obviously intended to do just that, as we shall see from the later chapters and from Marina's inscription on Lee's picture. Warren Committee completely disregarded this unusual aspect of Lee's character and eliminated my statement from the report.
Otherwise, we seldom heard from Lee much talk about women, Marina, on the other hand, spoke freely to Jeanne add to myself about her pre-marital experiences, her admiration for strong, sexy men. She spoke enthusiastically about the Cubans she met in Russia. "They were outgoing and gay. Often they carried their guitars with them, sand their catchy Carribean tunes, danced so well. They were such fun!"
This was fan indirect criticism of her husband who did not like music, except Russian folcloric sad tunes, who did not play any musical instruments and could not dance. And let's face it he wasn't particulary entertaining with her.
Here I want to dispel once more the impression I may have given that Lee did not have a keen sense of humour. For instance I remember this one he told me. "A Russian doctor had a parrot who was able to say 'how do you do', 'good night' etc. One hot evening the doctor left the parrot on the windowsill to cool off. A Russian mujik passes by and hears parrot's greetings. He takes his hat off and says: 'excuse me, comrade, I thought you were a bird!"
On American politics he expressed the following opinion. "Under dictatorship people are enslaved but they know it. Here the politicians constantly lie to people and they become immune to these lies because they have the privilege of voting. But voting is rigged and democracy here is a gigantic profusion of lies and clever brain-washing."
Also he said something about FBI which did not strike me at the time as very clever, but history proved his judgement correct. "Knowledge is a great power, especially if you know it about very important people." Obviously J. Edgar Hoover's files must come to your mind.
Also he told me the joke which must have been circulating at the time in the Soviet Union, "A strip-tease joint was opened in moscow for the tourists. It was decorated and run just like in Paris and lots of money was spent on this establishment. Yet it did not attract much trade. A state Economic Commission questioned the worried director. He explained: 'I did my best, hired the best decorators, imitated a place in Paris.' - 'How about the girls?" asked a member of the commission. 'No trouble with them, they are all at least for thirty years good, party members.'"
Lee also liked jokes about southern hillbillies and rednecks but I cannot recall any of them not. He subscribed to "Drokodil" a Soviet satirical publication, somewhat similar to the New Yorder of to the British Punch. Krokodil, which we often read together, featured mainly Russian self-criticism in the form of short stories or cartoons. Animals frequently featured local politicians, and in the manner of Krilov's fables, emphasized the foibles of the Soviet bureaucracy. It also took swipes at the bourgeois world quite sharply.
Lee read Russian classics and discussed some at length with me, especially I remember "The Idiot" by Dostoievski, a psychoanalytical study. He understood the pre-revolutionary life in Russia, which I did not know but heard about from my parents. Russian classics belong exclusively to the pre-revolutionary or early revolutionary days and modern Russians are fascinated by those days of extravagant aristocracy, tzarist power and abuses of it, great wealth and great waste, ownership of slaves, temporal strength of the Greek-Orthodox church - these aspects of the old days Lee observed with distaste but the elegance and the gayety of the certain occasions gave him a feeling of nostalgia, as he were Russian himself.
Marina did not care about any of this, she was a super-materialist, really destined by nature for the mediocre, middle class American life: new clothes new buildings, plastic, neutral surroundings, tall, well-dressed men.
"Lee, when shall we get a car/" She kept on nagging. "Everyone here has one, even the poorest people!" And poor Lee even did not know how to drive a car. And when Marina was talking to Jeanne he said: "I never wanted a middle-class wife, mediocre, obscure, money-loving who would have the taste of vanity, of luxury, of comfort, of all that bourgeois nonsense."
Well, you have one, I thought.
Marina liked wine, he objected to it. She smoked, he detested the smell of tobacco. So whenever she was without him she would become a chain-smoker, inhaling deep, asking for drinks, enjoying these forbidden pleasures. He called Lee, a slender, ascetic man, but by no means a weakling, a bookworm. He respected education and knowledge, especially in others, she was just the opposite; she didn't value her degree as a pharmacist.
"It must have been difficult ot get it?" I asked her once.
"Not for me, I got by easily, used ponies and passed my examinations," she answered breezily.
But she would remember some handsome fellows and had met and shared bed with, of real soviet type orgies. She confided in Jeanne. Those parties were organized in Minsk by richer sons of the bureaucrats who disposed of comfortable apartments while their parents were gone. The kids drank and sleeps indiscriminately. "This was terrific, "she reminisced. "And I also remember a handsome boy who instead of joining us on holidays would take a book and would go all day to the forest to study. Some people are crazy," she concluded.
In my conversations with Lee, I found out that he was an open and straightforward agnostic. Religion did not interest him. He saw that was probably since his early childhood. His agnosticism was on the type of Jefferson's or Franklin's - and it was fine. He was not an aggressive atheist who wanted to impose his point of view with violence. He must have read Toynbee and bertrand Russell because his argumentation against organized religion was solid. One day he said, "The doctor sees a man at his weakest, the lawyer sees the man at his wickedest and the priest sees a man at his stupidest," he chuckled. "I read it somewhere, it's pretty good?"
Lee was always very humble with me and he really blossomed when I showed some interest in what he had to say. But aren't we all the same way?
Only once, while discussing organized religion, he expressed his views with cold disdain. "What I dislike," he said, "are the materialistic aspects of the American type religion, to all, but the large denominations with their ridiculously garish churches, their tax-deductible tricks and finageling." Lee seems quite versed in the matter. Here he was rather instructing me. And I had to agree with him on the greedy aspects of our modern Christianity, so far removed from the original teachings of poverty and humility.
I remember talking to my wife about Lee and she mentioned that we both treated him on a perfectly equal basis, and never scorned him, while other people who helped the Oswalds did it for Marina only or for the child. And Lee did not like any help, especially that type. He was occasionally rude to the people who interfered in their lives being intrisically a very independent, selfsufficient person. And so he began refusing invitations which infuriated Marina.
Many local people, especially Russian refugees, resented Lee because he had deserted these United States, the "country of the brave and the free" and many considered him an outright traitor. And he, a hundred percent, native-born American smiled and would say: "who are the real Americans? Only the Indians, Blacks and the Mexicans from the South-Western states, to whom this country originally belonged."
We have a different attitude. We like young people who search to solve some problems which bother them. He disliked many aspects of American life and thought that maybe somewhere else it was better. Being with him took me back to my young days at the University of Liege, when we spent entire discussing various problems of life without any respect for the rules or for the establishment.
It was not the first time that he mentioned that he was disappointed in the Soviet Union because he did not find there his ideal of justice. "Maybe it does not exist..." he said sadly one day. "And so I came back."
The narrow-minded people condemned him without understanding his motivations, without giving him a chance to explain himself. fAn later on our Dallas police let im die without explaining himself and telling the truth.
But we are talking of the year 1962 and of people he met then. Many resented him - and he answered in kind. And we were the only ones who took interest in him and gave him a chance to express himself.
Since I had mentioned Lee's agnosticism, let's go back to Marina's attitude towards religion. We were positive that at the time Marina was also an agnostic, even an atheist, after all she was brought up in Soviet Russia in purely communist surrounding. She did not have the slightest idea of God, not any interest in anything divine - or so it seemed to us. But soon she realized that being religious in the United Stated would help her, as it usually dows. And so she had her child June christened later in the Greek-Orthodox church in Dallas during one of her separation from Lee. This exacerbated their conflict. He told her in our presence: "you doublecrossed me, you should have consulted me before doing this to my child. This is unforgivable!"
And so there was another element added to their disputes.
Personally I do not criticize faith or religion, but these should be true and profound feelings, not the outward manifestations. Lee's faith, his strongest belief was - racial integration. He told me at many occasions - "It hurts me that he Blacks to not have the same privileges and rights as white American." And I agreed with him. This was the time when Blacks had to sit at the back of the bus, couldn't eat in restaurants or stay in the hotels and motels reserved for the whites. It angered and annoyed me. At the time I didn't have many contacts with the Blacks, except with some artists, teachers and preachers. But in my profession I couldn't afford to have Black friends often in the house, I would have been blackballed and eliminated from the competitive field. Fortunately now the situation changed for me and I am very happy.
Lee also resented the poor care of his child. This led to frequent quarrels and recriminations. Gradually fights between the Oswalds became frequent and vicious. Marina would arrive by bus with the baby and would complain to Jeanne: "He beat me up again," and showed bruises on her body to Jeanne and a black eye to me.
One day we visited them in their apartment on Elsbeth Street in Oak Cliff. It was on the ground-floor of a dreary red-brick building, the atmosphere of the house and the neighbourhood conducive to suicide. The living-room was dark and smelly, the bedroom and the kitchen facing bleak walls. But Lee was proud of his own place and showed me his books and magazines as well as some letters from Russia which we read together. The place was spruced up by the lovely photographs of the Russian countryside taken by Lee there and later enlarged by him. Trees and fields, charming peasant huts and cloudy skies contrasted strangely with the dreary walls and the lugubrious atmosphere. Some pictures were framed by Lee, others unframed were assembled carefully in an album. I also remember artistically taken pictures of Moscow and Liningrad, especially of the river Neva which I also slightly remembered from my childhood. He was happy to have access to elaborate photographic equipment. "Look at these churches, look at these statues," he exclaimed proudly. Indeed almost all his pictures had a professional touch, he was justly proud of them.
While Lee and I were chatting on that moth-eaten sofa of his in the living-room, Marina invited Jeanne to come to the kitchen. There she cried and showed an infected spot on her shoulder. "The son of the bitch caught me smoking and he grabbed the cigarette and put it out on my bare flesh,"
"This is terrible, this is terrible" shouted Jeanne, coming out of the kitchen. "Lee what have you done to your wife?"
"Well, she smoked against my orders," he said sullenly.
"You lived abroad only two years and picked up those customs," Jeanne attacked Him. "You could not have picked up this brutality in Russia where women are independent. And here you have no right to brutalize a woman just because she smokes occasionally."
Right there we discussed with them very frankly their growing antagonism and tried to find a solution to it. We came up with an idea of a temporary separation but let it up to them. "Take it easy," I told Lee, "and stop abusing your wife."
"But she enjoys brutality," he answered calmly. "Look at me. I am all scratched up." Indeed, even in the darkish room we could see long red marks on his face - traces of Marina's fingernails. "She is provoking me," he added sadly.
"Still it's no excuse," I said. "Your temperaments obviously clash - it's another reason for separation."
The Oswalds remained silent, wrapped up in their misery.
"Do it," said Jeanne, "before you really hurt each other. And you Lee are responsible because you are stronger."
"Man, that woman loves to fight," countered Lee seriously.
Marina and Jeanne went back to the kitchen where Marina cried on my wife's shoulder. On the way home Jeanne related the complaints. "He is cold and hostile," said Marina. "He goes to bed with me so rarely now. Once in a couple of weeks. He makes me so god-damn frustrated.:
Jeanne was amused by such frank revelation but could not find a better solution for Marina than advising her to be more feminine, use some perfume in the evening and occasionally put on a sexy, transparent negligee.
But before leaving I remember taking a close look at baby June, layin in her crib, rather fat and not being able yet to say a work. "She reminds me of someone, of some celebrity." I said.
And then the answer came to me. "Look at June," I shouted. "Look she is a baby edition of Nikita Krushchev!"
I did not mean it as an insult, just the opposite. I rather liked that outgoing, earthy old man, and so did the Oswalds. So we all laughed and assembled around the crib, examining the baby. "Same pinkish color of the skin," observed Jeanne. "Same rare, fluffy hair," said Marina. "Same round Russian face," agreed Lee smilingly.
And so we left that evening advising our young friends to talk over there problems and to stop torturing each other. Whatever their decision would be, we would be glad to help them in any way we could.
Driving back from the Oswalds we spoke of their problems and laughed June-Krushchev comparison. "Yes, the baby has the same slanting eyes and the same belligerent expression," said Jeanne, "how come I did not notice it before?"
Yes, June was not a pretty baby at the time but perfectly normal and healthy. We have not seen her lately, for reasons I shall explain, but I am sure she grew up to be a lovely young girl. She has a step-father and knows probably little or nothing about her real father. And we remember with sadness how much Lee was devoted to her. "He is an unusually loving and tender father," I mused aloud while driving.
"And he has a very good hearth," said Jeanne, "Look how much our dogs love him."
"It's so touching when Lee kisses June and calls her "moia malenkaia devochka." And never gets mad at her, I concluded while we approached our house. Increased animosity between Lee and Marina
Conflicts in married couples develop slowly like a cancer, and then from the slow development the sickness attacks the couple with alarming rapidity. In previous chapter we showed how slowly but insidiously the animosity developed in the case of Oswalds. Looking back at Lee and remembering his reactions, he became suddenly standoffich, sometimes supercilious and spoke only to people whom he liked and trusted. And there were not many of them. Lee was not close to his mother and seldom spoke of her. But neither did he criticize her. He harldy spoke of his brother Robert and not at all of his wife. Yet, the Oswalds stayed with them for a short time upon their arrival in the United States. f As a matter of fact we never met any member of the Oswald family and we are sorry not to have met Lee's mother. Even Marina spoke nicely of her.
Later we admired when Marguerite Oswald tried desperately to clear up her son's name and reputation. We wish her the best of luck.
One of the reasons we agree with Mrs. Marguerite Oswald that her son was probably innocent of Kennedy's assassination - and we insisted on this during the Warrin Committ interviews (although it was never brought up publicly) - was the following: Lee actually admired President Kennedy in his own reserved way. One day we discussed with Lee Kennedy's efforts to bring peace to the world and to end the cold war. "Great, great!" Exclaimed Lee. "If he succeeds, he will be the greatest president in the history of this country."
Kennedy's efforts to alleviate and to end segregation were also admired by Lee, who was sincerely and profoundly committed to a complete integration of Blacks and saw it in the future of the United States. "I am willing to fight for racial equality and would die fighting if necessary," He told me once. Because of his poor, miserable childhood, he probably compared himself to the Blacks and the Indians and commiserated with them. In this he was so different and so noble compared with the Southern trash and rednecks, whose segregationism stems from their fear of the Blacks, of their strength and of the possibility of their prominence in every field of human endeavor. Education for the Blacks was an anathema for them, while Lee was fullheartedly for it. He loved black children and admired their cute and outgoing ways. He also was fond of the black music and folklore with which he as familiar from his childhood days in New Orleans.
Lee despised the reactionary groups, the whit supremacists, the so called "hate groups" and did not hide his feelings. I naturally agreed with him. Marina, on other hand was not interested in anything except acquiring possessions. Her craa materialism, envy of other refugees' success, compared to Lee's idealism, lead inevitably to confrontations.
Lee was rather neat and orderly, Marina was lazy and devil may care about her household and herself. This unusual Russian-American couple was too much for the average Anglo. Hence their cohabitation with Robert Oswald and his family was short. It all became clear to my wife as she had the opportunity of observing Marina more than I did. This ex-Russian activist and member of the Communist youth stayed in bed 'till noon or later and avoided domestic chores. This was what happened when she stayed in our house. The same opinion was shared by my daughter with whom Marina stayed also for a while.
Marina was simply deprived of energy while Lee, capable of an effort, was not however an average go-getting type of a person who succeed in America. I often regretted that Lee did not get a better education, he would have done well in the scholastic world and would have been a useful citizen.
In the meantime Lee's relationship with Marina worsened as she became more enticed by the American "luxuries". I was a sensuous joy for her to wear my wife's silk nighties when she stayed with us and my daughter said that she did the same when she stayed in her apartment.
As Marina was luxuriating, Lee was rending whenever he could his Russian books (he had brought a lot from the Soviet Union) and his friends kept providing him with new supplies of books and magazines.
Although I did not notice any special signs of jealousy regarding Marina - for obvious reasons, she could not communicate with Americans and the Russian refugees were too old for her - but it annoyed him that his wife kept corresponding with her boy-friend, or an ex-lover, in Russia Lee intercepted a letter from this man and became very bitter. I do not remember whether he beat her up on that occasion, Marina did not complain. But he told me that the letter contained reference of Marina's plan to return to the Soviet Union without him. It could be that Lee amagined it . Anyway, the situation became tenser. Lee obviously loved Marina in his own way and did not want to lose her.
Marina's smoking and occasional drinking gave fits to Lee, he hated the smell of tobacco on Marina's breath. Laughingly I told him to avoid this problem and to approach Marina, when he was in an amorous mood, from the back. He did not laugh this time.
Junie's upbringing also caused bitter disputes, Lee accused his wife of not paying enough attention to his daughter, not to change her diapers fast enough and to be tender enough with her. Actually Marina was not a bad mother, but Lee was too much of a perfectionist and June was his idol. In our opinion he spoiled the child too much and we told him so.
The Oswalds quarrelled in front of us bitterly but without physical violence. But gradually the tempo of their fights increased and we saw Marina more often with abruises and Lee with scratches on his face.
Jeanne tried to convince Lee to change his ways to be more tolerant otherwise this confrontation would end in a tragedy. I did not believe that Lee would seriously hurt Marina and laughed - "even prominent people occasionally beat their wives, the most important is not to maim them."
My wife liked Marina and found her amusing and stimulating but we were both annoyed to hear her complaints about "that idiot Lee who does not make enough money."
"Why don't you try to make something out of yourself?" asked Jeanne. "I came penniless to America, worked hard and became a successful designer. Go to school, learn English, revalidate your degree."
Marina was not interested.
To encourage Marina and prevent her from bitching at Lee, Jeanne gave her a series of records to teach Russian-speaking people English. They were her own records, as she came to the United States from China, without knowing the language well. But she learned fast and made a superhuman effort to become independant and to give an excellent education to her daughter.
We also gave the Oswalds a phonograph. But instead of learning English she played melancholy Russian tunes and did not obviously cherish the idea of finding a job.
One day both of them were reading to us a letter from Marina's girlfriend in Russia. "Marina," it read, "I knew you would make it, you were destined to be great and your success in America is a proof of it."
Lee smiled sadly: "Marina what were you saying to your friend?"
Ironically Marina did become famous after the assassination, was on the cover of Time Magazine, received a lot of money from charitable but foolish Americans, and is now well off financially.
At the time it was pathetic to read such a nonsense. But is is possible that Marina in her own strange way considered her arrival in America a great success, maybe the hundred odd dresses donated to her turned her head?....Who knows?
One day she told Jeanne that she always wanted to come to the United States - at any price. All the foolish gadgets and all the junk which clutter our lives in this country. Idea of separation
We were appalled at the Oswalds' marital troubles which from being bad became desperate. One day Marina came to our house without announcement, crying, badly bruised all over and carrying baby June along. It would be dangerous for her to leave. And so we discussed the situation with a charming couple - the Mellers - very kindly people without children of their own. He had been a professor in Eastern Poland and she a Soviet displaced person. They met in a camp in Germany, fell in love, married and eventually came to the United States. They met Marina and liked her and at the same time they were not prejudiced against Lee. Not being rich, they were generous, and they accepted to host Marina and the child till the situation would clear up.
The same day I invited Lee to come to the house to discuss the situation with him. We spoke very calmly and as a matter of fact of the need for separation. our dogs, Nero and Poppea, sitting snugly next to Lee were a living proof that he was not either frantic nor nervous. When it came to the last beating, result of Oswalds' desperate quarrels, Jeanne said: "separate as fast as you can. Stay away from each other. I will let you know Lee later where Marina will be. But not before some time lapses."
At that Lee became indignant, our dogs went into hiding, "you are not going to impose this indignity of me!" He shouted. "I shall tear up all of June and Marina's clothes and break the furniture." He was incoherent and violent. We never saw him in this condition before.
"If you did this, you will never see June and Marina again. You are ridiculous," she said quietly. "There is a law here against abuse."
"By the time you calm down, I shall promise you will be in contact with baby June again," in interceded, knowing that Lee was afraid that someone would take the child away from him. And so he calmed down, promised to think the situation over, assured us that there would be no more violence and after a while we drove the coupleback to the dreary Elsbeth street apartment.
The next evening Lee was back with us, all alone. Again he wanted to talk the situation over. He sat gloomily on our famous sofa and both of us tried to talk some sense.
"I heard of love accompanied with beating and torture," I said half seriously, read Marquis de Sade or observe the life of the underworld - l'amour crapule, as they say in France. But your fights seem to be deprived of sex, which is terrible..."
"if you think you are fond of each other, cannot you do it without scratching, biting and hitting?" Jeanne tried another reasoning.
Lee sat gloomily without saying a word.
"Separation will be a test for both of you," continued Jeanne, "you will se if you can live without each other. If you can, Lee you will find another woman and will be happier with her."
"If not," I laughed, "you will separate or divorce again. Look at me. I did it four times until I found somebody who can stand me."
Jeanne kept on talking about a nice temporary home for Marina and the baby and the good care both of them will have. Naturally we did not mention the name of Mellers.
"I promise you, Lee, that after a cooling off peried, I shall give you the address and the telephone, so you can communicate with your child. Nobody should separate a child from her father."
Lee believed my promise because he knew that myself I had been a victim of a vindictive wife who prevente me from seeing my children.
Jeanne had called one of two families who knew the Oswalds and they wholeheartedly approved of the proposed arrangement because they thought that Marina would be better off alone than with Lee. And I personally was sure that Lee would be happier without Marina.
Since Marina had been for this arrangement from the start, it was only Lee we were worried about.
That night we separated rather sadly. "You may hat us, Lee, or maybe you will be grateful to us one day for enforcing this separation," I said, "But I don't see any other way out under the circumstances. This is Saturday, we are free tomorrow and will come in the morning to help Marina and the baby move our."
Lee agreed but he was on the verge of tears. "Remember your promise. You will give me soon their address and the telephone."
We shook hand and Lee left.
The next day, a Sunday, we drove to Oswalds' apartment of Elsbeth Street. Lee hardly said hello to Jeanne to who he has always been most cordial.
"This is not the end of the world, Lee," she told him. "Cheer up!" And she went to help Marina. I sat on the sofa with him and tried to talk to him. He was gloomy and hardly said a word. He did not try to help us move the crib, baby's belongings, but when it came to Marina's clothes, he became infuriated. In the meantime our big convertible Galaxie - which we kept for years in memory of Oswalds - was filling up high. Seeing all those innumerable clothes, Lee grabbed a bundle of them and shouted: "I will not permit it! I will not permit it! I shall burn all this garbage."
And so back we went into the apartment following Lee and the bundle of Marina's clothers. "You cannot go back on your promise to be calm, Lee!" Shouted Jeanne. Disgusted, I wanted to call the police for help. But Lee looked so desperate that I sat on the sofa again, grabbed him by the arm and tried to reason with him. "Brutality won't help you, Lee," I said. "If you keep on with these tantrums, Marina and the baby will be gone anyway and you won't see them again. So better submit and keep your word."
He sat gloomily not sure of what he was going to do.
"We are wasting our valuable time helping your kids, "I shouted loosing my patience. "To hell with you and your quarrels!"
And Lee calmed down and agreed to everything. He even helped carrying Marina's clothes acquired from the hateful Russian-American benefactors, and put them on top of our overloaded car. with all this junk, our convertible sank almost to the ground and groaned.
