Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina Oswald
Lee and Marina Oswald (far right) and their child with Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Romanovich Zieger and Eleanor Zieger. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2628. Photo credit: National Archives

Exclusive interviews with two who knew Lee Oswald, offering unique insights into the enigmatic figure linked to JFK’s assassination.

As part of the WhoWhatWhy special series commemorating the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, we bring you exclusive interviews with two individuals closely connected to Lee Oswald. Offering contrasting perspectives, these interviews shed light on Oswald’s complex character and his place in the tragedy of Kennedy’s death.

First, we hear from professor Paul Gregory, a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and an expert in Soviet and Russian economics. Gregory’s unique connection to Oswald began in Texas in 1962, following Oswald’s return from the Soviet Union with his Russian wife, Marina. Gregory’s insights are further detailed in his book The Oswalds: An Untold Account of Marina and Lee.

We also speak with Ernst Titovets, a Minsk-based medical doctor and neurosurgery professor, who said he befriended Oswald during his Soviet sojourn. Titovets’s memoir, Oswald: Russian Episode, opens a rare window into Oswald’s life in the USSR and provides a critical analysis of the Kennedy assassination investigations, weighing official narratives against his personal experiences.

These are intimate accounts, providing sharply contrary insights into the enigma of Lee Oswald through the eyes of some of those who interacted with him in a critical period — the several years before he allegedly shot Kennedy. 

Interview with Paul Gregory:

Interview with Ernst Titovets:

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About the JFK Assassination Series

This series was inspired by an ongoing project of WhoWhatWhy Founder and Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker to produce a definitive, meticulous, book-length investigation of Kennedy’s death. 

Click here for the introduction to the series. To read the other articles in this series, go here.

If you have information to bring to our attention about any aspect of the JFK assassination — or are with the media and interested in covering or reproducing our work or inviting Mr. Baker to appear on a program — please click here

If you would like to be on a mailing list to receive news of the book, click here

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Full Text Transcript (Paul Gregory):

(As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to a constraint of resources, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like and hope that you will excuse any errors that slipped through.)

Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to this special edition of the WhoWhatWhy Podcast. As part of WhoWhatWhy’s series marking the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy. We present two interviews with two people who share their firsthand knowledge of a central character in this story, their acquaintance and friendship with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Their perspectives on Oswald are very different. One knew him in Texas after Oswald returned from a two-and-a-half-year stay in the Soviet Union with his Russian wife, Marina, and the other was among Oswald’s best friends in Minsk during his period in the Soviet Union, and he was present when he first met Marina at an evening lecture in dance in Minsk’s most prestigious venue.

And so we present these two conversations first with Paul Gregory and then with Ernst Titovets. Professor Paul Gregory is a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and has been a pioneer in the study of Soviet and Russian economics. In addition to his scholarly work, he has been an active blogger on Russian affairs for Forbes, The Hill, and The Wall Street Journal.

He first met Lee Oswald in Texas in 1962 when Oswald approached his father, Peter Gregory, who was Russian born to seek a letter of recommendation for himself as a Russian language translator. Professor Gregory tells his story and much more in his book, The Oswalds: An Untold Account of Marina and Lee. And it is my pleasure to welcome Professor Paul Gregory here to this special WhoWhatWhy Podcast. Paul, thanks so much for joining us.

Paul Gregory: Glad to be here.

Jeff Schechtman: It is good to have you here. It is interesting in the title of the book, you talk about an untold account of Marina and Lee Oswald. It’s interesting putting Marina first. In many ways she’s so central to this story. Talk about that decision to put her first to the title, and whether you think that’s significant of anything.

Paul: I thought long and hard about this. Marina covers a broader range because she of course survived her husband. And a great deal of the story that I have to tell is what happened after the assassination. So I’d say that’s one factor. The other factor is that in terms of friendship, I regarded Marina as a friend. With Lee, it was much more difficult to say, was he a friend, or what noun would you use to describe him. It’s somewhat difficult.

So that’s not a very complete answer to your question, but that’s what comes to mind first.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk about your friendship with her and how it was different than how you knew Lee.

Paul: The formal reason for the relationship was that I was to go over to their duplex on Mercedes Street two, three times a week, and talk Russian with Marina. She was a rare thing as someone who had left the Soviet Union recently. Most of the Russian speakers with whom I and my father were known, were displaced persons, or like my father and George Bouhe from Dallas, they were from the civil war period.

So she was a real opportunity to speak Russian and to learn about what Russia of the Cold War was like. So that was the relationship with her. The relationship with Lee is that Lee happened to be there. Lee happened to participate in a lot of our discussions and things we did around Fort Worth. But the main reason for my spending time with Lee and Marina was the language and learning about Russia.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk about the language aspect of it. And you wanted to talk Russian and you talk about this idea that she had just come back. Was there any change with respect to language? Was she a more modern version of a language? Talk about that.

Paul: One has to have a very sophisticated knowledge of the language to answer that question, and so I couldn’t judge, although she did consider my father’s Russian, which dates back to the 1920s, was somewhat archaic. So at least she could see that there was a difference between her language and the language of the civil war refugees such as my father. Probably, the greater interest was Lee’s language because when we were together, we spoke only Russian.

So I’m one of the best judges of Lee’s Russian, which is a subject of some speculation because some theories say that Lee was sent to some KGB training camp where he was taught Russian and taught espionage techniques, et cetera. So there is interest in how well Lee spoke Russian, and I’m a good judge of that. The bottom line is he could express himself well in Russian, but his grammar was horrific.

So he was able to speak at the factory where he worked among his friends, where he worked in Minsk. But he did so without really understanding the grammar, which is rather complicated, in the case of Russia. His writing of which I had a few examples was equally bad. It was not well known that Lee was dyslexic and had a great deal of trouble writing and spelling.

Jeff Schechtman: What about Marina? What about her writing in Russian, her language skills, her grammar? Talk about that. Was she that much more educated than he was?

Paul: I would say the answer is yes. She, Marina, was a trained pharmacist, which is less rigorous than the training our pharmacists go through in the United States, but it was definitely above the education level that Lee had. Lee always chafed at the fact that he had to work at blue-collar jobs, and he was irritated that he always earned $1.25 an hour. So there was this difference in education. It was not something that Marina played up. I never heard her holding it over Lee’s head that she was more educated than he, but I imagine this was something that was unspoken between the two.

Jeff Schechtman: What was your sense of the nature of their relationship, the good and the bad?

Paul: I would say that there were no signs of affection between the two, which does tell you that this was not a marriage of love. I would say the most striking fact is the fact that once they moved to Dallas and fell under the wing of the Dallas Russian community, she had a number of opportunities to leave him to live with Russian speakers, with whom she shared a lot, and she never took advantage of this opportunity.

