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The Mystery of Albert Schweitzer College

"Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation."

Albert Schweitzer

Lee Harvey Oswald was a man of mystery. I believe that one of the reasons he was chosen for clandestine undercover assignments was that he kept his mouth shut. The numerous inconsistencies in his life have been the subject of debate for close to six decades. While there are many, one incident that stands out as a possible clue to the real forces controlling his actions. This was his application to Albert Schweitzer College in Churwalden, Switzerland. What was the purpose of this strange endeavor? Was someone behind his actions and behavior? Was he on a mission? Was the real purpose of his assignment different from what he believed it to be? Was he being manipulated by invisible forces, whose identity is speculative to this day?

Albert Schweitzer College was an experimental school created to allow students from all nations to meet and study together in the interests of promoting world peace and good will. That statement alone caused them to be seen as a threat in the eyes of military hawks, the CIA, and cold war profiteers. They had little interest in peace and a fear of it breaking out.

ASC was not a traditional degree-granting four year college. It was non-accredited and ran on a trimester schedule. You could enroll for one trimester or a whole year. The college was very small with less than 50 students and a few staff members.

According to the WC, on September 4, 1959, even before he left the El Toro base in California, Oswald applied for a passport under the pretense of attending the Albert Schweitzer College1 in Switzerland and the University of Turku in Finland, also included were to travel in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Germany, and Russia. Although his passport was authorized on September 10th, he did not get his discharge until September 11th. The Marines never questioned the discrepancy between these travel preparations and the purpose of his discharge, which was to take care of his “ailing” mother.2 After staying home with Marguerite for just three days, he told his mother that he was going into the “import-export” business. Her WC testimony was that import-export was already stamped on his passport. His brother Robert, wrote that Lee planned on going to New Orleans and working for an export firm.

On September 17th, Oswald departed for New Orleans, on the first leg of his defection.3 On September 20, he embarked on a freighter to La Havre, France. The journey took sixteen days. He arrived in France on October 8th. The Warren Commission said that he arrived in Southampton, England, October 9 and set off for Helsinki, Finland, arriving and checking into the Torni Hotel the same day.

However, on Oswald's passport, the British immigration stamp reads; “Embarked 10 Oct. 1959.” He then flew to Helsinki, Finland, arriving on October 10th at 11:30pm.4 The CIA, in response to a Warren Commission request, said that they could not identify any direct flights from London to Helsinki that would have allowed Oswald to arrive at his Helsinki hotel on the evening of October 10, 1959. So, was this a military flight? Or was it an indirect flight with a stopover?5 Another question is why, after taking a slow boat to China, err... France, did Oswald suddenly take quick flights to England and Finland? He told English customs agents that he was staying in the U.K. for one week before departing for Switzerland to attend Albert Schweitzer College. Instead he departed the same day to Finland. Oswald requested his Soviet visa on Monday, October 12th, the first business day after his arrival at Helsinki. His passport shows that his Soviet entrance visa was issued on October 14, a mere forty-eight hours later. The usual time for tourist visas was five to seven days. How did he get his in only 48 hours? In reality, it may have been even sooner. In his book Passport to Assassination, KGB Colonel, Oleg Nechiporenko reproduced a photographic copy of Oswald's 1959 application. The form is dated and signed by Oswald on October 13, one day later than previously thought. This document proves that Oswald's visa was actually granted within 24 hours instead of 48! Once in the Soviet Union, Oswald was initially rejected and given a deadline to get out of town. An apparent suicide attempt caused the KGB to reconsider to avoid an international incident.

