"I AM A PATSY!"
By George DeMorenschildt
14) Lee and Admiral Chester Bruton
15) Easter of 1963
16) Our move to Haiti
17) The Warren Committee
18) Our return to Haiti
19) Effects on our lives
20) Our return to the United States
21) A message from Lee
22) Unusual visitors
23) Who are the real criminals?
24) Willem Oltmans and his clairvoyant
25) Why Lee and I agreed on FBI
26) I am a patsy...
27) Final conclusion for us, Lee's friends
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 wife 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 was 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-marine, she went to get the admiral who was a congenial man and wanted 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 quietly, 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 him 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's widow from Oklahoma. In her childhood the mother was very poor . 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 good-naturedly." 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 not made to be a salesman."
Then he began talking warmly to Lee, asking him about his duties in the Marine 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 not 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 Elisabeth 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, tales about his Marine Corps life.
"We had a sergeant 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 we 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 the Oswalds' 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 Oswald..."
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.
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 the Oswalds and we knew that they were living practically like hermits. Nobody visited or invited them, except maybe the Paines. 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 Elisabeth 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 trellises. 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.
Now Marina was up also and the apartment was lit up. It was clean and spacious but 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 of 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 émigrés 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 it was 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 of our lives. But most of these advisers knew little about Haiti - and I mean 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 movements in the South. Lee considered this the most dangerous phenomenon for all peace-loving people. "Economic discrimination is bad, but you can remedy 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 a rifle standing completely open.
"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 this 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 I guffawed, "Ha! Ha!" I thought this was 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 Walker, 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 political platform somewhat to the right of Hitler's.
This joke just popped out because General Walker lived 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 Rhodesian 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 embarrassed, 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 unexpected this joke was to them. It hit the nail on the head.
Marina testified at the 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 Walker, 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 him as the most dangerous man for this country. Marina's testimonies turned out to be contradictory and vague but there is another thing which makes me believe that Lee possibly tried to shoot General Walker. 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 my 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 thatI 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. It 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 Oswalds 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 like Krusechev now, she was growing up. She did not have such 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 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 neighborhood?
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 mean 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 international 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 trickled 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 teeth 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 opinions 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 banker, 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 people 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.
As the atmosphere of Port-au-Prince became oppressive for us and my work was suffering from it, we were considering abandoning my survey, disbanding 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' Administration 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 neither he was much clever than I or that I was impressed by the whole setting and the situation 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 proceedings 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 insidious 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 private 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 reflection 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 voodoo 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 categorically 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 wash-up, a cover-up."
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 forgiven.
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 hear the 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 wondered 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 tranquilized 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 are 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 minds of not only the members of the Committee but of the 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 mamboozed 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 consider 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 stupidly, 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-defense.
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 stubbornness and silence. Finally both Jeanne and Janet (Mrs. Auchincloss) got very emotional embraced each other and cried together, one ever the loss 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 he was a PATSY, a patsy not involved in any revenge arising out of JFK's biggest and costliest 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 good-byes 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.
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 Marina 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 was 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. Impulses were transmitted very deviously 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 describing 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 met 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 institutions. The writer, James 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, born 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, let us remember, that all these idiocies and distortions 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 speak. 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.
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 reasons 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, calling us "mysterious associates of Lee Harvey Oswald."
Just a few months ago the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle published articles implying that I had received a considerable amount of money in Bahamas just to keep quiet about the mystery of Kennedy's assassination. A shyster in Washington by the name of Fensterwald assured a European newspaperman of a 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 kept 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 particularly insistent 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, publicly executed to show the Haitian populace that it wouldn't pay to attack Papa Doc and his government. The dead body was exhibited on the plaza near the airport with all the supplies 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 sight 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 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 "anoles" - small lizards - and looking at the fantastic 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 not dangerous, not like the small ones."
"Very simple, I didn't want you to see the dead guerrilla, without telling you the facts surrounding his death first." I explained. "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 interesting and pleasant, a good tennis player. He did not waste his time altogether and being boycotted by the Americans in Haiti we 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 dispel 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 drag out 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, interesting, 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 suggest 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 Fascists - 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 the 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 but charming public relations man for Papa Doc. This time our luggage was searched surrepticiously while militia examined our papers in a different part 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...
