< Photo: Marina Oswald at the gravesite of Lee Harvey Oswald, 11/25/1963 >
The Warren Commission (hereafter WC) labored mightily to convince us that Lee Harvey Oswald (hereafter LHO) acted entirely alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (hereafter JFK). FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued a classified memorandum on November 25, 1963 that was declassified in October 2017, which said in part:
“…The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin; that he did not have confederates who are still at large…” (Hoover, 1963)
As I see it, in order to adapt to this memo and earlier memos, FBI agents nationwide labored mightily to portray LHO as a loner, somebody who acted alone in everything, not only in the JFK Assassination, but also in his missed shot at the resigned General Edwin Walker on April 10, 1963.
FBI agents skewed any and all evidence to promote the illusion of a loner. Oswald had no experience driving a car, for example, so stories were invented to portray LHO taking busses in every crime he committed, but never in a car with drivers who would be accomplices.
This blog post will try to show that the Walker shooting was also conceived in the context of group discussions – even if innocently – in which member LHO would receive all the blame because he was -- allegedly -- a loner.
The Role of Marina Oswald in Blaming LHO
To correctly interpret the 26 volumes of the WC hearings and exhibits, we must conclude who was lying and who was telling the truth. I say Marina Oswald and Ruth Paine were the most reliable witnesses of the WC. However, even though they answered literally thousands of questions for the WC, they told us next to nothing about the JFK assassination simply because they knew nothing about it.
Marina honestly reported to the WC everything that LHO had told her, but she didn’t know the extent of LHO’s deliberate lies. LHO lied to Marina presumably for her own safety, but she knew far more about LHO from 1960 through 1963 than any other WC witness. For example, LHO’s relationships with Michael Paine (a Dallas helicopter engineer) and George De Mohrenschildt (a Russian-born professor of oil exploration at a prestigious university in Dallas); these men very likely figure in LHO's decision to shoot the allegedly disgraced General Walker.
Both George De Mohrenschildt (hereafter DM) and Michael Paine were WC witnesses, and Marina accidentally contradicted their testimony about two crucial events. So, the WC recalled George DM and Michael for further questioning. Here’s a paraphrase of Marina:
MARINA: On Saturday, April 14, 1963, the last time we ever saw Jeanne and George DM, they came over at 10 p.m. getting us out of bed, for a pre-Easter celebration visit. As they came into our apartment George said, “Lee, how is it that you missed?”
The WC promptly recalled George DM to ask him about that. George said he didn’t actually use those words, and that wasn’t exactly where it happened, but anyway it was a joke. So, the WC recalled Marina and asked her again, and she answered, yes, it might have been a joke.
Now here’s a paraphrase of what Marina testified about Michael Paine:
MARINA: As the Oswalds and the Paines met in March, April, October, and November of 1963, Michael Paine and Lee would often speak about politics together, and they even drove to political meetings in Dallas together. Later, Lee told me that Michael knew that he shot at Walker.
The WC promptly recalled Michael Paine to ask him about that. Michael denied that LHO had ever told him about his Walker shooting plans. that. it was entirely innocent. Although he had spoken with LHO about politics occasionally, it was entirely innocent. Michael saw that LHO’s intellect was beneath him, so he didn’t form a relationship. Also, although he had driven LHO to one downtown Walker rally (which Michael didn’t attend) and to only one ACLU meeting two days later. They were learning about Dallas politics.
The WC attorneys then asked Michael directly if he and LHO had agreed politically regarding General Walker. Michael evaded a direct response to that question, but the WC attorneys accepted his answer. Next, the WC recalled Marina and asked her about this again. She said that she heard the content of their conversations only enough to know that they were talking about politics – LHO’s favorite topic.
To show the plausibility of actual roles played by George DM and Michael Paine regarding the shot fired at General Walker on April 10, 1963, let’s go back to September 1962.
