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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. XI - Page 191« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Virginia H. James)

Mr. Coleman.
of Communist policy, have become separated from their American citizen families. And from the time we first recognized the Soviets, this has been a problem there. Files are filled with notes to the Soviet Government asking t. hem to please issue exit visas to permit certain relatives to join families in the United States. This has gone on, and I remember hearing an officer say that if the result of recognizing the Soviet Union was for no other reason than to assist these people this was a very powerful reason. During World War II no visas were issued and nobody traveled and this died. Right after the war we again had the problem of people trying to get their relatives out, and the number was greatly increased by Russia taking over those various countries. Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Poland, parts of Czechoslovakia, Rumania went into the Soviet Union, and we had the number greatly enlarged.
Then, in addition to that, because of war operations, American citizens were stationed in the Soviet Union and they had married Soviet women, and so we had pressing eases of correspondents, American correspondents, a few people assigned to the Embassy in Moscow who married Soviet wives, probably about 15 or 16 who were very, what we would call, worthy cases of good marriages and good people who had made a good marriage with women we thought were good people, and they have since made good American citizens.
So in 1958, when Stalin died, we had the first break, and they issued the visas on this group. And since then we have gone forward with this. We saw we had a break and so we have been pressing the Soviet Government to issue visas to clear this problem up.
In 1959 when Mr. Nixon went there, he was importuned by relatives to help to get their relatives out, I mean American citizens, and he took a list of about 80 people, and he agreed to take up these cases, and we added a number of worthy cases, and Mr. Khrushchev said, "I want to clear up this problem"-present it through channels.
Since then, we have presented it through channels and we have succeeded in getting about 800 relatives of American citizens out. And the defector's wife falls into that pattern, because while we are not sympathetic with these people we know that if we refuse to grant U.S. visas to a wife of an American citizen, the Soviet Government can immediately say, "Well, we grant visas to these people, exit visas. Then you don't allow them to go to the United States. What does this mean?"
So that was the basis of our whole policy with Marina Oswald, that we felt that we didn't want to put the Embassy in a position of fighting for exit visas for relatives, and then when they issue you say, "Well, this is not quite the kind we want."
Mr. Coleman.
In other words, you say that once the Passport Office made the decision that Oswald was still an American citizen, then your policy that you don't want to separate husbands and wives came into play, and if the Soviet Union is willing to let both of them out, that we will let them come in?
Miss JAMES. That is the basic policy. That was the whole interest in our Office, the Embassy in Moscow's primary interest there as far as Marina Oswald was concerned, and her child.
Mr. Coleman.
I have no further questions. Thank you.

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

James L. Ritchie

Testimony of James L. Ritchie

The testimony of James L. Ritchie was taken at 12:20 p.m., on June 17, 1964, at 200 Maryland Avenue NE., Washington, D.C., by Messrs. William T. Coleman, Jr., and W. David Slawson, assistant counsel of the President's Commission, Thomas Ehrlich, Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser, Department of State, and Carroll H. Seeley, Jr., were present.
Mr. Coleman.
Mr. Ritchie, will you state your full name?
Mr. Ritchie.
James L. Ritchie.
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