She would leave him periodically, but she would always take him back. So although there were no signs of affection there were signs of abuse, which I saw because at least on one occasion, I went to their house and noticed that Marina had a blue eye. And she could see that I was about to ask her about it. And she basically signaled to me, “No leave it alone.”

There was an incident of verbal spousal abuse, which I witnessed, which occurred when Marina fell backwards off their porch and hit her head dropping baby June. And this caused Lee to break out in just a flurry of verbal abuse. “Why are you so stupid? Why could you do that?” All the while I was worrying that she had a brain concussion. So that was the one striking incident that I saw of what one could call spousal abuse.

Jeff Schechtman: What is your sense as to why she didn’t leave? She had friends in the Russian community there in Dallas, Fort Worth. Why didn’t she leave?

Paul: That’s a very good question. I don’t have an answer to it. He did have a Svengali approach to her. He kept her isolated. He kept her from learning English. Whenever I would ask her whether she wanted me to help her with her English, which was non-existent, she would say no. So there was this Svengali, as I say, relationship where he did control her and the danger to him, and I think he controlled her because he wanted her to think their life was normal, their life was okay, and it was not. So I don’t know whether it was this control he had over her, or I’d say a better explanation would be that this was indeed a marriage of love.

Jeff Schechtman: What did the Russian community, the White Russian community in Dallas-Fort Worth, what did they think of him?

Paul: They did not like him at all because they understood that this guy had deserted to the Soviet Union, which they all hated, that he had disgraced himself with the Marines, [and] that he was an avowed communist. And here they were, most of them displaced persons, coming out of the former Soviet Union. Here they were super patriotic Americans, very loyal, very proud of being American. And for a while, they refused to meet with Lee and Marina because they did not want to be in the company of Lee.

It was me and my father who broke through this by inviting the Dallas Russians to come to our house for dinner and meet Lee and Marina. But the quick answer to your question is they did not like him at all, and they were very reluctant to be in his presence.

Jeff Schechtman: What is it that they didn’t like?

Paul: They didn’t like the fact that he was an avowed communist. That he had deserted and renounced America to the Communist Party, that he was an avowed communist, and so on. So that’s what they didn’t like about him and his personal behavior did not ingratiate himself to them because he was a pest. He would fly into rage when they would bring over a baby carriage and things like that. So he was an unfortunate appendage that you had to tolerate if you wanted to be around Marina, who was the real attraction.

Jeff Schechtman: Did it make you wonder more about their time back in Minsk? How they got together, how that relationship evolved, and really what was going on with the two of them when they were in Russia when he defected in ’59?

Paul: Well, he defected in ’59. He was sent to Minsk simply to get him out of the way because Minsk was regarded as some out-of-the-way place where nothing happened. He clearly had in his mind the fact that he wanted to marry a Russian woman. So he spent a lot of time chasing women, and he was a fairly attractive target for women because he had his own apartment. His salary was double that of everyone else’s.

Jeff Schechtman: Why was that?

Paul: Excuse me.

Jeff Schechtman: Why was that that he had such a good salary there?

Paul: They wanted to pamper him. The Soviet authorities wanted to pamper him, wanted him to be happy. They even assigned him friends. His best friend Pavel, was the son of a general and was clearly assigned to Lee to make him happy. So he and Pavel would chase women. They would go to plays together. This is probably the happiest time in Lee’s life, those three years. And he made a big mistake, in my opinion, by leaving Minsk because he would not have it better than that.

Jeff Schechtman: How did Marina wind up there?

Paul: I don’t really know. She was born in Leningrad. I think it was because once you graduate in a particular specialty you are assigned the first job. And I’m sure the way it worked was her first job was being assigned to Minsk which was not a particularly attractive job offer because it’s sleepy and provincial, et cetera.

Jeff Schechtman: Was there a sense that their meeting was by accident or on purpose? That somehow there were forces in play that brought them together?

Paul: I do not see anything sinister. They met at a trade union dance. She was there with another fellow, and she had on her red dress, which made her into a very striking figure. She had admirers. Lee spoke to her, and I believe they agreed to meet. And once she learned that he had his own apartment and seemed to have plenty of money to spend, she was looking for a husband, he was looking for a wife. So that’s what explains how they got together. But I see nothing sinister about it happening.

Jeff Schechtman: Well, not necessarily sinister but perhaps arranged somehow.

Paul: No signs of that. Lee was quite aggressive in his search for women. He had a longstanding girlfriend who refused his offer of marriage, so he got together with Marina on the rebound.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about his decision and their decision to come back to the US.

Paul: Lee, I guess two years in to his stay in the Soviet Union, had decided that his vision of the Soviet Union was wrong. That this was not a true Marxist state. This was not a regime that is following the pattern that you’re supposed to follow if you’re a communist regime. The Minsk authorities at his factory did not value him. So, generally, Lee was always dissatisfied wherever he was, the grass was always greener. So he had learned that the grass was definitely not green in Minsk and he wanted to get out of there.

He thought that if he were to return to the US it would be a different situation because he would be someone who had spent three years behind the Iron Curtain. He could speak Russian. He had written a historic diary, which he thought could be published, and he could earn a lot of money off of that. So that explains how he decided to return.

Jeff Schechtman: What was his argument and were you surprised, given the history and given the fact that he defected there in ’59, that two and a half years later it was easy for him to get the State Department to get him out?

Paul: Well, we have a lot of documentation on that. And this is the subject of conspiracy theories. We have the extensive paperwork, all the forms he filled out, the letters he wrote, her visit to the Moscow US Embassy, which impressed her a great deal. And she was most impressed by the cleanliness of the toilets, something she had not experienced in the Soviet Union.

So I couldn’t really see anything, to use the word again, sinister in this. It was a difficult procedure to go through. And Lee, who was dyslexic and could not spell properly had to take 10 blank forms in order to fill out one blank form correctly. So you can imagine that this was not easy for him as well, given his dyslexia and spelling problems.

Jeff Schechtman: How did Marina feel about going to the US?

Paul: That’s a very interesting question because it surprised me that she agreed to it. I’m sure she was ambivalent but their child was born, Lee was definitely leaving, [and] so she had the choice of staying behind [as] a single mother or going with him. But I think it also reveals the fact that she was an adventurous soul. I mean, going out with an American was something that her party cell at work warned her about.

So the fact that she was willing to accept a marriage proposal from a foreigner tells us that she did have this adventurous spirit to her. So I think that’s the big factor but the bigger factor was having a baby and the husband going back to America.

Jeff Schechtman: Were there other options, could they have left Minsk and gone somewhere else, somewhere perhaps more attractive in the Soviet Union?

