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Lee Harvey Oswald on Communism

John Simkin

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There is an interesting passage in George de Mohrenschildt's book, I'm a Patsy (1977) on his first discussion with Lee Harvey Oswald on communism.

Lee called me a few days after our trip to Fort Worth. "Marina and I will come over tonight, if you don't mind," he said.

"Maybe I could drive to Fort Worth and drive you?" I asked.

"No, thank you, we will come by bus," he answered laconically.

And here they were, Marina, Lee and the baby June. We lived at the time in a pleasant area called University Park, a few blocks from the Southern Methodist University, a conservative stronghold. Both my wife and I were fairly free at the time and welcomed our guests, so different from the local society. Jeanne liked Marina immediately and offered to help her with her English. "Yes, I have to know the language," she agreed and then added unexpectedly. "People already asked me why I liked Lee," and her eyes darted about the furniture and decoration of our rather modest home, "and I answer them, why did Lee like Me?" Jeanne liked this humble remark and her sympathy for Marina increased.

In the meantime Lee and I sat on a comfortable sofa and talked all evening. Naturally I do not remember the sequence, although I recorded what I remembered a few years later, but mostly I asked questions and he answered them. Naturally I wanted to know what made him go to the Soviet Union and he answered me by telling me of his youth in New Orleans. Since his childhood he was keenly aware of social and racial injustices. Instead of playing basketball or baseball, like any other red-blooded American youth, he read voraciously. Among the books he read was Marx's "The Capital" which made a deep impression on him. Ironically, he said, he borrowed this book from the Loyola University library.

"What did you like in it?" I remember asking him.

"It made clear to me the intolerable fact of the exploitation of the poor by the rich."

"But," I said, "Lee, you must have seen it all over the world, the weak or the poor are exploited everywhere by the powerful and the rich. Listen to this: two dogs meet on the crosspoint between East and West Berlin. One dog is running away from the capitalism, the other from communism. The capitalist dog asks-'why do you run away!'-'Because I can eat but I cannot bark. Why are you running away? 'If I bark I cannot eat' answered the capitalist dog."

Lee laughed and answered by a joke he heard somewhere in Minsk. "As you knew," he said, "Russians grab all they can from the satellite countries. So one day at the meeting of the communist party in Rumania, one of the workers stood up and said. 'Camrade Secretary, may I ask you 3 questions?'-'Go ahead." I want to know what happened to our wheat, our petroleum and our wine?" 'Well' said the Secretary, "it's a very complex economic question I cannot answer it immediately."

"Well a few months later the workers are holding the same type of a meeting and another comrade raises his hand and says: 'Comrade Secretary may I ask you four questions?' - 'Shoot' says the secretary. 'I want to ask you what happened to our petroleum, wine and wheat and also what happened to the comrade who had asked the three questions some time ago?' - Silence."

We both laughed. "At least here we are not being sent to a concentration camp," I said.

"You are wrong," answered Lee seriously, "most of the prisoners, convicts in American jail are political prisoners, the very victims of the system."

I read similar opinions recently in several liberal books and Lee was way ahead in thought of all of them. This was over fourteen years ago.

I remember concluding this conversation by telling Lee. "If you want to be a revolutionary, you have to be a fool or to have an inspiration. And your actions will be judged by the success or failure of your life."

Lee agreed. What I liked about him was that he was a seeker for justice - that he had highly developed social instincts. And I was disappointed in my own children for lack of such instincts.

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George de Mohrenschildt's book, I'm a Patsy (1977) on Lee Harvey Oswald on JFK.

While Marina was usually a lot of fun, laughed easily but did not say anything that would make you think - Lee was serious and did not take life as a joke. But if he happened to be in a good mood, he became an excellent companion, remembered political jokes, told them well and laughed at yours.

"Do you know this one about an American tourist carrying a small transistor radio in Moscow?" Lee asked me.

"No, I don't know the story.

"Well, the Moscovite stopped the American and said: 'we make them much better than you do. What is it?'"

We both laughed. Then I countered and asked Lee.

"What is the difference between the capitalism and the socialism?"

Lee did not know.

"Capitalism makes social mistakes and socialism makes CAPITAL mistakes."

"A Russian Commissar is asked at the holy gates where he would like to go - to a capitalist hell or to a communist hell," said Lee.

" The Commissar answers: ' would like to go to a capitalist hell, I am so tired of communist hell."

Then I told Lee a few foolish jokes about Kennedy.

"President Kennedy tells a group of businessmen: 'the economic situation is so good that if I weren't your president I would invest in the stock marked right now! And the businessmen answer in unison:' so would we if you were not our president."

We both laughed.

"Kennedy had a terrible nightmare. He wakes up Jackie: 'Honey what a terrible thing, I dreamed I was spending my own money, not government's."

Again we laughed, but without resentment, we both liked President Kennedy. So I finished my foolish jokes by this one:

"John Kennedy runs to his mother at night. 'Mama! Mama! Help! Bobby tries to run MY country."

I think it was at that time that I told Lee that I had known Jacqueline Kennedy as a young girl, as well as her mother, father and all her relatives and how charming the whole family was. I especially liked "Black Jack" Bouvier, Jackie's father, a delightful Casanova of the Wall Street.

Lee was not jealous of Kennedy's and Bouviers' wealth and did not envy their social positions, of that I was sure. To him wealth and society were big jokes, but he did not resent them.

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Another extract from George de Mohrenschildt's, I'm a Patsy (1977) that shows that Oswald was not hostile to JFK:

Talking to Lee was a balm for his raw nerves, a sincere conversation calmed him down and it wasn't bad for me either. Fortunately I remember well so much of what he said. I remember distinctly that one of those evenings together we talked of John F. Kennedy. Lee liked him and certainly did not include him among those despicable politicians he mentioned before. I showed him President's picture of the cover of Time Magazine and Lee said -"How handsome he looks, what open and sincere features he has and how different he looks from the other ratty politicians."

I don't remember exactly the words but Lee spoke most kindly of the gradual improvement of the racial relations in the United States, attributing this improvement to the President. Like most young people he was attracted by the Kennedy's personality but he also knew that JFK's father was a rascal who made money off whisky and being bullish on the stock-market which is betting against this country's economy.

Lee often mentioned that the two party system did not work well, that other points of view were not represented. He did not see the difference between a conservative democrat and a fairly liberal republican - and in that I agreed with him.

"Both republicans and democrats really did not oppose each other," he mentioned one day, "they do not represent different points of view, but they are both solidly against poor and oppressed."

But regarding JFK, Lee did not have such a gloomy attitude and he hoped that after the Bay of Pigs fiasco Kennedy would accept coexistence with the communist world.

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