Sunday, December 29, 2019

Walking the Razor's Edge - The Dutchman and the Barron

Walking the Razor's Edge - The Dutchman and the Barron 

Walking The Razor's Edge: The Dutchman and The Baron

Walking the Razor’s Edge – The Dutchman and the Barron (2019) By Tommy and Hilde Wilkens

Anyone interested in the life of the Patsy, the accused assassin of President Kennedy – Lee Harvey Oswald, knows all about George deMohrenschildt, the eccentric oil geologist who patronized Oswald when he returned to Texas from the Soviet Union. 

The tall, enigmatic White Russian Barron was probably the most influential person in Oswald’s life and has been the subject of much interest, and I didn’t think there could be much more said about him today, but boy was I wrong.

The Wilkens’ “Walking the Razor’s Edge” is chock full of new names, incidents and deep background events that puts a lot of what we knew previously in context, and what a context it is.

“The Razor’s Edge” title comes from the Somerset Maugham book of the same name, and it’s no coincidence that Maugham was a secret British agent and spy as well as novelist, and so was George deMohrenschildt.

Shortly after his third marriage deMohrenschildt and his wife took a walk about hike through Central America and made a 8 mm home movie of their travels, which included a stop at the remote training camp where the anti-Castro Cubans were preparing for the Bay of Pigs. DeMohrenschildt showed the film at house parties, one of which included CIA Dallas Domestic Contacts Division chief J. Walton Moore, and another time Lee Harvey Oswald. Trying to locate that film was the first request I made to the National Archives, but Marion Johnson, then curator of the JFK collection, said they didn’t have it and didn’t know where it was.

The Wilkens got access to the extensive private papers of the late Willem Oltmans, a Dutch journalist who befriended deMohrenschildt and probably learned more about him than anyone, and they synthesize the extensive archives into the a very well written, readable and concise text that adds a lot to the JFK assassination story without getting into the acoustics, ballistics, films and forensics that bogs down so many other researchers.

While I thought this would be a quick read of rehashed material I was already familiar with, I was quite shocked to learn what I have through Oltman’s perspective.

For starters, if you believe the New York Times or any of the mainstream media reports on Oltmans he was a money hungry third rate reporter who exaggerated and promoted deMohrenschildt as the svengali behind the assassination for his own profit, when in fact, as his papers reveal, he was a very thorough and respected Dutch journalist who had previously worked as a foreign correspondent in the Far East.

He worked closely with his editors and NOS TV producers, and how he became entwined in the JFK assassination story is a story in itself.

On March 8, 1964 Oltmans accidentally crossed paths with Lee Oswald’s mother Marguerite at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, and they sat next to each other on a flight to New York, where Marguerite was to sell letters her son had written to her from Russia to Esquire Magazine.

She mentioned that she was disappointed Lee didn’t graduate from Arlington Heights high school in Fort Worth, where he was enrolled when he enlisted in the Marines on October 24, 1956, shortly after his birthday.

She told Oltmans, “I have never been able to pinpoint it, but once Lee had been in the Marine Corps for some time, there was a clear, noticeable change in my son. He just acted strange, it seemed, and was so very secretive. Once he had left the Marine Corps and gone to Russia, I was just sure as a mother who knows her son that Lee was some sort of agent.”

Back in the Netherlands, Oltmans told his editor about the chance meeting with Mrs. Oswald, and Oltmans was assigned to return to the United States on a whirlwind tour with “The World Wonder Gerard Croiset,” also known as “The Amazing Dutchman,” a clairvoyant, and the subject of a biography by Jack Harrison Pollack (Doubleday), that had popularized him worldwide.

As Croiset explains, “Everyone has the same gifts I have. Within me, they are a bit more developed. Everyone is in contact with other people. I just feel these contacts a bit more intensely.”

As Wilkens notes, “Oltman’s personal notes tell of the incredible mind power that Croiset displayed and how he himself would be awestruck by the accuracy of his visions. Over and over, from one stop to the next, Croiset left people shocked and astonished by his mental abilities.”

“Well-known to police and private investigators,…Croiset had become a valuable asset in locating missing persons and helping to solve murder cases. Law enforcement agencies all over Europe and the United States and as far away as Japan had called upon him to utilize his unusual powers. As with most paragnosts, he did not solve every case. But many, many times, his visions proved to be correct and helpful.”

After returning to Europe from their American tour, on February 2, 1967, Croiset told Oltmans that he had a very strong and clear vision concerning the assassination of President Kennedy. “He explained that what he had seen was a man who was behind the actions of Lee Harvey Oswald – someone with whom the accused assassin had a very close friendship….even an intimate father-to-son relationship. This individual had a double name with the letters “O” and “SCH” in it. He had dealings with the oil world and was probably a geologist.” 

“The vision was one of his clearest ever, Croiset told them. He had seen multiple people shooting at Kennedy from opposite directions and seen a white car that was positioned behind a wooden fence.”