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 give 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 not 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 Caribbean 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 had a few glasses of champagne and departed into the dark Caribbean.
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, mostly international, was composed of a German ex-submarine commander, an engineer - a young Norwegian genius who could repair anything on board, and a medley of Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians and other picturesque Caribbeans. Jeanne decided to cook some delicious European meals 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 sumptuous 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 we 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 concealement polluted the air around us. But the events forced us to read what we had said in Washington D.C. and especially what had been said about us in these voluminous sixteen tomes.
Still we postponed reading these dry, bureaucratic, insipic pages until one day we saw 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 must regret that decision after it was discovered how many falsehoods his organization was involved in. And never again these patriotic and decent people will expose 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 émigré, 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 giving 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 Marina," - "that defenseless, God-fearing, miserable wife of that brutal monster Lee Harvey Oswald."
The story reminds me somewhat of another specimen, Svetlana Stalin, 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 cemetery 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 - in "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. Garrison did it and his career as district attorney was ruined. People who had the slightest connection with Lee and whose testimonies were not exactly "kosher" as far as the official version was concerned, died mysteriously.
The owner of the apartment house on Gillespie, an eccentric lady who, like us, was extremely fond of Haiti - she almost had a fit when she saw Haitian car licenses 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 preposterous thesis introduced by some lawyer of the Warren committee that the same bullet killed Kennedy and gravely wounded Governor John Connally. Yet, Connally 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 Connally, whom he had reasons to dislike. But being a usual flop and f--- up, he killed Kennedy instead and only wounded Connally...
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 directly 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 finagling 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 rhyme or reason and without any financial reward...something stinks in Denmark.
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 been substantiated, I think it would have been beneficial to this country.
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 accommodate all the furniture which had been stored in the warehouse since the beginning of 1963... It was about time to settle down as four years storage at the Southwestern Warehouses began to exhaust us financially.
I thought of abandoning the whole junk and leaving it in 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 interested 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, she 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 punctiliously honest Lee was," I said. "He would not keep any of our belongings. But how the hell did they get into this warehouse? Possibly he remembered where we were storing our furniture. Or, maybe he gave the package to Glover to whom we had loaned some of our furniture and who finally added it to the rest of the 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 shrieked 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 of 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 followed - 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 me, 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 read; "This is the hunter of fascists! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Here Marina was again making fun of her husband, jeering Lee's very serious anti-fascist 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 Marina's inscription. This message from beyond the grave was amazing and shocking. His 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 making fun of him?
First of all, it casts doubt on 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-Fascist 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 unbelievably complex case, having worked on it since November 1963. Like ourselves, he looked at Marina's inscription and gave it the same meaning as we had.
"We shall use this 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 probably, our telephone was tapped. This we found out on several occasions.
Now 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 containing "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 the picture. Naturally she knew of its existence from our mutual friends, the Fords. But as this story clearly indicates, there is no 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 poor and desperate.
Unfortunately, after Lee's death she showed herself to be 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 fling 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 did not even 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 Paine. 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 on and off and took advantage of her hospitality. Ruth drove her to New Orleans and back. She showed utter kindness to her and 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 Marina'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. Paine 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 Paine.
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 kept 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 a great deal of shrewdness underneath. My wife used to call her affectionately - "that rascal Marina" - and that description fitted her perfectly.
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 particularly 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 defense. 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 the nervous, jittery, poorly-coordinated type, and, as I said before, completely unathletic. He was also devoid of any mechanical ability. I had observed boys and men of that type in my own regiment and they 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 bruiser, beefy, powerful, Anglo type. They sat down and announced that they represented Life Magazine. The Latin mentioned his reportorial qualifications, the beefy character said he was a photographer. Indeed he was loaded with cameras 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 Life Magazine people and let myself be 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 on behalf of my father stranded in Europe during the war. Incidentally, I felt very much at ease with these two characters 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 mustache! That one has an interesting look about him. And this one is so handsome! Oh, I would like to meet these three men," she 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 awkward 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 give 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 impostors. 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 naiveté 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. Now they have disappeared, swallowed in the mass of our population or, possibly, they have 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.
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 a 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 a clever and powerful one - J. Edgar Hoover, who hated and despised the Blacks. The award of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Reverend King was an ultimate insult to him. Then the shrewd and unscrupulous CIA agents and their associates assembled large fortunes by illicit profits in Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos....
