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Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

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A Marriage of Connivance?

Post by greg parker on Thu 15 Oct 2009, 8:45 pm

GRIBBLE & KIRSCH
On April 28, 1961, two American exchange students from Moscow University walked into the US Embassy and announced their intention to marry Soviet women.

The names of the students were Charles Gribble and Leonard Kirsch.

Officials at the Embassy tried, unsuccessfully, to talk them out of this course of action, and immediately notified the State Department of the situation via telegram. State in turn contacted Professor Robert Byrnes, head of the Inter-University [Student Exchange] Selection Committee.[1] Byrnes, a "former CIA officer", was known for his strict moralistic views and obsession with security. No-one with a leftist or promiscuous background need apply.[2] Leonard Kirsch had been "guilty" on both counts. A working class rake from Pittsburgh, Leonard, as well as his father, were the subject of files pertaining to labor union involvement. His application, initially rejected by Byrne's committee, was eventually accepted, but only after the vocal intervention of his Harvard professors.[3]

States reply to the Embassy included Byrnes' assessment that he could not "overemphasize concern and desire for Gribble and Kirsch reconsider matter in terms their whole future life and happiness. Committee strongly hopes students would seriously reconsider, particularly in view (a) difficulty and possible inability for wives obtain exit permits (what would students do if wives cannot leave?) (b) fact emotions may mislead one in strained emotional and physical environment such as experienced by exchange students in U.S.S.R. (Is this time and place to make such important life-long decision?) (c) possible motivations of girls other than or in addition to normal feelings of love including possible desire find means of leaving U.S.S.R. or possible police control of girls (d) possibility for police pressures and dangers to families of girls who remain in U.S.S.R. and through them on girls and ultimately on their husbands." State agreed, and recommended that the Embassy should continue "serious efforts" to discourage the marriages.[4] On May 4, Ambassador Thompson spoke personally with Gribble and Kirsch.

Gribble agreed to postponing his wedding for at least a year. Kirsch however, would not have his plans put off.[5]

THE KIRSCH WEDDING
Leonard Kirsch married a sensitive young woman named Elena Anisimova Knyazkina.[6] She was a specialist in Portuguese literature whose father had fought with the White army against the Bolsheviks.[7] The ceremony was held in the ornate Palace of Marriages the same day that permission was granted and the marriage license issued; May 17.

Marriages in the Palace were held at an assembly line pace; about a half hour allotted to one after another, inclusive of a reception.[8] This particular reception, notwithstanding the country of origin of the groom, was unremarkable, except for one thing: the presence of someone dressed in a stylish suit, cut too well to be of Soviet origin. Moreover, he was not recognizable to the Best Man; fellow exchange student, Loren Graham or his wife, Pat.

Curious as to his identity, the Grahams walked over and struck up a conversation with him. During the course of the conversation, they learned he was an official from the US Embassy; that the embassy "wanted to know about all marriages between US and Soviet citizens, since frequently they led to diplomatic negotiations about place of residence", adding that "this was the second marriage between an American man and a Soviet woman he'd attended". He named this other American as Oswald, and that the wedding had taken place in Minsk. The Grahams would recall the Oswald name after the assassination of JFK, but apart from that, placed no meaning on the conversation with the official. Not drawn by the controversies stirred up over the years regarding the 35th President's untimely demise,  the possible significance of what they had been told remained far from their minds; far from apparent.

That situation would change, if only to a degree, in 1982.[9]

PRISCILLA JOHNSON McMILLAN                 
It was after chairing a seminar at Harvard in the spring of '82 that Loren Graham found himself beside Priscilla Johnson McMillan. Knowing she was the biographer of Marina Oswald, and trying to make what he thought was just small talk, he recounted the story of meeting an Embassy official at a Moscow wedding reception, and how the official had told them of his attendance at the Oswald wedding. Though McMillan's strong response could have been accurately forecast by anyone who has studied this case, to Graham, her questioning his memory of it was entirely unexpected. He nevertheless assured her he was certain of what he'd been told, and the circumstances in which the conversation had taken place. McMillan replied that she hoped the "believers in conspiracy never get hold of this", explaining that there had been speculation about Oswald meeting with American officials while in the USSR, but that the Warren Commission, based on what it had learned from government personnel, had concluded nothing of the sort had taken place. For good measure, she added that Marina had said nothing of any Embassy official being at her wedding.[10]  

