20 November 2013 Blogs

Did Oswald’s Extreme Political Views Lead to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy?

ProQuest History Vault includes recently declassified material relating to the Kennedy assassination.

In the autumn of 1959, a young American named Lee Harvey Oswald appeared at the U.S. embassy in Moscow and requested that his U.S. citizenship be revoked. Noting that his application for Soviet citizenship was pending, he declared, “I take these steps for political reasons. My request for the revoking of my American citizenship is made only after the longest and most serious considerations.”

During his subsequent examination, Oswald’s manner was reportedly “aggressive, arrogant, and uncooperative,” and he remained vague in his explanations, revealing only that his “principal reason” for defection was that “I am a Marxist."

(Images from: ProQuest History Vault, Papers from the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives, Part 2: Church Committee Investigation, October 31, 1959 Foreign Service Despatch from American Embassy, Moscow, History Vault Accession ID# 102544-012-0246).

As it turned out, Oswald never succeeded in transferring his citizenship, and after becoming disillusioned with life in the Soviet Union, he returned to the United States in 1962 with a Russian wife, Marina.

A year and a half later, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Oswald, who worked in a building overlooking the site, was arrested later that day, but before he could be tried, he himself was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a local businessman with Mafia ties.

For some people, the assassination of President Kennedy remains unresolved to this day. After a ten-month investigation, the government-appointed Warren Commission—named after its chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren—concluded that Oswald had acted alone. Despite the commission’s rejection of a wider assassination plot, historians, conspiracy theorists, and filmmakers alike have continued to cast doubt on this explanation.

ProQuest History Vault includes recently declassified material relating to the Kennedy assassination. These materials are from the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection at the National Archives. The Kennedy Assassination Records materials that focus on Oswald are included in History Vault’s American Politics and Society from Kennedy to Watergate.

Documents from the Kennedy Assassination Records that focus on Kennedy’s policy toward Cuba are included in History Vault’s Vietnam War and American Foreign Policy. The Cuba-related materials, as well as the Oswald documents, are now available to researchers as a result of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated the release of all U.S. government records “related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”