Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia
DAYS 7 - 13 : Thursday, October 22 - Wednesday October 28, 1959 BOTKIN HOSPITAL & "ELDERLY AMERICAN"
In his Historic Diary, Lee Harvey Oswald wrote:
Oct. 22. Hospital - I am in a small room with about 12 others (sick persons), 2 orderlies and a nurse. The room is very drab as well as the breakfast. Only after prolonged (2 hours) observation of the other patients do I realize I am in the Insanity ward. This realization disquiets me. Later in afternoon I am visited by Rimma. She comes in with two doctors. As interpreter she must ask me medical questions: Did you know what you were doing? Answer, "yes". Did you blackout? No, etc. I then complain about poor food; the doctors laugh, apparently this is a good sign. Later they leave. I am alone with Rimma (amongst the mentally ill) she encourages me and scolds me, she says she will help me get transferred to another section of the hospital (not for insane) where food is good.
After being observed for a day in the psychiatric ward, Lee Harvey Oswald was judged not to be dangerous to himself or "to other people." He is transferred to Ward 7 , a building where foreign patients are treated. (It is unclear whether the building is reserved exclusively for foreigners.)
[CE 895] includes official medical records describing Oswald's treatment and psychiatric interview released by the USSR to the Warren Commission in 1964. Unfortunately, only US State Department translations are published in the Warren Hearings volumes. I have never seen the Russian language originals.
In his journal Oswald wrote:
Then something extraordinary occurs. Oswald notes in his diary:
Oct. 23. Transferred to ordinary ward (airy, good food), but nurses suspicious of me(they know). Afternoon. I am visited by Rosa Agafonova of the hotel tourist office who asks about my health; very beautiful, excellent English, very merry and kind; she makes me very glad to be alive. Later Rimma visits.
Oct. 24. Hospital routine; Rimma visits me in afternoon
Oct 25. Hospital routine; Rimma visits me in afternoon
Oct. 26. An elderly American at the hospital grows suspicious about me for some reason, maybe because at Embassy I told him I had not registered as most tourists and I am in general evasive about my presence in Moscow and at hospital.
| A KGB report released in 1999, also makes note of this event but with an astonishing detail:
But according to all official history,
the US Embassy had no knowledge of Oswald's presence in Moscow
until October 31, a full
week later, when he appeared there to renounce his citizenship.
Who from the US Embassy was visiting the
hospital and who telephoned on October 24 inquiring about
Oswald? And above all, why did they not make further
The first clue that there was some concern about this question, appears in the Warren Hearings . In WH Vol. 5, p. 569, the former Ambassador to the USSR, Llewellyn E. Thompson is questioned on July 28, 1964:
MR. SLAWSON: Mr. Ambassador, I have a name of an American citizen, Mr. William Edgerton Morehouse, Jr., who, according to the records of the Department of State was hospitalized in a hospital in Moscow in the fall of 1959.
According to the records furnished us by the Russian Government, and according to the personal diary kept by Lee Harvey Oswald, he, too, was hospitalized in the latter part of October, and commented--Oswald commented in his diary--that in his ward with him was what he described as an elderly American. We are trying to locate that American. We think that possibly this Mr. Morehouse was that person. I wonder if you had ever heard of Mr. Morehouse before, or know who he might be?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: I have no recollection of having heard of this man before.
MR. SLAWSON: Do you have any recollection of any other American that might fit this description?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: No; I do recall that there have been American tourists who have been in the hospital in Moscow. But I don't recall at that particular date whether there were any.
THE CIA AND THE SEARCH FOR THE "ELDERLY AMERICAN"
For More Go
On February 4, 1964, Lee H. Wigren C/SR/CI Research
made an inquiry regarding the elderly American.
On August 12, 1964, the CIA
reported: "American citizen Waldemar Boris Karapatnitsky last known
address West Berlin, visited relatives USSR 1959, and believed
hospitalized Botkina Hospital Moscow in bed next to OSWALD October 21,
1959, to October 28, 1959. Subject a retired machinery importer-exporter
born January 14, 1886, Ukraine...Subject denounced 1950 by neighbor as
communist based on conversations between informant and SAC. No further
From 1958 to 1962,
Counter-Intelligence HT-LINGUAL intercepted 15 letters mailed either to
the Soviet Union from the United States by Boris Karapatnitsky, or mailed
from the Soviet Union and received by him in the United States.
The CIA was reluctant to take the testimony of
Boris Karapatnitsky because of "complications that would later arise," and
discussed the problem with David Slawson. David Slawson told the CIA
he would get the State Department to take Boris Karapatnitsky's
From the State Department report: "A
Mission Officer called on Boris Karapatnitsky on August 14, 1964, under
pretext of checking residences of older U.S. citizens residing in Berlin.