And so we departed Jeanne holding up to all that stuff to prevent it from falling out, Maring holding on to baby June. As I was driving I laughed because we looked so obviously ridiculous. But fortunately this was a Sunday, there were few people on the streets and I drove slowly, avoiding main arteries from Oak Cliff, the far Western part of Dallas, to the Lakeview area, in the Eastern part of Dallas, a distance of some fifteen miles. And so we reached the apartment of that gentle couple, the Mellers, who came out, greeting Marina and the baby and helped to unload all that junk.
Little did they suspect that this kindly action would cause them so much trouble after November 23, 1963 and that their gentle life would be disturbed by the insane suspicions and crazy publicity following Kennedy's assassination.
Marina complained for the last time about that stupid Lee and all the trouble he had caused all of us. I was worried about him. "Let's get over with it," I said gloomily, finishing the unloading. "And let's get out of here. We have done enough for these crazy kids." Separation and more trouble.
Obviously the separation which we caused and worked so hard at was not the right solution for the couple's problems. It was a heavy burden on this charitable Polish-Russian couple - the Mellers - who were used to their own ways and who had to share Marina's temperamental problems. She would not help Mrs. Meller in her household chores and behaved like a primodonna. And for Lee the separation was much worse. He missed Marina and the child and came to our house daily, asking how they were, did June miss him, were they well taken care of. In other words he practically forgot that this separation was not a joke and that he had caused it to a great extent.
Again we had a chance to talk together, in al less cheerful mood than before. "One can arrive at truth by trial and error," he said. "In my case I commit so many errors and I still do not know whether I arrive at truth."
"It is possible, Lee," I countered, "that you take things too seriously. Don't do things which are unpleasant or uncomfortable because of some great ideology you may have. You see all the mess you are in. You must have read Arthur Koestler's book where he repents for his years as an ideological communist revolutionary."
Lee remembered the book.
"Stop living miserably, do like a normal person dows, live pleasantly and keep your own ideology to yourself. Don't disclose yourself."
"You are right," of course, said Lee. "But this society we live in, it's so disgusting and degrading. How can you stand it?"
"Well, my friend, that's why we have built in distractions, stupid TV, moronic movies, rock and roll music for most of the people."
"And good books for us," concluded Lee, rather aptly.
"Lee, you are too straight, your back does not bend enough. One of these days someone will break your back. You have to learn to bend, be resilient."
"But look at the politicians here, most of them. They want to be praised publicly of their honesty and good will. Connelly, the governor of Texas, for example. In reality they will do all the degrading actions and yet try to appear in good light."
This was the first time he mentioned his loathing for Governor Connelly. What caused it, we shall show later.
"What you need, Lee, is a good wall in the jungle, like we did. That would bring you back to the essentials of life - survival."
"Marina is not Jeanne, she will not do anything of the sort. And we have the baby..."
Later we were asked many times with great suspicion - "why were you wasting your time on this crazy Marxist and his unappealing wife?"
The answer is - first to help a young couple in despair and secondly-more complex answer - I found Lee a most interesting and invigorating individual, he never bored me. Maybe the reader will agree...
Talking to Lee was a balsam for his raw nerves, a sincere conversation calmed him down and it wasn't bad for me either. Fortunately I remember well so much of what he said. I remember distinctly that one of those evenings together we talked of John F. Kennedy. Lee liked him and certainly did not include him among those despicable politicians he mentioned before. I showed him President's picture of the cover of Time Magazine and Lee said -"how handsome he looks, what open and sincere features he has and who different he looks from the other ratty politicians."
I don't remember exactly the words but Lee spoke most kindly of the gradual improvement of the racial relations in the United States, attributing this improvement to the President. Like most young people he was attracted by the Kennedy's personality but he also knew that JFK's father was a rascal who made money off whisky and being bullish on the stock-market which is betting against this country's economy.
Lee often mentioned that the two party system did not work well, that other points of view were not represented. He did not see the differnce between a conservative democrat and a fairly liberal republican - and in that I agreed with him.
"Both republicans and democrats really did not oppose each other," he mentioned one day, "they do not represent differnt points of view, but they are both solidly against poor and oppressed."
But regarding JFK, Lee did not have such a gloomy attitude and he hoped that after the Bay of Pigs fiasco Kennedy would accept coexistence with the communist world.
As I mentioned before, he did not like Marine Corps and consedered it racist and segregationist. "Do you know that President Truman wanted to abolish this Marine Corps and I would agree with him on that." Lee did not like any militarists, Russian or American, he thought that some day there dould be a "cop d'etat" in this country organized by the Pentagon and that the country would become a militaristic, nazi-type, dictatorship.
Maybe this negativist attitude was the result of the separation, these days he was gloomy and did not smile at my jokes. Yet I tried my best. I remember telling him about the meeting of four girls, French, English, american and Russian. "The French girl said, "my lover will buy me a dress." The English girl said: 'my husband promised to buy me a new coat.' The American girl bragged: 'my boss will buy me a mink stole'. And the Russian girl concluded: 'Girls, I am a prostitute also'."
One of those evenings Lee spoke for the first time of his discharge from the Marine Corps. "I received an honorable discharge and then those bastards, in the Navy, changed it into an undesirable discharge, just because I went to Russia and threw my passport in the face of the American consul."
"Didn't they do it because you lied? You were supposed to go back to the States to help making a living for your mother..."
"Oh, hell, that was just a crooked excuses," He said sullenly. "And Connally sighed this undesirable discharge."
Those days Lee was bitter about religion, which he generally seldom mentioned. He explained his avowed agnosticism: "money waster of these innumerable churches, garish and costly, should be spent much more usefully on hospitals, asylums, homes of the poor and elderly, on eliminating slums."
But Lee did not like the communist party either. "In Russia party members are mostly opportunist, carrying their cards proudly in order to get better jobs, or they forced into the party by the circumstances or families."
Again I tried to cheer up Lee by telling him a joke I heard in Yugoslavia.
An uneducated Montenegian communist arrives in Belgrade where he sees for the first time changing lights in a main intersection. 'Comrade,' he asked a passer by. 'What are these lights for?' He asked timidly. The slyde answer was: 'the red lights are for the communists to cross over, the yellow for the communist sympathizers, the green for all the others.' And so the reasant tried to cross on the red light, almost got killed and strongly admonished by the policeman: 'what kind of fool are you?'-'But I am a member of the communist party, but I didn't really wanted to join it, I was forced into it.'
He did not laugh but concede that the joke proved his point. "People without any party affiliation were the nicest among those I met in Russia, he concluded.
I remember that Lee did not like any political parties, anywhere. He was just a native-born nonconformist. But he told me that when he used to teach his co-workers English in Mainsk, he tried to present United States in the most favorable light and wasn't too popular with the authorities because of that. In USSR he defended USA, in USA he defended USSR.
This type of attitude I like very much and I tried to do the same when I worked in Yugoslavia in 1967. I remember deeply offending the secretary of the communist party of Slovenia comparing him to my ex-father-in-law, ex-chairman of the Republican party of Pennsylvania and an extremely rich man. Both of them, communist and a super-capitalist were made in the same mold. When he hear this, Lee finally smiled.
And so Lee tried to create good feeling in two opposing countries, in two opposing systems of government. This is not an attribute of a violent man, just the opposite. I must say that I never considered Lee capable of a truly violent act. Marina annoyed him, he beat her up, but she scratched him back and hurt him worse. Lee regretted his acts but Marina did not. Lee threatened to destroy toys and clothers but he did not do it. Look how he accepted our intervention... I am not a very violent person, but I would not stand for somebody else to take away my wife and my only child, whatever the reasons were.
Unquestionably Lee was a very sincere person, he meant what he said, even if it meant trouble for him. Marina, I remember, had the same feelings regarding the religion as Lee, she found all religions absolutely ridiculous, a childish farce. But at the same time she had her baby baptized - just in case. She knew it would create a favorable impression among Americans and Russian refugees. She did it at the time of this separation, we did not know about it, and she did it without Lee's consent.
And so baby June was baptized in the Russian-Orthodox church, where the priest, father Dimitri, was a good friend of mine. Being a neophite himself - he had been a strong Baptist - he was somewhat fanatical about his new faith and considered this baptism a great achievement. And he did well in the church and at present time he is bishop of California.
When Lee heard of this baptism, he became infuriated and it led him into more religious or rather anti-religious discussions, which I remember well.
"You know all those theories of immortality cleave me cold," said Lee. "And who would be this mysterious judge who would punish or reward me? It's out of sight."
"Yes, I agree with you but becoming just gas after death seems too simple to me."
"Eternity, immortality, what highfaluting ideas," continued Lee. "Anyway I have hard enough time in this short existence of mine," he smiled bitterly. "What shall I do with immortality?"
"Somebody said," pursued Lee, "this man is not intelligent to doubt - he is a BELIEVER."
"My friend," I said, "hope and religion are a peculiar mixture. They make lots of people happy but they also made Jewish people go to gas chambers singing Hebrew songs, instead of fighting the Nazis."
"That won't happen to me," said Lee. "I don't need hymns to pep me up when I die. And I don't know where I shall go after death and I don't care. But I shall not be like a rich American - who eats, sleeps, drinks, amuses himself and then dies painfully leaving all his belonging and a large bank account. I shall die poor and free."
I was frequently asked - was Lee a good husband? Now we have seen his unpleasant characteristics. But he often helped Marina in the household work. He gave her all the money he earned. Sometimes he complained that she was too lazy - and so he did the job himself, cleaning dishes even washing clothers. He was tender to the baby. As far as sex is concerned, we have heard Marina's complaints but we know that the greatest mystery in the world is what happens between the married couple at night, behind the closed doors. And we never looked in the keyhole.
I don't remember Lee ever saying that he would go back to the Soviet Union, even when his marriage was going on the rocks.
If Marina had any brains, she should have known that a man like Lee, who was not a money-maker but a barely a wage earner, would never provide her with all the luxuries, all those desirable items, that America seemed to possess in such limitless quantities. She picked at him, annoyed him, as if she desired a separation, which she finally achieved through us.
This letter from Marina's ex-lover that Lee intercepted, why did she let it drag around. Maybe she wanted to end this unsuccessful marriage?
What annoyed us also was that Marina liked to ridicule Lee. She called him a fool, a moron. "You are always thinking of politics instead of making money - you act like a big shot!"
Marina had a bad habit of constantly correcting Lee when he was speaking Russian and that annoyed him and me. Lee, for a man of his background, had a remarkable talent for Russian and Marina foolishly tried to blow up his occasional mistakes or ridicule his slight accent. It's difficult to know two languages to perfection and Lee's English was perfect, refined, rather literary, deprived of any Southern accent. He sounded like a very educated American of undeterminate background. But to know Russian as he did was remarkable - to appreciate serious literature -- was something out of the ordinary. He had affinity to the Russian ways of life, customs, music and food.
Therefore to criticize this remarkable fellow was an act of nastiness or idiocy, especially for Marina who knew only two English words - "yes" and "no". That's how she went around and did her shopping pointing at the articles with her finger.
Lee asked me once - "what is your philisophy of life? You make me talk a lot but tell me jokes instead of being serious."
"Well, jokes sometimes express more than thick, serious doctoral theses," I answered. "Frankly I am not interested in politics, I lost most of my relatives - and so did Jeanne - through various wars and revolutions. What I believe in - live and lt live. But let the minorities and the por live decently, then I for that type of a government. I had voted Republican so far but I am considering switching to the Democratic party. there is a guy there by the name of Eugene McCarthy whom I like. I also consider that each country deserves the government it has, let the communists live the way they want, same goes of the socialists or even dictators. For instance the Germans definitely deserved Hitler."
Lee nodded agreement.
"This country has too many damn problems to bust into other countries and impose our ways. We must solve our problems first."
FBI later annoyed me to no end and intervened in my life. Immediately after the assassination and Lee's declaration that I was his best friend and the only one he respected, I became marked as a suspect number one by the FBI and CIA. Various agents, in disguise and officially representing their agencies invaded my friends and business acquaintances asking: "is he a communist, is he an anarchist, is he an agent provocateur, what country is he working for;" some even intimitated that I was a hypnotist and that I held Lee under my spell.
Just imagine the effect of such massive inquiries? And both my wife and I had left Dallas for Haiti eight or nine months before the assassination, working on the geological survey of that country.
Some morinic agent comes to your friend and asks: "Is George a potential killer?" Then your best friend begins to worry. The same thing happened to my wife, a famous designer: "is she a marxist? Why was she born in China? Is she an agent of the Mao Tse Tung?" Stupid questions, but your businesss contacts begin to worry and you lose them.
You have to investigat like the Scotland Yard does, or do it through the private detectives, cautiously, not by innuendo, gossip or plain brutal imposition. Finally, assembling of a bunch of such depositions into volumes of gossip at a large expense to the taxpayer - and that's what the Warren Report is - is a height of foolishness and a bureaucratic nightmare. But we shall talk about these matters later. What did Lee dislike about the United States.
Lee was frequently critical of the United States and this was understandable considering his poor and sad childhood in New Orleans, Texas and New York. But also there was some logic in his arguments.
"America is a racist society from its very origin. The arrival of the pilgrims and elimination of the Indians. United States is dishonest country because it's based on the spoliation of its rightful owners. This country is based of hate and intolerance. And finally," concluded Lee, "I think American Anglos hate this country because they ruined it to such an extent. Just look around - ugliness and polution.
"You exaggerate, Lee, " I argued, "There are lovely places in each town."
"The plastic ghettos of the rich, you call them lovely," he answered angrily.
"In this country of great economic wealth, the jobs are hard to find even in times of prosperity. In depression, it's awful."
"One thing you are right about," I said, "there are few happy people here. I remember an old joke: 'in America the poor get poorer, and the rich get..Porfirio Rubirosa."
He did not laugh, Lee probably did not know who Porfirio Rubirosa was.
"What kind of a country this is, if an Alabama ignorant redneck calls a Black professor from Dillard University - 'a nigger!" And Lee continued angrily.. "You like jokes, so listen to this one: 'two white policement sit in their office somewhere in Mississippi. A voice from outside calls: 'a sheriff, come over a man is drowning.' A fat-bellied sheriff rises, goes out and comes back shortly. 'Goddamit', he says, 'another nigger tries to drown himself, the bastard wrapped himself in chains, cannot swim.'"
Yes, Lee could be justifiable angry. But he hated FBI most of all.
"Those sob's annoy me and Marina constantly. They keep on inquiring about me and her. They intimate that I am a suspicious character and that she is a communist. And so I cannot hold a decent job..."
"I agree with you, Lee, why don't you write FBI a letter and complain?"
"I did that and promised to blow their god-damn office," he said angrily.
As we know now, the existence of this letter was carefully concealed by FBI from the warren committee.
A banker, friend of mine, to whom I introduced Lee, knew the situation and shied away from him. He did not want investigators in is warroom.
Lee could have moved away from Dallas, and he did already move from Fort Worth here, but those lousy investigators followed him everywhere. That's why the Oswalds moved to New Orleans, but this happened after our departure to Haiti. I could have advised him to stay on his job.
The bander, I mentioned above, gave Lee an interview, on my insistence, liked him, found him an independent, clear-thinking man, yet he did not hire him. "I am afraid getting involved with this guy," he told me later. "He is a hot-head, FBI will keep pestering him. And his undesirable discharge...I am sorry."
This same friend of mine testified at Warren committee that had I stayed in Dallas, there would have been no assassination (if Lee was involved) as I would have known what he was up to. And I am thankful for this one intelligent remark, although at the same time the same banker said some disagreeable things about me. But I am a Christian, so I forgive him.
Some other good friends understood what we were trying to do for the Oswalds - trying to improve their position materially, socially and emotionally. And had we been successful, Lee's animosity might have disappeared or would become constructive criticism. and, God, we need it!
Marina testified at the Warren Committee hearings that Lee had been a different person in the Soviet Union, a friendly and compatible man, but in the States he resentful and a recluse. he disliked the life of Russian refugees, comparing their bourgeois ways, soft and comfortable, with the tough and ascetic life of their compatriots in Russia. He considered them fools, who did not understand the problem of the United States and even as traitors ot their own mother-country. Why Lee did not resent our soft ways of life, I shall never know...
Lee disliked people who were lavish with Marina, spoiled her; and she foolishly bragged: "look at this, look at that. They gave it to me. They can affordit." Naturally it infuriated him.
And so, testified Marina, Lee became somewhat of a recluse, and all that giving backfired making Oswalds life miserable and empty. It could be that this was intentional; some elderly lonely people are jealous of an unusual couple, seemingly in love, so they get mixed up in their affairs.
Lee disliked and even despised bureaucracy in every form here or in the Soviet Union. "Here they are nasty', he said to me once, "in the Soviet union they are naive and stupid." This outburst came out after I asked him: "how the hell did you get out so easily out of Russia?"
I outsmarted those Russian bureaucrats. Man! They are just an amorphous bunch of people. They make a mistake and go to a concentration camp like a bunch of sheep."
Comparing Soviet Union and this country, Lee told me one day: "both sides have made a lot of mistakes, enormous mistakes, but which side is right and which side is wrong, I shall be demned, I don't know."
And he added seriously. "I hope at least China will be right and will do well." Effects of the separation.
Several interviewers and even good friends asked me constantly the same question: "you belong to a different sphere of society - why did you get mixed up with these 'low class' people, the Oswalds?"
Most of the reasons were explained in previous chapters but there was another important explanation. In the 1096 I lost my only son a congenital disease - Cystic Fibrosis - CF in short. although the fatal issue was expected, when it happened it affected me so strongly that I knew that I had to get "away from it all". I asked my wife Jeanne to give her successful designing profession and join me on an expedition on foot by the trails of Mexico and all of Central America. This effort helped me immersely and then we met the Oswalds very shortly after our return.
Lee understood the nature of my ordeal - and so did Marina - which was a Russian way of going back to nature, to be alone in the wilderness with the image of the lost person in our minds. And so we experienced a communication with a departed child. But walking among the poor and despossessed opened our eyes to the realities of life. Before that, like most people in this country, we were hustling after our business, quite successfully most of the time, and dismissed poverty and inequality from our mind.
I became receptive to some of Lee's ideas, listened to them, discussed them freely and came to look at his as a friend, almost a son.
Our experience of living with the poor people of Mexico and of Central America interested Lee immensely and he dept asking intelligent questions. Because of his childhood in New Orleans and his early contact with Latin Americans, he understood complex, semi-feudal problems and was searching for solutions. Marina was not involved in these discussions. Thus, possibly I identified Lee with my los son, unconsciously, of course, an as far as age is concerned he could be my son. Maybe this is the reason why Lee accepted our paternalistic in his private life.
Lee trusted Jeanne and I implicitly and felt that whatever we tried to do would be beneficial to him.
I can think of another element of our closeness. At one period in my life, I was an officer the Polish cavalry where I always prided myself on excellent relations with the soldiers. Maybe I treated Lee also like a soldier firmly but fairly. And on Jeanne's part there was the same element vis-vis Marina, who was about her daughter's age. And do the Oswalds might have considered us our foster parents.
After the forced separation, Lee came to our house every day. Once he brought some visiting cards he printed for me at Taggert's . A touching gesture and I still keep these cards. Lee obviously liked my impossibly long name and spelled it correctly, but he printed the cards on shiny bristol paper with fancy letters and black borders, as if they were madi for a funeral.
The evening he brought my cards he appeared completely despondent from lonesomeness. "Give me Marina's telephone," he begged me, "I want to talk to her and the child."
We consulted each other. By consensus we have Lee Marina's telephone and address, against Marina's will. We just did not believe that she would be afraid of Lee. Whether our decision was a right one, we don't know but starting that evening Lee began calling his wife at all times of day and night, disturbing everybody until this charming couple, the Mellers, asked Marina to move out. This time we had nothing to do with the move and it seems that Marina refused to be with Lee and moved first to Mrs. Katia Ford's place - a Russian refugee married to an American geologist - and later she moved to another family named Rays (she was also a Russian refugee and he an American advertising executive). Eventually she returned back to Lee. But before that she gave Lee each time her telephone and address. Marina returned to her domicile after a tearful scene - which we did not see- Supposedly Lee swore her his love, stood on his knees and promised to make some money.
Later on we were told that Marina had moved away from Lee for a few days in Fort Worth, and then went back to him...
The separation we were involved in so painfully was too short to have a positive effect, I told Lee. He should have been more patient and we were angry with ourselves for this intervention in their lives.
And life was catching up with us - time became very valuable for both of us. Jeanne had to finish some urgent designing jobs and my long awaited project of a geological survey of Haiti was coming to fruition. At the same time I was chosen chairman of the local Cystic Fibrosis campaign, which meant writing letters, seeing lots of people, participating in various meetings and above all - raising money. Jeanne was most useful spending her energy most usefully, raising large amounts of money from our rich neighbours and from the executives of the clothing industry. The campaign was a great success.
And here is another coincidence: my ex-wife and I had started this Cystic Fibrosis foundation on a small scale in Dallas and eventually it became a national organization with headquarters in Atlanta. At the time of our friendship with the Oswalds, Jacqueling Kennedy became an honorary chairman of our Foundation for which, we all, afflicted parents were profoundly grateful to her. Lee oswald was aware of this fact and out of friendship to me, he expressed several times how much he admired our President's wife. Our meetings at the end of 1962
Somebody familiar with things Haitian know how difficult is to organiza anything worth-while in that country. But I have always been very fond of Haiti and especially of people there. Fortunately my many friends were helpful and we were assured now that my survey was developing a firm base. Also I was trying to organize a company to help developing a firm base. also I was trying to organize a company to help developing the sagging economy of this impoverished by beautiful country. So the time was short for us and we were seeing the Oswalds rather seldom.
One night he came alone and seemed very depressed.
"Lee, my friend," I told him. "You like Tolstoy, don't you. He said many clever things but his one applies to you. 'Man must be happy. If not he has to work on himself to correct this misunderstanding which makes him unhappy.' I think I know what your 'misunderstanding is'"
Lee nodded sadly. "My tragedy is," he said, that my suffering is inflicted on me by a person close to whom I want to be and from whom I would want to find protection and consolation."
These words, which I remember distinctly, touched me greatly.
"You try to change Marina into your image. It's difficult, if not impossible. You should like her for what she is, not for what you would want her to be. Do you my point?"
"But she is becoming like an American middle-class wife," Lee fought feebly. "She thinks only of foolish comforts. He is becoming like the rest of them, talking of washers, driers and other gadgets as if they were the most important things in life."
"Lee, you are too demanding. She is new in this country and is affected by it. Take it easy. Try to be friends with her. Somebody said: 'friendship is a quiet and exquisite servant, while love is a ferocious and demanding master'"
"I am a fool and I am very unhappy," said lee quietly. "But thanks for advice anyway. You are a very good friend."
When he left I thought. Here is a good fellow whose tragedy is a complete misunderstanding of himself. He wants love from a woman who does not understand him. And he himself does not face squarely the issues. What is the most important to him? In the meantime the despair is like an organism which destroys him. He begins to lose hope.
And so Lee went back home and to his miserable life. But he seemed to be resigned to unhappiness and we have not had any complaits from Marina - -no black eyes and no burned cigarettes on her delicate white flesh.
