This is some information I posted several years ago about Oswald's travel to Helsinki and entrance into the Soviet Union.....
Posted November 27, 2004 (edited)
“…those with even the smallest speck of cynicism in their hearts will be wondering why the cruel fates lured them into this quagmire of syrup.”
Tor Thorsen, REEL.COM, review of the movie Serendipity 2001
Questions need answers. The questions that surrounded the assassination of John F. Kennedy needed, in order to calm a shocked nation, to be answered quickly by the Warren Commission. In the years following the release of the Warren Commission Report some information surrounding the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, has been clarified by researchers, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, independent researchers and through information obtained from previously classified documents.
One such question dwelt with Lee Harvey Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union in 1959 shortly after he had been released, approximately three months early, from the Marine Corp. The implications are as obvious today as they were in the hours immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Was Oswald a Soviet agent? Was Oswald and American intelligence asset?
Shortly after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald reporters began to pry open the history of this mans short life. A stunned nation, thirsting for any information, was shocked to learn that Oswald, a former Marine, had been a defector to the Soviet Union.
With the death of President Kennedy a reality, both the United States and the Soviet Union had an inherent interest in establishing just what impact the unfolding information about Oswald’s Russian journey and life would have on the investigation that would follow. A tense international situation had been created by this horrid event.
Heightened tensions were a regular part of the brinkmanship that accompanied the cold war period of the early 1960’s. Francis Gary Powers and the U2, The Bay of Pigs, the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” Berlin and the Congo had all been recent front-page news headlines. Delicate disarmament discussions were in progress during the month of November 1963 in Geneva. The Soviets and the Americans were once again attempting to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty and trying to prevent the unthinkable, the nuclear destruction of the world.
If it were to be proven that Lee Harvey Oswald had been an agent of the Soviet Union or the United States, a cold chill might replace the warming climate for negotiations that were currently in progress. As Lyndon Johnson would say to Chief Justice Earl Warren, there was the possibility of thirty-nine million deaths.
Both countries were quick to deny any connection to Lee Harvey Oswald. Any admission by the Soviet Union that Oswald was a spy for them could have, at that time, led to war. And how could the United States ever say, on the one hand, that Oswald was an agent of the United States but was not involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the President. How would the American public react if they were to discover that both countries had a connection to Oswald?
In later life, Major General Edwin Anderson Walker, the other man Oswald has been accused of attempting to assassinate in April of 1963, would claim that Lee Harvey Oswald had worked for both the Soviets and the Americans. (interviews) Why would he come to these conclusions?
The suspicious nature of the press and the earliest conspiracy theorist were intrigued by the travels of this young Marine who had defected to Russia. Almost immediately two questions were developed from the disclosures of the Warren Commission that provide fodder for researchers.
Centering on two bits of information researchers found numerous reasons to ascribe to the belief that Oswald must have received help traveling to the Soviet Union. These “reasons” were laid to rest in the years that followed the assassination and no longer seen to attract the attention of modern researchers.
But we might ask, “Have we been misled?” Let’s re-examine the record once again.
First: There were no direct flights from London to Helsinki, Finland that would have allowed Oswald to arrive in Helsinki, Finland in time to register at the Torni Hotel by midnight on October 10, 1959 when he did in fact register. There was speculation from Warren Commission critics that Oswald may have been transported by the military or by some means other than commercial carrier. This speculation would suggest that Oswald would have needed the support of either the CIA or some other covert agency to travel to Finland within the known time constraints.
Second: Lee Harvey Oswald received a travel visa to enter Russia through the Soviet Consulate in Helsinki, Finland in an unusually short period of time. Originally it was believed that Oswald received his visa in about 48 hours. We now know that it took only 24 hours. The CIA stated to the Warren Commissioners, as represented in their report, the normal processing time for a travel visa to be issued by Soviet authorities during this time period (1959) was usually between 5 and 7 days.
Upon investigating these questions I found that both had been answered sufficiently enough to satisfy most researchers.
In responding to the requests of the Warren Commission, the CIA stated that they could not identify any direct flight from London to Helsinki that would have allowed Oswald to arrive in Helsinki with sufficient time to check into the Torni Hotel. It took until 1994, thirty-one years after the Kennedy assassination, for researcher Chris Mills to discover that there were two airline flights that Oswald could have selected. The first, via Copenhagen, left London at 8:05 AM and arrived in Helsinki at 5:05 PM, the second left London at 8:50 AM and stopped in Stockholm before arriving in Helsinki at 5:35 PM. Either of these flights would have placed Oswald in Helsinki in time to register at the Torni Hotel.