THE OSWALD WEDDING
Lee and Marina were married in Minsk on April 30, 1961. The records show that the embassy did not know of this until receiving a letter from Oswald on May 25.[11] If Oswald was only considered to be a confused young man who had tried to defect, then knowledge of a pending marriage should have elicited the same response made in the cases of Gribble and Kirsch; a concerted effort to disuade him. In fact, his case would have been seen as an even more urgent one, given that (a) his citizenship status was complicated (according to the embassy, at any rate) and (b) he had already commenced steps toward returning to the US. What would not happen is the charade of only finding out about the marriage almost a month later, in what was merely an aside in a letter from Oswald about being repatriated. If the US Embassy knew of the wedding all along, and covered up this knowledge, it points to the marriage being made not in Heaven, but in the corridors and ante-rooms of at least one, if not both superpowers.

POSTSCRIPT
Professor Loren Graham was contracted prior to the writing of this article, but was unable to recall any details above and beyond what is contained in his book. Leonard Kirsch returned to live in the US after his wife was issued an exit visa in 1962. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1977, age 42.

Attempts are now being made to find out if a guest registry was made at the Oswald wedding, and if so, where a copy might be found.

ENDNOTES
[1] Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/5-261. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Martens (EUR/SES) and approved by SOV, OEE and Siscoe (EUR/SES).

[2] Moscow Stories by Loren R Graham, p218.

[3] Id. p 217.

[4] Department of State, Central Files, 511.613/5-261. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Martens (EUR/SES) and approved by SOV, OEE and Siscoe (EUR/SES).

[5] Ibid

[6] Warren Commission Exhibit 2756.

[7] Moscow Stories by Loren R Graham, p 47.

[8] Id. P 49.

[9] Id. 50 - 51. The Best Man in Soviet ceremonies was actually known as the First Witness. The mention of concern over marriages and possible disputes over country of residency adds credence to Graham's account - for this was one of the main issues Nixon placed on the table in his meetings with Kruschev in '59.

[10] Ibid. That evening, Graham asked his wife what she recalled of the conversation. Her memory matched his. Asked if it might be possible that the official had only said he'd heard of the Oswald wedding, Pat Graham conceded it was barely possible, but that she really had no doubt he said he'd attended. In fact, since the embassy claimed not to have known about the Oswald wedding until 8 days after the Grahams met this official, the only other way they could have known prior to that would be through contact agents in the Soviet bureaucracy - which seems unlikely - and at the very least - still amounts to a cover-up for reasons unknown.

[11] Warren Commission Exhibit 252.


Last edited by greg parker on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 9:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

greg parker
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Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

Post by greg parker on Sat 22 Jun 2013, 11:32 am

Some time ago, another researcher told me that Malcolm Blunt - renowned as someone immersed in the archival records - had found "traces" of a CIA program to have agents marry KGB lassies and bring 'em home. He said this program was code-named "REDWOOD".

I looked into REDWOOD and couldn't confirm it had anything to do with marrying KGB agents at all, so I let it go. I was right. It didn't have anything to do with it -- but I'll get to that later.

Recently and by accident, I came across this quote: "Oswald was sent to USSR and married soviet girl under CIA instructions" from a book called Peculiar Liaisons: In War, Espionage, And Terrorism Of The Twentieth Century (p 202) by John S Craig. This allegedly came from a CIA memo from Dec, 1963 based on what a Soviet Consul General allegedly said to a CIA agent. Craig cites Russell's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1992 version, p 21) as his source. 

I then confirmed the cite in Russell's book.

By now, I was in my usual state of puzzlement. Couldn't work out why this information wasn't more prominent.