Paul: No, not at all. In fact, I was surprised to learn in reading Oswald’s KGB file that throughout his stay in Russia, from his suicide attempt as an 18-year-old ex-Marine to leaving the Soviet Union, the Oswald case was handled by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and by the KGB. So it’s not that this was some idle decision made by some small bureaucrat. This was a decision made by the Politburo or Central Committee which said, “This guy’s trouble.” The term they use is “isolation,” “We need to isolate him in a provincial city where he can’t do harm.” So he could not very well go to Soviet authorities and say, well, send me to Moscow or Petersburg or Leningrad. That would not have worked and he understood that.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk about your first impressions, very first impressions upon meeting them, and a little bit about how that came to be and a little bit of your father’s history in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Paul: My first meeting with Lee and Marina was in Robert Oswald’s house which is in Fort Worth, not far from where we lived. This meeting came about because Lee upon arriving in Fort Worth went to the employment agency and filed for a job. He mentioned that among his skills was fluency in Russian. I think the employment agency then recommended, well, go get some kind of certification that you are fluent in Russian. And my father, who emigrated from Siberia in 1921, volunteered to teach Russian at the public library.

So he was a known figure if one wanted to find someone in Fort Worth who could speak Russian. So that sent Lee to my father’s office and my father and Lee spoke Russian. And he had Lee read something out of a Russian periodical he had, and he gave Lee the certificate stating that he was fluent in Russian.

They then went out to lunch at the Texas Hotel, which is where JFK spent his last night. And upon parting, Lee said, “Well, I’m at my brother’s house. Here’s the phone number. Give us a call.” My father called, and he and I went to meet Lee and Marina at Robert’s house. And so that was our first meeting.

Jeff Schechtman: And what was your first impression?

Paul: Lee did not make much of an impression. He dressed well and that was one of his trademarks, that he always dressed well and he would never allow himself to be seen in workers’ clothes. He gave the impression of a strong guy, sort of wiry, muscled, although he wasn’t like a muscleman. So not much of an impression.

Marina, in my view, made much more of an impression. Very quiet. She had sort of a lost kitten feel about her. You sort of wanted to help her. Very soft-spoken. She, like many Russians, never smiled but I learned later that she did not smile because she had two rotten teeth and did not want to display them, which is very typical of people who have grown up in the Soviet Union.

And the discussion was not monumental. It was some polite conversation about their trip, what it was like to live in Minsk. They brought photo albums with them. So we looked at the photo albums and then we departed. And shortly thereafter we decided that I as a student of Russian should go to their house and speak Russian with Marina two, three times a week. And that began somewhat later and continued until I returned to the University of Oklahoma mid-September.

Jeff Schechtman: What did your father think of them, and what did you and your father discuss about them?

Paul: My father was somewhat reluctant for me to be around Lee. I think he took an immediate dislike of Lee. He did not like the fact that Lee was very evasive because he wanted to know why Lee did what he did. And Lee refused to give answers to a number of questions. And my father being an emigre from what became the Soviet Union meant that he was [a] very patriotic American and could not really understand how anyone, who was a Marine, could even think of deserting to the Soviet Union.

So my father had a real dislike for Lee and stayed clear of him. So in terms of the contact between the Gregory family and Lee and Marina, it was largely I because my father didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

Jeff Schechtman: What kind of questions did he ask Lee that he wouldn’t answer?

Paul: “Why did you do what you did?” This is a question that Lee hated the most. I read the transcript of his interrogation by the Fort Worth FBI, they asked that question as well, because it’s an important question. And Lee’s answer was, “I did it because I wanted to.” So he could not be pinned down on the answer to that very important question. Why did you do it?

Jeff Schechtman: Does it surprise you that Lee never came up with a pat answer to just make the subject go away? Something that he would say, which may have been an absolute lie, but at least it would’ve dealt with the question. The fact that he never dealt with it at all, seems somehow surprising.

Paul: I agree with you on that. I believe the first time my father posed this question was in the office when he came in for the Russian language certification, and Lee came back with sort of an impudent answer, “I went there and I arranged it myself.” Something like that. So that was his pat answer when the FBI asked him that question and it was similarly sort of an impudent answer. The most interesting case where this came up and Lee had his back to the wall in that he had the answer was at our house when we had a dinner party to introduce the Dallas Russians to Lee and Marina. And one of the Dallas Russians, Anna Meller would not let Lee come up with his impudent and pat answer.

So she kept going at him, “Well, why did you go?” “I went because capitalism is rotten.” “Well, that’s not an explanation. We know the United States, it’s the land of milk and honey, how could anyone do what you did?” He became very agitated at that point and Marina was sitting there listening to this, and it was all in Russian. So she got a good view of her real husband. This was a very tense moment in that evening and it was decided by the Dallas Russians, let’s drop it. Let’s not get into this. He definitely did not want to give an answer to that question.

Jeff Schechtman: Did he have to give an answer to the State Department when he applied to come back to the US?

Paul: Very good question. They knew him over a period of time. They first met him when he was 18 and newly arrived in Moscow. He was very impudent to them, very abusive. He threw his passport on the counselor officer’s desk. So they definitely had a very bad impression of one Lee Harvey Oswald. He then returned after the time in Minsk and wanting to return to the US and they were very interested in trying to figure out, “Has this guy really converted? Does he want to go back for legitimate reasons or is he playing us?”

In one of the letters or memos written by the consular officer who handled his case, it says something to the effect, “I believe this guy has understood that what he did was foolish and so let’s let him go back.” So I think Lee was probably role-playing, but he played the role well enough to get the exit visas and surprisingly, the funding in the form of a loan from the embassy to return to the US.

Jeff Schechtman: Did Marina wonder why he had the change of heart? And what did he tell her?

Paul: Well, for a long time he didn’t tell her anything. This came as a shock to her that he was even considering leaving Minsk and the Soviet Union. He spun a tale that if we go to the United States, it’s the land of milk and honey. We’re going to live well, I am going to be a celebrity, everything will be wonderful, everything that you dislike here will be much better in the United States. And I would say the most convincing point for Marina was the fact that he said, and my brother, Robert, has offered that we can stay with him in his house. And so I’m sure Lee would’ve described the house, four bedrooms or whatever they were. And so it was the sales campaign that worked.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about the Russian community in Dallas-Fort Worth. They were a close-knit group. Talk a little bit about them. And to what extent you knew them, your father knew them. Certainly, the oil and gas industry was a big part of the area. Give us a sense of all of that.

Paul: Well, the number of Russian speakers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area probably was 40 or 50 at most. Most of them were displaced persons who would’ve lived, let’s say, in Ukraine or Lithuania, or even Poland for whom Russian would not be the first language. They would have arrived in the late ’40s and ’50s. So most of them had rather menial jobs. One of my favorites, Teo Miller, had been a professor in Poland and he was a floorwalker in a department store in downtown Dallas.

