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UPI Archives
Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963

Oswald's 1959 interview with UPI

PARIS, Nov. 23, 1963 (UPI) - He wanted to stay in the Soviet Union, said the slight and intense young man sitting in Room 233 of the Metropole Hotel in Moscow.

Living in the United States, he added, would mean being exploited by the capitalists. That was one of his reasons for coming to Moscow.

"Lee Harvey Oswald, Fort Worth, Tex., arrived Moscow, Oct. 15, 1959, applied Oct. 16 for Soviet citizenship," I had written in my notebook that day when I was on assignment in the UPI bureau there.

Early today, after Oswald's arrest in Dallas, I found my notes on what he had said when I located him in Moscow after he went to the U.S. Embassy there and asked that his citizenship be canceled.

Sitting by a fringed lampshade and looking out the lace-curtained window on Revolution Square, he talked easily as if he were anxious to get all that he said published.

"I was born in New Orleans and lived for two years in New York," he said. "I spent most of my life in Fort Worth. My father died before I was born. My mother works in shops mostly, in Fort Worth."

As he continued, he gave me the impression of a person who is determined but unsure of himself, na?ve and emotionally unbalanced.

"I played baseball and football in high school," he said. "I had a certain amount of friends, but I don't have many attachments now in the U.S.," he said. "In my childhood I enjoyed a few benefits of American society. I was a bookworm."

"I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17 and served in Japan and the Philippines and was discharged. As a radar operator private first class, when I was 20 in Santa Ana, Calif., last Sept. 11, I won a good conduct medal."

I asked why he wanted to remain in the Soviet Union.

"I'm a Marxist," he said seriously. "I became interested about the age of 15. An old lady handed me a pamphlet about saving the Rosenbergs (Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed as spies).

"I still remember that pamphlet about the Rosenbergs. I don't know why. Then we moved to North Dakota and I discovered one book in the library, 'Das Kapital'. It was what I'd been looking for. It was like a very religious man opening the Bible for the first time.

"I started to study Marxist economic theories. I could see the impoverishment of the masses before my own eyes in my own mother. I thought the worker's life could be better. I found some Marxist books on dusty shelves in the New Orleans library and continued to indoctrinate myself for five years.

"I've not just been thinking about this; I've been waiting to do it for two years, saving my money, just waiting until I got out of the Marine Corps, like waiting to get out of prison. For two years I've had it in my mind not to form any attachments because I knew I was going away.

"My mother doesn't know. She's rather old. I couldn't expect her to understand. But it wasn't quite fair of me to go without telling her. But it's better that way.

"Having been in the Marine Corps, I observed American leaders in foreign countries. The Russians say 'military imperialism,' and occupation of one country is imperialistic, like Formosa.

"I helped drag guns in Formosa and watched American technicians show Chinese how to use them. If you live with that for three years, you get the impression things aren't quite right."

Then he added that living in the United States means exploitation by the capitalists.

"Capitalism has passed its peak," he said. "Capitalism will disappear as feudalism disappeared."

Oswald said he was against segregation.

"I've seen poor niggers, being a southern boy," he said. "And that was a lesson. People hate because they're told to hate, like school kids. It's the fashion to hate people in the United States."

I saw him once after that, in a Moscow theater when he was with a Russian girl. When I called his hotel, the clerk said he had checked out.


(Editor's note: In a Moscow hotel room four years ago, Lee Harvey Oswald told a UPI reporter why "I couldn't live under the capitalist system." In this dispatch the reporter describes that interview which provides sharp insights into the nature of the man charged with the slaying of President Kennedy).

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.