The story starts on September 30, 1962. National news was already focused on the University of Mississippi at Oxford (Ole Miss), where the African-American Air Force Veteran James Meredith sued to be admitted to this all-white college. The University had denied Meredith’s application, so the NAACP put their support behind James Meredith
In response, the Governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, insisted that he would continue to support the Mississippi tradition of keeping Ole Miss all-white. His constituents in Mississippi loved him. The Mississippi Senate supported Governor Barnett with a resolution expressing its “complete, entire and utter contempt for the Kennedy administration and its puppet courts.” The Mississippi Senate begged the entire US to abolish “the Kennedy family dynasty and to join our State in its defiance to all who would destroy our freedoms, heritage and Constitutional rights” – that is, their alleged Constitutional right to keep their all-white college all-white.
The resigned General Walker was a friend of Governor Barnett as they moved in the same Dixiecrat circles. So Walker went on radio and TV to call for “ten thousand” protestors “from every State in the Union,” to come to Oxford to support Governor Barnett with “your tents, your skillets, and your flags,” which was Army talk for “the long haul.”
JFK and RFK, however, informed Governor Barnett that he didn’t have the right to block the Ole Miss registration of James Meredith, and that the White House would federalize the Mississippi National Guard. Barnett continued to resist.
Many thousands did come to Oxford, and some brought firearms – which were carefully confiscated by Federal marshals at Oxford city limits. To make a long story short, on the evening of September 30, 1962, JFK called in US military troops by the thousands.
Hundreds of Federal marshals surrounded the Ole Miss Lyceum building, protecting it as thousands of protestors surrounded them and screamed their heads off. According to the Associated Press, General Walker arrived and led the rioters in a 15-hour riot. Tens of thousands of US troops came to Oxford, Mississippi to manage the rioters at Ole Miss.
It was the biggest riot-control operation in US history. As morning broke, 300 were counted among the wounded, and two were dead. After breakfast the next morning (October 1, 1962), Federal marshals arrested General Walker on charges of promoting a racial riot at Ole Miss. Walker would have to face a Grand Jury.
Around November 1962, in Irving Texas, Michael Paine, a well-to-do engineer from the East Coast, had finally decided to separate from his wife, Ruth. Michael turned to his fellow engineer and friend in Dallas, Everett Glover, who had a cool bachelor pad with engineers Volkmar Schmidt, and Dick Pierce. Michael moved in with them for a while.
Everett Glover was also a friend and a professional colleague of George DM. Both were politically liberal and both despised General Walker. In fact, all these engineers were liberals. Volkmar (another friend of George DM) openly regarded General Walker “like Hitler”.
Fast forward to late January 1963, when the Grand Jury in Oxford, Mississippi acquitted Walker of all charges related to the racial riot at Ole Miss. Arguments raged between the left and right for days. We can easily imagine the conversation of these four bachelors in Dallas over beers on their porch that night.
During this same period, George DM was the closest friend that LHO had among the Dallas Russian emigres, as LHO had already alienated most of them. George and LHO enjoyed lively political discussions about Minsk, whether JFK had failed in the Bay of Pigs disaster, and, they would mock the resigned General Walker continually.
In early February 1963, George held a party at his house for young professionals and their friends in Dallas to come to see the former defector, LHO. They could ask LHO questions about the USSR from the inside, 1959-1962. He invited Everett Glover and Volkmar Schmidt, and they were very impressed.
Everett and Volkmar decided to invite LHO to their own weekend parties to show him off to their friends and colleagues. It was at one of these parties, on February 22, 1963, that Ruth Paine first met Marina Oswald. They were the only young mothers to attend the party, and Marina brought her baby. Ruth could speak a little Russian, so they hit it off.
At another of these parties, LHO and Volkmar Schmidt faced off in front of the entire gathering to debate JFK’s failure at the Bay of Pigs. Young Volkmar believed that anybody with LHO’s views was clinically insane, and the best way to convert such a person was to redirect their rage over JFK’s handling of the Bay of Pigs to a proper target, namely, General Walker.
So, Volkmar told LHO that Walker was as bad as Hitler, and if somebody had assassinated Hitler at the start, then World War II could have been avoided. Here’s what Volkmar told PBS Frontline for their special report, “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” (1995).
VOLKMAR SCHMIDT: In hindsight, I probably, may have, given Lee Harvey Oswald the idea to go after General Walker. I certainly didn't tell him to take the law in his own hand. Not at all. He may also have thought of General Walker independently.
