Make up your mind, Marina

Marina Oswald

Through the years after the tragedy there were lots of times when Marina Oswald-Porter unleashed things from her past. She gave interviews, wrote to relatives and gave testimonies to authorities like the Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assasinations. When talking about the journey from Minsk to the US, in June, 1962, her statements differ a lot. Let’s, for instance, focus on the city she said she visited in Holland, and how long they stayed before the ship took them to the US. 

by PERRY VERMEULEN

Here are extracts of her depositions, in chronologic order. In red the untruths.

June 20, 1962: Marina in a letter to aunt Vilya and uncle Ilya in Minsk
… It has been now nearly a week since we have arrived at Robert’s in Fort Worth.  You know how long it took to get here; if you count our departure from Minsk, the trip took twenty-two days.  Of course, we are very tired.  From Moscow to Holland we traveled through Germany and Poland.  Rotterdam where we were a day and a half I liked very much except that the weather was cold for summer.  Alik and I walked around in our coats.  From Rotterdam to New York we went by ship.  This was a ship for tourists and had all comforts.
Note of writer: this is the true recollection!

November 29, 1963: on a tape recorded interview with officers from Dallas
… She [Marina] said that thy arrived in New York by air on February 13, 1962, they stayed in some hotel in New York for one day and then went by train to Texas.

February 3, 1964: Marina before the Warren Commission
Mr. RANKIN. Do you recall the date that you arrived in the United States with your husband, Lee Harvey Oswald?
Mrs. OSWALD. On the 13th of June, 1962– I am not quite certain as to the year–’61 or ’62, I think ’62.
Mr. RANKIN. How did you come to this country?
Mrs. OSWALD. From Moscow via Poland, Germany, and Holland we came to Amsterdam by train. And from Amsterdam to New York by ship, and New York to Dallas by air.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you recall the name of the ship on which you came?
Mrs. OSWALD. I think it was the SS Rotterdam but I am not sure.
Mr. RANKIN. What time of the day did you arrive in New York?
Mrs. OSWALD. It was—about noon or 1 p.m., thereabouts. It is hard to remember the exact time.
Mr. RANKIN. How long did you stay in New York at that time?
Mrs. OSWALD. We stayed that evening and the next 24 hours in a hotel in New York, and then we left the following day by air.
(…)
Mr. RANKIN. How did you travel from Moscow to the United States?
Mrs. OSWALD. I told you from Moscow by train, through Poland, Germany, and Holland, and from Holland by boat to New York. From New York to Dallas by air.
Mr. RANKIN. I think you told us by another ship from Holland. I wonder if it wasn’t the SS Maasdam. Does that refresh your memory?
Mrs. OSWALD. Perhaps. I probably am mixed up in the names because it is a strange name.
(…)
Mr. RANKIN. How much time did you spend in Amsterdam on the way to the United States?
Mrs. OSWALD. Two or three days, it seems to me.
Mr. RANKIN. What did you do there?
Mrs. OSWALD. Walked around the city, did some sightseeing.
Mr. RANKIN. Did anybody visit you there?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. Did you visit anyone?
Mrs. OSWALD. No.
Mr. RANKIN. What hotel did you stay in?
Mrs. OSWALD. We didn’t stop at a hotel. We stopped at a place where they rent apartments. The address was given to us in the American Embassy.
Mr. RANKIN. Do you recall what you paid in the way of rent?
Mrs. OSWALD. No, Lee paid it. I don’t know.
Note of writer: the above photo shows Marina arriving at a Warren Commission hearing in 1964.

Somewhere in the fall of 1966: narrative prepared by Marina
From Moscow we took the train to Warsaw, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Holland, that small and cozy country, pleased me most of all. … Holland is a very, very clean country, surely the cleanest country in the world. We lived in a appartment in Amsterdam for three days, and our landlady was so neat that we were even afraid to lie down on the sheets for fear of getting them dirty. … In Amsterdam we bought a ticket on a boat for New York.

September 14, 1978: Marina before The House Select Committee on Assasinations
Mr. DODD – You were in Rotterdam for how long?
Mrs. PORTER – I think we spent 1 night over there, I think.
Mr. DODD – If I told you it was 3 days, would you argue with me?
Mrs. PORTER – No.
Mr. DODD – During that 3-day period, did you see anyone, other than Lee Oswald? Did you meet any people?
Mrs. PORTER – Not–I seen some faces and people around, but I did not talk to anyone.
Mr. DODD – Where did you stay in Rotterdam?
Mrs. PORTER – It looked like a boarding house somewhat.

Why the discrepancies?
Amsterdam or Rotterdam? One night, or maybe three? By train, by boat or by plane? Why the discrepancies? Here are some possibilities:

  • Inaccurate, ignorant interrogators;
  • Marina had a reason to hide the truth. She was aware of the mysterious things Lee had done on her way to the US;
  • Marina was misunderstood by her interpreter(s). But: they were professional interpreters who could understand Marina well;
  • Marina was confused most of the time/had a loss of memory. We can’t blame a Russian girl with confusing Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We can’t blame one for forgetting the name of the ship. But is it reasonable that one forgets how many nights she slept in a foreign country, when asked about it only 2 years later? There’s a big difference in 1 night or three… Was Marina thát confused?
  • Marina is misquoted on purpose, something that happened especially in the weeks after the tragedy. For instance, Dallas Office Agents Charles Kunkel and James Howard threatened Marina with deportation (in subtle and not-so-subtle ways) if she didn’t  tow the ‘official’ line that her husband was was the lone assassin that killed JFK.

Comments

  1. Jóannes Jacobsen says:

    hi Mr Vermeulen.
    If you reed here statements in the first days after the assaination you will notice that the interpeter is lying, he is not a professional as you state but a White Russian who even goes out to the press and tells lyes while he is still in this job.
    The stenographer is even making a comment on this in these early interviews, and the next or third day when FBI is having a translater also at the session the FBI translater comes with a critisism of the way he translates, w.g.question : is this the rifle LHO had, Marina answers : I don´t know to me they all the same I do not know anything about rifles and translation is : yes but wood seems darker on rifle.
    This is the translation of one of the most important witnesses in the crime of the century.
    In fact same translator said same to question on the first day, when Ruth Payne was also in the office where the interview was.
    The next translator is very curios, mr Gregory´s son was getting russina lessons from Marina, he said he had paid her 37 dollars for 30 sessions ?
    In fact the translators could have said/translated anything, and even when the Police came to the Paynes residens and Ruth was the interpeter, she could have said anything.

  2. Serito says:

    True enough on her answers. But you overlook the most perplexing thing she tells the Warren Commission. Rankin asks, “Do you recall the date you arrived in the US with your husband, LHO? She replies, “June 13, 1962–I am not quite certain as to the year–’61 or ’62, I think ’62. WT……! her first daughter is purportedly born on February 15, 1962 in Minsk. How can she not remember she came to the US after June is born? Or that she came to the US with her daughter. This opens up a new can of worms where only one of two possibilities exist, she is not the historical Marina Oswald or she lives in a world where her dates of remembrance do not correspond to ours. What say you. Cheers.

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