In the meantime a big party was to be given for Christmas of 1962 by Declan Ford - the geologist - and his wife Katia - the Russian refugee- who knew the Oswalds well but tried to steer away from them. They were probably annoyed by Marina's stay with them, as far as Lee was concerned they were rather indifferent to him. Being younger than most ex-Russians, Katia was relatively liberal person.
After we received the invitation, Jeanne called Katia and asked her permission to bring the Oswalds who were extremely lonesome as the time, KATIA WAS NOT TOO enthusiastic at Jeanne's suggestion but with a little of arm-twisting she accepted, but asked specifically not to bring the baby June. Or maybe the baby was just a pretext and Oswalds had no money to hare a baby-sitter. So I got on the phone and said: "Oswalds are lonesome, isolated, nobody sees them except us and we are not giving a party this year. We will not come without the Oswalds."
"Marina will not have anyone to speak to if we invite her to another, purely American party. At your party she will find some Russian-speaking people. I have a solution, I shall find a baby-sitter for June."
Fortunately Jeanne's friend, an American-Italian lady, a good Christian, volunteered for the job and stayed with June that whole night.
That Christmas eve both Marina and Lee were well dressed and looked very elegant. Lee didn't always had to be a non-descript individual, he had sometimes a very pleasant appearance and could dress well.
The self-appointed baby-sitter, Anita, liked June and took care of her in a typical warm, italian manner and the Oswalds and two of us, chatting pleasantly, to Ford's attractive house in North Dallas. It was a clear, cold night and a slight layer of snow, unusual for Texas, cheered all of us and gave the city a Christmas-like appearance.
Most of the guests had already consumed lots of drinks and they were chattering excitedly in a dozen languages. The loveliest girl of the crowd was a Japanese musician, Yaiko, staying in Dallas for a short time with her friends from Tokyo. She was a delicate, elegant, sophisticated girl, restrained and dignified, a little lost in our Dallas society of noisy, self-assertive, aggressive females.
Marina did not look too well, she seemed to be afraid of the crowds. She looked to operate with men one-to-one, and appeared bashful, like a country-girl. Lee, on the other hand, blossomed and was the hit of the party. Naturally a good conversationalist - if he wanted to - both in English and Russian, he was outgoing and friendly possibly because the people were more liberal than usual, his behavior was exemplary. Serious, attentive and polite, he answered questions intelligently, if the person who asked the question was serious. He reacted well to the surroundings.
Somebody played Russian tunes on the piano and some good voices could be heard. marina unfortunately was not musical and Lee was engrossed in conversations. I stayed around him and noticed that several women flirted with him and displayed their charms. Some were quite attractive. But Lee's greatest conquest was this Japanese girl yaiki, I had mentioned before, and who I also found the most interesting woman of all. He noticed her also and angled towards her - or possibly it was vice-versa - anyway soon they were engrossed in a conversation. Of course Lee had served in Japan and there he had learned a lot about the contry and the people. He had told me that he met there some interesting leftist youngsters.
Maybe Yaiki had met G.I.'s whatever it was, but they were engrossed in each other and I left them alone. Marina stayed around, but not being able to understand she fretted and did not know what to do with herself. As far as I was concerned, I was delighted. How many times I'd heart her call Lee a bore, a fool, a bookworm, how many times she degraded his masculinity and here the loveliest girl of of all was in a trance. Now Marina became just a jealous woman, she even forgot to smoke cigarettes and to drink wine - bith were free and plentiful - she just watched Lee with plentiful - she just watched Lee with narrow, jealous eyes. "We should go home," she muttered to me. "It's getting late. I am worried about June."
"Don't worry, she is well taken care of. And we are having a good time," I answered, enjoying the situation sadistically.
And Lee this time was not to be budged. It was the first time that I saw him truly shine in the crowd. He enjoyed the evening and insisted staying there to the end of the party.
The other Russians at the party, unknown so far to the Oswalds, like cultured Russian Jews, were amazed by Lee's almost perfect command of the language. He spoke very fast to an elderly lady and she said: "I have lived here in America thirty years and I cannot speak English and well as you, young man, speak Russian."
The party finally became boisterous and noisy. Lee and Yaiko lost track of each other. But she forced me and asked timidly: "what an interesting friend you have. What's his name?"
"Lee Harvey Oswald."
"Oh, what a lovely name."
"I agree with you that Lee is an unusual and intellegent young man, but many others, the majority, disagree with me. They don't seem to understand him.
"I do," said Yaido. "He had so many true things to say about Japan. He is a very sensitive person and he understood my country. The New Japan is very complex."
"Yes, Lee is not one of those GI's who believe that for a bar of chocolate and a pair of stockings you can conquer a woman - and for a larger stake - the whole country."
"Where does he work? She asked bashfully.
I gave her Taggart's address and the telephone number and thought to myself: "he! he! A real romance is in the making..."
At last something good was happening to my friend Lee, new horizons are opening for him.
Unfortunately I cannot say whether this romance has materialized, as I my life became hectic and I did not have much time for the Oswalds, their conflicts and even Lee's love life. They did communicate however and I wouldn't have known about it had it not been for Marina who came over day furious and told me. "found in Lee's pocket this Japanese girl's address. What a bastard, he is having an affair with her."
I did not say anything just smiled and thought: "good for him."
"That Japanese bitch," she cried bitterly, "we had a fight over her - and look at the result."
She sported a new black eye.
"She provoked me to a fight," Lee told me later, showing his scratched face. "This time she fought like a mad cat."
The situation was normal again, they were at each other's throat. Rare meetings in 1963
This last incident, due this time to Lee's romantic interlude, showed us that it was only up to them to iron out their difficulties. We even began to agree that the Russian refugees were perhaps right in eliminating this unhappy couple from their lives.
We did not show to Lee or Marina this change of our attitude but our meetings became rarer. When we saw each other we spoke mostly about Lee's job, our coming departure and about June's health. Only one evening led to some serious discussion. I remember Jeanne complimented Lee for his serious attitude towards life, she was tired of people teasing her and did not enjoy this American pastime. My teasing annoyed her also.
"Excessive vanity is related to jokes and constant teasing," she told Lee. "People who tease are trying to be brilliant at others' expense. That you don't do, Lee, neither to us to Marina." The teasers and constant jokers," she continued, "want to show themselves superior."
Lee was grateful for the compliment. He sat on that sofa of ours and told us something very touching. "I think that i shall be moving away from here after your departure. When my heart is heavy - and it will be when you will be gone - It will be hard for me to remain in one place."
"Don't impose new changes on Marina and the child, think of them," said Jeanne. "If everyone works out well, we shall invite you to stay with us in Haiti."
Then she gave the Oswalds this advice: "you seem to be still in love with each other. Cultivate this love as you would cultivate a fire, adding affectionate actions like little pieces of wooD. Otherwise the fire will be extinguished."
"Study, Lee," I had to add my piece of advice. "Study is the best consolation against worst adversities. Some philosopher said that, it's not my own idea."
"Kids," said Jeanne. "We shall miss you, although you have been giving us a lot of headaches. We shall be basking in the sun of Haiti, drinking the beauty of our favorite island and eating sunshine and mangoes."
"Maybe it won't be so pleasant," said I, not wanting the Oswalds to think of their dismal lives on Elspeth Street in Oak Cliff. "Remember life in America is fun...fun...fun... and then worry...worry...worry..." I quipped. "Try to have more fun than worry."
As a result of our admonishments marina promised not to smoke and Lee said: "I won't put out cigarettes on your ar, since you won't be smoking." Peace for a while in the Oswald family.
Practical issues of life took over, I had to spend all the time on my geological work and on preparations for departure and Jeanne was designing furiously for several companies at the time trying to make some money. our finances were almost exhausted.
But one evening with Oswalds, frought with incidents, stands out in our memory. That evening we decided to show the 8mm. movie of our walking trip which lee did not see and insisted on seeing. This was sometime in January of 1963. A scientist working for the research department of an iol company, Edward Glover, arranged for the projection in his house. And he invited all his friends, acquaintances and colleages. Most scientist and skillful technicians dream of wilderness and free life in the open. And so the large room was full. Our only guests were Lee and Marina. they had found someone to babysit for baby June.
I did not show this film often as this original was precious to us and we didn't have a copy of it. Taken all outdoors, this film came out amazingly well starting with our departure from the "civilized" world and ending a year later south of Panama canal. What we did was a little walk from the Texas border, all on foot - and we did not cheat even once.-
This trip began in October of 1960 and we returned from Panama in a civilized way by plane, to Jamaika first and then to Haiti where we took a good rest.
During this hegira we made a complete breadaway from all comforts, slept exclusively outside, on the ground, ate whatever the Indians had to sell and I exchanged occasionally my knowledge of minerals against food supplies. We walked freely as much as we wanted, slowly at first, much faster later, guiding ourselves by old mining maps and by compass. We lost a lot of disgusting fat in a hurry and after three months became lean and bronzed like savages, able to run up a high mountain without breathing hard.
The film, taken periodically, showed this amazing change in us, from slobs to healthy individuals, the rest consisted of beautiful scenery, of Indians we met, of our wonderful Manchester Nero and of our unpredictable mule-Condessa.
We stopped in a rach south of Panama canal and left our mule there, to be retired from hard work. I hope she ended her life peacefully.
Quite a few of Glover's friends from Dallas and New york, mostly your career people, although conservatively inclined, were interested in meeting Lee Harvey Oswald. Some were more interested in him than in our movie. and they got their money's worth. After the showing they asked Lee some pointed questions and he answered them aggressively and sharply without hiding, and even exaggerating, his feelings. Lee wanted to show these well dressed, prosperous youngsters that he was different radically from them. I wanted to stop him but he went on nevertheless talking of his sympathies of revolutionary movements all over the world, of his respect for Fidel Castro and for Che Guevara. This made him hardly popular with this group, composed mainly of big oil companies' employees, dreaming not of revolutions but of advancement of their respective careers.
And there is nobody more conservative and even race conscious than an oil company employee or executive. Lee knew that. "I bet you" he said sharply, "that your companies do not employ any Blacks or Mexicans in any positions, not executive but average position..."
Nobody answered Lee's challenge.
"Naturally abroad you act differntly, you use natives of all colours that American oil companies are soooo liberal."
Incidentally, now the situation changed somewhat, possibly because of President Kennedy's assassination which put in sharp prospective racial discrimination in this country.
But there was an exception in this conservative group - a tall, dark-haired, attractive woman in her late twenties. She took a vivid interest in Marina and did not take offence to Lee's utterances. She asked me if Marina spoke any English. I said - "no."
"Would you introduce me to her? My name is Ruth Payne." I did. And to my great surprise Ruth began to speak in fluent Russian to equally flabbergasted Marina.
Mrs. Ruth Payne, an eccentric American, came from a wealthy Philadelphia queker family and went to some Eastern college where she took Russian studies very seriously. She was one of those gifted people who learn a difficult language well and are infatuated by the Russian culture. Mrs. Payne was probably bored in the suburban Irving atmosphere and wanted to practice Russian; her husband being a research engineer for Bell Helicopter, she had energy and time on her hands. She saw a native-Russian who did not speak any English - Marina was a real find for her. Some people accused her later of an infatuation of a different type, but I did not notice it. Anyway she was more interested in Marina than in Lee who in the meantime continued his furious and extravagant discussions with our conservative friends.
Thus began a friendship between these two women, a friendship which lasted till the days of assassination. Ruth Payne has done more for marina and June than any other person, yet, for some reason Marina refused to see her after Lee's death.
All in all the showing of our picture was a success, beautiful scenery, waterfalls, volcanoes in eruption, outcrops of brilliantly hued deposits showed up well - and scientists, being adverturers at heart, loved wild- erness. Marina could not care less, she was not an outdoor woman, but being polite, she did not express her dislike and kept on chatting amicably with Ruth Payne.
Lee, on the other hand, commented late excitedly how much he liked the film and that he envied us for having lived for a year close to nature, an ascetic life of complete freedom. "You have walked almost 4,000 miles to get away from people, comforts, stupid gadgets and conventions. It would be my dream also . I envy you. I have never been completely free."
"Yes it was a great privilege," I told Lee, "but it was tough, believe me. We wore out twenty two pairs of shoes and guaraches each."
The subject of our film filled most of our last conversations with Lee. I advised him to try the same, we spent quite a lot of money on our trip but some American lunatic who pretended that he was a saint had done part of our itinerary by himself, without spending a cent, people fed and clothered him out of charity.
"I would never do anything without paying for food and lodging," said Lee. "And Marina is not an outdoor woman like you wife."
Some newspapermen and writers atttribute to me the part of Svengali, of sinister, evil adviser to Lee. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He was strong and stubborn man, a hundred-per-cent American, who had made a decision early in life, in his childhood as a matter of fact, that the American way of life means unabridged capitalism, crooked politics, violence, racism, pursuit of luxuries rather than ideals, living up to Joneses etc.. and that conviction motivated his escape to Russia. Nothing could have persuaded him to the contrary.
Lee's views on Latin America were determined long before we met. On the basis of our trip I began to look at things somewhat like Lee always did. Previously I lived in several Latin American countries, where the social injustices were obvious, but then I was looking at life as an eager petroleum geologist, not as a sociologist.
This time our primitive trip put us close to simplest people, we lived with them and understood the problems of the poor. And it was exactly what had happened to Lee in Japan - hence his immediate close relationship with Yaiko who was a sensitive and perceptive woman.
Lee told me that the same phenomena of awakening to the fate of the poor occurred to the Che Guevera when he carried his assignment as a doctor in Central America, in places we visited ourselves. The desperate plight of the poor could not be denied by anyone with open eyes and a little bit of feelings for a fellow-man.
Che Guevera understood the situation well," said Lee, "although his stay in Central America took place years before your trip. But still you saw dismal poverty in parts of Mexico, in Guatemala, San Salvador, Nicaragua and panama, didn't you?"
"Yes we did. But in Costa Rica we found a somewhat differnt situation. Why?"
We knew the answer but asked Lee anyway.
"Simply because," he said, "that this country has never been occupied and corrupted by us, Americans."
Right he was. the ignorant "high-school dropout" knew the history of differnt United States interventions in Latin America.
And so Costa Rica is Switzerland of Latin America, with a true democratic government, limited police force, no army or air force. yOu can talk there freely and meet the president in the barbershop in San Jose. You can also find refuge there if you steel millions in USA.
All these problems are clear and open now but they were not in 1963.
We discussed with Lee the dismal poverty of overcrowded El Salvador, where the wealth of the whole country belongs to 23 families, latifundistas since the Spanish conquest. It's still true today.
And then the tragi-comical history of Nicaragua. Somoza family owns most of Nicaragua and this regime was imposed by the wife of an American ambassador during the occupation by the Marines. An elderly Nicaragual geologist told us the story of a handsome and husky telephone lineman, who seduced the lonesome wife of the Yankee Ambassador - the name was mentioned but I forgot it - and his subsequent appointment as chief of police, which was equivalent to a dictator for life. His and children's.
These discussions with Lee took place 13 years ago. Today the frequent support of the United States of oligarchs, crooked generals and ruthless dictators is discussed openly in the Congress, Senate and in the United Nations. But in 1963 such conversations might have been considered subversive. new, after Vietnam and Watergate we all see a little clearer and talk more freely.
"Lee, how do you understand the Latin American situation so well?"
"I am from New Orleans, as a kid I met a lot of refugees from all these banana republics, no better source of information."
In this way both Lee and I were non-conformist, even revolutionaries. But my long years of experience in Latin America, followed by my son's death and the ensuing saddness, made me commiserate with the fate of the poor and of the starving. A younger man, I was career and mony mad, a hustler...But Lee was the same since his childhood, which made him such a beautiful and worthwhile person to me.
I had been in the Social Register, played with the jet-set, knew innumerable rich people, including the Bouvier family, father and mother, and Jacqueline and Lee when they were young girls - all this foolish activity makes me today disgusted with myself. Now all this opportunis-waste of time is meaningless but Jeanne, my wife, and Lee had always been on the side of the underprivileged and she had lived in China and saw new-born babies thrown in the garbage because parents were too poor to feed them. To Lee, commiseration for the dejected came naturally. Poor as his family was in New Orleans, he never really experienced hunger. But his inner nature he belonged to the socially motivated people.
In our last meetings Lee often expressed his concern about this country - past and present. Its origins - according to him - by the hypocritical pilgrims, through Indian genocide, invation of the continent by the greedy and hungry European masses, who, meeting racist attitudes of the Anglos, became even more racist themselves. Before busing confusion arose in this country, Lee was keenly aware of the racist cancer eating America's healthy tissues. "All people are sob's" he often said, "but the strongest and more ferocious always win, physically but not morally."
Jeanne often participated in our discussions. Let me explain her background a little and to clarify why she got along so well with Lee. Social attitudes are unpredictable and do not depend on your parents or on your environment. Jeanne's family in china was well to do, her father built a railroad, how lived a luxurious childhood, but she preferred from early days to give than to receive. He remembered the Chinese as humble and kind people, dismally poor, who hated to fight and rather insulted each other and stamped their feet. Even in huge families, violence was seldom seen. These subjects were interesting to Lee who discussed them with my wife. She told him of the formation of the puppet state of Manchukuo, of the Japanese invasion and of the ensuing cruelties, of her flight from the Japanese to the United States.
Lee compared her experiences of the old militaristic japan with the present Japanese movement, which he knew so well. And do both of them got along fabulously well, instructing each other on the Far-Eastern situation thirty years ago and now.
Since Marina never participated in these discussions, we would talk with Jeanne of this curious couple after their departures from our home.
"The opposites attract," was Jeanne's opinion.
"I think it's sex," was my opinion," but what type of sex I don't know." But there must have been a strong emotional bond between those two. They always came to each other, except just before the assassination Lee begged Marina to come and live with him, he had a job with the Book Depository, everything seemed fine. And Marina refused because Lee could to buy a washing machine to which she had had access in Mr. Payne's house. From this incident came the theory attributed to me by some publication (Esquire, I think)-"A washing machine theory of Kennedy's assassination". Supposedly I compared Marina to a typical Texas woman who would not go back to her husband because he could not afford a new Cadillac. But in poor Marina's case it was a washing machine...
The comparison is not bad but I did not enunciate it since for me Lee is innocent of Kennedy's assassination. I cannot prove it but the later events, which will be discussed, tend to prove Lee's innocence.
I did not know Lee to be a dangerous man, a man who would kill like a maniac without any reason - with reason any man is a potential killer - and we proved that he was rather an admirer of Kennedy's. Lee's connections, when we knew him, were fairly liberal, equalitarian, not even communist but rather vague, Marxist believes. He did not try to influence me in any way nor did I try to exert any influence on him. "That's why it's so easy to be with you," said Lee one day, "everyone tries to influence me one way or another, in the Soviet Union, in Japan, here, and you leave me strictly alone."
Our film recurred frequently in our conversations and even Marina participated in these discussions. "How could you have done such a thing at your age?" she asked Jeanne. "And to look so trim, strong and beautiful?
"Effort and constant exercise. Control over your body," would lecture Jeanne. But to no avail. Neither was I successful to convince Lee to be sportier. "Get your troubles, your sadnesses, your anger out of your systems through hard physical exercise," I advised them both. "It worked so well in our case. Unfortunately neither of them would follow our advice. Lee and Admiral Chester Bruton.
There was a hiatus in our meeting with the Oswalds as I had to fly to Haiti to sign a contract there and then spent some time in New York preparing for the survey. Jeanne during that time did not see the Oswalds, she was finishing her designing assignments and was packing. We would take a minimum of things to Haiti, leaving our furniture and heavy items in a warehouse in Dallas.
Then I came back from New York and asked Jeanne to invite the Oswalds. They arrived immediately and brought baby June along. I remember this was a beautiful, spring day, warm enough to swim. And so Jeanne called Frannie, the were of Admiral Chester Bruton, both good friends of ours and incidentally long-time enemies of Richard Nixon, whom they knew from his California days when he made his career ruining good citizens' reputations.
Admiral Bruton was submarine hero of World War II and I do not recall whether he had four of five naval crosses. He never talked about them and a most humble and charming person.
Frannie Bruton, an ex-school teacher, a painter, an admirable woman in many respects had invited us that same day to a swimming party. Jeanne asked her if we could bring a couple of friends along and we mentioned the name of Oswalds.
Although we had spoken to her about this unusual couple, Frannie was not sure who they were but asked us to bring them along anyway.
And so we arrived to Bruton's lovely place with a huge swimming pool and Frannie was delighted to see us. When I reminded her that Lee was an ex-maring, she went to get the admiral who was a congenial man and linked to meet the enlisted men.
In the meantime Marina sat by the swimming pool with the baby. She either did not know how to swim or disliked showing her figure which was not too hot. Jeanne gave her a conservative bathing suit but she refused to use it. Lee sat quitely, immersed in his thoughts. That was frequent with him when he was in new surroundings. Before diving in, I told him jokingly: "Lee isn't that funny that you get punished for your actions - which are only an appearance - but you don't get punished for your thoughts, which are the real thing."
While he was pondering over that, I continued: "this is a nice place, makes you think of oppressed workers etc... but you should see the places of the real moguls of finance. this is a poor admiral's retirement home."
Frannie and Jeanne were talking in the meantime with great animation about China. Frannie, a world-traveled woman, of most varied interests, knew China where she spent several years with her husband. She loved the country and the people - so she and Jeanne hit it off fabulously well.
I went back to Lee and told them quietly, so that the ladies could not hear. "Does the wife of the Admiral strike you as an aristocratic, rich woman?"
He just nodded agreement.
"Do you know that she is the daughter of a tenant-farmer widow's from Oklahoma. In her childhood the motor was so poor that she stood washing in. Frannie walked to school four or five miles. She couldn't afford to buy paper and used the margins of old newspapers to write on or to do her arithmetic. And the Admiral was also a poor farm-boy from Arkansas. He got his education in the Navy and is both a lawyer and an electronics engineer."
I do not know why I wanted to talk so much, but this time I wished to convince Lee that all is not bad in this world and that comforts obtained honestly are not to be despised. But Lee did not say anything.
At that time came the Admiral Chester Bruton, not tall, broad of shoulders, a typical submariner. "When I was in a submarine in the Pacific he used to joke goodnaturedly." I couldn't turn around in the tower because I was constantly excited thinking of all those women on the mainland. So I had to forge ahead, and that's how I got my Navy crosses."
We used to call him Henri, in the French manner, because he loved to speak French to us and so did Frannie. Both spoke French very well and were well read. Later they went to live in France.
But this day he greeted everybody and began talking disgustedly of his new job with Collins Radow, actually an important position he took after his early retirement from the Navy. He did not like the commercial aspects of his work. "I should have stayed in the Navy a bit longer," he said irritably, "I am make to be a salesman."
Then he began talking warmy to Lee, asking him about his duties in the Maring Corps - but my friend remained cool and aloof - although Henri was kind and continued chatting amicably. "That Marine Corps was the most miserable period in my life," he said disgustedly. "Stupid work, ignorant companions, abusive officers. Boy, was I happy to have gotten out of it. To hell with the Navy."
Here I saw for the first time his profound dislike for the military and especially for the brass. The term "admiral" irritated him.