Even though Volkmar didn’t actually tell LHO to go after Walker, comparing Walker with Hitler was an obvious provocation by Volkmar. Evidently, LHO was somewhat impressed by these young, upwardly mobile Dallas engineers, because soon after this party, LHO purchased a mail-order rifle.
The month of March 1963 ended harshly for LHO as he was fired from his job at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, a photo-printing company. His six-month probationary period had been disappointing to his managers, so they let him go. LHO didn’t tell Marina for weeks.
Marina noticed, however, that LHO was spending more time with his private book of photographs of General Walker’s home in Dallas. She didn’t know (because LHO didn’t tell her) that LHO was planning to shoot Walker.
The Walker shooting of April 10, 1963 caused an uproar in Dallas. In 1964 the Warren Commission would interrogate several people about it, including George DM, Michael Paine, and Everett Glover. Let’s review part of their WC testimony to find clues suggesting their involvement in LHO’s decision to kill General Walker.
We begin with Michael Paine’s WC testimony about his (alleged) first meeting with LHO on April 2, 1963, the time that he gave LHO and Marina a ride from Dallas to Ruth’s house for dinner. While Marina was getting the baby ready for the trip, Michael and LHO had time to meet and talk about politics. The WC attorneys asked Michael about that.
Mr. LIEBELER: Do you remember any other conversation you and Oswald had during this first evening that you met... on April 2, 1963...? Tell us to the best of your recollection what the conversation about General Walker was at that time.
Mr. PAINE: I think we probably spoke – I was trying still to find common ground with him, and I think we probably spoke critically of the far right. It even seems to me we may have mentioned Walker. I had been bothered at the time that Walker had – I guess it doesn't do any good to enter into the matter because I don't remember his response. . .
Notice that Michael stopped himself when he began the sentence, “I had been bothered at the time that Walker had. . .” and he wouldn’t finish his thought. The January 1963 acquittal of General Walker was still retold in magazines. I consider it likely that this is what “bothered” Michael there, since every US liberal was “bothered” by General Walker then. Let’s continue.
Senator COOPER: Did he indicate in any way that he knew about General Walker at that time?
Mr. PAINE: We seemed to agree at least superficially that in thinking the far right was unfortunate in its thoughts.
Notice that Michael avoided answering Senator Cooper’s direct question about Walker, changing the subject to “the far right.” Michael Paine seems to have held back his shared thoughts, feelings, and memories with regard to General Walker and his racist politics. Otherwise, Michael might have given the dangerous appearance that he was LHO’s accomplice. Let’s continue:
Mr. LIEBELER: Did he say anything or do anything that would lead you to believe that he planned an attack on General Walker?
Mr. PAINE: Absolutely not.
I tend to believe Michael there – because like Volkmar Schmidt, our Michael was against using violence as a means to political change. He would not have led LHO to any violence.
On another topic, the WC recalled Michael Paine to ask him if Marina was correct in saying that LHO ever told Michael that he shot at General Walker. Let’s look at that testimony:
Mr. LIEBELER: . . .You testified you did not know Oswald shot at Walker prior to the assassination of President Kennedy; is that correct?
Mr. PAINE: That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER: Now, do you have any reason to believe that Oswald might have thought that you knew that he, Oswald, had shot at General Walker?
Mr. PAINE: ...He might have said something that revealed that, and I didn't catch his meaning, so it never sunk in to me at all. That is to assume he wasn't lying and that is the only way I can explain it.
Mr. LIEBELER: So that you think that this testimony that Marina has given is either the result of a misapprehension, or a lie on Oswald's part or on Marina's part?
Mr. PAINE: Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER: And you don't have any doubt about that whatsoever?
Mr. PAINE: I am perfectly certain that I didn't know he shot at Walker.
The WC accepted that answer and I tend to accept that answer also, since LHO had lied to Marina continually, and this would have been a likely lie from LHO under the circumstances.