We met periodically for parties. So there’d be a Russian Easter, there’d be a Russian Christmas. I recall two or three of them coming to our house because they’d gone on a vacation to Haiti. And we looked at the pictures of that trip. So it wasn’t something where you met every week or so, but there were these social gatherings.

The leaders of the Fort Worth Dallas Russian community would be my father, who was an established petroleum engineer, [very] successful, Gali Clark, who was a descendant of Russian nobility and so she was the princess or queen of the Dallas Russian community. And then George Bouhe, whose father had served in the Tsar’s court and who was the self-appointed leader of the Dallas Russian community. He was a one-man social services office. He took care of new arrivals. He arranged for them to have Russian lessons and so on.

He was Lee’s main protagonist when they moved to Dallas because Bouhe could not stand Oswald. Bouhe was taking over presents of things they really needed like a baby buggy. And Oswald would kick him out of the house. One time when he went over, he took a bodyguard with him for fear that Lee would beat him up. And Bouhe was a rather frail gentleman in his 50s then, I guess.

So that was the Russian community. And they were willing to greet Marina with open arms. But then the problem was, what do you do with Lee? So Lee was this unfortunate appendage you had to deal with if you wanted to do things for Marina.

Jeff Schechtman: Why was Marina so attractive to them all? It seemed that they all wanted to spend time with her, yourself included. What was the attraction?

Paul: One attraction was simply here is someone who is coming here direct from the Soviet Union. She knows what it’s like. Remember at that point in time, we knew very little. There was an Iron Curtain, there were claims that it was growing rapidly. There were claims that it was about to fall apart. So that was an attraction. The other attraction was, as I say she had this lost kitten air. You somehow wanted to help her. You saw that she was living under rather unusual circumstances and needed help.

For example, she needed to learn at least a few words of English. So I think there was this general feeling that she needed help, and she needed help and she had a husband who was preventing her from getting that help. And then when they moved to Dallas, the marital problems became quite evident. There was one occasion where Marina and Lee had some kind of domestic dispute and Marina, who couldn’t speak any English, somehow managed to get a cab and go to the Miller’s house where she lived for a short while. So I think that’s the best I can do to answer your question.

Jeff Schechtman: You mentioned Mrs. Clark. I didn’t catch her first name.

Paul: Gali.

Jeff Schechtman: Gali, who was leader of this group. Talk a little bit about her, particularly her husband who was part of the business community in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Paul: Yes. This is Galina Clark, I think she’s a descendant from the Shcherbatov family, which Tolstoy featured in War and Peace. So she was a real celebrity. Her mother lived in Paris in some kind of palace. Her husband, Max Clark, was a prominent attorney in Fort Worth. His biggest client was General Dynamics. And of course, he and my father have been the subject of rumors and speculation and so on that they were involved in some kind of conspiracy. Max Clark in particular because of his relationship to General Dynamics and military-industrial complex and so forth. So I can’t tell you how many examples there are of accusations levied against my father and more against Max Clark.

Jeff Schechtman: No, talk a little bit about that in terms of what the accusations were and did any of them have a basis in any kind of fact? There is this connection to General Dynamics. There is this lawyer who was also an attorney for the Warren Commission. Talk about that.

Paul: I can talk more about our family than about answering it in general. It’s a long story, let’s see if I can develop it. But immediately when the Kremlin learned of JFK’s assassination and the fact that the suspected assassin was a communist who had lived in the Soviet Union, they immediately – and this all comes out of Oswald’s KGB file, which we have – here was an immediate campaign to switch the blame from a leftist communist to some type of rightist organization. And they settled on the White Russian community of Dallas and Fort Worth. Later, they amended this a little bit, but originally that was their intent. Then the question is, well, how did the Dallas White Russian community pull this off? Namely, switching blame from Oswald to someone else.

The claim was that my father, who translated for Marina in the five days after the assassination, where the FBI, Secret Service, and so on wanted to know was there a conspiracy. Marina would have been the best source of information about this. But the claim, and I believe this claim, was put forward by Gus Hall, who was General Secretary of the American Communist Party. The claim was that my father was deliberately mistranslating Marina to make it sound as if Lee were guilty. That’s the conspiracy theory relating to our family that I know the best.

It never gained much traction, and you don’t read about it very much. But at the time, this was the best the Soviet Politburo could come up with.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about your own personal experience. You were in Oklahoma as a student at the university when the assassination took place.

Paul: Correct, I was at the University of Oklahoma. We were assembling for class and a fellow classmate came in and said, “[the] president’s been shot, classes are canceled.” I immediately ran over to the student union, where there would be, by the standards of those days, a big-screen TV. There are around 50 of us sitting in front of that TV on the carpet. We heard, of course, Cronkite telling us that JFK was dead.

We kept on watching, and I think around 2:10 p.m. or so they say they’re bringing in a suspect. They brought in what appeared to be a fairly short fellow in a white T-shirt, bruised face, black eye. I immediately said, “That’s Lee Harvey Oswald. I know him.” No one paid attention to me. They must have thought I was crazy or something.

But that’s how I learned about it, and that’s how I learned that the suspect was Lee. At first, I thought, “Well, they’re bringing him in because how many avowed communists are there in Dallas who had lived in the Soviet Union?” I thought that might be the reason. The Secret Service came to my apartment the next morning and took me into Oklahoma City, where there was a Secret Service office, and that was my first interrogation.

Somehow they had learned that I was, in their terminology, a “known associate” of Lee Harvey Oswald. So the first thing they had to establish was whether I was in on it. And I think if you read my testimony to them, by the time I had finished telling them what I knew, they wrote something to the effect of, “We’re going to close this case. It doesn’t seem like this is leading us anywhere.”

Jeff Schechtman: What about your father?

Paul: My mother and father were awakened the night of the assassination at, I think 3:00 a.m., by two Secret Service agents who turned out to be the ones who really handled the Secret Service side of the investigation. They rang on the doorbell [and] came in. My father and mother knew exactly why they were there. They struck up a relationship or friendship at that point. By the way, the one who is leading this investigation, Mike Howard, is still alive at age, I think, 92. So he’s an interesting person to talk to.

But when they left they left their telephone number because they realized that Marina– They knew that Marina spoke no English. So they figured if they needed a translator, maybe my father would be the one to do it. It was the next morning, at 7:00 a.m., that Marguerite Oswald telephoned my father and told them where they were and that he should come and rescue them. She was hoping that my parents would open our house to her, which didn’t happen. But this was an interesting part of the story because it was my father who was able to tell the Secret Service where Marina and Marguerite were hiding.