The CIA seems to have been unable to locate this information for publication by the Warren Commission or omitted the information to perhaps protect the name of a person who would have been on one of those other flights.
Did the CIA in fact know which flight Oswald was on when he traveled to Helsinki? A close examination of the Warren Report suggests that the CIA did in fact know which flight Oswald used to travel to Finland.
Is this odd? Page 257 of the Warren Commission report states: “…his (Oswald) plane fare from London to Helsinki, where he received his visa, cost him $111.90”. There is no footnote for this item given in the Warren Report. If the CIA could not or would not identify the flight, how did they know the exact price of the ticket? If they did know which flight, and the cost, why did the CIA only say, they could not identify any direct flight from London to Helsinki that would allow Oswald to check into his Hotel at the time we know that he in fact did check in?
Other expenditures in the same section have commission exhibits as backup documentation or are accompanied by comments such as, “…cost him about…” or “…probably purchased…” and “…was about…” when dealing with his travel costs. Once again, if the CIA and the Commission would not say which flight Lee Harvey Oswald took to Helsinki, how were they so exact about the price of the flight?
A new, even greater question has been created by the lack of candor on the part of the intelligence community because they failed to be more precise in their investigation. The new question is: “Why did the CIA neglect to identify these possible flights?” Once again I am mystified by the omission of these details by the CIA and the potential cover up of a sensitive name that may have been on a passenger lists for either of these flights. Is it possible that Oswald meet someone along the way to Helsinki on one of these flights? Is it possible that the person he met would have been Major General Edwin Walker? In early October, 1959 Walker was traveling from Little Rock, Arkansas to Augsburg, Germany.
The answer to the second question is even more surprising, when compared to the original information provided by the Warren Commission. The following is taken directly from the Warren Report and should be reviewed before we examine the “new” evidence that deals with Oswald’s ability to receive a visa to enter Russia in less than 48 hours.
“On September 4, (1959) the day on which he was transferred out of MACS-9 in preparation for his discharge, Oswald had applied for a passport at the Superior Court of Santa Ana, Calif. His application stated that he planned to leave the United States on September 21 to attend the Albert Schweitzer College and the University of Turku in Finland, and to travel in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Germany, and Russia. The passport was routinely issued 6 days later. (Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
“Oswald went directly home after his discharge, and arrived in Fort Worth by September 14…(Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
“On September 17, Oswald spoke with a representative of Travel Consultants, Inc., a New Orleans travel bureau; he filled out a “Passenger Immigration Questionnaire,” on which he gave his occupation as “shipping export agent” and said that he would be abroad for 2 months on a pleasure trip. He booked passage from New Orleans to Le Harve, France, on a freighter, the SS Marion Lykes, scheduled to sail on September 18, for which he paid $220.75. On the evening of September 17, he registered at the Liberty Hotel. The Marion Lykes did not sail until the early morning of September 20…(Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
“The Marion Lykes carried only four passengers. Oswald shared his cabin with Billy Joe Lord, a young man who had just graduated from high school and was going to France to continue his education. Lord testified that he and Oswald did not discuss politics but did have a few amicable religious arguments, in which Oswald defended atheism… No one on board suspected that he intended to defect to Russia. (Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
“Oswald disembarked at Le Havre on October 8. He left for England that same day, and arrived on October 9. He told English customs officials in Southampton that he had $700 and planned to remain in the United Kingdom for 1 week before proceeding to a school in Switzerland. But on the same day, he flew to Helsinki, Finland, where he registered at the Torni Hotel; the following day, he moved to the Klaus Kurki Hotel. (Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
“Oswald probably applied for a visa at the Russian consulate on October 12, his first business day in Helsinki. The visa was issued on October 14. It was valid until October 20 and permitted him to take one trip of not more than 6 days to the Soviet Union. He also purchased 10 Soviet “intourist vouchers” which cost $30 a piece. He left Helsinki by train on the following day, crossed the Finnish-Russian border at Vainikkala, and arrived in Moscow on October 16.” (Appendix XIII of the Warren Report: Biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, Soviet Union).
Oswald needed to be a “frugal” man to have saved enough money to travel to the
Soviet Union immediately upon being discharged from the Marines. Are the actual travel arrangements reported in the Warren Commission consistent with the character of Lee Harvey Oswald?