"He is somewhat of a rebel and a little bit a Marxist," I told the admiral, trying to smooth over the disagreeable incident.
I never saw Henri mad, but he was this time and I knew that he could hardly restrain himself from telling Lee to stand at attention first and then to order him out of the house. Instead he just walked away. Lee did not continue being insulting and spoke politely with Frannie about his stay in Japan. "You lived in the compounds there, being officers wives, and did to have the chance to meet the real people in Japan, like I did."
"I wish I could have," answered Frannie diplomatically.
Marina was the personification of charm that afternoon. We had to translate what she said, of course. But she loved the arrangement of the house, as we took her around, the luxury really quite relative of the furnishings, Frannie's paintings (she was an excellent amateur painter) - the whole thing. And the surroundings were an incredible contrast to the gloomy apartment of Elsbeth Street. And so she smiled politely and even flirted with the Admiral.
Excellent snacks were served later by our hosts, not a real dinner, and nothing out of ordinary happened any more. Henri was a good host and restrained himself while Lee, finally relaxed, told some funny, if slightly derogatory, about his Marine Corps life.
"We had a sargeant in the Marines who was as racist as any German SS trooper," he began telling us. "But then his sex habits..."
"Please, Lee," I stopped him.
"I could sing you the Marine anthem but, fortunately, I never learned it," Lee tried to be funny again.
I cannot say that this evening was a great success. But we left quite late, still amicably, because most of the conversation at the end of the evening was carried on in French between four of us.
Four years later was saw the Brutons again in Washington D.C. They moved to Arlington permanently and we spent a couple of days in their house. Naturally the subject of the assassination came up and the Brutons were absolutely flabbergasted. They did not associate the rude young ex-marine with the "presumable" assassin of President Kennedy. They probably did not catch Osvalds' names when they had met them and then they had traveled extensively in the meantime.
Frannie became quite excited that she had entertained "that horrible individual." Henri, being an adventurous man, was rather amused than appalled by this fortuitous acquaintanceship. "Well," he said jokingly, "we met Nixon and we also met Lee Harvey Osvald..."
Neither of the Brutons were ever approached by the FBI agents and had never been asked to testify at the Warren Committee, nobody seems to have known of this strange meeting. It seems to me that I had mentioned it to Albert Jenner, of the Warren Committee, but possibly he did not take me seriously and then it may be that the Committee would not bother an American admiral. The "so called foreigners" were to bear the brunt of the suspicions and innuendoes. Easter of 1963
In April 1963 we were at last ready to leave to New York first and then to Haiti. I could begin to work on my long-awaited contract, which was officially finalized, signed by the President Francois Duvalier and published in the Haitian Congressional Record. All our light belongings were packed, furniture ready to be sent to the warehouse.
During the commotion before departure we saw little of Oswalds and we knew that they were living practically like hermits, nobody visited or invited them, except maybe the Paynes. On April thirteenth, if I remember correctly, we sat exhausted in the evening. "This is a big holiday," said Jeanne. And the Oswalds are alone. Even Marina is abandoned by the conservative refugees as she had gone back to her "Marxist" husband."
I agreed with Jeanne and commiserated with Marina. Being left alone was a penalty for her because she preferred Lee not withstanding all the fights and the beatings.
Jeanne had previously bought a huge toy rabbit, practically June's size - a fluffy thing for the poor child. Oswald's new apartment was on Neely Street, a few blocks away from the old place on Elsbeth Street. This was our first visit to their new abode which was infinitely better than the previous one. They had the second floor here, all to themselves. Huge trees shaded the structure and in the back yard the climbing roses hung up on the trelisses. The house itself was a white frame of the usual type of southern structure.
We rang the bell. The lights were off as it was obviously late for our sedentary friends. Although it was about 10 p.m. we had to keep ringing a long time. Finally the front window opened. "Who is there?" Asked Lee's familiar voice.
"Jeanne and George, open up, we have something for June," I answered cheerfully. Lee came down, opened the front door and then led us up a dark staircase.
New Marina was up also and the apartment was lit up. It was clean and spaceous baut almost void of furniture. "Isn't this a nice place?" Confided Marina in Russian. "So much better than the old hole-in-the-walls"
We agreed and congratulated them on finding such a good place.
Che was cheerful and Lee was smiling also, which hadn't often happened or late. He was happy that they were left alone by the emigres and even by the rare Americans they knew. Lee's feelings for the emigres could be compared to those of pro-Castro Cubans towards all the refugees crowding the streets of Miami.
Lee appeared satisfied with his job and proud of being able to provide a better place for his family. This was the first time we did not see any conflict between him and his wife. Of course, what follows will prove that all was not honey in the Oswald family.
Marina served soft drinks and began discussing some domestic affairs with Jeanne. Lee and I walked to the balcony and began to chat. He was very curious about my project in Haiti but so far neither one of us were sure it would materialize. Now it was "a fait accompli". Lee envied my profession and a chance I would have to help an undeveloped country and the poor people there. Incidentally he knew Haiti from his readings - he was aware the oldest, independent, Black Republic in the world. He had learned that Haiti had helped United States during the War of Independence, a fact not known to many Americans of his age and background. He also had heard about United States intervention in Haiti after World War I - actually at the end of the war - and of the long American occupation of that country. He even learned which part of the Espagnola Island the Republic of Haiti occupied and her size.
"You are very lucky going there, it will be an exciting experience," he said. And this opinion was valuable and encouraging to me because most of my friends and acquaintances had a very dim view of my whole project and thought it would be dangerous and a waste of time. It turned out to be one of the most useful and pleasant experiences o our lives. But most of these advisers knew little about Haiti - and I man well educated, prominent people. To them it was an insane, tropical, Black Republic - rather a ferocious dictatorship. Some had predicted the worst disasters if we lived there.
Then we talked pleasantly of his job, of June who was growing nicely and we also spoke of the unfortunate rise of ultra-conservatism in this country, of racist movement in the South. Lee considered this the most dangerous phenomenon for all peace-loveing people. "Economic discrimination is bad, but you can remedi it," he said, "but racial discrimination cannot be remedied because you cannot change the color of your skin." Of course, he greatly admired Dr. Martin Luther King and agreed with his program. I just mention it here, but he frequently talked of Dr. King with a real reverence.
In the meantime Marina was showing Jeanne her bedroom, kitchen and the living-room. There she opened a large closet, next to the balcony, and began showing Jeanne her wardrobe, which was considerable. On the bottom of the closet was rifle standing completely openly.
"Look! Look!" called Jeanne excitedly. "There is a rifle there."
We came in and I looked curiously. Indeed there was a military rifle there of a type unknown to me, something dangling in front.
"What is that thing dangling?" Asked Jeanne.
"A telescopic sight," I answered.
Jeanne never saw a telescopic sight before and probably did not understand what it was. But I did, I had graduated from a military school
"Why do you have this rifle here?" Jeanne asked Lee.
"Lee bought it," answered Marina instead, "devil knows why. We need all the money we have for food and lodging and he buys those damn rifle."
"But what does he do with a military rifle?" Asked Jeanne again.
"He likes shooting at the leaves."
"But when does he have time to shoot at the leaves and the place?" Asked Jeanne curiously.
"He shoots at the leaves in the park, whenever we go there."
This did not make much sense to us, but liking target shooting ourselves we did not consider this a crazy occupation.
All this time Lee stood next to me curiously silent.
"Did you take a pot shot at General Walker, Lee?' I popped a question spontaneously. And then a guffawed. "Ha! Ha!" Think this is a pretty good joke.
Lee's reaction was strange. I often tried to reconstruct it. He did not say anything. He just stood there motionless.
It was naturally a very foolish joke because there was an attempt a few days before at General Edwin Walder, a rather notorious character who was asked to resign his post in Germany by General Eisenhower, if I remember correctly. Anyway he was an ultra-rightist who had tried to run for governor of Texas. And he got surprising number of votes, some 200,000 on a politiacal platform somewhat to the right of Hitler's.
This joke just popped out because General Walker loved fairly close to us, on Turtle Creek. Everyone knew his house with a huge American flag in front, sometimes replaced by a Confederate flag - and much later by South Vietnamese and Rodesian flags.
As I said, Lee's facial expression remained calm. He became just a little paler. This was the last time I was him and yet I cannot say with precision what his reaction was. I think he mumbled something unintelligibly and I did not ask. For sure he was embarassed, possibly stunned. And Marina was definitely shocked.
Neither Jeanne nor I laughed much at my Walker joke. And certainly not Marina nor Lee. Only later we realized how stunning and inexpected this joke was to them. It his the nail on the head.
Marina testified at Warren Committee that I KNEW that Lee shot at General Walker and she also testified under oath that Lee did shoot at General Walker and had missed him narrowly..
I do not blame General Walder, we called him jokingly General Foker, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting for calling me a dangerous radical I stupidly laughed at a bullet which might have killed him....
This joke cost me a lot of money by hurting badly many of my business contacts.
Marina testified also that Lee indeed considered General Walker a fascist and tried to kill as the most dangerous man for this country. Marina's testimonies turned out to be constradictory and vague but there is another thing which makes me believe that Lee possible tried to shoot General Walder. A man, whose name I do not recall, a Jewish man, whom Lee met at the Ford's Christmas party, described General Walker as the most dangerous man in the United States, a potential neo-facist leader. I noticed that Lee kept on asking why. And the other fellow explained clearly his reasons. Lee might have been influenced by this statement.
Another possible reason is the inscription of Lee's photograph, which we received posthumously and Marina's inscription on it. I shall talk about it later.
This innocuous remark of mine influenced our lives, but we heard later from Albert Jenner, counsel of the Warren Committee, that Marina's testimony was even more damaging to me. She supposedly remembered by saying: "Lee, why did you miss him?"
That I naturally did not say and Marina was so vague in her recollections that even the Warren committee did not take her seriously.
Actually I think Marina believed that knew somehow of Lee's shooting at General Walker and that's why she was so afraid that evening that I might tell the police of FBI about it. Lee, on the other hand, never considered me capable of treason and then he KNEW of course that I was completely unaware of his attempt.
Lee was a little scared of my extra-sensory perception - which I still have with my students - Had I known anything about it, I would have persuaded him not to try any such crazy foolishness.
Lee often commented with amazement that I could guess his thoughts. And I do believe in existence of ESP, especially among people attuned to each other. I happens to me constantly that I guess who is on the line when the phone rings. I know when somebody close to me writes me a letter or wants to get in touch with me. It even happened that I thought suddenly of a well-known person - but barely known to me - turn on the TV and there he would be. This happened I remember with Captain Rickenbacker whom I know slightly but admired a great deal We were sitting in a living-room with friends in New Orleans and I said suddenly: "turn on the radio, Captain Rickenbacker is going to speak." And he did.
Anyway this evening of Easter of 1963 ended in an amicable manner. We walked in the small garden and Marina gathered a gorgeous bouquet of yellow roses and gave it to Jeanne in appreciation of the rabbit she had brought for the child. the Osvalds were also happy that I did not mention any more the rifle or the Walker joke, instead of making an issue out of it.
It was our last meeting and a friendly one. We said that June looked less now than Chrushcheff, she was growing up. She did not have such a a bald head, her eyes got bigger and she was less chunky.
Lee himself mentioned it, caressing the child: "look, she is much better-looking now than our great Russian leader."
"I hope she keeps his amusing and friendly personality," said Jeanne..
He is gone now, God bless his Bible-quoting soul and his earthy personality. His sudden bursts of anger and beating of the table with his shoe, are all gone and belong to history. Millions of Russians miss him.
After this Easter visit things began to move so fast for us that we could not see the Oswalds and we did not even talk to them on the phone. Our move to Haiti.
Our move to Haiti ended our personal contacts with the Oswalds. But other contacts were not interrupted, including the strangest one, the posthumous, which I will describe later. Soon after arrival in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, we received a post-card from Lee, giving us his new address in New Orleans. At our last meeting for Easter neither of Oswalds mentioned that they intended to leave Dallas. So, this was surprise for us. Obviously they moved from Dallas at about the same time we did, but we, we do not know. Maybe they were just lonesome. Maybe Lee wanted to remove himself and his family from General Walker's neighbourhood?
And so Lee gave us this, now famous, address on Magazine Street in New orleans, Louisiana, the town where he spent most of his youth. Incidentally it was written in English. The card got lost somehow and Jeanne failed to put the exact address in her book. So she still has under Lee Harvey Oswald's address - 214 Neely Street, tel. RI. 15501. and the business address of his reproduction company. We did mena to send them a Christmas gift but the tragic events of November 1963 occurred in the meantime.
Any time we look at this address-book we think of Lee and wish he were alive, not only because we liked him so much, but also because he could have proved his innocence, or, if he were involved, to tell the whole truth about the conspiracy. He always had enough integrity to tell us all the truth, even if he had done anything wrong. Remember, he did not deny - or accept - his guilt in shooting at General Walker.
What I had to say here, and it bothered me for a long time that I did not do it before, relates to the type of person Lee Harvey Oswald was, the reader will have to form his opinion of his guilt, or lack of it. Several new elements will be brought in here, which, in our opinion, are favorable to Lee. Both my wife and I still miss him and are deeply sorry that he met such an untimely death at the hand of such a repulsive individual.
And so we led a delightful existence in Haiti in our beautiful house overlooking the Bay of Port-au-Prince, doing useful work with my internationl group of geologists: one Italian, on Swiss and one American, as well as the Haitian helpers. Incidentally, I may have gotten this assignment because there were no Haitian geologists in the whole country at the time. There may have been some in exile.
But after November 22, 1963 the situation changed for us. Information trichled from the Embassy personnel, and through the Miami papers that I had been Lee Harvey Oswald's "best friend", that both Jeanne and I "befriended" the assassin of the President of the United States. Of course, we ourselves did tell the political officer at our Embassy that indeed we knew Lee and Marina and that we were ready to help in any investigation, we also wrote to our friends about it - all our letters were incidentally intercepted by FBI - and finally I wrote a letter of condolences to Jacqueline Kennedy's mother, whom I had known better than her illustrious daughter. Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss of Washington D.C., ex Mrs. Jack Bouvier of New York and Southhampton, was a dear friends of my in-laws and mine.
In this letter I expressed my grief over the death of a great President and a wonderful man. Being influenced by the barrage of one sided propaganda in the newspapers, on radio and TV, I added to this letter: "I am deeply sorry I have ever met lee Harvey Oswald and had befriended him."
Living abroad and not having any inside information on the case we were "brainwashed" by the media which emphasized and explained constantly that indeed Lee was unquestionably the lone and only assassin. Without any facts and Lee dead, everyone in Haiti considered him the assassin. Even cynical and well informed European diplomats in Haiti were of the same opinion. But they began to grumble asking themselves the same question: "where is the motif?"
Now something unusual happened. A gray-suited, bulky, Miami suntanned, with false teeths and an artificial smile, Mr. W. James Wood, an Agent of FBI arrived in Port-au-Prince for the sole purpose to make me deny a statement I had made to my friends and to the political officer at the Embassy. What was this disturbing statement. It had contacted a government man in Dallas, the only one knew personally, probably a CIA agent, or possible an agent of FBI, very nice fellow by the name of J. Walton Moore. Looks like it's a specialty of these government agents to have a capital letter instead of the first name. Purely Anglo-Saxon, you know...Anyway Mr. J. Walton Moore had interviewed me upon my return from a government mission to Yugoslavia and we got along well. He had lived in China, was born there as a matter of fact, in a missionary family. So I invited him and his wife to the house and he got along fabulously well with Jeanne. I used to see Mr. Moore occasionally for lunch. A cosmopolitan character, most attractive. A short time after meeting Lee Harvey Oswald, before we became friends, I was a little worried about his popinions and his background. And so I went to see Mr. J. Walton Moore to his office, in the same building I used to have my own office, Reserve Loan Life Building on Ervay Street, and asked him point blank. "I met this young ex-Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald, is it safe to associate with him?" And Mr. Moore's answer was" "he is OK. He is just a harmless lunatic."
That he was harmless was good enough for me. I would decide for myself whether Lee was a lunatic...
And that was the statement which greatly disturbed W. James Wood and his superiors. And that same statement disturbed later Albert Jenner, a counsel of the Warren Committee, when I gave my testimony. As disturbed Jenner was and he knew that my testimony was truthful, W. James Wood who came to see us in Haiti was more than disturbed. He tried to make me deny this statement. And so we were sitting in a luxurious Embassy room, staring with animosity at each other, and this repulsive, replete bureaucrat dared to tell me: "you will have to change your statement."
"What do you mean?" I asked incredulously.
"That false statement of yours that a government man told you that our President's assassin was a harmless lunatic.."
"false statement! man, you are out of your mind!" I answered sharply.
And so the gray-suited man in no uncertain terms threatened me: "unless you change your statement, life will be tough for you in the States."
"Nuts!" Was the only answer I could make.
After meeting Mr. W. James Wood, I immediately began having doubts of Lee's guilt. And while I was talking to him, the conversation lasted quite some time, he constantly tried to intimidate me reminding me a lot of undesirable people I had met in my life and puritanicaly challenging me on the grounds of moral turpitude, i.e. too many women.
I told this obnoxious FBI agent that either FBI or CIA or any other agency was in any way implicated in President Kennedy's assassination. I just took precaution which seemingly backfired. But I did imply that these government agencies were negligent. Still my statement was of utter importance to FBI and Mr. Wood and he kept on trying to force me to deny it.
I categorically refused to deny anything and we ended this stormy session without shaking hands.
Then my wife went through the same routine. Threats and allusions to her belonging to some leftist organization of scouts (imagine - leftist scouts!) which marred her background. Since she did not have any material turpitude behavior pattern, except her guilt to have been born in China, she ANSWERED Mr. Wood in a quiet and icy manner and absolutely refused to influence me to change my statement.
"You don't seem to like FBI," said the gray-suited man with an artificial smile, at the end of the interview.
"I do not like your methods. They are both brutal and naive. Learn from Scotland Yard, they know how to conduct themselves. When they inquire they do it with discretion not by innuendo and gossip. You do harm to the people you investigate and don't discover anything useful about the case."
A friend of mine in Dallas, an investment bander, told later the Warren Committee investigators that our emotions were probably tensed up during our interview with Mr. Wood. And he was right.
The assurance that he was harmless naturally influenced me very positively in my relationship with Lee. And still I kept asking him many embarrassing questions like: "how did you get to Russia? It's expensive to travel so far? how did you come back so easily? His answers were good enough to me. He did not work for any foreign government, nor for our government - the latter is more doubtful - if I thought he did, he would not have been a good friend of mine. On the other hand, after this interview, my opinion of FBI under H. Edgar Hoover (another letter instead of the first name) became very low and this was confirmed by recent events, destruction of Lee's letter to FBI in which he demanded to leave him and his wife alone.
As I mentioned before the whole bouvier family were very close friends of mine, I met them upon arrival in the United states. They were very warm, friendly people. The newspapers all over the country made a big issue out of it: "a mystery man who was close to Lee Harvey Oswald and to Jacqueline Kennedy." Some newspapers put forth some odious insinuations...My life seems to be full of such strange coincidences. It's probably in the grave that I shall stop meeting strange prople and form peculiar friendships.
Even Dr. Francois Duvalier, president of Haiti, hot alarmed by all these goings on. Incidentally, President Duvalier was no friend of John F. Kennedy who cut down to nothing United States help to Haiti. But there was another factor: my house was located on the same mountainous development as President's palace, on Tonton Lyle Estates, and the implication was obvious: living next to the man who befriended a president's assassin presented a problem...
In a small country like Haiti, government people know more of what was going on in the American Embassy than the Ambassador himself. The visit of the FBI man was blown completely out of proportion. Americans were scared of me and even Haitians avoided visiting us. The Warren Committee.
As the atmosphere of Port-au-Prince became oppressive for us and my work was suffering from it, we were considering abandoning my survey, disbending my small personnel and return to the States. But President Duvalier found himself a solution to this situation. He asked Dr. Herve Boyer, Minister of Finance - Secretary of Treasury - and a good friend of mine who had helped me to get the Survey contract, to invite me to his office and to have a chat with me. This was a friendly office which I visited often when some problems had to be solved, and the secretary who was also Boyer's mistress, a gorgeous Mulatto girl, was no less amicable to me as usual.
But not so Dr. Boyer. He said decisively: "you are in the hot water. Everyone is talking about you and your wife. Do no abandon your survey but go back to the States and clear your name somehow. If you cannot, come back, wind up your work and leave the country."
I so happened that on the same day our Embassy received a letter, addressed to me and my wife, from Mr. J. Lee Ranakin, General Counsel of the Warren Committee. Mr. Rankin invited us to come to Washington D.C.., if we wished, and to testify. This letter also sated that if we accepted to testify, the Warren Committee would pay all our expenses to Washington and back to Haiti. Of course we were most anxious to cooperate as much as we could to solve this crime. But Jeanne refused to travel without our two dogs - Manchester terriers - and, after the exchange of wires, Mr. Rankin accepted the additional "dog expense".
I was unfortunate that Nero and Poppaea, our terriers, were blissfully unaware that this trip was caused by Lee Harvey Oswald whom they liked so much. For them this expedition was a ball.
We stayed at the old Willard Hotel, not far from the Veterans' Aministration Building, where the Committee was located.
I was the first to testify. The man who took my deposition was Albert Jenner, a lawyer from Chicago, who much later became well known in connection with the Watergate case. Jenner was a well known trial lawyer and I have to admit that niether he was much clever than I or that I was impressed by the whole setting and the sitration as it unfolded in Washington at the time. Anyway Jenner played with me as if I were a baby.
Also people I met there were rather impressive. Allen Dulles, head of CIA at the time, who did not interfere in the procedings but was there as a distant threat. Judge Warren himself, a rather sympathetic, paternal figure who had a weakness for Marina, we found later. Representative General ford, friendly and youthful-looking. The last ten years changed him considerably. And then innumerable, hustling lawyers, all of them trying to figure out how a single man, Lee Harvey Oswald, could have done so much damage with his old, primitive, Italian army rifle. Having around such a galaxy of legal and political talent, you don't have to be tortured, you would impressed and intimidated to say almost anything about an insignificant, dead ex-Marine.
And during my lengthy deposition, I said some unkind things about Lee which I now regret. The reader must imagine my situation, sitting there and answering an endless flow of well prepared and insiduous questions for more than two days....Was this an intimidation?
"We know more about your life than you yourself, so answer all my questions truthful and sincerely," Jenner began.
I should have said, "if you know everything why bring us all the way from Haiti?" But I did not and began to talk. And my answers were very nicely edited in the subsequent Report. "Say the whole truth and nothing but the truth," he intoned.
Jenner was a good actor, very cold and aloof at first, he switched to flattery and smiles when he felt that I was getting tensed up and antagonistic. "How cosmopolitan you are! How many important people you know! Yes, you are great!" said Jenner ingratiatingly. And probably this flattery worked well on me, proving to me that Albert Jenner was such a good friend of mine. So I answered all the questions to the best of my ability, with utter sincerity, without even asking to have my lawyer present and he, the sneaky bastard, did not say a word that the whole testimony would be printed and distributed all over the world. And so my privat life was shamelessly violated. During this time Jeanne and the dogs were languishing in the old Willard Hotel.