Jeff Schechtman: Did you consider, did your father consider taking them in?

Paul: No.

Jeff Schechtman: Why not?

Paul: I don’t know the answer to that. I think my father understood that this is not for him to decide. This is for the Secret Service to decide. So, I think that’s the explanation of why not. Marguerite continued to think that Marina and her kids were living with my father and mother for quite a while. She would pester us, telephoning and trying to figure out whether we were hiding Marina and the kids. Because after the first four, five days, all relationships between Marina and Marguerite were broken. And Margaret never again saw her grandkids.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about your reaction to the shooting of Oswald and Jack Ruby.

Paul: I was watching live TV in Oklahoma. I saw Ruby killing Oswald. It did not evoke a great emotion in me. First of all, I thought, “This is a wound to the stomach. Surely he can survive that.” That was my first thought. My second thought was, and this is when we knew that he had died. “Well, this is going to create a lot of trouble because there’s going to be a controversy about this. We don’t have all the information we need to have. So we really need Oswald alive to figure this all out.”

Personally, I was in shock. These images on the TV screen, to me, this is something that’s going on somewhere else. I have nothing to do with it. I removed myself from even knowing that I knew Oswald and so on. It was my father who told Marina that Lee had died. And this occurred in Irving, Texas, when they were trying to figure out what to do, this question, what to do with Marina, Marguerite, and the family and the kids.

Jeff Schechtman: And what did you know? What did the Russian community know? What did anybody know about Ruby?

Paul: Nothing. Zero.

Jeff Schechtman: And to this day, how do you explain it? What do you think that was about?

Paul: Insofar as I know, my opinion would be no better than a person on the street. So Ruby is the one chink in my belief that Oswald did it, he did it alone, which I’ve held since being in that car driving from Norman to Oklahoma City to be interrogated. The only chink is how does Ruby fit into this? I’m not an expert on Ruby. I’ve not read all the testimony about this, but I would say this is the one chink in the armor as I say.

Jeff Schechtman: What about not knowing, which nobody really knows, what went on in Minsk in terms of how they came together and what that backstory really was?

Paul: There I’m very confident because we have Priscilla McMillan’s account of those years. We also have one of Lee’s really good friends, Ernst Titovets, who’s still alive, by the way, who was Lee’s second best friend in Minsk. We have Marina’s testimony, and I found Marina’s testimony among the most enlightening testimonies. So I think we know pretty much what we need to know about them.

Jeff Schechtman: Now, it’s interesting that Titovets does talk about the fact that Lee and Marina didn’t get along, even back then, even at the beginning.

Paul: Oh, for sure. They were tape-recorded by the KGB, and as far as I can see, the KGB got an earful of fighting, throwing things, [and] physical abuse in both directions. So that’s not under dispute, as far as I can see. So I think we know about all we need to know about the Minsk episode.

Jeff Schechtman: Why now for you writing this book?

Paul: The answer is our involvement in this sordid and tragic and terrible affair was a source of shame for our family. Our father was fairly prominent in the community, and particularly in the oil community. There would be questions, well, what were the Gregorys doing hanging out with this communist marine deserter guy? Why did the Gregorys invite these people to dinner at their house? And so on. So our reaction was, “Let’s try to keep this as quiet as possible.”

I know my father would have objected strongly if I’d written that book The Oswalds in 1964 or 1965. So it was this feeling that this is something to be ashamed of permeated. From a more technical point of view, we now know a lot more than we knew. We have the Oswald KGB files, we have certain releases from CIA and FBI. So I figured what I’d witnessed was history and it needed to be written, and that my colleagues at Stanford and Hoover pestered me. They said, “It’s history, you need to get it out there.” I’m 81 right now. So that explains why I’m doing this 60 years after the fact.

Jeff Schechtman: Finally, talk a little bit about if your attitude towards all of this, and your view of all of this has changed in these 58, 59 years. It seems you’ve been steadfast in how you see this having played out. To what extent have you changed your attitudes, views of this at all in this period of time?

Paul: I would say my views have not changed since my ride to Oklahoma City from Norman. By that time, I would have thought about whether Lee would be capable of organizing an assassination. The answer there was an emphatic no. Would Lee have allowed himself to be led into a conspiracy where he was a patsy, as he said before the cameras? The answer to that was no. In the car, I was listening to police reports coming in by radio, and I heard the words, “They found the rifle. Yes, it’s the one.”

And that to me told me, well, he’s the one who shot the president, and he’s not a member of a conspiracy, either as an organizer or as a follower. He did it. Case closed. I’ve not really changed my opinion since then, and I’ve read a considerable amount, including my own testimony, and instances where my name comes up. So I’d say it’s rather remarkable that 59 years later, I’m still that young kid, 21 years old, in the police car headed towards Oklahoma City.

Jeff Schechtman: Paul Gregory, the book is The Oswalds: An Untold Account of Marina and Lee. Paul, I thank you so much for being so generous with your time today. Really appreciate it.

Paul: I appreciate being invited.

Jeff Schechtman: Thank you.

Full Text Transcript (Ernst Titovets):

(As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to a constraint of resources, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like and hope that you will excuse any errors that slipped through.)

Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to this special edition of the WhoWhatWhy Podcast. As part of WhoWhatWhy series, marking the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy, we present two interviews with two people who share their first-hand knowledge of a central character in this story, their acquaintance and friendship with Lee Harvey Oswald. Their perspectives on Oswald are very different. One knew him in Texas after Oswald returned from a two-and-a-half-year stay in the Soviet Union with his Russian wife, Marina. And the other was among Oswald’s best friends in Minsk during his period in the Soviet Union. And he was present when he first met Marina at an evening lecture and dance in Minsk’s most prestigious venue.

And so we present these two conversations, first with Paul Gregory and then with Ernst Titovets. Ernst Titovets is a medical doctor and professor of neurosurgery in Minsk, which is now the capital of Belarus, but in 1960 a part of the Soviet Union. It was there, 63 years ago, that Professor Titovets, who was then a university student, met Lee Oswald. This was little less than a year after Oswald had arrived in the Soviet Union, claiming to be an ideological defector. They became fast friends, hanging out as two 21-year-olds, acting their age. And they stayed in touch by letter, after Oswald returned to the US.

Thirteen years ago, Professor Titovets published an in-depth memoir about his time with Lee Oswald. It was called Oswald: Russian Episode. For the book, he also extensively researched documents and materials from the investigations into the Kennedy assassination. And he compares what the investigation said about his friend and his friend’s emphatic denial of the charges against him. His wealth of detail and his insight make this an important piece of background in the Kennedy assassination.