Appendix XIV of the Warren Commission Report contains an, “Analysis of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Finances From June 13, 1962, Through November 22, 1963.” Within this analysis we find this quote: “The estimate reflects Oswald’s FRUGAL living habits during this period, as described in chapter VI of this report.” (Emphasis on the word frugal is my own)
“In November 1959, Oswald told an American reporter in Moscow, Aline Mosby, he had saved $1,500 (not $1,600) while in the Marines. It is entirely consistent with Oswald’s known FRUGALITY that he could have saved the money from the $3,452.20 in pay he received while he was in the Marines. Moreover, despite his statement to Aline Mosby, he may not actually have saved $1500, for it was possible for him to have made the trip to Russia in 1959 for considerably less than that amount.’ (Warren Report Appendix XII, Oswald In The Soviet Union, emphasis mine)
This question has surfaced in my mind:
“Why didn’t Lee Harvey Oswald travel from La Harve, France to Paris and then take a plane to Helsinki?”
Oswald would have arrived in Helsinki one day earlier by following this route and he would have accomplished his mission of arriving in Helsinki while spending a lesser amount of money.
The question of, “How did Oswald receive his visa to travel in the Soviet Union so easily?” also quickly surfaced. The Warren Report answered these queries in this manner:
“Rumors and speculations that Oswald was in some way associated with or used by agencies of the U.S. Government grew out of his Russian period… Insinuations were made that Oswald had been a CIA agent or had some relationship with the CIA and that this explained the supposed ease with which he received passports and visas… The Commission has concluded on the basis of its own investigations of the files of Federal agencies that Oswald was not and had never been an agent of any agency of the U.S. Government (aside from his service in the Marines) and was not and had never been used by any U.S. Government agency for any purpose.” (Warren Report, Oswald And U.S. Government Agencies Pg. 659, emphasis mine)
It should be noted that after being discharged from the Marines in September of 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald still had an obligation to the Marine Reserve. On September 13, 1960 Lee Harvey Oswald actually received his “undesirable discharge” from the Marine Corps because of his failure to report for his reserve obligation.
Technically speaking, until September 13, 1960 Oswald’s actions are exempted from the statement above.
Upon closer scrutiny of the words used in the Warren Commission Report Oswald’s duty in the Marines was exempted. “…was not and had never been an agent of any agency of the U.S. Government (aside form his service in the Marines) and was not and had never been used by any U.S. Government agency for any purpose.” I question here the phrase as written. Does this statement allow for the possibility that Oswald was used by an agency of the U.S. Government while he was in the Marines? He was a radar operator in Astugi, Japan (where the U-2 spy plane was operating from) when he first started talking of going to Russia. And he was also considered to be in the Marine reserve until September of 1960 when he received his dishonorable discharge while in the Soviet Union.
On August 17, 1963 Mr. William Stuckey hosted a radio debate on Oswald’s activities on behalf of the Fair Play for Cub Committee. Mr. Stuckey recalled that Lee Harvey Oswald said, “…it was in Japan that he made up his mind to go to Russia and see for himself how a revolutionary society operates…” (Warren Report Chapter VII, Lee Harvey Oswald: Backround and Possible Motives, pg. 390)
While in Japan, Daniel Powers observed that:
“…when Oswald arrived in Japan he acquired a girlfriend, ‘finally attaining a male status or image in his own eyes.’ That apparently caused Oswald to become more self-confident, aggressive and even somewhat pugnacious, although, Powers ‘wouldn’t say that this guy is a troublemaker.’ Powers said ‘now he was Oswald the man rather than Oswald the rabbit.’ Oswald once told Powers that he didn’t care if he returned to the United States at all.” (Warren Report Chapter VII pg. 386)
Gerald Posner writes in his book, Case Closed:
“His contact with Japanese Communists may have come through a hostess at Tokyo’s Queen Bee, one of the three most expensive nightclubs in the capital. The club was frequented by officers and foreign businessmen who ogled the one hundred beautiful hostesses, some of whom were informants for Japanese and foreign intelligence agencies.” Posner based this information on what he referred to as an “interview with confidential intelligence source.” Posner went on to point out that, “An evening at the Queen Bee cost anywhere form $60 to $100. Oswald made $85 a month and he was extremely tightfisted…That makes it unlikely Oswald bought any dates at the Queen Bee. But some of his fellow Marines saw him with a striking and well-dressed Japanese woman on several occasions, and later during his stay in Japan, he was seen with a Eurasian woman who reportedly spoke Russian.” (Case Closed, pg. 25)
Was Oswald “used” by an agency of the U.S. Government while he was in Japan? Did he decide to travel to Russia at this time? Was he helped along the way to Russia?
Let’s examine the known facts more closely.
