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Warren Commission Report: Page 377« Previous | Next »

(CHAPTER VII - Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives)

and thereby might have influenced his decision to assassinate President Kennedy.


The discussion below will describe the events known to the Commission which most clearly reveals the formation and nature of Oswald's character. It will attempt to summarize the events of his early life, his experience in New York City and in the Marine Corps, and his interest in Marxism. It will examine his defection to the Soviet Union in 1959, his subsequent return to the United States and his life here after June of 1962. The review of the latter period will evaluate his personal and employment relations, his attempt to kill General Walker, his political activities, and his unsuccessful attempt to go to Cuba in late September of 1963. Various possible motives will be treated in the appropriate context of the discussion outlined above.

The Early Years

Significant in shaping the character of Lee Harvey Oswald was the death of his father, a collector of insurance premiums. This occurred 2 months before Lee was born in New Orleans on October 18, 1939.12 That death strained the financial fortunes of the remainder of the Oswald family. It had its effect on Lee's mother, Marguerite, his brother Robert, who had been born in 1934, and his half-brother John Pic, who had been born in 1932 during Marguerite's previous marriage.13 It forced Marguerite Oswald to go to work to provide for her family.14 Reminding her sons that they were orphans and that the family's financial condition was poor, she placed John Pie and Robert Oswald in an orphans' home.15 From the time Marguerite Oswald returned to work until December 26, 1942, when Lee too was sent to the orphans' home, he was cared for principally by his mother's sister, by babysitters and by his mother, when she had time for him.16


Marguerite Oswald withdrew Lee from the orphans' home and took him with her to Dallas when he was a little over 4 years old.17 About 6 months later she also withdrew John Pic and Robert Oswald.18 Apparently that action was taken in anticipation of her marriage to Edwin A. Ekdahl, which took place in May of 1945.19 In the fall of that year John Pic and Robert Oswald went to a military academy where they stayed, except for vacations, until the spring of 1948.20 Lee Oswald remained with his mother and Ekdahl,21 to whom he became quite attached. John Pic testified that he thought Lee found in Ekdahl the father that he never had.22 That situation, however, was short-lived, for the relations between Marguerite Oswald and Ekdahl were stormy and they were finally divorced, after several separations and reunions, in the summer of 1948.23


After the divorce Mrs. Oswald complained considerably about how unfairly she was treated, dwelling on the fact that she was a widow with three children. John Pic, however, did not think her position was worse than that of many other people.24 In the fall of 1948 she told John Pic and Robert Oswald that she could not afford to send them back to the military school and she asked Pic to quit school

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