But then I found the CIA report.
http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/viewer/showDoc.do?docId=27332&relPageId=2

What it basically says is that the Consul General merely said that Oswald went to the USSR and married a Soviet girl. The bit about doing it on behalf of the CIA - according to the CIA - was added to the quote by a journalist at Blitz - which is an Indian liberal newspaper. 

REDWOOD is mentioned in the document only because it was an intelligence gathering/transmitting operation. 

But the key question is: did the journalist really add the stuff about the CIA? Blitz - according to the CIA and right-leaning sources - was a tool of the KGB. 

But then a different picture emerges when you look into the journalist (who was actually also the founder of Blitz)Russi Karanjia.

This obit says he was "Frank, free and fearless". If it was the only source, I might be a little dubious -- but it's not.
http://www.arabnews.com/russi-karanjia-frank-free-and-fearless

Here is his wiki article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russi_Karanjia

According to this... Blitz "sent bullshitters cowering". Which is a really good epitaph to have...
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main37.asp?filename=hub160208Russi_Karanjia.asp
 
More sources
http://www.thehoot.org/web/home/story.php?storyid=2916&pg=1&mod=1§ionId=10

And a hope too, for those who sought to take on the wrongdoers. A whistle blower, a peoples' cop. That was his image in our hearts.
http://ia.rediff.com/news/2008/feb/02russi.htm


Plenty more, but you get the picture... you can also locate the accusations of being a KGB stooge through google.

So was the Blitz article accurate? I still can't say...

On the other side of the coin, there were/are those who claim Oswald could have married Marina at the request of the KGB.

Hosty and others for instance, have cited the case of James Mintkenbaugh (who had been recruited to spy for the KGB by Robert Lee Johnson). According to Hosty, when Minkenbaugh came home from the USSR in '59 and was arrested for spying, he told the FBI that the KGB had asked him to marry a young Soviet woman to take back to the States with him when he left.. However, he refused and returned alone.

The similarities between Minkenbaugh and Oswald are inevitably cited. What is never stated is the one big difference. Minkenbaugh was a KNOWN KGB spy. There is no real evidence suggesting LHO was - let alone it being a fact.

Back to the original question: true love, KGB,CIA or joint mission?

-------------------

as a sidebar -- many of the Russian women in Dallas in 1963 were divorced or separated. Maybe the stress of assimilation, or...?

Some of those were also young and had young kids. The records do show a number of sightings of a young Russian speaking woman with one or two kids in tow, presumed to be Marina...

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

Post by greg parker on Thu 31 Oct 2013, 7:24 am

bump

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

greg parker
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Re: Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

Post by greg parker on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 9:27 pm

With Much gratitude to Phil Hopely for sending me the book, Moscow Stories.







_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

greg parker
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Re: Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

Post by greg parker on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 9:52 pm

Boiled down, here are the important facts:

1. The US Embassy denied any knowledge of Oswald's wedding until he mentioned it after the fact in a letter.
2. Prof. Graham and his wife are certain they were told otherwise by an Embassy official at another wedding. In fact, the official claimed to have attended Oswald's wedding.
3. Prof. Graham is about as disinterested a party as you can get. That adds much credibility to his story.
4. Priscilla Johnson MacMillan otoh, is a very interested party and her reaction to Prof. Graham's story is very telling. 
5. The experiences of Lennie and Lena can easily be contrasted and compared to that of Lee and Marina.
6. This is possibly the most important point of all: Lennie had to invoke the help of Eleanor Roosevelt and Nina Khrushchev.  That worked because according to Graham, the answer was an automatic NEGATIVE - UNLESS THERE WAS A PUSH FROM THE TOP.

Who pushed from the top for Lee and and Marina?

_________________
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forward

            Billy Bragg
-----------------------------
 Australians don't mind criminals: It's successful bullshit artists we despise. 
             Lachie Hulme            
-----------------------------
The Cold War ran on bullshit.
              Me

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Re: Oswald's marriage: true love or a mission for KGB or CIA?

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