When Oswald didn't show up at Albert Schweitzer College in Switzerland, his mother became concerned about him. A $25.00 check she sent him on January 22, 1960 was returned. The FBI knew this because they had been opening her mail. John Newman discovered an FBI memo that revealed a program for “siphoning of bank account information”. George Michael Evica believed that this “program,” together with the specific history of Oswald's background, trip to Europe, and his subsequent disappearance, points to a Bureau counter-espionage operation. At this point Mrs. Oswald was interviewed due to Bureau concern that her missing son's identity was being used by someone else. She revealed that she believed he took his birth certificate with him. If not, it was missing. This is the origin of Hoover's June, 1960 memo that an impostor might be using Oswald's birth certificate. Why, after the suspicious suicide attempt by Oswald, did the Soviet officials ask him if he had any identification other than his passport? Did they, like Hoover, believe someone was impersonating him?

So what is really going on here? Most researchers now believe Oswald was a “fake” defector, probably part of an ONI project designed to lure the Soviets into accepting them as real or turning them as double-agents in a cold war game consisting of mutual efforts to “fake the other guy out.” In addition, recently released documents incriminate James Jesus Angleton and his Counter-Intelligence unit of handling Oswald from the get go. Oswald being Angelton's singleton agent. For more on this see my book, “The Other Oswald, A Wilderness of Mirrors.”

But getting back to the subject of this article, how did Albert Schweitzer College, or ASC, fit into all of this subterfuge?

The Crown Jewel of the Unitarian Church6

ASC was owned and operated by the Unitarian controlled IARF7. The main supporters of ASC in the US were the American Unitarian Association Department of World Churches and the Unitarian operated Friends of Albert Schweitzer College. As George Michael Evica observed, “Over the years, Allen Dulles and the OSS/CIA used the Quakers, the Unitarians, the World Council of Churches and other religious groups as sources of intelligence and information. According to Evica, The Unitarian Church was the mainstay of the Albert Schweitzer College.”8 It now seems apparent that Oswald registered at Schweitzer to use it as a reason for travel to Europe in the fall of 1959. It is obvious that he never intended to attend.

Richard Boeke of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), said that the college had 25-30 students when he visited it in 1964. He elaborated that the college was in “a bit of trouble” with the Swiss” due to American students introducing Marijuana. This fits Walt Brown's description of Albert Schweitzer College as “a hippie commune with a curriculum.” The weed incident became a drag and resulted in ASC moving to a new location near Geneva. When Boeke later revisited the institution he found no students at all, only a director who lived very well. Soon after this, lack of financial support resulted in ASC going broke.9

Evica believed ASC was being watched by FBI and CIA due to alleged communist affiliations of Schweitzer himself. In particular, his denunciation of the nuclear arms race was seen as a threat to cold war activists. Evica also believed that ASC may have been infiltrated since this was the case with many other institutions espousing the “commie” view on peace.10 Was the original plan to have Oswald infiltrate this institution as a spy or agent provocateur?

The Unitarian Service Committee was used by the OSS and CIA in various operations, mainly involving relief and refugee work. One prominent member of the USC was Dr. Winfred Overholser, a professor of Psychiatry at George Washington University and Director of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Wash, DC.11 Overholser was instrumental in establishing alcoholism as a disease. One of his patients was the poet Ezra Pounds.

In October, 1942, the OSS established a “truth serum” committee headed by Overholser. This later evolved into Project ARTICHOKE, which eventually escalated into MKULTRA. After the Korean War, Overholser worked to ensure US soldiers would be inoculated against communist brainwashing techniques. As stated earlier, Overholser was a Unitarian and active member of the Unitarian Service Committee.

If you think all of this may just be a coincidence, then explain Overholser's secret employment by the Warren Commission as a consultant on the lives of both Oswald and Ruby? In addition, Commissioner John McCloy wanted to use Overholser to explain certain anomalies regarding the wounds and the autopsy report, something Overholser was certainly not qualified to do as a psychiatrist.

I'll get by with a little help from my friends

So how did Lee Oswald find out about ASC? The school was practically unknown, even to the Swiss police. The school didn't advertise. The only influx of applicants came from word of mouth and Friends of Albert Schweitzer College. Could it have been through CIA channels that he was manipulated into applying?

