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Contemplating A More Sympathetic View Regards Marina Oswald's Problematic Warren Commission Testimony?

Joe Bauer

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"And I also agree that at that time, with the threat of deportation and the money coming in to her in piles, that Marina was a very problematic witness."


I hope the following is worthy as a separate thread regarding how much Marina Oswald and her inconsistent and even contradictory WC testimony has been discussed and in such critical and suspicious terms for so long.

I too always found Marina's WC testimony to be problematic and when recently contemplating such I considered whether it was possible I may have missed a more objective realization ( from a real life practical standpoint ) as to what Russian culture raised, 22 year young and poverty stricken widow Marina Oswald was "fully engulfed in" emotionally, psychologically and even physically before, during and right after 11, 22, 1963 and up through her WC testimony with the most unimaginably upsetting, unsettling and even scary things happening all around her and coming at her from so many different directions and powerful authorities.  

All while just a year and a half removed from such a vastly different foreign country and language , poor and at such a young age ( 21 ) with first one and later two young children to care for and protect at the same time.

Up until 11,22,1963 Marina had already been living a very unstable, constantly moving and at times humiliating, dependent on others for basic needs and social support life. All with a young child ( and then a just born baby ) and living with a man who was poorly providing and who was unpredictable and frustrated and at times even scary in his talk and secret doings and with much arguing to boot.

Marina undoubtedly felt depressed about all this and realizing also that coming to America had turned into a much harder and stressful life than what she may have imagined and expected.

So one could easily imagine young Marina being emotionally drained from all this "even before"  the almost unbelievable and instantly life altering events on 11,22,1963.

Then through pictures of her going to the police station when Lee was arrested but alive and then at his funeral we clearly and starkly see someone "completely" beaten down, emotionally exhausted and sad. She was extremely traumatized.

I mean Marina looked bad!  

Almost as bad and numb as Jackie Kennedy in those LBJ swearing in photos taken on Air Force 1.

Jackie Kennedy needed sedation and some professional and religious support therapy immediately following her great trauma and loss ( she cried constantly and couldn't sleep well - of course ) and one would logically expect that equally traumatized Marina Oswald ( who had nothing like the support system super wealthy Jackie may have had ) could have used this kind of trauma help herself.   I

I don't know whether Marina received any, but if she got through it all without this...that is quite amazing to me.


Then in the midst of all this extreme emotional chaos, and almost overnight, this traumatized, exhausted and self-conscious embarrassed from missing teeth young widow became a sympathetic character world celebrity!

She was being sent tens of thousands of letters and dollars from empathetic citizens. She was the focus of immense press coverage and attention.

How's that for added stress pressure for a 22 year old, poor English speaking, single mother of two?  

Talk about being hit by unexpected and enormous life changing tidal waves.

With all these crazy, powerful things happening to her throughout the last months of 1963 and through 1964, one can easily imagine Marina Oswald being so discombobulated by it all she would just go along with the program and the authorities during weeks and months of incessant questioning ... just to keep her head.

I feel that gradually however, even through this swirling storm and her fears of being deported as well, Marina was also beginning to sense the possibility of an incredibly unexpected and almost unbelievable good life ( with money rolling in ) in America for her and her children. Something so much better than the often dependent on others and hopeless one she experienced with Lee.

She would no longer need Ruth Paine ( whom I sensed she never liked that much anyway ) and she could be rid of that old witch Marguerite Oswald forever and just move on and finally escape and try to forget all the unhappiness she felt with Lee.

Maybe one can't blame 22 year old Marina Oswald as much for her often contradictory ( problematic? ) WC testimony under these incredibly crazy circumstances that 99.99999 % of  the world couldn't imagine being thrust into themselves at such a young age and with two young children to care for at the same time?

And I want to also throw in this other stress ( as if the others weren't enough?) that Marina might very well have been subjected to during this mind blowing period.

That of lecherous minded fellows trying to take advantage of such a beautiful but vulnerable young woman.

Imagine having to fend off unwanted advances like that on top of all the other things she was dealing with in that gut wrenching chaos?  I suspect Marina did actually experience this. I  once read a story that our beloved Dallas newspaperman Hugh Aynesworth claimed he bedded Marina at some point in that vulnerable time for her.

Whether or not that ever happened, knowing life and men around very attractive young women in vulnerable situations I wouldn't doubt at all that Marina Oswald had this added stress on top of all the rest.    

Contemplating these stresses in their entirety on Marina Oswald,  I am more appreciative of what she probably had to go through to survive those times and keep herself together and perhaps more open to considering a more objective "real life" understanding of her true emotional state in those times and her testimonies and why they were often inconsistent and "problematic" and how they could be, at least to some logical degree,  more innocently explained versus deliberately deceiving?


Edited by Joe Bauer
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My belief is that Marina is judged by US standards incorrectly - because she is of course Russian.

Aside from the language problem (which is FAR too underappreciated), we are wrong to evaluate Marina based on our experience as Americans.   We are judging her against something of a cultural paradigm we have of a young grieving widow, personified by Jackie Kennedy.  

In the USSR survival means going along with wherever the government, police, and other authority figures lead you.  Furthermore, there is considerably less expectation that honesty is an essential aspect of the Justice system and witness testimony: outcome is more important.

In sum, only a Russian can give us an accurate read of Marina during the early period here.  Eventually she is Americanized and behaves congruent with cultural values and assumptions we all expect, but not in 63-64.   IMO.



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