TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM E. WULF
The testimony of William E. Wulf was taken on April 7-8, 1964, at the Old civil Courts Building, Royal and Conti Streets, New Orleans, La., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
William E. Wulf, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
Mr. LIEBELER - Mr. Wulf, my name is Wesley J. Liebeler. I am a member of the legal staff of the President's Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. Staff members have been authorized to take the testimony of witnesses by the Commission pursuant to authority granted to the Commission by Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and Joint Resolution of Congress No. 137.
I understand that Mr. Rankin wrote to you last week -
Mr. WULF - Correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - Advising you that I would be in touch with you -
Mr. WULF - Right.
Mr. LIEBELER - With respect to the taking of your testimony, and I understand that he enclosed with his letter copies of the Executive order and the joint resolution to which I have just referred, as well as a copy of the rules of procedure relating to the taking of testimony.
Mr. WULF - Correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - You did receive the letter, et cetera?
Mr. WULF - Correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - We want to inquire of you concerning possible knowledge that you have of Lee Harvey Oswald during the time that he lived in New Orleans during the period 1954—55. Before we get into the details of that, however, would you state your full name for the record.
Mr. WULF - My name Is William Eugene WuIf. No junior.
Mr. LIEBELER - What is your address?
Mr. WULF - 2107 Annunciation Street, this city.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where and when were you born, Mr. Wulf?
Mr. WULF - I was born in New Orleans, September 22, 1939.
Mr. LIEBELER - Are you presently employed?
Mr. WULF - No. I am a student at Louisiana State University at New Orleans.
Mr. LIEBELER - What are you majoring in?
Mr. WULF - History.
Mr. LIEBELER - How long have you been attending LSU?
Mr. WULF - Four and a half years. I am a senior at this time.
Mr. LIEBELER - You obtained your primary education and secondary education here in New Orleans?
Mr. WULF - That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - Where did you obtain that education, what schools?
Mr. WULF - My primary education was obtained, up until the seventh grade, at Redemptorist Grammar School. For high school I attended De La Salle High School in 1956, and in 1958 and 1959 I attended Cor Jesu High School in New Orieans and graduated there in 1959.
Mr. LIEBELER - And then from there you went to LSU?
Mr. WULF - LSU, right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you been in the Army or any branch of the military service?
Mr. WULF - No. I am exempted at this time.
Mr. LIEBELER - The Commission has received information to the effect that you were the President of the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association—
Mr. WULF - That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - Sometime during the year 1955. Is that correct?
Mr. WULF - That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - What Is the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association, or what was it at that time?
Mr. WULF - It was at that time an organization of mainly high school students in the city, mainly at De La Salle at that time, interested in astronomy, who owned telescopes, did observation, etc.
Mr. LIEBELER - Is the group still active?
Mr. WULF - No. We are still listed as active in the membership rolls of the national association, but we are not active due to the fact that most of the members are out of town, either in the military or in college.
Mr. LIEBELER - In connection with your activities in the New Orleans Amateur Astronomy Association, did there ever come a time when you were contacted by or met a person who you either now believe or know to be Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mr. WULF - I believe it was. The one person who could have confirmed this in my behalf was Mr. McBride, P.E. McBride, who is in Florida at this time.
Mr. LIEBELER - That is Palmer McBride?
Mr. WULF - Right. But I had met Oswald through McBride. He contacted me on getting into the Astronomy Club at that time, and it was—I had originally believed it was 1953, but on recapitulating the time and all, probably It was September or August in 1955.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you remember how Oswald got in touch with you?
Mr. WULF - Not exactly. It was either one of two ways. I believe he had
talked to McBride or McBride had talked to him during the time they were working together at Pfisterer's Dental Laboratory, and I believe he got in touch with me on the telephone about getting into the group and I told him—he asked me could he come over to the house one time, and I believe he soon did. I don't remember the time that elapsed between what I believe was the phone call and then the actual visit.
Mr. LIEBELER - This fellow that called you and then came over to your house did work at Pflsterer's Dental Laboratory? Is that correct?
Mr. WULF - Most definitely; yes. That is what gave me reason to associate Oswald with this particular person.
Mr. LIEBELER - This association was made by you at some time subsequent to the assassination. Is that correct?
Mr. WULF - Yes, subsequent. I believe It was either the Saturday night following the assassination or Sunday morning before I got the call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. LIEBELER - You read in the paper that Lee Oswald had been employed while living here in New Orleans by Pfisterer's Dental Laboratory, and then you associated Oswald -
Mr. WULF - No, not actually. I had remembered he had lived in New Orleans, and then I tended to associate the name too and the picture, and then I subsequently found out—I confirmed it when I asked the FBI agent did this particular person work at one time work for Pfisterer's, and he said he believed he did, and that to me confirmed it was the same person.