“The mysterious man had ‘pushed’ Lee Harvey Oswald to set in motion this huge, historical event for political purposes. He was, simply, the driving force behind the killing.”

A month later Oltmans returned to the United States on other business and stopped in Texas to visit Mrs. Oswald on March 11, 1967.  Without mentioning Croiset’s vision, Oltmans asked Mrs. Oswald if Lee had a friendship with an older person in the leadup to the assassination.

Of course she immediately thought of de Mohresnschildt, and asked, “Why is this man around my son so much and what did he want from Lee?....I have many times wondered if this was a real friendship or was this man George de Mohresnchildt just out to use Lee in some form?”

Mrs. Oswald then called attention to de Mohrenschildt’s 118 pages of testimony before the Warren Commission, and brought out a copy of a personal letter of condolence from de Mohresnchildt to Mrs. Janet Lee (Bouvier) Auchincloss, the mother of Jacqueline Kennedy, who deMohrenschildt knew personally.

“I have always found this friendship between Lee and George de Mohrenschildt so very strange and unusal,” Marguerite said, “How did my son fit in with this man? And now a letter like this showing he knew Jackie Kennedy’s mother. It’s so very strange. I just have a very strong feeling he has, in some way, put my son in the position as he ened up, concerning the assassination of President Kennedy.”

Shortly after returning to Texas from the USSR with his Russian wife Marina and their baby girl, Oswald obtained an apartment at 2300 Mercedes St., in Fort Worth, and a job at Leslie welding company through the Texas Employment Commission and the efforts of Mrs. Virginia Hale, wife of an FBI agent and mother to twin sons who had attended Arlington Heights high school with Oswald.

It was at the Mercedes Street apartment where George de Mohrenschildt visited the Oswalds, accompanied by a friend Colonel Lawrence Orlov. For some reason de Mohrenschildt at first introduced himself as George Bouhe, another wealthy Russian expatriate who they said, “kept the files on newcomers.”

Colonel Orlov, we later learn, frequently played racket ball with J. Walton Moore, the head of the Dallas CIA Domestic Contacts Division. Moore had known deMohrenschildt since he first debriefed him on his return from Yougaslova in 1957, and according to Wilkens, they often had dinner together.

The day after their meeting the Oswalds visited the de Mohrenschildts for dinner, and Oswald was introduced to the other White Russians in exile in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, some of whom began to assist the Oswalds in various ways.

After de Mohrenschildt obtained a oil geologist job in Haiti, in February 1963, he arranged for a party at the home of some friends who worked at Magnolia Oil, a party set up for the expressed purpose of introducing Oswald to Michael Paine, who de Mohrenschildt thought expressed an ideology similar to Oswald.

While Paine’s wealthy New England family was related to the Forbes and Cabots, his father Lyman Paine was a founder of the Trotskyite communist party in the United States, and he was known as a “cocktail communist.” Michaels Paines’ mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young had married Arthur Young, the eccentric inventor of the Bell Helicopter, and he arranged for Michael to work as at the Bell Helicopter plant in Texas.

I wish Arthur Young were alive today so I could call him and tell him about Croiset and his psychic abilities, as Young told me he was extremely interested in ESP. And he would have enjoyed knowing another ESP event in relation to the assassination, when his step son Michael Paine, at the very moment of the assassination, was at the Bell Helicopter cafeteria talking with a co-worker about political assassinations!

To me those to ESP events are quite astonishing, but I don’t know what they mean. They make me think of the fact that Dear Abby also expressed foreknowledge of the assassination, but she had confidential confidants who tipped her off. Croiset and Paine are birds of a different feather.

Michael Paine was apparently sick the night of the house party, but his wife Ruth H. Paine met Marina and they became fast friends, while Lee met Volkmar Schmidt, who told Oswald he thought right wing General Walker should be killed as Hitler should have been before he got to powerful.

Shorlty thereafter Oswald ordered the rifle in the mail under the Hidel alias, and had Marina take a photo of him with the rifle, a pistol he also obtained through the mail, and two communist publications he subscribed to, one being the Militant, the official publication of the Trotskyite Party. On April 10, 1963 someone took a pot shot at General Walker through a window, and a few days later, when deMohrenschildt and his wife visited Oswald for the last time before leaving for Haiti, deMohresnchildt saw the rifle and kiddingly remarked, “How did you miss Walker?”

At that point, some conspiracy theorists believe, deMohrenschildt, Oswald’s “babysitter,” handed him off to the Paines, who then became the Oswald’s chief patrons.

Enroute to Haiti, deMohrenschildt stopped in New York city where he met some CIA officials at the offices of John Train, who handled some of the CIA’s propriety businesses, and then went to Washington D.C. where, according to Wilkens, on May 7, 1963 he met with a CIA officer Tony Czaikowski and Dorothe K. Matlack, whose title was Assistant Director of the Office of Intelligence, U.S. Army, under the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI).

For those keeping up with John Newman’s latests research on Antonio Veciana, ACSI is an obscure military intelligence agency we are only now just becoming familiar with.

