17: Our Move to Haiti
I Am a Patsy! by George de Mohrenschildt
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 [the] 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, [sic] we do not know. Maybe they were just lonesome. Maybe Lee wanted to remove himself and his family from General Walker’s neighbourhood?
And so Lee gave us this, now famous, address on Magazine Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, the town where he spent most of his youth. Incidentally it was written in English. The card got lost somehow and Jeanne failed to put the exact address in her book. So she still has under Lee Harvey Oswald’s address — 214 Neely Street, tel. RI. 15501, and the business address of his reproduction company. We did 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.
Suspicions about George de Mohrenschildt and Oswald
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?”
J. Walton Moore: Lee Oswald a “Harmless Lunatic”
Now something unusual happened. A gray–suited, bulky, Miami suntanned, with false teeths and an artificial smile, Mr. W. James Wood, an Agent of FBI arrived in Port–au–Prince for the sole purpose to make me deny a statement I had made to my friends and to the political officer at the Embassy. What was this disturbing statement. It had contacted a government man in Dallas, the only one knew personally, probably a CIA agent, or possibly an agent of FBI, very nice fellow by the name of J. Walton Moore. Looks like it’s a specialty of these government agents to have a capital letter instead of the first name. Purely Anglo–Saxon, you know … Anyway Mr. J. Walton Moore had interviewed me upon my return from a government mission to Yugoslavia and we got along well. He had lived in China, was born there as a matter of fact, in a missionary family. So I invited him and his wife to the house and he got along fabulously well with Jeanne. I used to see Mr. Moore occasionally for lunch. A cosmopolitan character, most attractive. A short time after meeting Lee Harvey Oswald, before we became friends, I was a little worried about his popinions and his background. And so I went to see Mr. J. Walton Moore to his office, in the same building I used to have my own office, Reserve Loan Life Building on Ervay Street, and asked him point blank. “I met this young ex–Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald, is it safe to associate with him?” And Mr. Moore’s answer was: “he is OK. He is just a harmless lunatic.”
That he was harmless was good enough for me. I would decide for myself whether Lee was a lunatic …
The FBI Threatens George de Mohrenschildt
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 Commission, 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 [sic] 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 Commission 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 J. Edgar Hoover (another letter instead of the first name) became very low and this was confirmed by recent events, destruction of Lee’s letter to FBI in which he demanded to leave him and his wife alone.
As I mentioned before the whole Bouvier family were very close friends of mine, I met them upon arrival in the United states. They were very warm, friendly people. The newspapers all over the country made a big issue out of it: “a mystery man who was close to Lee Harvey Oswald and to Jacqueline Kennedy.” Some newspapers put forth some odious insinuations … My life seems to be full of such strange coincidences. It’s probably in the grave that I shall stop meeting strange prople and form peculiar friendships.
Even Dr. François 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.