It is my pleasure to welcome Professor Ernst Titovets to this special edition of the WhoWhatWhy Podcast. Ernst, thanks so much for joining us. Ernst, let’s begin with your reaction to my conversation with Paul Gregory. He had a lot of things to say about Oswald and Marina, and I’d like to begin by getting your reaction.

Prof. Ernst Titovets: Well, let’s get the exact picture, the context of all that. Well, his and my perception of Oswald. I knew Oswald from September 1960 till his very end. He left Minsk in May 1962 and then be corresponded till the very end. Gregory knew Oswald over a few months and mostly he was interested in Marina, a Russian, as he says, and he failed to establish trust with Oswald.

Well, as for me, in the story diary, he writes, “Ernst, my oldest acquaintance, a friend of mine who speaks English very well,” that’s his vision of Ernst. And he never mentioned Gregory [chuckles]. So Gregory is nonexistent. He doesn’t exist by any means.

Jeff Schechtman: Gregory talks about Oswald as a loner, a very quiet, self-effacing, eccentric guy. Was that your impression?

Prof. Ernst: [chuckles] Not in my experience. [chuckles] If you may remember in my book, I describe a situation when we were together. Well, the first is we discussed openly things when we are together. But again, I have to get into the picture. He was open with me. He was open with those who he trusted. To the rest, he was just a stranger, a foreigner with some quirks of his, and that’s about all. With me, he was open, and we discussed things politically. It was a very hot debate.

I remember once when we discussed socialism, capitalism, and then went to Russia and America. He defended the United States, he was very patriotic, and he agreed that slavery and race discrimination was a bad thing. And at the end, when I heartily discussed the Russian system, having no idea what went on in the world, well, I was just brainwashed, as everybody was at that time. They said, “You live here like slaves. You can’t travel.” He was absolutely right. But what I’m trying to get, how [unintelligible 00:05:46] speaks how open our discussion was. He didn’t hesitate to accuse, to point to the faults of our system.

Jeff Schechtman: So from your perspective, he certainly wasn’t a loner?

Ernst: In no way he was a loner. In no way he was maniacal and in no respect. He was a very reasonable person. Well, he would swear up at some things that he didn’t like, not very often. He would have reasons to flare up, otherwise, he was very reasonable and was against physical violence, genuinely. It was his all. He professed stoicism.

Well, so certainly he never was a loner. In my book, there is a picture of Oswald smiling, in a hilarious group of workers sitting in the center of them. And no, in no way he was a loner. That’s the official presentation of American media. The Warren Commission Report that he was a loner, that he was prone to violence, and there’s something mentally wrong with him. That was just this crap to give to a man in the street who would do such things.

Jeff Schechtman: The other part of that, you talk about how you guys engaged in conversation about so many things. My sense of it is that you thought that his political views, his views on most things, were pretty moderate.

Prof. Ernst: No, he was very moderate in all respects. And again, in this Athenian system, he introduced free medicare, free education, although democracy is something very ambiguous. When he was arrested, he lived in a democratic country, then he was arrested. Then he asked for legal advice and he was not given a lawyer, that’s democracy. And again, putting custody an innocent person, and he wasn’t introduced to a lawyer. I don’t know exactly the procedure here for arresting a man, but I believe in this case he was entitled to a legal help. It was a serious accusation and he wasn’t given any.

Jeff Schechtman: Was he interested in politics? What was he most interested in? You indicate that he was interested in politics and he particularly had an interest in East-West relations, et cetera. Talk about that a little.

Prof. Ernst: About politics, yes. I just remind you that he’s still at the age of 15, as he writes. So he, well, found Marx’s Manifesto. It was on a dusty shelf somewhere [chuckles] in a library. Well, he was so fascinating with his theory, not that he understood it in depth, but it was quite enough to fascinate him as a youngster. And he was from a poor background, and he set his task just to annihilate poverty and inequality in his home country. That was the driving that made him tick. And that’s why he studied Russian when he grew up. That’s why he went to Russia to study the socialist system, how it works there, but it was just a step to communism.

And certainly, he was interested in politics from this point of view, economy, politics. And because that was something that he wanted to learn in the socialist country, Russia, and wanted to adopt his Athenian system. And he adopted certain features, and he viewed himself as a political activist. In his resume, he stressed his activity as a street agitator, and so forth and so forth. So he views himself as an organized and political activist. And certainly, that explains his interest in politics.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about his attitude towards Minsk. He left there, it was too small for him, it wasn’t adventurous enough. What drove him to leave?

Prof. Ernst: Well, as for Minsk, he accepted reality [chuckles] as it is. He never complained about — oh, yes, he did. Only that there was no fruit to buy [chuckles] in winter. We had to wait till the harvest time would come. Well, at the time, we used only local produce. Oh, yes. Well, what do you call those alleys when they throw ball at pins, what do you call it?

Jeff Schechtman: Oh, bowling.

Prof. Ernst: Yes, bowling. [chuckles] There was no bowling alleys there. So the only complaint that I know about, no fruit [chuckles] all year round, fresh fruit, and no bowling alleys. Otherwise, he was absolutely tolerant, and no criticism from his part.

One more thing, again we are coming to politics and while it has nothing to do with Minsk, it rather has to do with the whole system. He criticized so many political meetings at work, at various levels, at workers, at party members, nonparty members, [unintelligible 00:13:05]. Then indoctrinating lectures every week, and everybody must be present there. And communists watched who was not diligent enough to report later on. So he did like that. But it had nothing to do with Minsk. It was rather his nonacceptance of certain features of Russian socialism.

Jeff Schechtman: To what extent did you guys stay in touch over the years?

Prof. Ernst: Well, I counted how many letters and postcards he sent over to me. I don’t remember the number now, but it turned out that he had sent more than I [chuckles] answered back. Well, anyway, he just described about his most significant developments. Well, just when I asked him to look for some research book that appeared just today in the States, he promised to get his. And then he said that he would hand it to me by hand in Saint Petersburg, at that time called Leningrad. And as reported, he said that they were coming back to the Soviet Union. He told me about his daughter, the second one, and just the main events that took place in him. Nothing about Mexico, no in a way.

Jeff Schechtman: Did you have any idea that he had been in Mexico or why?

Prof. Ernst: Oh, yes. He desperately wanted to get away from America fast. I just think possibly he received some menacing things. Because of his activity, he became prominent. He appeared on TV, he appeared on the radio. Well, there in New Orleans, there were so many disappointed with Castro Cuban exiles. And certainly, they didn’t like that activity hands off or he viewed Cuba differently. And I think he didn’t enjoy popularity in those circles. That is possibly one of the reasons why he wanted to get away into safety of the Soviet Union. He didn’t like certain issues about that.