If we were to take out a map or by just using a sheet of paper we can chart the course Oswald followed on his trip to Russia. Oswald began his journey by being processed out of the Marines on September 4, 1959. On the same day he applies for his Passport in Santa Ana, California. By September 14 Oswald has arrived in Fort Worth, Texas where his mother lives. Connect the dots and note the dates.
Lee Harvey Oswald is known to have been in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 17. He booked passage on the SS Marion Lykes to Le Harve, France on that date. The ship sailed on September 20, 1959 and arrives in La Harve on October 8. Connect the dots and note the dates.
Oswald then takes an overnight ferry to Southhampton, England and disembarks on the morning of October 9. He meets with custom officials and declares that he has $700 and will be staying one week and then will continue his travels to school in Switzerland. Oswald then, apparently, travels to London and departs on the same day for Helsinki, Finland. He arrives in Helsinki and the Warren Commission believed he applied for his Russian visa on October 12, 1959, the first business day of the week. The visa was issued on October 14. Connect the dots and then imagine the travel time he would have saved if he would have gone to Paris and then Helsinki instead of the route he followed.
We can only speculate on his motivation for taking the circuitous route he did.
In 1993 former KGB Colonel Oleg Nechiporenko published his book, Passport to Assassination. Within this publication, Nechiporenko has reproduced a photocopy of Oswald’s 1959 visa application form. To the surprise of most assassination researchers the application was signed and dated by Oswald on October 13, 1959, one day later than had been assumed by the Warren Commission. Lee Harvey Oswald received an entry visa from the Soviet consulate within twenty-four hours. Was he just a lucky fellow that happened to stumble into the one Soviet Embassy in the world were he would receive and immediate visa or was there a “guiding hand” that played into these events?
In 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations spent time dealing with the issue of Oswald’s Soviet entry visa. They were able to review the information available to the Warren Commission in 1964 and to supplement it with information that had since been made available. The comments of the Select Committee deserve review:
“The relative ease with which Oswald obtained his Soviet Union entry visa was more readily amenable to investigation. This issue is one that also had been of concern to the Warren Commission. In a letter to the CIA dated May 25, 1964, J. Lee Rankin inquired about the apparent speed with which Oswald’s Soviet visa had been issued. Rankin noted that he had recently spoken with Abraham Chayes, legal adviser to the State Department, who maintained that at the time Oswald received his visa to enter Russia from the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki, normally at least 1 week would elapse between the time of a tourist’s application and the issuance of a visa. Rankin contended that if Chayes’ assessment was accurate, then Oswald’s ability to obtain his tourist visa in 2 days might have been significant.
“The CIA responded to Rankin’s request for information on July 31, 1964 (more that two months later, my note). Helms wrote to Rankin that the Soviet Consulate in Helsinki was able to issue a transit visa (valid for 24 hours) to U.S. businessmen within 5 minutes, but if a longer stay were intended, at least 1 week was needed to process a visa application and arrange lodging through Soviet Intourist. A second communication from Helms to Rankin, dated September 14, 1964, added that during the 1964 tourist season, Soviet consulates in at least some Western European cities issued Soviet tourist visas in from 5 to 7 days.
“In an effort to resolve this issue, the committee reviewed classified information (note that this says classified information) pertaining to Gregory Golub, who was the Soviet Consul in Helsinki when Oswald was issued his tourist visa. This review revealed that, in addition to his consular activities, Golub was suspected of having been an officer of the Soviet KGB. (my note here again) Two American Embassy dispatches concerning Golub were of particular significance with regard to the time necessary for issuance of visas to Americans for travel into the Soviet Union. The first dispatch recorded that Golub disclosed during a luncheon conversation that:
Moscow had given him the authority to give Americans visas without prior approval from Moscow. He (Golub) stated that this would make his job much easier, and as long as he was convinced the American was “all right” he could give him a visa in a matter of minutes…
“The second dispatch, dated October 9, 1959, 1 day prior to Oswald’s arrival in Helsinki, illustrated that Golub did have the authority to issue visas without delay. The dispatch discussed a telephone contact between Golub and his consular counterpart at the American Embassy in Helsinki, it is reproduced here as recorded in the HSCA record:
…Since that evening (September 4, 1959) Golub has only phoned (the U.S. consul) once and this was on a business matter. Two Americans were in the Soviet Consulate at the time and were applying for Soviet visas through Golub. They had previously been in the American consulate inquiring about the possibility of obtaining a Soviet visa in 1 or 2 days. (The U.S. Consul) advised them to go directly to Golub and make their request, which they did. Golub phoned (the U.S. Consul) to state that he would give them their visas as soon as they made advance intourist reservations. When they did this, Golub immediately gave them their visas…
“Thus, based upon these two factors, (1) Golub’s authority to issue visas to Americans without prior approval from Moscow, and (2) a demonstration of this authority, as reported in an embassy dispatch approximately 1 month prior to Oswald'’s appearance at the Soviet Embassy, the committee found that the available evidence tends to support the conclusion that the issuance of Oswald’s tourist visa within 2 days after his appearance at the Soviet Consulate was not idicative of an American intelligence agency connection. Note: if anything, Oswald’s ability to receive a Soviet entry visa so quickly was more indicative of a Soviet interest in him.”