At the end of this long testimony Jenner seemed convinced that I was not involved in any way in this "already solved" assassination. He began showering compliments on me and I felt like a star of a pornographic movie. Before leaving, I told Jenner of the harm this affair was causing me, mainly of the attitude of the American Ambassador. Of the reflexion on my work in Haiti. He inserted therefore some nice statements, putting me above all suspicion. Big deal! The harm was already done. And how could I have been suspected of anything, being so far away from Dallas, unless President Duvalier and I used vodoo practices and inserted needles or shot at a doll resembling President Kennedy. Since everything was known, Jenner concluded my useless testimony with the following words: "you did all right. Keep up the life you have been leaking. You helped a poor family." And he added as an aside "remember, sometimes it is dangerous to be too generous with your time and help."
Then followed one and a half days of testimony for my wife and our Manchesters. They were not "material witnesses" but Jeanne refused cathegorically to leave them in the hotel. If our dogs could have talked, their testimonies would have been more valuable than ours.
As Jeanne and I discussed our experiences as witnesses, many details came to our minds. For instance: "Lee Harvey Oswald must have asked you a question about your political philosophy. What did you say?" Asked Jenner slyly.
"Live and let live," I answered simply. Jenner made some comments on that but generally seemed satisfied.
I said to Jeanne later: "It was an unpleasant experience, but in Russia we would have been sent to Siberia for life." She agreed.
Jeann's opinion regarding our experiences were somewhat different from mine. I was anxious to clear up my name and return to Haiti. "I considered it a favor of mine to come and help the Committee," she had said. "I was completely relaxed. The counsel was pleasant and reserved. However, instead of asking pertinent questions, for instance 'when did you meet the Oswalds?' and 'how many times you talked to him and Marina and about what?' Instead they asked me: 'where were you born? Who were your parents?' I never suspected that my personal life would be broadcast, although I had nothing to be ashamed of. Still it's my property, my life, the whole report was a washup, a coverup."
Later we shall say whom the Warren Committee tried to cover up, maybe unconsciously.
"I can never forgive the cheek of asking me how many children I had," continued recollecting for fiery wife, "how many jobs I changed, and why, whom I had worked for, how many times I went to Europe on buying trips, how much I earned. I had expected to speak only of Lee and Marina. So I have a grudge and if I could, I would try to make them pay for the harm and insult they done to me. Where is the privacy we are supposed to have here?" Said Jeanne bitterly.
"And so I spoke of my wonderful parents, of my life in China, my arrival in USA. Poverty, hard work, success finally. But I hoped that this would be a country free of prejudice, of racial discrimination. Financial opportunities in USA were not the prime reasons for my coming here. My Faith, or lack of faith, all was polluted by this porno-exhibitionist questioning. Finally we began discussing Lee in a desultory manner," concluded Jeanne.
Naturally our testimonies regarding Lee and Marina coincided. We said the same things in our own ways and we never even bothered to read our own testimonies. Obviously everything we said coincided perfectly. When you said truth, you don't have to remember it, so we did not discuss further details.
"Finally," remembered Jeanne, "they made me identify the hun. nero, the Manchester was there, he sniffed at the gun, he could have made a better identification than I. For me the gun seemed familiar, but whether it was the same we saw in the closet, I couldn't say. I seemed to have a telescopic sight. So I told Jenner-'ask Marina, he could identify the gun!"
We both felt that the minds of the members of the Warren Committee were already made up, they were obsessed with the idea that Lee was the sole assassin. The idea of Cuban refugees with mortal grudge against Kennedy did not interest them. We bother were investigated the same way. Any time we said anything favorable to Lee, they passed it up. And Jenner jesutitically kept asking questions which were incriminating to Lee.
An amusing detail of Jeanne's interrogation: Jenner shied away from Nero - and Jeanne promised that he would not bite, that he never bit Lee who was a good human being - to which Nero would be willing to swear.
We discussed also what we had heard from the committee members - most other witnesses were nervous and contradicted themselves, probably intimidated by the awesomeness of the proceedings and the fact that many were not even naturalized citizens. And so some good people spoke very unkindly and untruthfully of Lee just because they were frightened and they wanted to please the Committee. They really should be forgive.
All the favorable facts we mentioned about Lee were subsequently misinterpreted in the printed edition of the report or not mentioned in it at all.
Both of us we furthermore felt that Jenner was displeased whenever he heard some favorable facts about Lee.
Then we asked ourselves: why did Warren Committee spent all the money bringing us back and forth, keeping us in an expensive hotel, doing all that hellishly expensive investigation around the world about us, even carrying our mutts to Washington and back to Haiti? Why such a waste of the taxpayers' money if they did not want to hearthe truth?
We discovered that we both told Jenner independently: "why don't you send good detectives to new Orleans and to Mexico, find who were Lee's contacts at that time and what he was up to at the time of the tragedy. It seems that a Senate Committee is going to do just that now, in the summer of 1976.
We sondered why the Committee paid so much attention to the testimonies of people who had known Lee and Marina in Dallas, long before the assassination or others who had known him long before that? And the answer was - just to fill up the pages and tranquillized American populace.
Jeanne dispute with Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, Jacqueline Kennedy's mother in the evening when we finished our deposition. Jeanne asked her: "why don't you, the relatives of our beloved President, you who so wealthy, why don't you conduct a real investigation as to who was the rat who killed him?"
"But the rat was your friend Lee Harvey Oswald," was the cold answer.
Thus the mink of not only the members of the Committee but of President' family were all made up.
Jenner kept asking me constantly - "why did Oswald like you and didn't like anybody else?" As if there was some homosexual link between us...
"I don't have the slightest idea, maybe because I liked him.."
"Maybe he liked you because you were a strong person?" Jenner asked again intimating that maybe I was a "wolf" or a devil influencing him to do evil. "Maybe he identified you as an internationalist?" Intimating again some dark connections I might have.
"Maybe," I answered. "I am no admirer of any particular flag."
"You and your wife were the only ones who remained his friends? Continued Jenner his line of inquiry.
Their question was asked of both of us. And we answered both in about the same terms: "to us they were warm, open, young people, responsive to our hospitality."
Albert Jenner then brought to my attention part of a letter I wrote to Mrs. Auchincloss from Haiti. He used this as my admission of Lee's guilt, and I had explained already under what circumstances this letter was written. "Since we lived in Dallas we had the misfortune to have met Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife Marina. I do hope that Marina and her children (now he has two by Lee) will not suffer too badly through life and that the stigma of the assassination will not affect her and the innocent children."
This was my foolish letter and my speculation, not Jeanne's.
And again, after the impact of this letter read to me, Jenner very cleverly bamboozed me into a possible motive of Lee's guilt. "The only reason for Lee's criminal act," I continued, "would be that he might have been jealous of a young, rich, attractive president who had a beautiful wife and was a world figure. Lee was just the opposite; his wife was bitchy and he was a failure."
Now, away from the pressure of the Committee, I conseder this statement of mine most unfair. It would not have made him a here to have shot a liberal and beloved president, especially beloved by the minorities, and Marina was not such a bitch, while Jacqueline was not so beautiful. Especially she was not beautiful inside when she married that gangster of international shipping Aristotle Onassis.
If you read the Warren Report, there is another leading question by Jenner: "as a humanitarian person you cannot imagine anyone murdering another person?" A childish, naive question, of course.
"I cannot imagine doing it myself," I answered equally supidly, but at least I did not express opinion about Lee's guilt.
Lee, an ex-Marine, trained for organized murder, was capable of killing but for a very strong ideological motive or in self-defence.
but a few more words about my letter to Mrs. Auchincloss, Mrs, Kennedy's mother. the copies of these letters were given Warren Committee by Allen Dulles, her close friend, as well as the copies of her letters to me. On January 29, 1964 she wrote to me: "it seems extraordinary that you knew Lee Harvey Oswald and Jacqueline as a child. It certainly is a strange world. And I hope, like you do, that Lee Harvey Oswald's innocent children will not suffer.
Very tired by our testimonies, we were invited after our ordeal to the luxurious house of Jacqueline Kennedy's mother and her step-father, Mr. High Auchincloss. This luxurious home was located in Georgetown and Auchincloss' money originated of some association of Hugh's family with John D. Rockefeller, Sr. of the oil fame. We spoke about another coincidence on our lives. I flew one day from Dallas to Washington and Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss happened to be on the same plane. She was fling from some health-farm in Phoenix, Arizona, where rich women stay on a diet, exercise and put themselves in an acceptable shape again. This was the year of presidential election and Mrs. Auchincloss, a staunch republican was for Nixon and was sure than her son-in-law, JFK, did not have the slightest chance to win the elections.
I, on the other side, was sure that Kennedy would win the elections and was going to vote democratic for the first time.
I told her that the mood of the country was for her charming son-in-law, and she answered that I did not understand American politics...
Eventually, we had to talk sadly about the assassination. Allan Dulles was there also and he asked me a few astute questions about Lee. One of them was, I remember, did Lee have a reason of hating President Kennedy? However, when I answered that he was rather an admirer of the dead President, everyone took my answer with a grain of salt. Again the overwhelming opinion was that Lee was the sole assassin.
I was still thinking of poor Lee, comparing his life with the life of these multi-millionaires, I tried to reason - to no avail It seemed to me that I was facing a conspiracy, a conspiracy of stubborness and silence. Finally both Jeanne and Janet (Mrs. Auchincloss) got very emotional embraced each other and cried together, one ever the losss of her son-in-law, another over the loss of a great president she admired so much.
"Janet," I said before leaving, "you were Jack Kennedy's mother-in-law, and I am a complete stranger. I would spend my own money and lots of my time to find out who were the real assassins or the conspirators. Don't you want any further investigation? You have infinite resources."
"Jack is dead and nothing will bring him back," replied she decisively.
"Since he was a very beloved president, I wouldn't let a stone unturned to make sure that the assassin if found and punished," implored Jeanne. "We both have grave doubts in Lee's guilt."
Later we discussed for a long time why a woman so close to President Kennedy, nor Robert Kennedy and the rest of Kennedy family, as we discovered later, would be so adamant on this subject. A later chapter, dealing with Wellem Oltman's strange adventure, will raise further grave doubts in readers mind. Would it be possible, as much as it sounds like a sacrilege, that Lee was a "convenient" assassin to all the relatives and friends of the late President Kennedy? Convenient not in any derogatory sense but just because was a PATSY, a patsy not involved in any revenge arising out of JFK's biggest and costleist mistake - the Bay of Pigs.
Isn't better to think, maybe subconsciously, that the assassin was a crazy, semi-literate, ex-Marine, screwed-up, Marxist lunatic, with an undesirable discharge and a poverty-stricken childhood, unsuccessful in his pursuits both in USSR and in USA - and with a record of marriage verging on disastrous. It's better to hold to this belief for them and for the rest of the country rather than to find out that the assassination was a devilishly clever act of revenge caused by the Bay of Pigs disaster...
This would explain Lee's desperate scream: "I am a patsy!" But we were still in the Auchincloss' luxurious mansion, about ready to leave. "Incidentally," said Mrs. Auchincloss coldly, "my daughter Jacqueline never wants to see you again because you were close to her husband's assassin."
"It's her privilege," I answered.
Hugh, who was a very silent man, asked me suddenly: "and how Marina is fixed financially?"
"I do not know, I just read that she received quite a lot of money from the charitable American people - maybe eighty thousand dollars."
"That won't last her long," he said thoughtfully and, almost without transition, pointed out to an extraordinary chest set: "this is early Persian valued at sixty thousand dollars."
We said goodbyes amicably to the Auchinclosses and drove off back to our hotel. "That son-of-the-gun Hugh has an income running into millions," I told Jeanne thoughtfully.
"Such figures are beyond my comprehension," she said sadly. Our return to Haiti.
When we had received Rankin's letter inviting us to come to Washington and testify at the warren committee, we knew that we would be of poor help, as we had been out of contact with Lee for over eight months prior to the assassination. We could not say what happened to him and Merian after we had left Dallas. But, naturally, I was anxious to testify in order to clear my name and to be able to work on my survey.
But the American colony in Port-au-Prince were in an uproar when they were told that we were going to Washington to testify. "How horrible!" said some. "Aren't you afraid?" said the others. Even my old friend at the Embassy, Teddy Blaque, said: "but he was an assassin and you were so deeply involved with him.
Many thought that we would be put in jail and would never come back to our lovely house in Port-au-Prince.
Fortunately the Haitian Ambassador in Washington was reassured by the Warren committee that we were decent people, the Ambassador transmitted this message to the President Duvalier and we could return safely to Haiti. But my contract became hopelessly harmed by the intervening publicity and by the peculiar attitude taken by the American Embassy towards us. And President Duvalier, the astute Papa Doc, knew through his informants that our Embassy would not protect my rights any more. And the old fox was absolutely right, the payments for my Survey began drying up and in later years I never received any cooperation from anyone in our Embassy or in the State Department in trying to recover the large balance of my contract still due to me.
I cannot even give a complete resume of incongruous theories and suppositions which evolved - and are still evolving to-day- in feverish minds of various writers and reporters as a result my past friendship with Lee and the colorful excerpts from the Warren Committee depositions which were leaked out.
One theory had it that Lee was operated by me via long distance, from Haiti to Dallas. Impolses were transmitted very diviously because I, a geologist and a famous scientist, had previously inserted a transistor in Lee's skull (either under the skin or deeper I do not remember). A book was published in New York discribing this whole operation in detail. Since Papa Doc disliked President Kennedy, we would sit in his office, surrounded by "Tonoon-Mascouts" - and would operate poor Lee, who would blindly obey us.
As a credit to the American reader, I may say that this book didn't have much success and I seldom meet anyone who had bothered to read it.
However another book was published in Luxembourg - to avoid criminal prosecution - and it had an enormous success in Europe. "L'Amerique brule" - America burns - contains over 400 pages of outrageous innuendoes against the American insituations. The writer, Jeames Hepburn, an invented name is actually a group of European newspapermen who had been assembling dirt about the United States. This collective James Hepburn calls both Lee Harvey Oswald and myself CIA agents. Let me translate this nonsense which appears on page 356. "Oswald was suspected, as any other agent returning from a mission in the enemy territory of having been 'manipulated'. He was put therefore under surveillance by CIA and then interrogated and 'tested' by one of the specialists utilized at the same time by Washington (CIA) and by Houston (oil men) and whose 'nom de guerre' was George S. de Mohrenschildt, and whose nickname was `chinaman'".
This 'well-informed' book which still has flashed of success in Europe, goes on describing yours truly: "the Chinaman was 'presumed' to have been born in the Ukraine and was an ex-officer in the Polish cavalry. He was recruited during the war by O.S.S. (Officer of Strategic Services) and was registered in 1944 at the University of Texas where he obtained a degree of geological engineer, specializing in petroleum geology.
The CIA used him in Iran, in Egypt, in Indonesia, in Panama, in Guatemala, in Nicaragua, in San Salvador, in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Togo, in Haiti etc. where he worked - in principle - for the Sinclair Oil Company.
George do Mohrenschildt was closely connected with petroleum circles (and member of Dallas Petroleum Club, of the Alilene Country Club, of the Dallas Society of Petroleum Geologists) and had close personal connections with the managers of the following companies: Kerr McGee Oil Company, Continental Oil Company, Cogwell Oil Equipment, Texas Eastern Corporation and also with John Mecom (of Houston). He was a distinguished and cultured man (Mr. Hepburn obviously buried me already) who was part of the establishment and frequented the Social Register of New York. His wife, a White-Russian lady, burn in China, worked frequently with him.
Another of his covers was the International Cooperation Administration (I.C.A. - sic) in Washington."
This "book" also accuses Lee of working for a photographic firm in Dallas, a cover for CIA, which specialized in making and reproduction of maps and confidential documents for the United States Federal Government.
But enough of all this nonsense. However, it let us remember, that all these idiocies and distorsions were based on the Warren Report.
If I were a CIA agent, I would not have been so miserably treated by the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince, and especially by the Ambassador.
It is discouraging to say that the Warren Report contained mostly the "words which were put in our mouths" so to say. However, there were a few good and truthful facts in this report. For instance, a friend of mine, an investment banker in Dallas, testified that he met Lee and that he found him intelligent and alert. Another young man, who had lived in Fort Worth, also had some kind of words for my friend. Effects on our lives.
The publication of the Warren Committee Report brought an immediate and drastic change in our lives in Haiti. Only the close and true friends understood the real resons of our involvement with the "presumed assassin" of the generally beloved President Kennedy. In this manner the phony friends were weeded out of our lives but still too many people, in addition to the publicity caused by the Report, were contacted by the FBI agents at various times asking imbecillic and insulting questions, implying grimly the worst suspicions about us. The same thing happened to Jeanne. A good friend recalls that an FBI agent asked for the whole day of his precious time just to talk about us. Discussing Jeanne's background in China, the agent asked our friend: "is she loyal to the United States?"
Our friend answered without hesitation: "yes, she is, in my opinion."
"Whom are you kidding..." said sarcastically the FBI agent.
Insulting and stupid articles appeared in the newspapers and in the magazines all over the world, and still do, about Jeanne and I, callin us "mysterious associates of Lee Harvey Oswald."
Just a few months ago Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle published articles implying that I had received a consederable amount of money in Bahamas just to keep quiet about the mystery of Kennedy's assassination. A physter in Washington by the name of Fensterwald assured a European newspaperman of similar monetary operation.
I would have probably sued the authors of such vicious allegations, but this would have added additional publicity.
Even a nice and fair book by Gerald Ford, "the Portrait of the Assassin", in which he mentions us very favorably, had disastrous effects on our lives: "Oh! you were mentioned in that book about the assassin..."
money was offered for interviews, which we refused to accept. Overseas telephone service in Haiti was inadequate - very few people had private telephones - I happened to be one of the few with the telephone in my office, but not at home. This office telephone dept buzzing for months: some unknown voices asking me insidious questions: "what was your relationship with Oswald? What did you think of him? Did you have the same convictions as he did? Did he kill Kennedy? Why are you hiding in Haiti?"
Some man called me from Hong-Kong just to ask me a single question: "who are you?"
And this was so false, because I had been working on my contract in Haiti a year before we met the Oswalds and we arrived in this island nine months before all hell broke loose in Dallas - and we were living there without interruption all during this time.
And so after a few particulary insisting reporters kept on calling me, and spending their evil money, I would hang-up.
But the worst was the attitude of the Ambassador Timmon, the charge d'affaires Curtis and all the other sycophants. But more on that subject later.
Then came an officer for us to appear on a televised interview for the NBC's the Warren Report. The reporter's name was George McMillan and he asked if he could come all the way to Haiti to visit us. He sounded like an intelligent man and was provided with a good recommendation by a mutual friend. I did not commit myself to a televised interview but told McMillan that he was welcome to visit us in Haiti.
A gruesome incident took place the day of his arrival at the old Port-au-Prince airport. After a season full of invasions - a group landed from cuba and made havoc all over Easter Haiti. They were well armed, familiar with the terrain and murdered indiscriminately. Eventually all of
them were executed by the faithful "tonton-macoutes", TN's as we used to call them. One of the invaders was brought in to Port-au-Prince, publically executed to show the Haitian populace that it wouldn't pay to attack Papa Doc and his government: the dead body was the exhibited on the plaza near the airport with all the suppplies and ammunition. The exhibit was attached to the chair and the swarm of flies around him was like a funeral smoke.
When McMillan, an experienced newsman arrived, he saw the commotion and the crowds surrounding the body. I did not want him to see the gruesome and drove around it at full speed without comment. Later in the evening, however, around the drinks, he began to talk about it.
Incidentally when we invited McMillan we were not sure whether he wanted to talk to us about Oswald or about the situation in Haiti, which was the center of attention at the time. Since I was in charge of the geological Survey and the only American working independently in Haiti at that time, I thought that McMillan wanted an interview with me. And I certainly knew the situation well, and it was different from what the American press had described. In my opinion Dr. Duvalier was an advocate of the poor Blacks against the rich, French-educated Mulattoes.
This was a simplified version of the situation but better than the full condemnation of the Devalier regime in Graham Green's "The Comedians".
Anyway, I didn't want him to see that dead man attached to the chair without giving him some facts surrounding the execution. What an impact his report would have on the public in USA if he would start it with the statement about the dead body and the flies.
We brought McMillan to our house because he seemed as a very pleasant individual. He had told us that he defended Blacks' equal rights and that somewhere in the Carolinas, where he lived, KKK burned crosses on his lawn and forced him to leave. Anyway he wanted all our friends who came to visit us in Haiti to know the true facts about the regime - the good and the bad.
Later on when we sat on our terrace to the sounds of the delicate tinkling of "anolis" - small lizzards - and looking at the fantasitc view of the city and the dark Bay, McMillan mused aloud: "why didn't you want me to see the cadaver?". He stopped suddenly as a huge tarantula moved slowly on its long legs close to him, he shuddered. "Don't worry, I reassured him, "these big ones are to dangerous, not the small ones."
"Very simple, I didn't want you to see the dead guerilla, without telling you the facts surrounding his death first." I esplained. "After all, papa Doc is my employer."
But instead of listening to me, or even answering, McMillan launched into the diatribe about the great program NBC were preparing about Warren Report, that we would be the main personalities in it etc. He even offered to bring in the whole TV crew, if we accepted. But sick of all this unwanted publicity, we refused firmly.
Fortunately George McMillan turned out to be an interesting and pleasant a good tennis player. He did not waster his time altogether and we being boycotted by the Americans in Haiti were glad to have with us a liberal, independent person. He left Haiti two days later asking us to re-consider our decision and mentioned a substantial fee.
I asked several friends for advice regarding this TV matter and they all answered that remaining silent and invisible would harm us. "You are the only ones who could say a few kinds words about Oswald," wrote one of my best friends who had met Lee and wasn't entirely convinced of his guilt. "This national TV appearance would despel the dangerous aura of mystery in your relationship with Lee," wrote another.
And so, after battling it between us back and forth, we reconsidered our decision. I called McMillan and arrangements were made immediately by NBC to bring us and our faithful pooches to New York City.
The weather was stormy, we had circled for two hours over the city, but the ordeal was over and we landed safely. NBC reserved for us an apartment at the Plaza Hotel and the next day we spent the whole afternoon in front of the cameras.
And again, as the interview progressed, it became obvious that the producer and McMillan tried to make me say something derogatory about Lee and to dragout of me insidiously some damaging comment to his memory. To them he was definitely the assassin and we, possibly, the conspirators or his secret advisers. As Jeanne and I were positive in our non-sensational statements, the whole interview did not make any sense. We were invited to New York on wrong premises that either we would produce some inside information or would prove to millions of Americans who would watch the show that Lee was the only assassin.
Since the Warren Committee, slanted as it was, could never find any reason in Lee's involvement in this crime "of the century", the promoters of the NBC show hoped that I, as his best friend would finally explain his insane action. And that was the reason why we were brought in to New York.
And to Jeanne and I, who did not have any more information than anyone reading newspapers and magazines, Lee remained the same person we knew - eccentric, interestic, warm, close friend and we never considered him seriously as President Kennedy's assassin.
