CLIO 7 (1) - page 31

that, everything.You got to come all the way from
childhood on up, especially that last year of his life,
and understand what transpired in his life.’
Lee Harvey Oswald was born in NewOrleans, Loui-
siana, on October 18, 1939. He never met his father,
he died 2 months before Lee’s birth leaving his
mother to bring up Lee and his siblings alone. His
brother described him as a ‘lonely boy, needing at-
tention but not getting any’, Lee correlates this in a
diary of his that was found, he described himself as
having ‘a far mean streak of independence, brought
on by neglect’. He had an unstable upbringing, him
and his siblings were never allowed to forget that
they were a burden to their mother. Furthermore
the family moved constantly, never settling down
anywhere for any meaningful length of time, by age
13 Oswald had attended 7 different schools. This
inability for this young boy to create any meaning-
ful ties helped to nurture his feeling of isolation, he
wanted attention, friends. He became interested in
communism around the age of 16 after reading a
flyer about the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a
couple put to death in America under the conviction
of being soviet spies. He joined the military aged 17,
his 3 years there taught him to shoot, something he
proved very talented at, whilst there he also taught
himself Russian, this and his loyalty to Marxist and
communist beliefs earnt him few friends. In 1959
Oswald decided to defect, he claimed to dislike the
capitalism and racism in American society, he saw
Russia as a new free land that was beckoning him.
That same year he visited Moscow on a tourist visa
and appealed to the Russian government to let him
stay, his reception was not what he had anticipated.
Oswald had severely overestimated his own impor-
tance and how useful he would be to the Russians,
at first they were sceptical and thought he was a
spy but they soon realised he was no good as an
agent, for them or for the USA. 6 days after he got
to Moscow the Russians decided they didn’t want
him and asked him to leave. However they had not
bargained on the unstable and dramatic nature
of Oswald who, on learning of his rejection, went
to his hotel room and slit his wrists. It is dubious
whether he actually wanted to die, what is more
likely is that he wanted to pressure the government
to allow him to stay. It worked; the authorities
caved and granted him sanctuary in Russia giving
him an apartment and blue collar job in Minsk. For
a while he was content with this, revelling in the at-
tention he received there as an American, he mar-
ried a Russian girl named Marina. However he soon
grew dissatisfied, he was still leading an ordinary
life of an average worker just in another country, he
could not be fulfilled by being ordinary. He moved
back to the USA in June 1962 with his wife and new-
born daughter. According to his brother, he was
disappointed on his arrival at the airport, not to find
a group of reporters waiting to ask him questions
of his defection, he had thought his return would
be of note but was wrong and the answers he had
prepared went unused.
Oswald had a view of himself and his own
importance that contrasted with the credentials
of his life and left him frustrated. Coming from an
impoverished background he had little education,
no qualifications, very little money and few use-
ful skills, however despite this he was incredibly
ambitious. To understand how one man, unaided
and unprompted, took it upon himself to kill the
president, one of the most loved men of his era,
you have to understand motive and to understand
motive you have to understand Oswald. Looking
at what we know of his life we can see how deep
routed his sense of self importance ran, he had a
deep desire, almost need, to be ‘somebody’. This
became for Oswald a kind of mania. It’s from this
that it is believed his desire to become a political
assassin stemmed, after his death police uncov-
ered a previous assassination attempt on retired
U.S officer General EdwinWalker, despite this it is
doubtful that Kennedy would have become his next
target had the opportunity not presented itself in
as perfect a way as the Dallas Motorcade. Oswald
heard, along with the rest of Dallas, of the upcom-
ing visit presidential visit in the news, and was able
to view the route that Kennedy would take in the
local newspaper. It is from this that he realised the
motorcade would drive down a road right next to
the building Oswald worked in. What happened
next is history. A couple months previously he had
purchased 2 firearms which, on the day, he was
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