Well anyway, to cut through some red tape, he even suggested they would go to the Soviet Union separately. Marina still was a Soviet citizen, and he, I think was looking for ways to get over this red tape. His visit to Mexico Embassy there, possibly he was looking for a way just to get through Cuba to the Soviet Union or find any other way or speed up receiving his visa. So that’s my view of his visiting Mexico. He tried to speed up getting his visa to the Soviet Union.

Jeff Schechtman: There’s been a whole bunch of talk about — with going back to Minsk, that his apartment was near this counterintelligence school, this KGB school. What is that about?

Prof. Ernst: KGB school, I have no idea. [chuckles] The only thing I learned about KGB something it was from Oswald. [chuckles] It’s funny how many things I learned in [unintelligible 00:17:55] from Oswald, about [unintelligible 00:17:58] and the party sector in the Soviet Union, about where he lived, how many apartments, how big it was [chuckles] that there was a militiaman standing at the entrance, so many things. Well, there were some KGB schools in that region. I know nothing more about that. But he swear it was bunked and everything that went on there was absolutely immediate knowledge of the KGB. Well, by the way, I wonder where are those recordings now?

Jeff Schechtman: It’s a good question right. Did you talk to him or exchange letters with him when he was in New Orleans? Talk about that.

Prof. Ernst: Well, he was full of activity. As I said, he would lecture, he appeared on TV, he appeared on two radio debates, so he’s very active there.

Jeff Schechtman: The issue of language comes up repeatedly in the story. Talk about that.

Prof. Ernst: Well, his language, it was a point of interest to me. [chuckles] I made many recordings, especially to study his accent. And he had a Southern accent. That was clear. It was not [unintelligible 00:19:37]. Well, there appeared nasal twangs sometimes, and a draw, not expressed very much. But well again, he would say, “Asked for — well asked for us,” [chuckles] but it’s just not standard.

Again, this [unintelligible 00:20:13] we would say an RP treaty. Well, there were some more things that certainly he was a [unintelligible 00:20:26] but he was influenced by RP practice in the Soviet Union. He was in touch with students, the foreign language, girls mostly. And they all were taught RP. And he was definitely influenced by that. There was the observation made by Americans that found him on his return back to the States. That’s what I say about his English, in short.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about his meeting with Marina. You describe it as a much more glamorous event than it’s always been made out to be in the mainstream media.

Prof. Ernst: Well, well, well, Marina. In one of the chapters, [unintelligible 00:21:25] writes, “Love is something that takes place between people who don’t know one another.” [chuckles] Okay, well his heart was empty at the time he met Marina after being [unintelligible 00:21:47] Paris, they called him. He broke with Ella German, or rather she cut him off. He was very infatuated with her, was immediately in love with her.

And I believe when I met Ella German later in the ‘90s, met her for the first time, there was about her an aura of some calmness, soothing or something. [chuckles] Saying, “Forget all your troubles, kiss me,” her low voice.

And I believe that troubled Oswald with his life and everything. Well anyway, he was truly in love with her and when he proposed to Ella, she turned him off. She explained that “You’re American,” and said that’s just the way to get trouble from those parts. And he realized that he really loved her, she was friendly with him. And again, later she said, “I just showed in many ways that we were just friends, but he didn’t get the meaning of that.” Well anyway, so he appeared there at the Trade Union Palace with me, with his heart broken. It was empty.

Now about Marina. Marina, well again, there are some very, very — I describe all details in my book, rather curious incidences. Why she appeared there, where she appeared, the time of her appearance. It was horrid, rather. And I got the impression that there was a mastermind behind all that. All right, never mind.

So Marina, we discussed by the way before the lecture, we just walked through the crowd there. Then walk up and down waiting for the lecture to start. And we saw girls and discussed them. There was disagreement between us. He rather fancies not sporting time, full-breasted. He wouldn’t mind if they smoked, and they were uninhibited sexually. Well, I rather disagree with him. And we had an argument about girls, [chuckles] all these between the two guys. Well, in any way, I got an idea about his perfect girl. By the way, he insisted that American girls are best in the world.

Well then Marina. Marina at that time cultivated the image of Brigitte Bardot. This French actress was very popular there at that time. Her portraits were in all cinemas, on display. And Marina cultivated her manners, her hairstyle, her manner to dress. And when I first met Marina, that was the image she cultivated and showed to others who didn’t know her. And that’s what Oswald saw, his whole Marina in this image.

And again, there was another Marina already but also got married. And we visited Marina’s friend, [unintelligible 00:26:26]. There was a tight circle of friends. No way to just display some image. She was all in herself. There was another Marina, as well as a chatterbox, a chain smoker. When we watched TV and discussed something, she would immediately introduce her opinion on anything without being asked to. And again, she would swear a lot. Well, she would use F-words. It was an expletive way for her.

At that time it was absolutely forbidden. It was the ‘60s, not nowadays when even educated people just would use that to show that they’re still not out of touch with reality, I think so. Well, that was a different Marina. That was a real Marina. Well, with her pretty face, it was a joke. She rather demonstrated, “You see, I’m an emancipated girl and I even can use what is forbidden, words that are forbidden or unaccepted.”

So there’s another Marina. She was a shallow character. Certainly, she wouldn’t discuss things philosophical and political in some depth. They were absolutely boring to her. And there was some give and take between him and Lee in this area. So there are two images of Marina. One for general use, Brigitte Bardot, and another for domestic consumption, a chatterbox, a chain smoker, and a swear box. [chuckles]

Jeff Schechtman: Why do you think the image of her has become so distorted over the years? What’s your sense of that?

Prof. Ernst: Well, I wouldn’t say it was distorted, in retrospect, as far as…

Jeff Schechtman: As you say, there were really two Marinas.

Prof. Ernst: At that time, well, that was he wanted to demonstrate for Lee Oswald, who didn’t know her. There were so many girls there at that time. [unintelligible 00:29:16] and any girl wanted to somehow be visible. And that is Marina’s way to attract attention. I would call it an absolute innocent way. She was a pretty one, why not imitate Brigitte Bardot, which already was in the minds of all around as a just pretty, noninhibited girl? Why not adopt this image? There’s nothing wrong with that. So that’s it. As for American media, well, they write anything they want.

Jeff Schechtman: You have the sense, you mentioned this a few moments ago, and you write about it in the book that the meeting between the two of them perhaps was orchestrated. Talk about your thoughts in that regard. And if so, by whom?

Prof. Ernst: Well by whom, that’s the obvious if it was. The only organization interested in studying Marina and Oswald, also through Marina was the intelligence KGB. Why? In the first place, well, it was arranged that Oswald, well, [chuckles] [unintelligible 00:31:00] in both ways all. [chuckles] One picture, a whole picture, you need introduction, many things. Well, I will try to get the essence of that.