Of course, insanity is a possibility but all the previous incidents and conversations with Lee did not sugest impending insanity. Nor was he ever to us a poor loser, a stupid high-school dropout, a bookthirsty revolutionary nor a person jealous of other people's success and money. Such people are met everyday on the streets of any American city in groves.
the enclosed picture of Lee with the rifle and Marina' inscription would indicate that he might have been considering hunting facists - and in his mind General Walker was one - but certainly not our president Kennedy.
A few days later, while still in New York, I saw a complete 40 minutes preview of our appearance, and again we saw what a poor job we did trying to present Lee's side. And later, the worse parts of these forty minutes interview were used for an hour show, called "The Warren Report" that so many millions saw.
It was like a McCarthy era, the time of the government's witchhunt against the "leftists". This was a general hunt, government's and media's against a defenseless dead man.
Upon return to Haiti we knew immediately that something went awry with our relationship with the Haitian government. Usually, we used to go through customs first, cheerfully greeted by Mr. Jolicoeur, a clownlike charming public relations man for Papa Doc. This time our luggage was searched subrepticiously while militia examined our papers in a different parts of the building. When our luggage and we were reunited - the bulk of maps and information I had carried with me were missing.
Since they were my property, I lodged a strong protest with our Embassy and the Duvalier's cabinet. Both parties laughed at me... What maps? What search? Where were you? How naive can you be... Our return to the United States.
The incident with the stolen maps destroyed my desire to continue working for the Haitian Government and the American Ambassador declared in a hysterical way: "I hate you. You cause me nothing but trouble!"
"I am a Christian, Mr. Timmon, I don't hate anybody. But I wish you would help me to recover my maps."
Before this incident the Haitian Government insisted that I try to develop some of the resources I'd discovered in Haiti: Copper, titanium, bauxite, excellent oil possibilities. Therefore, whenever I left the country I took the bulk of information (not all, fortunately) with me and each time I acted as an agent for the Government. Here, with my maps gone, the trust was destroyed and I began preparing for departure. Since the Haitians owed me large amount of money for the Survey, I was able to dispatch most of my valuable information through friends to a safe place to the States. Anyway, most of my work was completed and I began worrying that the Haitians would detain me as a hostage. Just recently an American citizen, an ex-air force officer, domiciliated in Haiti was accused by Papa Doc of dealing with his enemies abroad. The poor fellow looked for asylum in our Embassy - but it was refused to him (all other embassies do gove asylums to political refugees, ours doesn't). In addition to this the chief of police came and assured the Ambassador that nothing would happen to the poor ex-US officer. And so he was carried out screaming and shouting and nothing was heard of him again. My friends in the know told me that he was beaten to death in the dungeon of the presidential palace.
Such a fate was to to our taste. Since nobody expected our immediate departure, we made a very secret deal with a small German line - plying the trade in the Carribean islands - using the good offices of the German Ambassador, and the little ship accepted us on board late in the evening. How we avoided the customs etc.? I still had a liasse passe from the President Duvalier and nobody bothered to stop our truck with our furniture and supplies and our personal car.
Late in the evening the only person who came to say good-bye to us was the delightful Ambassador and his charming Austrian wife, we a few glasses of champagne and department into the dark Carribean.
Incidentally on the manifest of this ship we signed our names as follows: Jeanne - a cook; - reckoned. And that's how we landed in miami, having skirted very close to the Cuban Coast.
The crew, most international, was composed of a German ex-submarine commander, an engineer - a young Norwegian genius who could repair anything on board, and a meldey of Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians and other picturesque Carribeans. Since Jeanne decided to cook some delicious European melas for the captain and the crew and I, in excess of energy, painted the whole deck, a pleasant surprise awaited us in Miami. When I asked the captain for the bill, not only for us but also for the car and the luggage, the answer: "it was a pleasure having you on board. You earned more than the price of your transportation." The only way to reciprocate was to invite the officers to a suptious dinner.
From Miami we drove slowly to Texas. Incidentally as we were skirting late at night Lake Okochobee on a deserted road, a brilliant comet crossed the dark, tropical sky, lighting the weird scenery around and even scaring our dogs. A comet for some is considered a good omen but for us it foretold very bad times indeed.
In Dallas we hoped to meet some good, old friends, quite a few had come to Haiti and enjoyed our hospitality. Instead we encountered suspicion and an outright hostility. Surprised at first, we soon discovered the reason - the Warren Committee Report.
Immediately after our testimonies, the transcripts of which we signed without even bothering to read - it was supposed to be truth and nothing but the truth - who would want to quibble over the words. After our depositions were so sick and tired of the whole affair. We put the matter of the inquiries by these various agencies and even our own testimonies completely out of our minds, and while driving an open car back to Dallas along the coast, we breathed in the fresh marine air and wanted to forget the whole tragic incident.
But in Dallas we had to face another situation.
"Have you read the Warren Report?" a lawyer, a good friend of ours, asked us.
"No." I answered, "I head there is a comprehensive resume of various depositions."
"Aren't you going to read it. It contains some sixteen volumes and one of them is almost exclusively about the two of you."
The aura of suspicion, of innuendoes, of gossip, of semi-lies and con- cealement polluted the air around us. But the events forced us to read what we had said in Washington D.C. and especially what has been said about us in these voluminous sixteen tomes.
Still we postponed reading these dry, bureaucratic, insipic pages until one day we saw with some friends in Fort Worth (they had known Lee and Marina also but had avoided interrogation by some hook and crook) and they loaned to us the volume in which we figured so prominently. "Read it carefully and don't miss a word. Actually you should read all the volumes and you will understand the attitude of many people towards you."
And indeed, after reading several deposition, I was ready to vomit and I understood what Albert Jenner, our "inquisitor" at the Warren Committee had mentioned: "you will be the only people in the world to know exactly what others think about you." he did not dwell further on these words and did not indicate that our depositions and those of other people we knew or had even remote relations with, would be printed, after careful editing, to probe the nebulous point that Lee was the sole assassin. It turned out that some decent people volunteered to testify on the condition that their testimonies would remain secret and available only to Warren Committee members. But FBI insisted that all depositions should be printed and distributed to the public.
The shades of J. Edgar Hoover mush regret that decision after it was discovered how many falsehoods his organization was involved in. And never again these patriotic and decent people will expost themselves in the degrading positions of "informers".
It was saddening to read the opinion of an old business associate that "he never trusted me completely." My ex-secretary divulged that I had made many suspicious and intriguing trips to Houston, texas - such an exotic and mysterious place to her underling's mind. A scurrilous remark was made by an old Russian emigree, a biddy whom we never considered bright but harmless "that Chinese woman never even believed in God," she declared indignantly, as if religion was not a very personal matter. "He always wanted to be the commissar of Texas,' was an opinion of a slight acquaintance. And finally the testimony of my ex-son-in-law, Gary Taylor: "if anyone had finagled this assassination or had influenced Lee Harvey Oswald in that direction, that person would be obviously George de Mohrenschildt.
Of course, in the meantime my daughter had abandoned him and he kept a grudge against me because I had not approved of their teen-age marriage.
Reading all this I even thought of writing a short book, assembling these opinions and give the book the title "I arranged Kennedy's assassination".
Or another title that would attract customers: "My affair with the teen-age Jacqueline bouvier and how I got rid of her husband."
The same people, Russian refugees and Americans, who had detested or ignored Lee and Marina, made money out of them later, especially out of the resulting unbelievable promotion of the "poor Russian Marian," - "that defenceless, God-fearing, miserable wife of that brutal monster Lee Harvey Oswald."
The stary reminds me somewhat of another specimen, Svetlana Stalina the daughter of the greatest assassin the world had seen (including Adolf Hitler and Atilla the Hun), communist and daughter of the ferocious communist, who came to the United States in search of God...
But back to Marina. She finally "made it in the United States", just like her girl-friend put it in her letter from Soviet Russia in 1962. She became a success, had her cover in Time, money poured from the naive Americans. Her arrival in this country was superbly fulfilled: Lee Harvey Oswald had finally become a real money-maker after his death. Poor fellow, even his tomb was stolen and desecrated from the public cemetary near Arlington, Texas.
Lee became subject of articles and books - and will be for a long time - by the scavengers from a poor man's death.
I would not dare to call our dear President Gerald Ford a scavenger, but his book was the first one, directly accusing Lee Harvey Oswald - on "his" Portrait of the Assassin." Naturally the book was ghost written, inept and uninteresting, yet he was the first one (he or his ghost-writer) to have the information assembled by the Warren Committee.
Again, I have to give credit to the American people, the book was a failure.
Newspapermen kept on calling us, they were geniuses at discovering our whereabouts, we did not have a listed number and stayed with some friends. They should have used their talents investigating Lee's activities in Atlanta, New Orleans and Mexico City just before the assassination. Garrisson did it and his career as district attorney was ruined. People who had the slightest connection with Lee and whose testimonies were not exactly "cosher" as far as the official version was concerned, died mysteriously.
The owner of the apartment house on Gillespie, an excentric lady who, like us, was extremely fond of Haiti - she almost had a fit when she saw Haitian car licences on our car - asked discreetly for police protection for us.
With the exception of the European press, the majority of the American books and articles accepted an almost prepostrous thesis introducted by some lawyer of the Warren committee that the same bullet killed Kennedy and gravely wounded Governor John Connelly. Yet, Connelly himself distinctly remembers two consecutive shots and he had never changed his testimony.
Only some more logical and cynical writers mentioned the fact that there was no reason whatsoever in Lee's action; but they approve the thesis that Lee was aiming at Governor Connelly, whom he had reasons to dislike, but being a usual flop and f--- up, he killed Kennedy instead and only wounded Connelly...
Not withstanding these superficial conclusions, favored in USA, the general opinion in other countries stopped accepting the theses of Lee's guilt. Many people suspected LBJ, as a party which profited directlly from the assassination and who always thoroughly disliked JFK and the whole Kennedy clan, who used to cold-shoulder him and his wife... It's not for us to judge but the latest discoveries of FBI's finageling add some credence to this theory. After all LBJ was a most devious man and jointly with it his ignorance was also out of the ordinary. They say that he was not sure of the location of Vietnam.
And so, here again, Lee Harvey Oswald was the most convenient patsy.
And so, little by little, even naive and credulous Americans, annoyed by this constant harping on Lee's guilt, by the serving of platitudes and repetitious statements, began to disbelieve in Lee's guilt, or at least they began to doubt the non existence of any conspiracy. After all, Americans are business-minded, if somebody performs an act as assassination, without any rime or reason and without any financial reward...something stinks in Dennmark.
We personally, retained our doubts to ourselves, saw fewer people that before, restrained our social life and eliminated false friends and acquaintances.
A dear friend of ours, a staff writer for the Dallas Herald insisted on interviewing us and pointed out my deep-felt opinion how harmful it is for the United States to believe that a lone lunatic killed the President and then, another lunatic killed him. And then, shortly afterwards, the brother of the President was murdered in cold blood by another lunatic, without any apparent reason. What is it a country of homicidal maniacs? Had a reasonable theory of a plot or plots had been substantiated, I think it would be benificial to this country.
253 A message from Lee
In February of 1967 we finally found a suitable place to settle down, before that we moved from one place to another and visited our children in California and Mexico. the place called conveniently "La Citadellle" was exactly fitting to us and was ample enough to accomodate all the furniture which had been stored in the warehouse since the beginning of 1963... It was about time to settle as four years storage at the Southwestern Warehouses began to axhaust us financially.
I thought of abandoning the whole junk and leave it to the warehouse - it's good sometime to start anew, but there were books...
And so we went to the warehouse with an old, faithful friend, always ready to help and to pick up some old junk for himself, and, before our furniture was taken out, we began looking through the accumulation of various and sundry items that could be eliminated. I was less intrested in this task, so I chatted with my friend, a good guy who had followed us on many of our trips, while Jeanne was finishing the selection of things to take and to discard.
Suddenly, he rushed out of the warehouse with a crazy look on her face, shouting excitedly: "Look, look, what I found!"
She dragged me to the pile of open crates and I saw inside a slightly familiar-looking green box. "What the hell is this?"
"This is the box with the records I gave Marina before our departure," she shouted.
"How did they get there? We left them such a long time ago?"
"I haven't the slightest idea, I considered them lost." Jeanne was short of words, this was so weird. "I had used them myself to learn English when I came to this country. They served me well. Then I loaned them to Marina long before our departure for Haiti."
"Remember how punctiously honest Lee was," I said. "He would not keep any of our belongings. But how the hell did they into this warehouse? Possibly he remembered where we were storing our furniture. Or, maybe he have the package to Glover to whom we had loaned some of our furniture and who finally added it to the rest of stored boxes at the Southwest Warehouse?"
This remains a mystery to this day, because we lost track of Glover, a good guy who got so frightened of his very slight acquaintanceship with the "President's assassin" that he moved out somewhere without leaving an address.
My wife began taking the albums out of the box and as she opened to see if the records were not broken, she shrieded almost hysterically.
"Look, there is a picture of Lee Oswald here!"
This was the same, so controversial picture of Lee, which appeared on the cover the defunct "Life". Many newspapermen and "investigators" had assumed and had written hundreds of pages that this picture was a fabrication, a "fake", a superimposed photograph. Frankly we did not care but now, right there, was a proof that the picture was genuine.
We stood literally frozen stiff, Lee staring at us in his martial pose, the famous rifle in his hands. like in a Marine parade. It was a gift for us from beyond his grave.
"What did he mean by leaving this picture to us?" I wondered aloud. "He was not a vain kind of a person."
Then Jeanne shouted excitedly again: "look there is an inscription here. It read: "To my dear friend George from Lee." and the date follow - April 1963, at the time when we were thousand of miles away in Haiti. I kept looking at the picture and the inscription deeply moved, my thoughts going back when Lee was alive.
Then I slowly turned the photograph and there was another epitaph, seemingly in Marina's handwriting, in Russian. In translation it reads; "this is the hunter of fascists! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Here Marina was again making fun of her husband, jeering Lee's very serious anti-fascists feelings, which we knew so well and described in several chapters of this book.
It's hard to describe the impact of this discovery on us, especially Lee's dedication and Marian's enscription. This message from beyond the grave was amazing and shocking. From the grave we did not even dare to visit, because FBI considered with suspicion all the visitors at Lee's burial place. The confirmation that Lee considered me his best friend flattered me but Marina's message expressed a chilling scorn for her husband. Anyway, if he were a hunter of fascists, and we agree with such a description, who was the making fun of him?
First of all it makes in doubt her assertion that Lee tried to shoot General Walker, secondly for a Soviet Russian refugee the word "fascist" is not a laughing matter - some fifteen million people lost their lives fighting them. And how many more died of cold and hunger?
We kept this photograph for ourselves and showed it only to a few close friends. Their reactions were interesting: to some the photograph indicated that Lee was a maniac, a killer, it constituted a proof of his aggressiveness, of his guilt. To others, just the opposite - it gave him the aura of a militant idealist. The man of such anti-facist inclinations COULD NOT be the assassin of the most liberal and race conscious president in the history of the United States.
We did not show the photograph to any authorities, to them Lee Harvey Oswald's case was closed and we did not want any further involvements. Neither did we show it to any investigators or reporters in the United States.
But I did write a letter to a friend, one of the editors of Life Magazine, explaining that I had a message from Lee Harvey Oswald and I did ask him to keep the matter confidential. I added to my letter a short resume of the facts - how this picture got into our possession.
Immediately I received a call from my friend saying that Life had a team working on Oswald's case, a team of investigators, because the magazine had doubts of Warren Committee's conclusions.
The next day a reporter assigned to the assassination case called me and we talked for a long time. He was intimately familiar with all the details, psychological and technical, of this unbelievable complex case, having worked on it since November 1963. Like ourselves, he was at Marina's inscription and gave it the same meaning as ourselves.
"We shall use to as a main feature of our special edition if and when we know something definite about Oswald's involvement or of his innocence he said.
Again I asked the man to keep this matter confidential temporarily and he promised to do so.
Obviously either Life's people were talkative or, more probabble, our telephone was tapped. This we found at several occasions.
New we know much more about "Watergate" type tactics of our government agencies, especially FBI, but at the time we did not have anything to conceal - except the existence of this picture - and this only for our own sentimental reasons. Whenever we heard a suspicious noise on the telephone, we laughed, spoke in foreign languages or made offensive remarks at whoever was listening in. Some voluminous files must be hidden somewhere contaning "transcripts", translations and obliterations of our conversations.
Again, being faithful taxpayers for years and years, we could but marvel at the unbelievable waste of our money. But what was it compared to 140 billion U.S. dollars spent in Vietnam. But one bad habit leads to another...
Now something should be said as to why we did not contact Marina regarding picture. Naturally she knew of its existence from our mutual friends, the Fords. But as this story clearly indicates, there is not love lost between Marina and us. We had helped her with the baby care, with her own health and finally made a supreme effort trying to solve her unsolvable conflict with Lee. We never received a word of thanks from her. But this is not important, we helped her when she was not poor and desperate.
Unfortunately, after Lee's death she showed herself a real "operator". She created an appearance of a helpless victim, of a woman searching for God, and naturally God-fearing Americans sent her substantial contributions or donations, all tax-free. We heard from some reporters that donations were sent frequently stuck between the pages of Bibles and she would grab the money and flung the Bible furiously on the floor.
We did not treat her very nicely in our testimonies, but we were utterly truthful. Marina should have recognized it, had she taken the trouble of reading our depositions. She might have come then to a true evaluation of herself and of her dead husband.
Well, she is settled now, when we see each other we say "hello" politely. As a matter of fact the last time I even did not recognize her. She looked prosperous and spoke excellent English.
Another reason we did not contact Marina and haven't had a serious conversation with her, was her attitude towards Mrs. Ruth Payne. Ruth was a perfectly charming, charitable Quaker, a Christian in the true sense of this word, who, like us, helped the Oswalds out of pure humanitarian impulses. Actually she did more for them than anyone else. Marina lived with her for and off, took advantage of her hospitality. Ruth drove her to New Orleans and back. She showed utter kindness to her occasionally Lee, and especially to baby june. She and her husband were simply admirable people. Yet ruth had her own family to take care of as well as her teaching profession. Her only reward consisted of lessons in conversational Russian.
Lee, on the other hand, seldom accepted hospitality and certainly did not ask for it. And yet, Ruth's and Marine's great friendship ended abruptly after the assassination.
As Ruth told us later, upon our return from Haiti, Marina said that she did not want to see her ever again. And Mrs. Payne was too proud a person to insist.
It is possible that Marina was advised by the authorities to shy away from her former independent-minded friends and she must have been scared stiff of authorities. Time will tell. But still many years went by and she still does not see mrs. Ruth Payne.
Short sketches of various incidents involving Marina will prove to the reader these peculiarities of her character, which may incidentally appear admirable to many readers. Her dreams of America bristling with high buildings, criss-crossed with high-speed roads, blessed with luxury for everyone and especially with fast automobiles for all teenagers and adults. And she was right, some economist calculated fifteen years ago that if the automobiles dept on proliferating at the same rate, each family in America would possess five hundred automobiles at the end of this century. A paradise of earth!
Yet we never disliked Marina, there was really nothing to dislike, there was no substance in her. She was amusing sometimes, witty, naive mostly, like some Russian peasants, yet with great deal of shrewdness underneath. My wife used to call her affectionately - "that rascal Marina" - and that description fitted her perfectly. Unusual visitors.
The photograph we found in the record album is identical to the one Life magazine published shortly after the assassination. I think Marina took it, at least she so testified. Only the dedication to me and the inscription by Marina constitute new elements. This picture, unquestionably did a lot of damage to Lee. It shows him in a militaristic pause, holding a rifle, a pistol on his side.
But let's not forget that Lee was trained by the Marine Corps to hold, show and respect weapons. The Beretta we saw in his apartment was well oiled and immaculately clean. Another bow to the United States Marine Corps. But whatever later testimony tried to prove, I knew that he was not a particulary good shot. He did not have that cold stare in his eyes - incidentally he had rather attractive gray eyes - he did not have a very steady hand and a stiff stance which indicate to anyone familiar with things military a good marksman. To Jeanne and I he did to have an ugly expression of a killer, and we knew professional killers, Jeanne in China during the Japanese occupation, I in other parts of the world. He owned a pistol but we never discussed why, I assumed for self defence, he lived in a very disreputable part of Dallas. Maybe Lee liked to shoot at the leaves, but he did not have a decisive, self-assured, automatic attitude of a sharpshooter. On the contrary, he was nervous, jittery, poorly coordinated type, and, as I said before completely unathletic. Also devoid of any mechanical ability. I had observed boys and men of that type in my own regiment and the were totally unfit for military performance - and usually very poor shots.
We had tried to keep the existence of Lee's photograph as secret as possible, just a few friends saw it and Life's reporter knew of it. Something, however, leaked out and about two weeks after my conversations with Life's writers, I received a strange telephone call. A slightly accented voice said, and I quote: "we are from Life Magazine,' and he mentioned the name of the reporter I had spoken to, "we are here in Dallas and would like to see you?"
"Certainly," I agreed immediately. "Come over."
They knew the address and an hour later two men appeared in our house. A strange pair; one slight, Latin-American type fellow, the other a big bruizer, beefy, powerful, Anglo type. They sat down, announced that they represented Life Magazine, the Latin mentioned his repetorial qualifications, the beefy character said he was a photographer. Indeed he was loaded with cameral of all types. The names were respectively - Smith and Fernandez. Smith mentioned also that he was a staff photographer for Fortune Magazine, which put me completely at ease.
"We would like to ask you a few questions the other Life reporter failed to discuss with you," said Fernandez.
I obliged him. These questions were unimportant, mostly about Lee's habits and his character. Then they became more specific. "Was he sociable? Whom did he know well? What were his relations with fellow workers in this country and in USSR? Did he have many friends in addition to us? What did he do in Mexico? Whom did he meet there? Could he speak Spanish? Why did he go to New Orleans? Could he drive a car? And many other questions, which I do not recall now.
I answered these questions to the best of my ability, but naturally many had to remain unanswered, since I was out of the country and did not have any contacts with Lee during that time.
The question may arise; why was I so frank with Lefe Magazine people and let myself pumped out so naively. The answer is that one of my most admired friends used to be a staff writer for Life and he had performed an extremely kind and difficult intervention of behalf of my father stranded in Europe during the war. Incidentally, I felt very much at ease with these two character because I had a visitor at the time, an economist from the East, a very athletic fellow and a good friend and he was there all the time.
Later in the afternoon jeanne arrived, very surprised to see the unusual guests. I explained who they were. "But you have a very strong Spanish accent?" she asked Fernandez.
"Yes, of course, I am of Spanish origin and I had worked as a reporter for life mostly in Latin America. So, excuse my poor English."
This sounded reasonable enough.
Then Smith, "the photographer", producer a series of excellent, very clear photos of some twenty men, mostly of Latin appearance and asked pointedly if we had ever met any of them.
We both looked carefully at these strange, sometimes brutal, faces.
"I am not sorry not to have met any of them," I quipped. "They look rather disreputable. Who are they ?"
Somehow this question remained unanswered.
"I have an excellent memory for faces and I am positive not to have ever seen any of them," I added.
Jeanne, in a more cheerful and confident mood pointed out three better-looking ones: "This one has a cute moustache! That one has an interesting look about him. And this one is so handsome! Oh, I would like to meet these three men," he concluded laughingly.
