8: Increased Animosity Between the Oswalds

I Am a Patsy! by George de Mohrenschildt

Lee Harvey Oswald, His Mother and Brother

Conflicts in married couples develop slowly like a cancer, and then from the slow development the sickness attacks the couple with alarming rapidity. In previous chapter we showed how slowly but insidiously the animosity developed in the case of [the] Oswalds. Looking back at Lee and remembering his reactions, he became suddenly standoffish, sometimes supercilious and spoke only to people whom he liked and trusted. And there were not many of them. Lee was not close to his mother and seldom spoke of her. But neither did he criticize her. He harldy spoke of his brother Robert and not at all of his wife. Yet, the Oswalds stayed with them for a short time upon their arrival in the United States. As a matter of fact we never met any member of the Oswald family and we are sorry not to have met Lee’s mother. Even Marina spoke nicely of her.

Later we admired when Marguerite Oswald tried desperately to clear up her son’s name and reputation. We wish her the best of luck.

One of the reasons we agree with Mrs. Marguerite Oswald that her son was probably innocent of Kennedy’s assassination — and we insisted on this during the Warren Commission interviews (although it was never brought up publicly) — was the following: Lee actually admired President Kennedy in his own reserved way. One day we discussed with Lee Kennedy’s efforts to bring peace to the world and to end the cold war. “Great, great!” Exclaimed Lee. “If he succeeds, he will be the greatest president in the history of this country.”

Lee Oswald’s Attitude to Racists

Kennedy’s efforts to alleviate and to end segregation were also admired by Lee, who was sincerely and profoundly committed to a complete integration of Blacks and saw it in the future of the United States. “I am willing to fight for racial equality and would die fighting if necessary,” He told me once. Because of his poor, miserable childhood, he probably compared himself to the Blacks and the Indians and commiserated with them. In this he was so different and so noble compared with the Southern trash and rednecks, whose segregationism stems from their fear of the Blacks, of their strength and of the possibility of their prominence in every field of human endeavor. Education for the Blacks was an anathema for them, while Lee was fullheartedly for it. He loved black children and admired their cute and outgoing ways. He also was fond of the black music and folklore with which he as familiar from his childhood days in New Orleans.

Lee despised the reactionary groups, the white supremacists, the so called “hate groups,” and did not hide his feelings. I naturally agreed with him. Marina, on other hand was not interested in anything except acquiring possessions. Her crass materialism, envy of other refugees’ success, compared to Lee’s idealism, lead inevitably to confrontations.

Lee and Marina’s Different Lifestyles

Lee was rather neat and orderly, Marina was lazy and devil may care about her household and herself. This unusual Russian–American couple was too much for the average Anglo. Hence their cohabitation with Robert Oswald and his family was short. It all became clear to my wife as she had the opportunity of observing Marina more than I did. This ex–Russian activist and member of the Communist youth stayed in bed ’till noon or later and avoided domestic chores. This was what happened when she stayed in our house. The same opinion was shared by my daughter with whom Marina stayed also for a while.

Marina was simply deprived of energy while Lee, capable of an effort, was not however an average go–getting type of a person who succeed in America. I often regretted that Lee did not get a better education, he would have done well in the scholastic world and would have been a useful citizen.

In the meantime Lee’s relationship with Marina worsened as she became more enticed by the American “luxuries”. I was a sensuous joy for her to wear my wife’s silk nighties when she stayed with us and my daughter said that she did the same when she stayed in her apartment.

As Marina was luxuriating, Lee was reading whenever he could his Russian books (he had brought a lot from the Soviet Union) and his friends kept providing him with new supplies of books and magazines.

Although I did not notice any special signs of jealousy regarding Marina — for obvious reasons, she could not communicate with Americans and the Russian refugees were too old for her — but it annoyed him that his wife kept corresponding with her boy–friend, or an ex–lover, in Russia. Lee intercepted a letter from this man and became very bitter. I do not remember whether he beat her up on that occasion, Marina did not complain. But he told me that the letter contained reference of Marina’s plan to return to the Soviet Union without him. It could be that Lee imagined it. Anyway, the situation became tenser. Lee obviously loved Marina in his own way and did not want to lose her.

Marina’s smoking and occasional drinking gave fits to Lee, he hated the smell of tobacco on Marina’s breath. Laughingly I told him to avoid this problem and to approach Marina, when he was in an amorous mood, from the back. He did not laugh this time.

Junie’s upbringing also caused bitter disputes, Lee accused his wife of not paying enough attention to his daughter, not to change her diapers fast enough and to be tender enough with her. Actually Marina was not a bad mother, but Lee was too much of a perfectionist and June was his idol. In our opinion he spoiled the child too much and we told him so.

The Oswalds quarrelled in front of us bitterly but without physical violence. But gradually the tempo of their fights increased and we saw Marina more often with bruises and Lee with scratches on his face.

Jeanne tried to convince Lee to change his ways to be more tolerant otherwise this confrontation would end in a tragedy. I did not believe that Lee would seriously hurt Marina and laughed — “even prominent people occasionally beat their wives, the most important is not to maim them.”

The de Mohrenschildts and Marina Oswald

My wife liked Marina and found her amusing and stimulating but we were both annoyed to hear her complaints about “that idiot Lee who does not make enough money.”

“Why don’t you try to make something out of yourself?” asked Jeanne. “I came penniless to America, worked hard and became a successful designer. Go to school, learn English, revalidate your degree.”

Marina was not interested.

To encourage Marina and prevent her from bitching at Lee, Jeanne gave her a series of records to teach Russian–speaking people English. They were her own records, as she came to the United States from China, without knowing the language well. But she learned fast and made a superhuman effort to become independant and to give an excellent education to her daughter.

We also gave the Oswalds a phonograph. But instead of learning English she played melancholy Russian tunes and did not obviously cherish the idea of finding a job.

One day both of them were reading to us a letter from Marina’s girlfriend in Russia. “Marina,” it read, “I knew you would make it, you were destined to be great and your success in America is a proof of it.”

Lee smiled sadly: “Marina what were you saying to your friend?”

Ironically Marina did become famous after the assassination, was on the cover of Time Magazine, received a lot of money from charitable but foolish Americans, and is now well–off financially.

At the time it was pathetic to read such a nonsense. But is it possible that Marina in her own strange way considered her arrival in America a great success, maybe the hundred–odd dresses donated to her turned her head? … Who knows?

One day she told Jeanne that she always wanted to come to the United States — at any price. All the foolish gadgets and all the junk which clutter our lives in this country.

I Am a Patsy! : the Text

The complete text of George de Mohrenschildt’s I Am a Patsy! is available online for the first time in valid HTML.

This Edition

The main heading of each chapter is taken from de Mohrenschildt’s typescript. Headings within each chapter have been added for ease of comprehension.

English was not George de Mohrenschildt’s first language. Obvious mistakes in spelling and punctuation have been corrected. There are a few instances in which the correct meaning is unclear; in these cases, the original text is preserved and noted.

The Original Text

A facsimile of George de Mohrenschildt’s original typescript was published in House Select Commission on Assassinations Report, appendix vol.12, pp.69–315.

A scan of the typescript in PNG format is available at http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?absPageId=40273.

Lee Harvey Oswald As I Knew Him

Dr Michael Rinella has edited George de Mohrenschildt’s text and added an introduction, more than 700 endnotes, and several photographs.

Lee Harvey Oswald As I Knew Him is thoroughly recommended for anyone interested in this aspect of Lee Oswald’s life:

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22 November 1963

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