However – another thing about Michael Paine is that thirty years after the WC closed its doors, Michael told Dan Rather of CBS News in 1993 that he had actually seen LHO’s infamous Backyard Photograph in LHO’s home on April 2, 1963. Michael never told the WC about this, nor did the WC ask him about it, but after seeing LHO’s photo showing himself with both rifle and pistol, Michael told the WC that he had no idea that LHO even possessed a rifle or a pistol.
That may sound wrong, but really Michael saw no proof that the weapons in the photograph actually belonged to LHO. But even if Michael told the WC attorneys “off the record,” they would most likely tell Michael to say nothing about it, because they needed LHO to be a loner.
As we saw, George DM and Michael Paine quickly dismissed Marina’s astute observations about their behavior with LHO. The WC accepted their version, yet I still believe that Marina witnessed some key historical events; for example, Marina was terrified after LHO confessed to her that he had shot at Walker that night.
Now let’s talk about George DM in April 1963. The WC attorneys directly asked George DM under oath about the Walker shooting. Did he tell LHO to kill Walker? Also George’s pal, Volkmar, admitted for PBS Frontline Video that he told LHO that Walker was as bad as Hitler:
VOLKMAR SCHMIDT: In hindsight, I probably. may have given Lee Harvey Oswald the idea to go after General Walker. I certainly didn't tell him to take the law in his own hand. Not at all. He may also have thought of General Walker independently.
George DM and all his friends really were stunned (I say) to hear that somebody had tried to kill Walker at his Dallas home. Only George DM (as far as we know) suspected that the shooter might be LHO. Here’s part of George’s WC testimony:
Mr. JENNER: What did he say?
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT: He said, “I go out and do target shooting. I like target shooting.” So out of the pure, really jokingly I told him, “Are you then the guy who took a pot shot at General Walker?” And he smiled to that, because just a few days before there was an attempt at General Walker's life, and it was very highly publicized in the papers, and I knew that Oswald disliked General Walker, you see. So, I took a chance and I asked him this question, you see, and I can clearly see his face, you know. He sort-of shriveled, you see, when I asked this question.
Mr. JENNER. He became tense?
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. Became tense, you see, and didn't answer anything; smiled, you know…made a peculiar face.
Mr. JENNER. You have given me your entire recollection of the weapon incident, and what you said to him?
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT: Yes, yes, yes, yes; that is right. How could I have…said that when I didn't know that he had a gun you see? I was standing there and then Jeanne told us…that here is a gun, you see. I remember very distinctly saying, “Did you take the potshot at General Walker?” The same meaning you know, “Did you miss him,” about the same meaning? I didn't want him to shoot Walker. I don't go to that extent you see.
Mr. JENNER: You didn't want him to shoot anybody?
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT: Anybody. I didn't want him to shoot anybody. But if somebody has a gun with a telescopic lens you see, and knowing that he hates the man, it is a logical assumption you see.
Mr. JENNER: You knew at that time that he had a definite bitterness for General Walker?
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT: I definitely knew that, either from some conversations we had on General Walker, you know – this was the period of General Walker's, you know, big showoff, you know.
The “period of General Walker’s big showoff” was clearly Walker’s role in the Ole Miss racial riot of 1962 and his acquittal in January 1963. George DM in his suicide booklet, entitled, I Am A Patsy! I Am A Patsy! (1977) admitted that he goaded LHO about General Walker.
I believe his denials of a direct role in the Walker shooting, but his indirect role is plain from his suicide booklet. George DM promoted hatred for Walker.
The same goes for Michael, Volkmar, and Everett. Urban liberals may talk big but they rarely take up arms to act on their own. Yet, if someone convinces a former US Marine that Walker really was “as bad as Hitler,” then we shouldn’t be surprised if that same Marine decides to take action and act on his new belief.
I find evidence in WC testimonies that at a number of people besides LHO were involved – at least to some degree – in the attempt on General Walker’s life on April 10, 1963. Perhaps their interaction went deeper than I have suggested here. I need more evidence.
Marina Oswald’s testimony identified two collaborators who also testified for the Warren Commission: George DM and Michael Paine. Also, Volkmar Schmidt openly admitted his indirect involvement to CBS reporters . Everett Glover – the man who materially unified these three, played a passive role, anyway.
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