Well anyway, I didn’t attend the lecture, Lee did, the lecture by Cherkasova. Cherkasova was the 15 session of the United Nations Organization and the Russian delegation. She rubbed shoulders with top party boss there on the way. And she was told by the party bosses to read the lecture on return for the students. It was part of a political education campaign and her son wants to help her with showing pictures through [unintelligible 00:32:12]. And he arranged all that in an orchestra pit, isolated from the rest of the audience.

Well, before starting the lecture, I told Oswald, “I’m not going to listen to another political indoctrination.” And he insisted that he wouldn’t go there. Now I understand, he was starving for any news of these things. And later, so he went and we agreed that we meet together after the lecture at the dances. And later on, I learned that I was wrong about the lecture. Cherkasova did it in a very interesting way. Oh, there were spots she did give as due to the party line and everything, but mostly it was showing pictures and telling in a simple way about the United States. So Oswald received what he wanted.

Well, later on when I researched this episode, I learned that Cherkasova son Yuri, he took Oswald into the orchestra pit. He knew Oswald and he told his friend [unintelligible 00:34:00] beforehand that he expected an American here. He boasted that, and he really took charge of Oswald, took him to the orchestra bit. By the way, Cherkasova was surprised when he started lecture, he saw Yuri once, not alone there. At first, he was disturbed unless her son started some pranks of him, but later they were doing business and she was satisfied with that.

So from the very beginning, Oswald was isolated from the rest of the audience and nobody could get into that orchestra pit from the audience. Later, I try to get in there myself. There’s a way for us under the scene. I couldn’t do it alone. I had to ask somebody around there. That was when I investigated again years later in ‘90s. So he isolated Oswald in the orchestra pit. Then by the end of the lecture, Marina appears. You know where?

At the orchestra pit. [chuckles] Isn’t that a coincidence? [chuckles] And then she was ushered into the orchestra pit. Again, isolated place, and was introduced to Oswald there.

And [chuckles] obviously, it was not a coincidence and Yuri played some role in here. And so that’s how this acquaintance with Marina took place there. Ideal situation. And from that on, Oswald was my son. Well, so that gave me some ideas, but it’s not a coincidence to many things, to just past as a simple coincidence.

Jeff Schechtman: Why Marina, do you think? Why was she chosen? Assuming that it was arranged, why her?

Prof. Ernst: Well, I only can surmise, my surmise. Well in the first place, I believe she was under KGB control. She was asked to Leningrad because of her behavior and her wealth, some relations with foreigners. And she lived here with her auntie. A pretty face, lived close to where Oswald lived. Well, why not try to make them get together and have a closer look, I believe? That sounds reasonable. Somehow, I don’t trust the coincidence in here. So let’s see what other thing in my investigation leads to.

Jeff Schechtman: I guess the question is there were women that Oswald knew already, girlfriends that he had. Would it have been easier for them to deal with one of those, as opposed to introducing somebody new like Marina?

Prof. Ernst: Well, no comment on that. There are some relationships, not lasting. And here, I say, he was introduced to Brigitte Bardot. [chuckles] Why not to flirt with her and see the developments? Well anyway, there was just a way to get closer to learn Oswald’s mind or this girl. She wasn’t the only source of information, but why not try this? A pretty face, just introduced to a guy with a broken heart. And later, Oswald was involved with her and she wrote that [unintelligible 00:38:47] already being with Marina, “I’m starting to forget Ella German.”

Jeff Schechtman: There are so many misconceptions, and you write about so many of them in your book. If you had to pick one or two things that are just so wrong or things that you most want to correct the record on, what would they be?

Prof. Ernst: This would be the central thing, the character of Oswald. He was wrongly accused of being — even suspect of a presidential killer. There was no evidence for that. It was just made scandals, just a political pawn in a big political game. And I just would like his name officially restored and the apology being brought to Marina and his daughters to clear his name. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

In my book if you want just indirect circumstantial evidence. I didn’t see the smoking gun, but my book has circumstantial evidence of his not being guilty. And in open court circumstantial evidence is being taken very serious when there is enough evidence to prove that. And I hope in my book, the president’s evidence proves he was guilty, that he was not mad, that he was not a hypermaniac. It was absolutely normal.

And the important thing was that he tried to do his best for his country. He was very patriotic, and he tried to reorganize on a democratic basis, on capitalist’s basis that his country so that there would be no poverty and no inequality, and believed in progress along those lines. That’s what I would rather realize, to clear Oswald’s name and present him as a real person. I believe I did this exactly in my…

Jeff Schechtman: And the other part of it is that if he was a pawn of other forces, knowing as much as you do, having witnessed as much as you have, what do you sense those other forces might have been?

Prof. Ernst: That’s not for me to put a finger on, but now it’s enough evidence in the literature, the whole they call names, they give facts. Now, they distinctly point to the top ruling members of the United States, the power elite. It was a political conspiracy to do away with a progressive president who wanted to finish war in Vietnam, to improve the relationship with the Soviet Union, and other things.

So industrial military complex was a little bit — well, not a little bit, but didn’t like all that. Again, there was about the monetary system that he wanted to introduce. There are many things for the top ruling circles to dislike him, and they did away with him. That’s what I think. And there’s a lot of evidence in American literature. I just don’t want to call that because that’s not my [unintelligible 00:43:42]. I just limit myself just to outlining what situation it is now. So I’m surprised why they still persist in accusing Oswald, the official American.

Jeff Schechtman: I guess the two issues go together, that in your book and the work that you’ve done. It’s really about Oswald as you say, and about you wanting to clear his name. But I guess the other part of that is that his name will never be cleared until there’s an alternative that people believe until people see what else is there.

Prof. Ernst: So it’s a matter of introducing facts, and I’ll say in the mainstream media. Well, that nobody’s going to be known. And just introducing another evidence, real evidence about Oswald to masses through central media [unintelligible 00:44:52] means. So it’s a matter of getting the right correct information, and that will do the trick. That’s what I think.

At present, he is being given the wrong image to the general public. So why not correct this situation? Give the right image to his image. There’s enough evidence to do that in my book. Why not do that?

Jeff Schechtman: Ernst Titovets, I thank you so much for talking to us today here on the WhoWhatWhy Podcast.

Prof. Ernst: Well, thank you for your interest.

Jeff Schechtman: And thank you once again.


  • Jeff Schechtman

    Jeff Schechtman’s career spans movies, radio stations and podcasts. After spending twenty-five years in the motion picture industry as a producer and executive, he immersed himself in journalism, radio, and more recently the world of podcasts. To date he has conducted over ten-thousand interviews with authors, journalists, and thought leaders. Since March of 2015, he has conducted over 315 podcasts for

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