And it makes me wonder if deMohrenschildt told either the CIA or ACSI the single most important intelligence information he possesed – Lee Harvey Oswald had a rifle and that he may have tried to kill General Walker.

Although he didn’t find it until he returned from Haiti in 1966, among his belongings deMohrenschildt discovered one of the photos Oswald had Marina take of him in the backyard with the rifle, pistol and communist magazines. While Wilkens tells us that it was inscribed “To my friend George deMohrenschildt,” he neglects to mention that it was also inscribed in Marina’s handwriting, “Hunter of Fascists, Ha, Ha!”

And that’s my only major criticism of this book. To me, Marina’s “Hunter of Fascists, Ha, Ha!” salutation is an important clue to Oswald and the Walker shooting.

DeMohrenschildt told Oltmans that he thought Oswald may have taken the pot shot at Walker and missed, he certainly didn't kill President Kennedy, as he admired him too much. He was what he said he was, and deMohrenschildt called his important manuscript "I'm a Patsy! I'm a Patsy!". 

Following the leads provided by Croiset and Mrs. Oswald, Oltmans eventually located de Mohrenschildt, and since they were very similar men in attitude and style, and bisexual, they formed a decade long friendship. At one point Oltmans convinced de Mohrenschildt to accompany him to Europe, where Oltmans had arranged for the publication of de Mohresnchildt’s manuscript “I’m a Patsy, I’m a Patsy!,” that was published in the volumes of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

Wilkens says that the manuscript was vetted by the CIA before it got to the HSCA, but one thing that caught my interest in the manuscript is deMohrenschilt’s story of introducing Oswald to his friend retired Admiral Chester Bruton, a Collins Radio executive who declined deMohrenschildt’s request to give Oswald a job.

While meeting for lunch at a hotel, deMorhenschildt excused himself and disappeared, leaving all his belongings in the hotel room he shared with Oltmans. It was the last time Oltmans would see deMohrenschildt

Apparently deMohrenschilt returned home, where he was visited by an unnamed doctor who gave him a shot of something that drove him crazy. After a few suicide attempts deMohrenschildt was checked into Parkland Hospital where he was treated by a new doctor Dr. Charles Mendoza, and a Dr. Deloach, a cousin to Asst. FBI director Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, he was given drugs and electro shock therapy.

Eventually going to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he was staying with Mrs. Nancy Tilton, the sister of his first wife Dorothy Pierson, with whom he had a daughter Alexandra, who on their divorce, was given custody to Mrs. Tilton. From there deMohrenschildt contacted Oltmans and told him where he was.

In the meantime, the HSCA had been established by Congress to investigate the assassination, and the Chief Counsel Richard Sprague and his chief investigator Robert Tannenbaum had taken a particular interest in deMohrenschildt and were also talking to Oltmans about testifying before their committee. So Oltmans notified them of deMohrenschildt’s whereabouts and they sent their Florida investigator Gaeton Fonzi to visit deMohrenschildt.

Unfortunately deMohrenschildt was being interviewed by a reporter from Readers Digest, Edward J. Epstine, so Fonzi left his card with Alexandra.

DeMohrenschildt had Fonzi’s card on him when he was found dead shortly thereafter, sitting in a chair in a second floor bedroom, a shotgun by his side.

While no one heard the gunshot, Mrs. Tilton had a tape recorder recording the audio of a soap opera in a nearby room that recorded the sound of footsteps and the shot. As can be seen in a photo of the dead deMohrenschildt however, he is just wearing socks and no shoes, so whose footsteps were recorded on the tape?

Dr. Cyril Wecht makes a brief appearance in this book, visiting deMohrenschildt and his wife in Texas. When asked by his wife why he was interested in deMohrenschildt, Dr. Wecht replied, “I only want to orientate myself better about Lee Harvey Oswald.”

As Dr. Wecht recently did a review of a number of autopsies of suspicious deaths related to the JFK assassination at the CAPA conference in Dallas last November, I will ask him to take a look at DeMohresnchildt’s autopsy report to see if everything is kosher. It looks suspicious to me, especially since the tape recording was destroyed by the Florida sheriff and other reports on his death are missing.

Whether murdered or suicide, Richard Sprague and Tannenbaum of the HSCA had suspicions that deMohresnchildt was the victim of some sort of MKULTRA brainwashing, but their investigation suddenly ended around the same time when Sprague was fired and Tannenbaum and Fonzi were put out to pasture, and the deMohresnchildt part of the HSCA investigation ended.

Oltmans did testify before the HSCA, and then said he was through with the Kennedy assassination, but lucky for us he kept his papers and his archives were the treasure trove that gave Wilkens the fascinating material for this book.

This book answers many questions, but it asks even more, questions that we should at least try to answer, as the Wilkens have tried to do.

And it requires a more in-depth look at deMohrenschildt, what he was all about, and who ran him, as he, at least for a while, ran Oswald. 

BK NOTES: For an additional twist on this story see:

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Craig Jacobs said...

Great stuff. Thank you.

Lloyd Harris said...

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