This cheerfulness was met by a stony silence, a kind of hostile attitude. Fernandez did not say a word. He seemed disappointed. Smith broke the awkard silence and asked: "May I take a few pictures of you and the dogs?"
The mentioning of the dogs conquered Jeanne and we obliged again. Many photographs were taken.
The conversation lingered for a while longer. Fernandez became more amiable and called our dog Nero in the Spanish manner "Senor Neron" which pleased Jeanne to no end. Finally the two strangers left, promising to contact us again from new York, to gove our regards to my friend there and to send us copies of the pictures.
A few days went by. We both were busy and didn't have time or occasion to discuss this visit. One evening, lying in bed, I asked Jeanne: "What did you think of those two characters who came to visit us the other day?"
"Rather suspicious," she said. "I was thinking of them at this very moment. This is ESP. How did you know they were from Life?" She asked. "Did they have any identifications?"
"None," I mused. "And I did not ask for any. But they knew exactly what I was talking about with the Life reporter in new York. Fernandez remembered all the questions and all my answers."
"You were very careless," said Jeanne convincingly. "Don't you know that the house has been bugged on and off. More on than off."
She was absolutely right. These men were imposters. Next day I checked with the Life office in New York. Smith and Fernandez did not exist as far as Life was concerned.
But it is very possible that my naivete and the very certainty that we did not know any of the men on the photographs, put these two men at ease, otherwise we might have joined the other twenty or thirty people who had died mysteriously just because of their accidental knowledge of some details or people which might have affected the official version of Oswald's guilt.
We never communicated to anyone, except to a few very selected and faithful friends, what had occurred. The Government agencies would have made a usual mess out of this situation and we might have become victims of an eventual revenge.
But to our minds, this visit was very significant: people at whom we glanced so casually, were unquestionably involved in some way in President Kennedy's assassination. New they have disappeared swallowed in the mass of our population or, possibly, they had left the country altogether. It's a mystery to solve but not for clods from our bureaucratic mass of officials, unsophisticated, under-educated, and like the Englishmen said during the war of our GI's: "overpaid, over-fed, over-sexed and ....over here.
And Lee's opinion comes clearly to my mind: "the bureaucrats all over the world are the same..." And I am adding my own definition: most of them would not be able to make an honest living in the world of business and free competition. Who are the real criminals?
Over twelve years went by since the tragic events of 1963. Kennedy's widow remarried. Questions arose in some decent people's minds: did Jacqueline know what type of an individual she espoused or was it a huge bank account, not a real person. The Dean of women at the University of Texas where I had been lecturing at the time, was pale with indignation when she heard the news. Then Mrs. Aristotle Onassis became widow again. And then Robert Kennedy was assassinated carrying with him the reason for the strange warning he had given my friend Wellem Oltmans... Worst of all, Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in a cowardly way by an ignorant redneck, possibly encouraged by another redneck - but clever and powerful that one - J. Edgar Hoover, who hated and despised the Blacks. The award of the Nobel price for Peace to Reverend King was an ultimate insult to him. Then the shrews and unscrupulous CIA agents and their associates assembled large fortunes by illicit profits in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos....
And the discoveries will forthcoming - of deals, corruption, doublecrossings, discoveries annoying to me because the have to do with taxes I had been paying for years. And in this manner American money will be soon "Chinese" money.
In a way, the high-school dropout, that "inferior American, Lee harvey Oswald, had forseen all that by calling our bureaucracy - stupid but crooked. But, knowing him the way I did, he would have also understood "Gulag Archipelago" and would have approved Solzenitzin's indignation...
My wife and I spent many an agonizing moment thinking of Lee, ashamed that we did not stand up more decisively in his defence. But who would have listened to us at the time and would have published anything true and favorable to him?
If you, dear reader, are interested not in the assassinations but on organized murder for profit, follow the articles in the French publication "Le Canard Enchaine". You will learn that Aristotle Onnassis' fortune, made during the war, was based o na very simple formula: old tankers are overinsured, duly sank by the Nazi submarines, motley, ignorant crew members drown and their no less ignorant poor families receive peanuts in a way of compensation. Repeat the operation dozens, maybe hundreds of times. Later, when a huge fortune is made, acquire exclusive rights for transportation of Arab oil...
If you believe in just punishment, Aristotle's rotten soul will remain forever in the Greek-Orthodox hell.
Conscience is the most stretchable substance - Ari's friends found him cheerful, amicable, cosmopolitan, intelligent - although his education was not more advanced than Lee's, he danced well and sang Greed and Argentinian forklore songs. Only his end was somewhat gruesome...
Our performance at the Warren Committee was very lukewarm and not decisive enough in favor of Lee. I hope he will forgive us... And I hope also that Mrs. Marguerite Oswald will also forgive us.
Lee's innocence or his being just a patsy is our conviction. And now we can speak more objectively of the reasons of our conviction. That the younger generation in America does not believe in Lee's guilt is a fact but why would old fogies, like ourselves, have such unorthodox opinions?
Let us talk of the clever "leaking on" by the choice lawyers of the Warren Committee, which forced us, Lee's friends and acquaintances to appear somewhat antagonistic to him.
The general opinion setup in the United Stated at the time puts pressure on you, warps your judgement, changes your words.
In these short chapters we tried to correct the distorted image of this good friend of ours. Some will say that the intriduction of the late Aristotle Onassis in these chapters may be in bad taste - others may find an interesting and significant relevance.
Somebody else will prove who fired the fatal shots, will prove or disprove Lee's involvement or lack of it in the conspiracy to commit the assassination. If there are good Catholics involved in this affair, maybe a confession will solve the problem.
We like to speak of Lee's occasional, clever repartees, of his frequent outbursts of justifiable anger at the existing situation in this rotten world of ours, of his deep concern for the starving and poorer than himself, of his worry and his pity for the racially segregated, for masses deprived of their just rights by the clever manipulators.
Had Lee lived most of his life in the totalitarian country, he would have landed in a concentration camp for his outspoken opinions - for his loose tongue.
More should be said of Lee's interests in the world affairs. I can hear his clear speaking voice, sincere, simple, without affection - its attractive modulation.
Lee did to have a trace of nasal, Southern drawl, his was a voice of a thinking, refined individual. Incidentally, I never heard Lee use any four-letter Anglo-Saxon words, no profane language in English or in Russian. This was most unusual for a man of his background, I mean New Orleans and Fort Worth slums and the United States Marine Corps.
But do not think he was a sissy, as there is a wide-spread belief that if you do not swear, you are not a red-blooded American. I am guilty of constantly cussing myself and the students with whom I associate happily these days, conseder me OK and a good guy.
Segregationists are still here but they are losing ground. Still we have a long way to go. A professor of medecine from Kentucky but born in Alabama, believes that intermarriage and any sexual integration is the only way to combat racism. The ones who disagree "should be shot", says he. Lee agreed with this opinion, I remember.
We wish that our dogs, Nero and Popppzea (both gone now) could have barked on his behalf. Such a testimony would have been very flattering for Lee, and you cannot fool an animal says a truism. And yet, they were mefiant little creatures and trusted very few.
We constantly shout - "communists at fault", "It's a Marxist conspiracy", instead that most of our mishaps come from own mistakes - commited or good actions - omitted. What fiendish names were given our friend Lee Harvey Oswald - communist, traitor, misfit, insane killer!
In the meantime our top capitalist, Harold Lamar Hunt called John F. Kennedy a "traitor" and a confrontation between the US Government and the Soviet Union, during the missle crisis, a "dispute between two communist states".
Everything is relative: we waster 140 billion and 45,000 lived (our only) to prove that democracy is right and Lee Harvey Oswald wanted to improve our image around the world in his own way, humanizing United States. Remember his nice but naive defence of the American ways to his friends-workers, during his stay in Minsk...
Listening ot Lee describes his experience in the Soviet Union, one saw clearly that the Soviet Union was not a UTOPIA but just another livable country, enormous, with endless problems, full of good, friendly people - and many others, stupid, cruel and limited.
Judge the man after reading this book: no easy solution is offered, no criminal presented on a dish, I am not even offering an analysis of his complex personality. Make up your own mind.
Why, with passing time we became more and more convinced that the whole story of Lee Harvey Oswald has not bee n told, we are adding just another chapter to .. It should be useful, as I had known him well, better than anybody else, according to the Warren Report, better than his mother and wife, according to the lengths of our depositions.
How the oppressive weight influenced my testimony can be seen so clearly by me now, looking at it after several years, as if it were somebody else deposition, deprived of a warm feeling for Lee, full of my own stupid jokes, which make me sad now. i was not expressing myself recall, I didn't defend Lee vigorously and passionately enough, which I am sure he would have done if he had to defend me in a similar situation. I was cleverly led by the Warren committee counsel, Albert Jenner, into saying some things I had not really want to say, to admit certain defaults in Lee, which I wasn't sure were his', in other words I conseder myself a coward and a slob who did not stand up to defend proudly a dead friend, whatever odds were against him.
That big, clever boy, the trial lawyer handled me like a baby: first he bullied me, then led me to tell him carefully all about my life by saying: "don't conceal anything, we know more about yourself than you do."
I should have answered: "if you do why ask the questions? Why all the rigomarole?"
And then later, in a friendly manner this time, Jenner would put forward some suppositions regarding Lee, suppositions which seemed innocuous enough at the time but sufficiently cleverly termed that would make me admit that possibly, just POSSIBLY, he might have committed a crime...After all, he was so cruel, he put a cigarette on his wife's bare flesh...A torturer!
It makes me remember now that Lee was keenly aware of the fact that it was the white man he had brought in "scalping" during the American-Indian war. And later, somehow, the Indians, cruel and contemptuous were charged with this unpleasant procedure.
Almost everyone has a skeleton hidden in a closet, so did I, I shall talk later about it. But it was such an insignificant, small skeleton.. I should have taken a stronger stand. Instead, I talked, talked, talked, drunk with words and descriptions...Talking about oneself, as everyone knows, is the sweetest past time. And Jenner got me into this talking mood by calling me "distinguished, handsome, virile," - intimated that I knew people all over the world, that I led a very colorful life, was a great Casanova, member of the jet-set, he lauded my university degrees. In reality the bastard despised me, my independence and especially my liberalism.
Jenner was an impressive trial-lawyer, somewhat like Bailey, it was hard to resist him, he knew how to cajole and how to threaten.
In reality Jenner spoke much more than I did, the Warren Report so well doctored, does not show it. At lunchtime and between the sessions he offered me suggestions, tried to find answers - a clever plan and a good preparation, makes me think of the Tukhachevski trial in the Soviet Union. There, of course, drugs were also used. The results on paper were proving General Tukhachevsky's treason, the results for the Soviet Union was the fall of the Red Army and Nazis' original, gigantic success. I am not comparing myself to Tukhachevsky, but rather the whole Warren Report and its distastrous effect on the American credibility.
In my case, such a long deposition had a sopophoric effect on me, you get deadly tired of these official proceedings, you begin to agree with the questioner just ot get out of this boring room away from the annoying, dry individual. You only dream to get away from all this nonsense, to go back to your sunny house in Haiti, to my few real friends there, to my interesting work and to the week-ends of skindiving in the beautiful, transparent waters of the carribean near the Arcaclin Islands.
My idiotic interrogation had lasted almost three full days then the same torture was inflicted on my wife, somewhat shorter and enhanced by the presence of our Manchesters, Nero and Poppaea, who testified, silently, unfortunately, for their friend Lee.
The final conclusion, after observation of all this bunch of lawyers is a short pun.."Have you ever met an honest lawyers?" someone asked. "Yes, I did, only recently. He paid for his own lunch..."
Jeanne's best suggestion, eliminated from the Warren Report, was a suggestion, similar to mine: "don't try to solve the crime of the century be deposition, ie. gossip, ninety per-cent irrelevant to the issues. Have good detectives hired, we are supposed to be the heaven of private dicks. Don't use FBI's or CIA's or any other federal agents, they are recognizable a mile away."
During our walking trip through Guatemala, where we happened to be there just be for the Bay of Pigs. The town was full of crew-cut American, not speaking a word of Spanish, out of place. I told Jeanne "but these are Marines, or rather Marine pilots. What the hell are they doing here?"
No question that the same idea occurred to all the pro-Castro Guatemalans, and the country is full of them.. And messages were sent on time to Fidel Castro...
Looking over marina's deposition recently, I was amazed how closely our opinions on Lee matched, they almost coincided, as if they had been dictated to us. "The weight of the evidence" must have influenced both of us. First we were both angry at Lee for putting us into such a horrible situation. bad enough for me, but think of Marina's plight, especially the first days after the assassination. I cannot talk of her feelings, but I know how deadly scared she was, in a foreign country, not knowing the language and used to the Stalinish tactics.
We know, Jenner and Dulles told us, that Marina had made innumerable mistakes - perjuries if you wish - being under a tremendous pressure and frightened out of her wits. The pressure we were under was of a different type, yet very strong. We had lived here for a long time and were familiar with the "American" ways.
But we cannot forget the attitude of the American Embassy in Haiti, the Ambassador's animosity towards me, the hard and soft approach of the FBI agent, the possibility of losing my contract in Haiti. A mysterious letter at the Embassy from Washington (this I found through a few remaining friends there), warning the personnel there against us. There was a pressure from our friends, by the Radio, newspapers, TV - finally this powerful Warren Committee - all saying "disassociate yourself from this assassin Lee Harvey Oswald!"
Everybody was on a bandwagon condemning this insignificant ex-Marine
Now let us ask ourselves a question: was there a conspiracy of the part of the Warren Committe members, this powerful and impressive group of people to promote a deliberate lie, to inculpate an innocent person? No, I don't think so, they acted naively and sheepishly for a purpose which seemed right to them and good for the country. The country was in an upheaval, it was necessary to pacify the public opinion. And the dead eccentric is the easiest subject of condemnation. Personally, I think that such a mentality is tragic and detrimental to this country. it's the same self-illusion as throwing Prince Sihanouk out of Cambodia, accusing him of being a "red prince". Then financing and supporting to the bitter end his enemies. Fortunately for the "Red Prince" he is well and back in his country, while his enemies are either dead or exiled.
And now I am sorry to cast an accusation at John F. Kennedy's family, especially on his brother Robert, who wanted to sanctify the President's memory and to make us all - all American citizens - forget our President's biggest mistake, the Bay of Pigs. Willem Oltmans strange incident, described here, is explainable by this attitude. Also our conversations with Jacqueline Kennedy's family.
The bay of Pigs resulted in an unbelievable hatreds and desires of revenge among the Cuban refugee groups as well as among Castro's followers, but to a lesser degree because their losses were smaller and the result was Castro's triumph. But the desire of revenge among the refugee groups here were thus covered up and whenever somebody like Garrisson in New Orleans would try to establish a connection between the assassination and the Bay of Pigs, he would be put down as a drunkard, incompetent and silenced. Garrisson was completely completely discredited and lost his district attorney's position. His latest book is a fiction dealing with the assassination. Willem Oltmans and his clairvoyant.
After our return from Haiti, we were literally assailed by a great number of journalists, who wanted to interview us. The most interesting among them was Willem Oltmans, United States representative of NOS Television (Dutch State Television) with headquarters in New York.
Oltmans, a Dutchman but educated in the United States - a yale graduate - told me how he became interested in the President's murder in 1964, while we were still in Haiti. He flew to Dallas on March 9, 1964 on an American Airlines from Kennedy airport in New York to address the next day the criterion Club in Wichita Falls, Texas. At the counter in New York he ran into Marguerite Oswald. The two sat together during the following dinner-flight and it was during this journey that Oltmans first began to doubt to truth as to Lee Oswald being the killer of President Kennedy all by himself and miserably alone. It was Marguerite Oswald who told him that the chief of police in Dallas interrogated Lee for forty-eight hours, without making a tape-recording of the hearing and even keeping his notes. When the Warren Commission asked the Dallas police official whether they didn't think Oswald an important enough subject to borrow a tape-recorder for the investigation of the murder of the president of the United States, the answer had been negative.
Upon returning to the Netherlands. Oltmans discussed his conversation the Marguerite Oswald with the famous clairvoyant, Gerard Croiset in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was Doubleday who had published in 1964 the biography of this amazing dutchman, who has been solving crimes and murders all over the world, including in the United States.
It was Croiset who first described to Oltmans in a tape-recorded interview (which is being kept at the Institute of Parapsychology of the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands) that I existed. Croiset told Oltmans that Lee had a friend in Dallas, in his fifties. He described some of my physical features, including that my name held the letters ach and the word de.
Oltmans immediately consulted the chief of programs of National Dutch Television in Hilversum, Carel Enkelaar. He received the assignment to return to Dallas and try to locate this mysterious friend of Oswald's, who, according to the Dutch clairvoyant, was of noble decent and was a geologist. He, mysterious X, was, according to croiset, the architect of the ambush in which Kennedy had been killed. Oswald was only the fall-guy.
Oltmans returned to Fort Worth and visited Mrs. Marguerite Oswald. It was Lee's mother who, following Croiset's description, pointed to a volume of a complete set of the Warren Report and indicated our name and existence to the Dutch journalist.
Oltmans reported back in Hilversum that Croiset's indication had been correct. There was a friend, in his fifties, and his name did match the words de and sch. He was George de Mohrenschildt.
NOS Television then instructed Willem Oltmans to phone me April 22, 1967, to ask for a TV interview. I replied that I had to attend the World Petroleum Congress in Mexico City and that he should contact me in two weeds. I did not hear from him again until later that year.
When Oltmans reported to Hilversum that he had contacted me, the Dutch television presidium felt Oltmans was in grave danger. They reasoned that so many people, directly or indirectly connected with trying to unravel the Kennedy assassination had been killed or mysteriously disappeared, that Oltmans was immediately instruted to contact the office of Robert F. Kennedy, at the time the Senator of the State of New York.
This office was located at the US Post Office building, near 43rd street. Oltmans saw Tim Hogan, Robert F. Kennedy's press assistant, and explained the situation, including Croiset's analysis, that Kennedy had been killed in a plot an that I was the engineer of the ambush.
Tim Hogan said the Senator was making a speech in Albany that morning and was flying back at 1 p.m. in the "Caroline". He would inform the Senator immediately relaying Oltman's request whether he could have some protection from FBI. NOS Television had figured that Robert Kennedy, former Attorney-General of the United States was as safe a person to ask advice in this delicate manner.
Tim Hogan called back around 2 p.m. in Oltman's apartment in Kew-Gardens, New York. He relayed to Oltmans that RFK had personally picked up the phone and talked to J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, D.C. FBI agents were to contact him later that day.
Indeed, already at 4 p.m. two agents called at Oltman's apartment. they stayed two full hours, but Oltmans only relayed to them that he was instructed to interview us in Dallas and that, at the same time, NOS TV had told him to contact Robert Kennedy.
When the agents left the Oltmans apartment, they assured him that from that moment on he would be 24-hours a day under surveillance of the FBI and there would be nothing to worry about.
The next evening Oltmans wanted to visit an Indonesian friend in Greenwich Village, an architect, who was designing a cover for a book Oltmans was writing about the late President Sukarno of Indonesia.
Driving southward on Westside drive at around 8 p.m. in a Sunbeam Tiger, with a V-8 motor, a convertible sports model, with aluminum racing wheels, at a speed of about sixty miles per hour. Oltmans was being overtaken by a cab with a passenger riding in the back-seat. The cab cruised for a while next to Oltmans' car until the 53rd Street exit was reached. Then the cab made a fast move, in which Oltmans was cut of in such a way that he crashed in the rails. his car was a total loss. His head was bleeding. He was brought to the Kew-Gardens hospital, where he was examined, bandaged and sent home. The insurance awarded him within ten days a new car, which Oltmans quickly shipped to the Netherlands. He himself left a few days afterwards.
Two months later, Oltmans received in his bungalow in the country near Utrecht a telephone call from a certain Glenn Bryan Smith, attorney from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Smith announced that he was conducting an invesitgation into the JFK murder for......................, the author of "Green Berets". He wanted to discuss with Oltmans the Dallas affair and compare note. Oltmans agreed to a meeting in Hotel Terminus in Utrecht, but only in the presence of Carel Enkelaar, NOS TV boss. It so happened.
During the conversation, however, Glenn Bryan Smith slipped in some threats. He cautioned Oltmans in the presence of Enkelaar to stop investigating President Kennedy's assassination because "you would not be the first person to die or disappear in this matter. What they do is, they will kidnap you in a New York street, drive you to a private airport, and dump you over the Atlantic Ocean. You would not be the first person to die this way either."
Oltmans says that he remained unperturbed. He waited a few months more publishing an extensive report on his automobile accident in the leading weekly magazine "Haagse Post", showing on the cover pictures of John F. Kennedy and myself. Oltmans then returned to the United States in October 1967 and came to film us with the Dallas CBS TV crew on October 15th. It was a very pleasant meeting for us.
From that moment on, this Dutch journalist, who initially approached us, because he had received indications that we might be involved indirectly through Oswald with the Kennedy assassination, became a very personal friend. He has visited us every year since 1967.
He will by now be convinced, that we had nothing to do whatsoever with the JFK assassination.
As a matter of fact, he told us, that despite of Gerard Croiset's great gifts for solving crimes, at the same time some forty per-cent of his indications and prognoses are always false.
Nevertheless, Oltmans relayed to us as recently as the summer of 1976, that this famous Dutch clairvoyant is still deadly convinced that I am the man who tricked Lee harvey Oswald, and who set up, financed by the Dallas oil lobby, the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I am supposed to have done it from Haiti, porbably through some vodoo trick...
I probably should have sued that Dutch clairvoyant but I presume that he is probably brode and an international law suit would be very costly. Why Lee and I agreed on FBI.
Recently it was established that FBI had concealed and destroyed a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald written to the Dallas office before the assassination. I do not think we have an exact text of this letter but the newspapers report was extremely angry at they way FBI kept annoying him and his wife and therefore made his normal pursuit of life impossible. This explains, naturally, why in our conversations Lee had such a dim view of this "great" institution and its leader J. Edgar Hoover.
I had a personal grudge against FBI, which I will explain in this chapter and I had a personal distasteful impression when I saw J. Edgar Hoover one day, in La Jolla, California. I remember that Jeanne and I were there to visit a partner of mine who had a ranch nearby and made some investments in the oil ventures. In the evening, having dinner at one of the best motels, facing the sea, I recognized Mr. Hoover, sitting together with some of our oil magnets, and behaving in such an obsequious manner, is if he were a servant of these very wealthy people. And he looked like a pompous waiter, or possibly, head waiter. I knew some of the people sitting with him and a meeting could have been very simply arranged, and thus a lot of difficulties would have been avoided for both of us in the future. But something retained me from approaching the group and I did not do it. Jeanne did not have any special reason to like or dislike the man, but I had a previous experience with FBI which was ridiculous and could have ended badly for me.
Outside of my unimportant experience, similar to Lee's in a way, the final result is that a letter of paramount importance to the investigation of Kennedy's assassination was concealed, that president Kennedy's assassination was concealed, that President Kennedy was killed and the old idol, head of FBI, remained untouched and secure until his natural death. The President did to get the right type of protection - while mediocrity or failure, or both, remained unpunished.