Mr. LIEBELER - So you had already associated in your mind the name Lee Oswald with this fellow that called you, and also the pictures that you saw in the paper
Mr. WULF - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - And then as a result of that association, you asked the FBI whethr this man had been employed by Pfisterer's?
Mr. WULF - That is correct. One other thing made me come to the association, other than —I must stipulate at this time that when I had met him he spoke of communism and communistic association that he would like to achieve, and this also aided in this conclusion that I came to.
Mr. LIEBELER - How how did it come to be, if you know, that the FBI interviewed you?
Mr. WULF - I have no idea.
Mr. LIEBELER - You did not contact the FBI?
Mr. WULF - No; I did not, because I was not absolutely sure, and it was a Sunday, either a Saturday night or Sunday, and during the chaos on the situation, ani I believe I was personally affected by it as everyone else was personally affected by it, and I really did not think that the little knowledge I had would be important. I was even surprised that I got your letter from the Commission.
Mr. LIEBELER - The agent that interviewed you didn't indicate in any way as to how they had been led to you?
Mr. WULF - In no way whatsoever. As far as I know, the only person that knew that I had met Oswald, and that it was Oswald, was Palmer McBride, so I cocluded that he probably got in touch with the FBI on the subject, or soeone got in touch with them, and then that is how they got this particular knowledge.
Mr. LIEBELER - When did you first make McBride's acquaintance? Do you remember?
Mr. WULF - Yes. I will have to clarify that. I can get the records from the Astronomy Club, but I believe It was 1954 — that is a rough date — probably towards the end, probably — let's see — I am trying to associate it with the Astronomy Club dates — towards the end of the school year 1954-55, so that would probably be in — oh, March and April, around that.
Mr. LIEBELER - Of 1955?
Mr. WULF - Of 1955, yes. It is sketchy. I really cannot say for sure. I could probably get it from the Astronomy Club's records, but—
Mr. LIEBELER - The occasion of your first meeting was that he came to join the Astronomy Association—
Mr. WULF - That is correct.
Mr. LIEBELER - With McBride. Did become closely acquainted with McBride and become a friend of his after that?
Mr. WULF - Oh, yes. I still, up until about 9 months ago kept in contact with him, and I still know of his whereabouts, and when he comes to the city I still see him.
Mr. LIEBELER - McBride at that time was working at Pfisterer's Dental Laboratory? Is that right?
Mr. WULF - Yes, sir. I believe he was a delivery boy or a runner. I don't know the exact title of his position.
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you ever spoken with McBride about Lee Oswald?
Mr. WULF - Only at the time that—two occasions or possibly three—I think it was two occasions that I met Oswald, and I got some of Oswald's beliefs, and I told—McBride had always told me that he wanted to get into the military service as a career, especially rocket engineering and rocketry—like we all were nuts on rocketry at the time—and I told him, I said, "This boy Oswald, if you associated with him, could be construed as a security risk, and especially if you want to get into a job position where the information you know could be of a security nature or of a type that could be of a security risk nature."
Mr. LIEBELER - You told that to McBride some time back in 1955? Is that correct?
Mr. WULF - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - What led you to make that statement to McBride?
Mr. WULF - I made that statement to McBride after my second meeting with Oswald when we got into a discussion—I being a history major and always been interested in history, some way or another we got around to communism. I think Oswald brought it up, because he was reading some of my books in my library, and he started expounding the Communist doctrine and saying that he was highly interested in communism, that communism was the only way of life for the worker, et cetera, and then came out with the statement that he was looking for a Communist cell in town to join but he couldn't find any. He was a little dismayed at this, and he said that he couldn't find any that would show any interest in him as a Communist, and subsequently, after this conversation, my father came in and we were kind of arguing back and forth about the situation, and my father came in the room, heard what we were arguing on communism, and that this boy was loud-mouthed, boisterous, and my father asked him to leave the house and politely put him out of the house, and that is the last I have seen or spoken with Oswald.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now you Indicated that your argument was rather loud and boisterous?
Mr. WULF - Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did Oswald generally impress you as a loud or boisterous person?
Mr. WULF - Well, he impressed me as a boy who could get violent over communism, who, if you did not agree with his belief, he would argue with you violently over it. This, as you know, was the period right before he moved, I believe, to Dallas. I did hear that he had moved to Dallas. I got that from McBride. And he struck me as a very boisterous boy and very determined in his way about communinm.