And the discoveries will be forthcoming - of deals, corruption, double-crossings- discoveries annoying to me because they 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 foreseen 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 defense. 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 on a very simple formula: old tankers are over-insured, 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 Greek and Argentinean folklore 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 for 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 judgment, 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 introduction 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 those 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 a 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 consider 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 medicine 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 defiant 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 - committed 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 missile crisis, a "dispute between two communist states".
Everything is relative: we wasted 140 billion dollars and 45,000 lives (our side alone) to prove that democracy is right and Lee Harvey Oswald wanted to improve our image around the world in his own way, humanizing the United States. Remember his nice but naive defense of the American ways to his friends-workers, during his stay in Minsk...
Listening to 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 been told, we are adding just another chapter to it. 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's deposition, deprived of a warm feeling for Lee, full of my own stupid jokes, which make me sad now. I was not expressing myself, 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 wanted to say, to admit certain faults in Lee, which I wasn't sure were his. In other words, I consider 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 rigmarole?"
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 who 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, lauding 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. It 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 result for the Soviet Union was the fall of the Red Army and the Nazis' original, gigantic success. I am not comparing myself to Tukhachevsky, but rather the whole Warren Report and its disastrous 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 to 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 skin-diving in the beautiful, transparent waters of the Caribbean 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 during the Bay of Pigs, the town was full of crew-cut Americans, 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 Stalinist 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 on the part of the Warren Committee 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 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 Garrison 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. Garrison was completely completely discredited and lost his district attorney's position. His latest book is a fiction dealing with the assassination.
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 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 the 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 to Marguerite Oswald that hehad 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 sch 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 weeks. 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 since so many people, directly or indirectly connected with trying to unravel the Kennedy assassination, had been killed or mysteriously disappeared, that Oltmans was immediately instructed 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 and 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 by 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.
He drovesouthward 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 off 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 investigation 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 before 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, probably through some voodoo trick...
I probably should have sued that Dutch clairvoyant but I presume that he is probably broke and an international law suit would be very costly.
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 newspaper 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, as 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.
Now 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 was 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 petroleum 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 the world over, while an eccentric like Lee was of great interest to me.
In other words, we were successful in our own fields and either 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 was about to be drafted to the US Army. Frankly I was not in a very 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 "maneuvering" 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 Gulf 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 car 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 guffawed. "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 does, crossing the border from one state to another with a woman who is not your wife for the purpose of committing a licentious act...
Of that we were certainly guilty, we had crossed dozens of borders on the way to Mexico and committed dozens, maybe hundred of licentious 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 puritanical, 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 got a defense. 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 an 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 the 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 makes 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, she 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 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 finally, by all these devious ways, 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 confidant of anything like that?"
"No matter how close he might have been to anyone," answered Marina "he would not have confided such a 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 kept 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, just damaged morally and financially.
A few more words about this lovely institution - FBI, which might have played a good part during the gangster days in the prohibition. FBI should change and be more controlled by the Congress. This institution should adopt the more modern and sophisticated ways of Surete General or of Scotland Yard to become more sophisticated, more secretive and less naively vicious. 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 President John F. Kennedy, of his brother Robert nor, the most important, the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.
FBI did as 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 us in Haiti, to damage our contract there, with the connivance 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.
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. Nor 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.
Penn 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 Lee 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 preconceived 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 released 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 primitive as the Dallas police had been, such negligence is hardly incredible.
Chief Justice Warren, while interrogating the chief of police who had said "we never got around to buying 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 being 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 lengthy 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 not avoid to relate the effect 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 judgment 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 pseudo-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 improvement of the world tension at the time. And this type of a person was being 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 was 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 animosities 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 détente 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 others 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 political 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 become 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 wrong," 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 not 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 the 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 parishes 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 was sure 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 racketeers like Lansky and Co. These 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 vehement 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 it 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, private 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?
Lee's real or imaginary attempt at General Walker's life will remain a mystery. 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.
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 relationships 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 today insidious articles appear claiming that we were "bribed" (by whom?) to hide the truth about Kennedy's assassination. Subsequent publicity makes us controversial 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 the 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 a 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 am here standing for judgment. 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 and 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 infractions 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 it was suggested 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 is 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.