Karapatnitsky said he thought he knew why the officer had come and stated
he had intended to visit consular section for advice concerning problem.
He described problem as follows: He had been informed by a friend in New
York that a Secret Service agent, representing the Warren Commission, had
inquired about him asking Kara had been in USSR certain time and if he had
known OSWALD. Showed Consular Officer letter from friend dated August 10,
1964, surmising that Sovs had furnished names of all patients in hospital
at time of OSWALD'S hospitalization and that he had been traced from
there. Kara said he had never heard of OSWALD until after assassination of
President Kennedy. He volunteered there had been only one American in
Karapatnitsky's room in hospital but he was 69 year old
response to repeated he had heard nothing about OSWALD in the USSR and
could recall no reason to believe their paths have crossed."
The unnamed "69 yeat-old industrialist" is probably William Edgerton Morehouse, about whom Ambassador Thompson was questioned above.
Llewellyn E. Thompson's July 28, 1964 testimony before the Warren Commission continues:
MR. SLAWSON: If an ordinary American tourist or businessman in Moscow were to receive an injury in, say, an automobile accident or some other normal method, would he normally be put into the same ward as Embassy people were placed, or would he receive treatment right along with normal Soviet citizens?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: I think that there is an emergency hospital type where he probably would normally be taken, rather than Botkinskyaya. I cannot be sure of this. But we had an American doctor in the Embassy who would normally be called in on cases of this kind, and if he felt the case required it he would probably apply to have him taken to Botkinskaya.
MR. SLAWSON: Do you recollect who this doctor was in the fall of 1959?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: I believe at that time it was an Air Force officer. It sometimes rotated among the services. But I am almost certain it was an Air Force officer. I could get the name, but I don't recall it at the moment. I just don't recall the name.
MR. SLAWSON: Mr. Ambassador, do you think it would be unsual of the Soviet Government to permit someone in Oswald's circumstances, that is a would-be defector from his own government, to be treated in the same ward as other Americans, or particularly as Americansx who might come under the category of this important person or Embassy official ward you were speaking of?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: I would think it is probably somewhat unusual. This doctor could give you expert testimony on this, because he has been involved in almost all cases.
MR. DULLES: Do you happen to know whether that doctor is in the United States at the present time?
AMBASSADOR THOMPSON: He was in Texas the last I heard. I draw a blank on his name at the moment, although I know him quite well.
Who is the "Air Force officer" doctor that Thompson knows "quite well" but cannot recall his name? Who was, as Thompson testified "in Texas the last I heard"?
The following 1961 CIA document referring to "the Doctor" at the US Embassy in Moscow and the need for "coordination with the US Air Force" is clearly referring to the same individual whose name Thompson could not remember. The document can be found at the CIA's own website http://www.foia.ucia.gov/ in the section dealing with the Penkovsky intelligence operation.
The individual referred is must
be Dr. Alexis Davison, whose mother's, (Natalia Alekseevna Belimisheva
Davison) address in Atlanta was discovered in Oswald's address book.
[CE 18] Natalia Alekseevana arrived in the USA with her father after the
Russian Civil War but she returned to the Soviet Union in 1924. There
she met and married the father of Alexis Davison, a US Red
Alexis Davison, as an Embassy doctor had conducted a medical examination of Marina in 1962 in Moscow prior to the Oswalds' departure for the USA. Davison could not recall giving his address to Lee or Marina but testified before the HCSA that in doing so, "this was not an unusual thing to do since my family had always been very hospitable to Russians who visited Atlanta."
Davison was an agent for the CIA, providing "passive communication support" for a major intelligence operatation in Moscow involving the Russian spy GRU Colonel Oleg Penkovsky. In May 1963, Penkovsky was arrested and Davison was one of the US diplomats ordered out of the USSR. Penkovsky was later shot as a traitor by the Russians. While the CIA denies that Davison undertook any other intelligence functions other than those in the Penkovsky operation, many of Davison's files remain classified. Was he a full-time CIA operative or a casual agent as the CIA alleges?
But Davison was not the doctor at the US Embassy in 1959 when Oswald first arrived. Davison did not arrive in Moscow until May 1961. What was Thompson thinking when he confused Davison with the doctor who might have been visiting the Botkinskaya hospital when Oswad was there? Was he confusing the doctors or the CIA agents?
The Warren Commission did not follow up on the identity of the Embassy doctor in 1959. The probability is very high that it was the Embassy medical officer who was visiting the "elderly Amercican" in the hospital and encountered Oswald. As it stands today, it is a mystery who on October 24 called from the US embassy inquiring about Lee Harvey Oswald. What is most odd, is how the Embassy inquiry into Oswald was so suddenly dropped.
On the morning of October 28, Lee Harvey Oswald was released from the hospital.
Lee Harvey Oswald in Russia