J. Lee Rankin made an inquiry about Oswald’s travel visa, to Richard Helms, head of the CIA, on May 25, 1964. Helms did not respond until July 31, sixty-seven days later. Helms would not or could not supply the information that was later made available to the Select Committee on Assassination. Abraham Chayes, State Department Attorney, felt that, “Oswald’s ability to obtain his tourist visa in 2 days might have been significant.”
The information about Golub and his ability to provide a visa through the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki in fewer than 48 hours was either two highly classified or unavailable to the head of the CIA in 1964.
A magician will use slight of hand to deceive audiences into believing what they see is reality. In most cases the appearance of what is called “magic” is, in reality, the mechanics of illusion. Lee Harvey Oswald somehow managed to enter Russia through the one embassy in Europe where an American could receive a visa within 24 hours. This is a reality not an illusion. The information about how this was accomplished easily reappeared in 1978 but had apparently vanished in 1964. In the case of Oswald’s air transportation from London to Helsinki, the information did not appear until 1994.
Examined more closely these “new” revelations become even more interesting.
First: Lee Harvey Oswald traveled to La Harve, France then, for some reason, traveled West back to Southampton, England rather than directly North and East to Helsinki. The reportedly frugal Oswald then went directly to London and caught a plane, with one stop along the way, to Helsinki, Finland. If Oswald had gone to Paris, instead of taking an overnight ferry ride to England, then traveled from Paris to Helsinki, he would have arrived in Helsinki one day earlier and perhaps more significantly, he would have spent less money getting to Helsinki.
Did the frugal Oswald know he was going to Helsinki before he went to England? One could speculate that he, at least at that time, October 8th, was not yet sure how he was going to get to exactly where he was going. The State Department would not have the information needed for entry into the Soviet Union until September 9th. Information which, according to the House Select Committee on Assassinations was classified until 1978.
Second: The American Ambassador to Finland sent information to the State Department that outlined the ease with which a visitor could get a visa through the Soviet Consulate in Helsinki. Obviously this information was not common. The information, in fact, remained classified until 1978. Could Oswald have discovered this information on his own? Only the State Department was aware of Mr. Golub’s ability to issue a travel visa immediately from Helsinki. And this information, as we have seen, was classified. Remember that the State Department only became aware of the information on the very same day that Oswald purchased a ticket for a $111.90 that would put him at the only location where he could immediately receive a visa. And it was a ticket that paid for transportation to Helsinki on a plane that the CIA, for some reason, did not identify for the Warren Commission.
Third: The two messages sent by the American Embassy in Helsinki were sent on September 4th, 1959 and October 9th, 1959. Both days are significant days in Oswald’s travel from the United States to Finland.
September 4th, 1959 was the day that Oswald “was transferred out of MACS-9 in preparation for his discharge.” It was also the day that “Oswald applied for his passport at the Superior Court of Santa Ana, Calif.” The time difference between Helsinki, Finland and Santa Ana, California is 10 hours. If some sort of covert operation was in play that required Lee Harvey Oswald would gain easy entry into the Soviet Union was planned, the information contained in the U.S. State Department message of September 4 could have been forwarded to
Santa Ana, California and could have arrived that same day. Was that information actually the guiding hand that began his journey?
October 9th, 1959 was the day that Lee Harvey Oswald arrived in England, having diverted from a direct route to Helsinki. London is two time zones from Helsinki. The second message from the American Ambassador to Helsinki not only confirmed the information contained in the September 4th message but added the necessary detail of the need for “advanced intourist reservations” before applying for a visa.
Oswald followed these instructions to the letter and received his visa from the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki in less than 24 hours after he applied.
Not only did Oswald travel too the Soviet Union, he also returned. Coincidences surrounding the filing of his application and his ultimate departure from Russia may also be significant when we compare his life to the lives of two other players in the Kennedy assassination mystery.
Edited January 2, 2005 by Jim Root