New back to my trago-comic trouble with FBI. This will answer possibly why so much money and effort was spent on the investigation of my wife and of me. I had already mentioned it. Why choose us? Why try to persecute us with such a persistence? The reason we knew Lee so well were not enough.
We both traveled a great deal, Jeanne as a famous fashion designer, and she was famous before I met her and ruined her career with my own adventurous deals and this walking trip; I traveled even more as a patroleum consultant, had several wives and was part of the "so called" establishment, mainly for business reasons. People in the "jet-set" or the "cafe society" are really very boring, the same world over, while an eccentric like Lee, was of great interest to me.
In other words, we were successful in our own fields and neither one of us never, but never, paid any attention to politics in the United States, left or right.
My early scrap with FBI dates from 1941, soon after my arrival in the United States. At that time I was very young, had some money which I brought from Europe and made a little more in this country and about to be drafter to the US Army. Frankly I was not in a ver militaristic mood at the time, as the Germans saved my father from the Russians. We are of, so called, Baltic decent, which means a mixture of people of Scandinavian, German, French and other lineages, descendants of the knights who had conquered Estonia, Latria, Finland and even parts of Russia.
Now, many of the Balts were German oriented, but I had relatives of this type, personally I was French-oriented. I also had spent two painful years in the Polish Military Academy and later "manouevering" on horse-back around the Soviet border, a rather dangerous occupation. So I was about to be drafted in the United States Army and did not feel very enthusiastic at the prospect to start in the boot-camp all over again.
But, instead, the doctors found that I had a very high blood pressure and declared me unfit for service. I still suffer from this high blood-pressure, so really I owe my life to the good American doctors who had discovered it so early. Now I can keep it under control.
At that time I was not yet an American citizen, but a resident of New York, and madly in love with a Mexican young widow, whom we shall call, Senora L. After meeting her in New York, I asked a Brazilian friend who knew Senora L. well: "I am madly in love with her, shall I marry her?"
"If you marry her, you will be unhappy. If you do not marry her you will be unhappy also," answered my friend smilingly.
Of course, he was absolutely right. But still we were madly in love with each other. And so, she invited me to drive with her across the United States to her own country Mexico, which she would explore with me. She had been brought up in Europe and lived there most of her life, hence her lack of knowledge of her own country.
Incidentally, she spoke very little English, and I very little Spanish, so we communicated in French, which probably made us most suspicious to FBI. Maybe someone denounced us? We both had enemies. Anyway, our delightful trip in a new convertible Chrysler, along the Eastern shore, then along the Guld of Mexico was rudely interrupted. This happened near Corpus Christi, Texas, where we had rented an apartment in the Nueces Hotel as Mr. and Mrs. X (I forgot the fictitious name we used). We left the hotel early to go to the beach at Arkansas Pass and spent a delightful day there. I like to paint water-color landscapes with beautiful female bodies in the foreground, and I made several sketches.
Driving back from the beach we were stopped on a deserted road by a bunch of people, who, we thought were plain American gangsters. We had little money with us, the care was insured, so we stopped without too much fright. The characters identified themselves: they were FBI agents who had taken us for German spies observing United States fortifications...
When I was telling the story to Lee, he could not stop laughing. "This is so typical of FBI. Taking you, at that time you were a reserve officer in an Allied Army, driving along the coast with a beautiful Mexican woman, talking French to her, and painting..." He guffauwed. "You were a typical German spy."
But, my friends, don't laugh at FBI's ingenuity. Soon after having verified our papers and listened to angry Spanish shrieks of Senora L. - they had followed us to the hotel and inspected our luggage - the agents realized they made a foolish mistake. I even understood that one or two of them followed us all the way from New York (another expense to the AMerican taxpayer, but he is always the victim), so the mistake was a very cold one. And so I was accused on an infraction to the old Mann's Act. Mann Act prohibits, still dows, crossing the border from one state to another with a woman who is not your wife for the purpose of committing a licencious act...
Of that we were certainly guilty, we had crossed dozens of borders on the way to Mexico and committed dozens, maybe hundred of licencious acts. However, we were not put in jail, just had to sign some papers that we were not married and proceeded all the way to the Mexican border. We felt as if someone dirty put his filthy hands in our very personal affairs. Senora L. made a strong complaint to the Mexican Ambassador in Washington and received much later apologies for the FBI agents. As far as I am concerned, five years later, when I was applying for United States citizenship in Denver, an FBI agent came to the hearing and reopened the case, accusing me of immorality and of a fragrant infraction of the Mann Act.
I still would like to find out some day what kind of a puritannical, hypocritical, sob this Mann was...
I already passed my citizenship examinations without a single mistake and was holding an important position with a group of oil companies. So I did get a defence. My lawyer threatened the FBI agent of a personal damage suit in the amount of a million dollars, for damage done to my reputation. And so, the Mann Act was quickly forgotten, the judge laughed at the FBI story, and I was made American Citizen. Maybe not first class, because naturalized, but a citizen still.
And Lee concluded: "and so you lived forever afterwards happy as a naturalized American citizen."
"You don't realize, Lee, how important is was for me to be a citizen, as I became after the war a man without a country, a "heimatloss."
"I guess it's better to be without a country than to live in a country like this, run by FBI," was Lee's bitter conclusion.
I guess in these days of open immorality and of pornography staring at you from each bookstore, nobody would be accused of breaking such an antiquated law as Mann Act. It's probably buried for good.
During these unbearably long sessions with the counsel for the Warren Committee, Albert Jenner, I got the warning from him that FBI was after my neck. "Better go to see those FBI guys and straighten up your situation with him," was his advice.
Of course I did not waste my time on visits to FBI, both my wife and I were anxious to get back to Haiti. But now, looking at the report, I think that there must have been other reasons that millions of dollars were spent on my unimportant life, also my wife's and our children's, with the final result that our depositions became three times more voluminous than Marina's. And so much costlier to the American taxpayer. Look at all those innumerable places we lived in, in various countries and different continents, everywhere these FBI agents were sent to and received information through interrogation, bribery or subterfuge. And, naturally, the incident with the rifle activated all this insane activity.
Again Jenner gave me a hint at the beginning of the interrogation. He asked me: "didn't you know that Oswald tried to shoot General Walker?"
you already know from the previous chapters what had actually happened, and what Marina had said later.
"Of course not," I answered, "my pot-shot joke was in a dubious taste but only a joke nevertheless."
"But Marina said," continued Jenner, "you knew about it, you said it yourself."
Now, after all these years, reading for the first time the text of the Warren Committee Report, which had been too repulsive for me to touch, I can see her statement. She quotes me: "how is it possible, Lee, that you missed? (page 23)
This is what I was supposed to have said that Easter night when my wife and I arrived to give a stuffed rabbit to little June. And I was supposed to have said that before entering the apartment and seeing the rifle. This statement make me Lee's conspirator, of course.
However, soon afterwards, in her deposition she affirmed in these words: "George de Mohrenschildt didn't know about it, he was smart enough to have guessed it."
And so, such a contradictory and insane testimony forced the US Government, via FBI to order the cost complete, the most costly and most useless investigation....
Could it be that Marina was told by someone in the Government, especially in FBI, to use this inane accusation, then to change it?
Maybe Marina some day will admit how all this nonsense came about. Generally, she speaks well of both of us in her further deposition, she calls Jeanne a good friend, and me "a strong man" and a "liberal".
Considering how foolish bureaucracy could be, maybe Marina's deposition was poorly translated, hence contradictory. Also there was a piece of gossip going on in the Committee Building that Chief Justice Warren liked Marina so much, that he advised her to incriminate us, to take pressure from herself. After all, we were mysterious Europo-Asiatics, living abroad and leading a strange life. This would take away the sting of her guilt, because she did know that Lee tried to shoot General Walker and missed. If it were true, he would have been taken out of the circulation.
Anything is possible in this gossipy, bureaucratic atmosphere in innuendo, the first Watergate of the American Government, The Warren Committee. Because the second version of Marina's deposition was different again. I would like to quote it exactly: "de Mohrenschildt did not know anything about the shooting. Simply he thought that this was something he thought Lee was likely to do. He simply made a joke and the sting of it hit the target."
And this finally, by all these devious say we came to the correct version of the incident.
And then Mr. Rankin asked her: "from your knowledge were they (Lee and I) close enough so that your husband would make George de Mohrenschildt a confident of anything like that?"
"No matter how close he might have been to anyone," answered Marina "he would to have confided such thing."
And thus, again, we came to a reasonably true answer.
It's hard to say whether lee would have confided in me, this is pure speculation and I tend to agree with Marina. had he done so, I would have certainly persuaded him not to follow such a foolish enterprise. As much as I dislike fascists, I would have been against such a violent action against such an insignificant man like General Walker. We used to call him for laughs "General Foker".
Marina is the only one to know the truth whether Lee actually shot at General Walker. If he did, his mind had been made up firmly. He would have remained secretive about it.
But there is a contradiction there; Lee wasn't a fool, if he had shot at anyone, he would not have dept his rifle right in front of the closet for anyone to look at it. Now, when he had a large apartment with a lot of hiding places, he would have put his rifle in a well secreted corner.
In conclusion, poor Marina was so mixed up in her testimonies, that she did not even remember the incident described in this book, when we took her away from Lee's apartment on Beckley street and carried her and the baby and the belongings to Mr. and Mrs. Meller's Place. She had probably forgotten the burned flesh on her arm, anything, she mush have been terribly frightened.
And so, with her, at first, extremely damaging testimony, we got investigated through and through, at a great expense to American taxpayers, and fortunately for us, came out unscathed fatally, just damaged morally and financially.
A few more words about this lovely institution - FBI, which might have played a good part during the ganster days in the prohibition. FBI should change and be more controlled by the Congress. This institution should adopt more modern and sophisticated way of Surete General or of Scotland Yard to become more sophisticated, more secretive and less naively viscious. Frankly I even preferred the straightforward methods of the Haitian police, the famous "tontons macoute", these boogie men with dark glasses, as they had effectively protected the lives of President Duvalier "Papa Doc" and of his family and still do protect the life of his son "Baby Doc." And FBI could not protect the lives of the President John F. Kennedy, of his brother Robert nor, the most important, the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
FBI did os much damage to us because, while still in Haiti, I often expressed an opinion that Lee was a patsy, that he was not interested in preparing an assassination of the man he liked and respected. And I was also an open critic of our Government agencies, because J. Walton Moore whom I had contacted regarding Lee, told me that he was a "harmless lunatic." And, as a result of this frank criticism, FBI tried to crucify is in Haiti, to damage our contract there, with the convience of the American Embassy. In the final result I lost a lot of business contacts because FBI had pried too much into my private life and exposed it in the wrong light. I am a patsy...
We are alive and enjoying life in a very different way. We moved away from the business world to the academic world and it's more rewarding. For this I have to thank Lee harvey Oswald and FBI.
Fortunately also, we did not lose our real friends. New were we sent to a concentration camp like the Japanese in World War II or the Navajos in XIX century in Arizona. And we do not complain, life is interesting and exciting for us. Often we wish Lee were here with us to share some of the good changes we are having in this country and in the world. He was too young when he died.
But more often we think of shady aspects of this gruesome "investigation", of the harm done to this country and especially to the damage to the memory of Lee, my dead friend.
Jones, the editor of the Midlothian, Texas newspaper, and a simple honest man, told me upon my return to the United States: "I shall never forget Le Harvey Oswald's face, beaten brutally to a pulp, of his terrified expression when he was being led by beefy policemen the day of President Kennedy's assassination. And this young man kept shouting 'I am a patsy'...I am a patsy!...' And," continued this elderly newspaperman, "I swear to God I knew that he was telling the truth."
I had a premonition the day of Kennedy's assassination. 3,000 miles away, in Haiti, that Lee was involved in some way, that he was in deep trouble. It's strange how those things work...
Think on the inscription on the picture we had discovered in our luggage. How could a hunter of the fascists be the assassin of a young and liberal President? Would Lee address this photograph so endearingly to me, knowing well how much I liked John F. Kennedy, had he intended to assassinate him?
Would his wife call him even sneeringly, "the fascists" hunter, if her husband was preparing to assassinate the most liberal President America ever had?
Whether you were responsible, even partially, even as a patsy, in the conspiracy to assassinate, I do hope that this book will help you sleep in peace.
Knowing Lee and his truthfulness, my wife and I believe that had Lee had the chance to speak, he would have told the truth. If he even had some part in the assassination, he would have proudly thrown to the world his reasons for it.
Lee was above all an individualist, an idealist who hoped to change the world, not a blind slave led by his prejudices, by an excessive devotion to a defined doctrine, to proconceived notions.
He denied that he was the assassin to the last moment of his life. And while Dallas police questioned him for forty some hours, he never admitted anything. For some reason, the police chief never reseased to the Warren Committee any notes of this interrogation and he denied that the interrogation had been tape-recorded. Dallas police supposedly had not a single tape-recorder at the time. As primitieve as the Dallas police had been, such negligence is hardly credible.
Chief Justice Warren, while interrogating the chief of police who had said "we never got around to buy a tape-recorder", asked acidly: "wasn't it worth while to borrow a tape recorder when the assassination of the President of the United States was beign investigated?".
The City of Dallas was certainly rich enough at the time to have acquired a tape-recorder.
And so the tape of Lee's interrogation either did not exist or had mysteriously disappeared.
In my opinion Lee would have told the truth during this lenthy interrogation, during which he must have been beaten and maybe tortured, he would have cracked down but his last words were: "I am a patsy!" And so he was.
What I have been trying to concentrate on was Lee's personality and on what I had remembered, taped and noted, of his opinions, his jokes and his remarks in our conversations.
Naturally, I could to avoid to relate what our relations with Lee and Marina, and especially my friendship with Lee, had had on our lives.
I hope that this book will correct the generally low opinion people in this country have had on Lee. Maybe this new focus on him will have some influence on the ultimate judgement on the assassination of President Kennedy.
Lee Harvey Oswald might have been sometimes violent, like almost anyone amongst us, he might kill a person he hated, he might have been violent to a racist or a pseud-racist, to someone who might want to hurt him and his family. But to assassinate the President he rather admired, just for the glory of it, is entirely foreign to his personality.
Lee cared for freedom in this country and he cared for the improve- ment of the world tension at the time. And this type of a person was beign moved from one place to another by the Dallas police, the movements were announced, the crowds were there, and thus he was shot and killed.
Some other aspects of Lee's personality must emerge from this book. It shows that Lee was not a harmful person, on the contrary a rather inspiring individual." his deep desire to improve relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It took twelve years and a man like Kissinger to achieve partially this purpose. At last the latent anomosities between these superpowers are dissipating.
But Lee hoped for more he hoped that these two powerful countries would become friends and he thrived to achieve it in a naive and maybe foolish, but sincere, way. It is clear now that the war between these two countries would end in a holocaust. And so, Lee Harvey Oswald had dreamed and hoped for a detente and for friendship, not so bad for a high-school dropout from a New Orleans slum.
It is always better for all of us to be friends than to fight, only insane people would want to fight now with the available nuclear arsenal. These insane people are forcing other to believe in the superiority of any weaponry. We can kill all the Russians hundred of times over and they can do the same to us. So where does a "superiority" lead?
It is my firm opinion that lee was never sure he was right, but he was always groping for truth, for a light.
It must come out clearly from all the material I had gathered here that Lee was above all anti-segregationist, he was anti any people who discriminate against any minorities, against any underprivileged.
Both Lee and I firmly believed that subservience to any dominant pollitical idea is wrong, people should try to discover an ideology which fits them, even though it might be unpopular, and follow it. If not , we would becon\me the same dummies Russians were during Stalin's time. Their servility backfired and they became victims of it. "They did not try to find out who was right and who was wring," Lee told me during one of our conversations, which often dealt with the Stalinist times in Russia. He had learned a lot in Minsk. "Free people," he had said, "should not remain mere pawns in the world game of chess played by the rulers."
Some time ago I saw a program, sponsored by some safety razor firm, which featured Lee talking in New Orleans on the radio. This was regarding his pro-Cuban activity. The program was taped and Lee's photos were inserted. Lee spoke rather intelligently but the inserted photos made his look ugly and threatening. It was a nasty way to portray a dead man. Technically the program was awful; had no much sense anyway, but its purpose was to brainwash the American people into believing more firmly that Lee was the sole and only assassin.
And we will never know the whole truth until someone will come forward, confess and will accept the guilt.
Let's recall some of my conversations with Lee regarding Fidel Castro. Lee was rather an admirer of Fidel and especially of Che Guevara, a romantic, swashbuckling personage. In his mind Fidel was a sincere man who aimed to the best for his country, to eradicate racial prejudice and to bring a social equality to his people. I do not think he knew very much about Cuba and his information came through his contacts with Cuban students and technicians he had met in Minsk.
Lee liked Fidel as a representative of a small country, an underdog, facing fearlessly a huge and powerful country like United States.
Che appealed to him as a handsome, brilliant doctor, who had traveled around Latin America, discovering basic injustices and who eventually tried to correct them . He did know that in some of the poorest parished of Mexico the peasants considered him a new Savior. New Che is dead, the man who killed him was assassinated recently in Paris. So it's all immaterial.
Regarding the Bay of Pigs, Lee thought it was an utter disaster. He wassure that we would not have gotten involved in the internal affairs of Cuba. He was against the Cuban refugees, but this subject was not discussed too much between us. He thought that Cuba before Castro was a whorehouse for the American tourists, headquarters of American recketeers like Lansky and Co. there were his opinions.
As far as I was concerned, I was not sure whether he was right or not, I knew Cuba very slightly myself, I was there a year or so before Castro's victory over Battista. To me it was a cheerful, corrupt country; but austerity did not seem to fit the Cuban sunny natures.
Lee thought President Kennedy should not allow any invasion of Cuba, but he was not vegement or violent in his views on this subject. I have the impression that the matter was of not much interest to him. Lee never expressed any hatred for Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs, he just calmly assessed as a very foolish action.
Remember that many Cuban refugees and their relatives paid with their lives for this invasion, and the ones who remained alive and here consider the disaster Kennedy's fault. I cannot visualize Lee being in cahoots with these Cuban refugees in New Orleans, as some sources suggest but he might have played his own game, meeting some of them, checking just for the hell of it what their motivations were.
The amusing and attractive side of Lee's personality was that he liked to play with his own life, he was an actor in real life. A very curious individual.
On the other hand, I can very easily visualize Lee joining a pro-Castro group.
In my humble opinion, as indicated by some events and conversations in this book, the Kennedy family did not want to pursue the matter of finding the real, unquestionable, assassin, nor a conspiracy. And they could have done it with their own, immense, privat resources. If somebody would kill my son or my brother, I certainly would want to be sure who did it. But possibly the personality of Lee Harvey Oswald suited perfectly the political purposes of the Kennedy family.
Lee was a "lunatic" and a "Marxist" who killed John F. Kennedy without any reason and made a martyr of him. And so, the matter was closed for ever. Why look for more responsible people?
Regarding Lee's real or imaginary attempt at General Walker's life will remain a myster. There are stories going around that, according to Marina, Lee also wanted to shoot Nixon, whom he considered a reactionary of the same type as Walker. This was at the time when Nixon was Vice-President. But Lee never even spoke to me about Nixon, so it remains pure speculation.
The picture appearing with this book, was taken by Marina, so she says in her deposition in January or February of 1962. Dedications were made probably at the same time. Final conclusion for us, Lee's friends.
We are alive and fairly healthy. I returned to teaching and am happy to be with young people. But I often miss Lee and his stimulating presence. Real friends remained faithful and good to us, the superficial and false relationship disappeared.
Yet, this past friendship with Lee had strangely adverse effects on our lives. People read superficially this gossipy Warren Report and wonder who these strange people are. They call us, ask foolish questions. Even to-day insidious articles appear claiming that we were "bribed" (by whom?) to hide the truth about Kennedy's assassination. Subsequent publicity make us controverial and even gruesomely threatening.
Up to this day I read strange idiocies about myself. An example is a book published in French "L'Amerique Brule" - America Burns. The publishers are in Luxembourg where they cannot be sued. In this book I am an alleged CIA agent assigned to Lee Harvey Oswald. Let me translate a chapter regarding my relationship with Lee.
Oswald was put under supervision by the CIA and interrogated as well as tested by one of the specialists utilized by the CIA in Washington D.C. and by its Houston Branch. He was an oilman, whose nom de guerre (operative name) was George de Mohrenschildt.
It certainly should have chosen an easier nom de guerre!
His nickname was "the Chinaman' and he pretend to have been born in Ukraine and was an ex-officer in the Polish Cavalry. He was recruited during the war by OSS and was inscribed in 1944 at the University of Texas where he obtained a degree of a geological engineer, specializing in petroleum Geology. The CIA had utilized him in Iran, in Indonesia, in Egypt, in Panama, in Nicaragua, in San Salvador, in honduras, in Ghana, in Togoland and finally in Haiti, where he worked "in principle" with Sinclair Oil Company. De Mohrenschildt was closely connected with or mixed up with oil circles and was member of Dallas Petroleum Club, Abilene Country Club, Dallas Society of Petroleum Geologists. He had very close relations with manager of Kerr-McGee Oil Company, Continental Oil Company, Coswell Oil Equipment, Texas-Eastern Corporation and also with John Mecom of Houston. He was a distinguished and cultured man, who was part of the establishment and member of the social register. His White-Russian wife, born in China, often operated with him.-Another of his covers was ICA, Washington D.C.-
And so I hare standing for judgement. I have never been to some of the countries mentioned here (for example Egypt and Indonesia) and I lived and worked in many other countries this article did not mention. In each case I either worked for myself or for some oil companies, but I never, never worked for CIA. And I do not think CIA will hire me in the future.
As for the I.C.A. mentioned above, this was the name of the division of the State Department, a shortening of International Cooperation Administration which dealt with economic help abroad. I was hired as a petroleum technician in that capacity worked for a year in Yugoslavia.
I cannot say that I never was a CIA agent, I cannot prove it. I cannot prove either that I ever was. Nobody can.
Only recently disclosures have been made giving names of the CIA agents who were at the same time our State Department employees and worked in our embassies and consulates in various capacities. Before this the fact of belonging to CIA was a well kept secret.
And so, almost everything I had done in my life became distorted and suspicious by unscrupulous reporters and gossip-mongers.
The latest infraction into my privacy come from the people who want to write about Lee Harvey oswald. They rehash the Warren Committee information.
Just a few months ago in the San Francisco chronicle and in the Chicago Tribune, suggesting snidely that I had gone to the Bahamas after the assassination to be paid off there by someone, to keep some secrets regarding Lee Harvey Oswald...And what can you do about it? Suing is not my style and I have no time for it. And so I write to these writers and receive letters of apologies.
Another painful annoyance to us to think that some of our good friends, in the foreign countries where I had worked, read this trash and may believe that I was some kind of an agent and that they had befriended a double-faced individual.
The same suspicion applies to my wife and her friends abroad.
Let us hope that this book, poorly written and disjointed, but sincere, will help to clear up our relationship with our dear, dead friend Lee.
DEPOSITIONS OF MARINA OSWALD PORTER