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he strike you as boisterous in any other respect, or strongheaded about other things?
Mr. WULF - Generally a strongheaded boy that knew his own mind, thought he knew his own mind, and would do his own will. He wanted his way, in other words.
Mr. LIEBELER - Then there never was any question of physical&mdash
Mr. WULF - No.
Mr. LIEBELER - Contact over this thing?
Mr. WULF - No, no.
Mr. LIEBELER - It was just a strongly presented argument?
Mr. WULF - No. My father just took him by the arm, and when he started hollering about communism and all, and my father had gone through Communist affairs in Germany in the 1920's, and did not agree with him violently, and he asked him to leave the house.
Mr. LIEBELER - your father a native of Germany?
Mr. WULF - Hamburg.
Mr. LIEBELER - And he had been involved in some political activities with or opposed to the Communists?
Mr. WULF - Not that I know of. What I mean, he came back from Germany following the war, 1919—20, when it was all upheaval. The Democratic Party was fighting the Communist wing and all. He remembered that and he just— well, as most Germans, a lot of Germans, do, they just don't like Communists.
Mr. LIEBELER - Can you remember anything about the details of your first meeting with Lee Oswald?
Mr. WULF - Very little. If I remember correctly, the main thing was that he adked—we talked about astronomy, and I drew from that, from the conversation, that he knew very little about astronomy, and it struck me that he wanted to join the group, because I expressed to him at the time that anyone with a little knowledge of astronomy was hampered in the group and mostly everybody 1n the group knew astronomy and we were not very much interested in teaching some fledgling all this data we had already gone through over the years, and he would actually be hampered in belonging to the group, and I actually discouraged him from joining the group for that reason. That is all I can remember of the first contact, because it was kind of late, it was probably 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. LIEBELER - This was at a meeting of the association?
Mr. WULF - No; this was at my home. McBride had brought him to my house. It must have been 10 o'clock at night or 11 o'clock at night, something like that, and we got into a conversation on astronomy in general and just a general topical conversation as far as I can remember. It is somewhat hard to remember, you know, after all these years.
Mr. LIEBELER - There wasn't any discussion of politics or economics at that time?
Mr. WULF - Not at that time; no.
Mr. LIEBELER - Now can you remember anything else about the second meeting with Lee Oswald that you haven't already told us?
Mr. WULF - Not specifically. All I can repeat is that we discussed communism in general and that Oswald showed himself to be a self-made, Communist. I don't think anybody got to him, if you want to put it that way. He just learned it on his own. At that time I knew very little about communism, and he was just—actually militant on the idea, and I can repeat he expressed his belief that he could be a good Communist, he could help the Communist Party out, if he could find the Communist Party to join it, and at that time he expressed that he couldn't and—
Mr. LIEBELER - Did he indicate in any way that he had actually tried to find a Communist organization?
Mr. WULF - Definitely. That is one thing that made me associate the name with this particular person, that he definitely was looking for a Communist Party to join and he was very disgusted because he couldn't—
Mr. WULF - Right.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know whether Oswald ever discussed matters such as this with McBride?
Mr. WULF - Now this would be hearsay. Yes; I believe he had. McBride and I had discussed Oswald a few times between the second visit when we threw him out of the house or asked him to leave and his subsequent leaving for Dallas. I continually tried to get McBride to stop associating with Oswald, and he did actually, as far as I know, except for, you know, working hours.
Mr. LIEBELER - And McBride told you that Oswald had also discussed communism with him?
Mr. WULF - - Oh, yes, yes; that he discussed it constantly when they were on the job and you know, delivering dentures, and in their social association. It might be of importance to point out that both boys struck me as lonely boys. McBride was working at that time, he had quit school and was working and going to a correspondence school, and I thInk they tended to associate because
of that reason, because they were just plain lonely, not knowing too many people.
Mr. LIEBELER - This was true, in your opinion, both of Oswald and McBride? Is that correct?
Mr. WULF - On this particular point, yes; that they were both—well, for one thing, I think that would lead a boy to get the type of job that they held at the time. I think most of the boys who held that job were that type of boy who were fighting education, except for McBride—he wasn't fighting education, because he was fighting the need for more money. You know, a young boy like that, his family was quite large and not of very great income, and I think this made Oswald and McBride associate probably with each other, but I do know that he told me after this second visit that—we discussed Oswald, and I discussed Oswald specifically as a security risk. The reason why I was knowledgeable on this was that my father was in the Merchant Marine and on a Navy Reserve ship that did require some security c1earance, and I was quite conscious of it, and also during the war, because we were German and I was quite conscious of security matters and all.
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you know whether McBride ever expressed any interest in communism or ever expressed any interest in Communist organizations?
Mr. WULF - Not realIy; no, no. As far as I know, definitely not. He was strong-willed, but never, as far as I know, ever expressed really any belief in communism.
Mr. LIEBELER - (Exhibiting photograph to witness) I want to show you two pictures which have previously been marked "Pizzo Exhibits 453—A and 453—B."
Mr. WULF - Right.
Mr. LIEBELER - I ask you if you recognise any of the individuals in those pictures?
Mr. WULF - Well, yes.; Oswald marked "1" on the top picture, "Pizzo 453—B," and, of course, Oswald again marked with the "X" in green on "Pizzo 453-A."
Mr. LIEBELER - You recognize that as Oswald?
Mr. WULF - Yes. That is one of the things. I saw these flims on TV and I subsequently saw them at the station. That is Oswald, as far as I can associate.
Mr. LIEBELER - When you say "these films," you are interring tht these pictures that I have shown you are still photos taken out of—
Mr. WULF - Yes. Thee. are 16 mm. prints—I can tell by the grain—and they are either 16 mm. or 32 mm., probably 16 mm. prints, and these are the ones, as far as I know, that WDSU had. I don't believe that is what you want though. That is the only one I can associate on there. I do not associate the other man marked—
Mr. LIEBELER - Do you identify this man as Oswald based on your observation of him at the times you have mentioned, and not from having seen his pictures at other places in the newspaper?
Mr. WULF - No; I base that picture on—when I first saw those films originally, when it was originally shown on TV, I had a slight inkling that it was the same person, as far as I know. I mean, like I said, it was many years ago, it was—oh, 8 years ago, 8 or 9 years ago. He was younger, he was a little bit heavier then, in the face especially, but he seems to me to be the same person.
Mr. LIEBELER - And that identification on your part is reinforced by the logical steps that—
Mr. WULF - Right, the logical association. Yes; I admit this.
Mr. LIEBELER - And that logical association is the association that we have already described throughout this record?
Mr. WULF - Right, right; and also the time factor when he was in New Orleans, the association with Pfisterer's Laboratory, and that I know for a fact that in October of that year or early in the winter of that year that he did move to Dallas, because McBride told me that his mother and he had moved to Dallas. Also I knew a little bit about him. McBride had discussed with me a little of his family situation. I had asked him about it because of his attitudes and such.
Mr. LIEBELER - How do you mean "his family situation"? You mean his mother?
Mr. WULF - Yes; I asked McBride specifically how come this boy was like this, mixed up and all, and he said he lived with his mother—this is hearsay of course, through McBride—that his mother didn't associate with him too much and the boy was pretty much on his own and a loner as such.
Mr. LIEBELER - And this was a discussion that you had with McBride in 1955-65?
Mr. WULF - Right, 1955.
Mr. LIEBELER - Have you talked to McBride about this thing since the assassination?
Mr. WULF - No; I have not. I have only corresponded with McBride once and that was about a month ago. I sent him an amateur radiogram requesting the address of a mutual friend In New York. but I got no answer, and we were wondering where he is.
Mr. LIEBELER - I can't think of any other questions at this point. If you can think of anything else that you know about that you would like to add or that you think would be helpful to the Commission, I would appreciate it if you would add it.
Mr. WULF - Not that I know of. The only thing I can—I don't know many people have told you of this period of his life—I amplify that at it this time Oswald was was definitely Communist-minded, he was violently for communism and this is what struck me as so odd for.boy so young at the time. I believe we were both 16, and he was quite violent for communism. His beliefs seemeded to be warped but strong, and one thing that did hit me, he seemed - I told this to McBride at the time—he seemed to me a boy that was looking for something to belong to. I don't think anybody was looking for him to belong to them, and it may have been a problem, but he was definitely looking for something to associate himself with. He had very little self-identification, and at the time he hit me as somebody who was looking for identification he just happened, I guess, to latch on to this particular area to become identified with. That is about all I know of him at that time, and following that period, after he moved from New Orleans and went to Dallas, I knew nothin of him until I saw what I thought was him at the time, but I was not sure, the films that you showed me.
Mr. LIEBELER - I don't have any other questions at this point. I want to thank you very much for coming in and cooperating with us to the extent that you have. The Commission appreciates it very much.
Mr. WULF - That is quite all right. I am glad we could help.