Oswald's Marine Corps buddy, Kerry Thornley, told the Warren Commission that he had been attending the “far left” First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles around the time he was friendly with Oswald. The church was led by Stephen Fritchman. Fritchman was a peace activist who had been before the House Un-American Activities Committee twice and was involved in the Test Ban talks.12

The head of the college, Hans Casparis, had attended the University of Chicago at a time concurrent when Kennedy supporter, Paul Douglass was on the faculty. Douglas, a Quaker turned Unitarian and anti-communist became involved in Operation Brotherhood, a CIA project involving medical charity to benefit the Diem regime in South Vietnam. The CIA's front for this venture was the “International Rescue Committee.”

The Friends of ASC acted as a cutout for CIA money. Not difficult with Percival Flack Brundage13 involved. He later helped set up CIA proprietaries in Miami to support Cuban ops fo JM/Wave.

Ruth Paines sister, Sylvia Hoke worked for the CIA under Air Force cover on surveillance flight manpower issues. One project she worked on was FICON. FICON was the predecessor of the U2 program. Her role dealt with manpower and recruitment research for the project. My research also found links between Hoke's work for the Air-Force in personnel records and a project called LONGSTRIDE that involved another defector, Robert Webster.14

They're Everywhere, They're Everywhere

Can it be just coincidence that Unitarians and Quakers are everywhere in the back ground of the JFK assassination? How many people do you know personally that belong to these groups? How many individuals with CIA ties do you count among your friends and associates? Lee Oswald, portrayed as a loner by the WC, was surrounded by both.15

Quakers, for instance, keep popping up in strange places in Oswald's world. Ruth Paine was a Quaker and she asked a fellow Quaker, Ruth Kloepfer, to check on the Oswalds while they were in New Orleans. Kloepfer's husband was a professor a Tulane University. Oswald reportedly passed out FPCC leaflets near the homes of professors at Tulane who were members of leftist groups. Richard Nixon, a Quaker, was in Dallas on the day of the assassination. At one time, Jack Ruby worked for Nixon as well as for LBJ. Robert Webster was of the Quaker faith. When Oswald was in Mexico City he reportedly made contacts with Quakers studying at the Autonomous University. One Quaker student at the University was an active agent of the CIA at the time. Priscilla McMillan, who got an exclusive interview with Oswald when he was in Moscow and befriended Marina after the assassination to collaborate on the book “Marina and Lee,” was a Quaker. Another wealthy Main Line Quaker and philanthropist, Dr. Dee Dee Sharples, later a Temple University Trustee, was once married to George de Mohrenschildt, one of the accused assassin’s best friends.

How about Unitarians? Oswald's Marine Corps buddy, Kerry Thornley and CIA mercenary, Gerald Patrick Hemming were Unitarians. William Lowery, Dallas' answer to Herb Philbrick, was a Unitarian. He ran a shoe store near the Texas Theater.16 As noted by George Michael Evica, the Unitarian Church was the pillar supporting the Albert Schweitzer College and Patrice Lumumba University. Oswald applied to both.

Another suspicious example of the connection of religion to the JFK assassination is the Abundant Life Temple in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. After breaking the world record for the mile, killing Tippit, and escaping the scene of the murder, Oswald, or whoever the shooter was, reportedly was seen entering the church. Dallas Police were about to search the building when they were called to the Texas Theater.

Eric Tagg labels these “old church” organizations as “a clandestine substructure developed to serve the intelligence community's concept of national security.”17 Tagg continues; “ all churches are virtually free from official inquiry by virtue of the Constitution, not to mention American custom. The “ministers” and “bishops” can accumulate money (religious fund-raising) without serious inquiry as to the source, ...they are free to operate in relative seclusion from the expected social involvements, free to engage in obscure crusades or missions........they may actually be a home structure for the particular church, one would have the most natural of safe-houses.” Was the Abundant Life Temple a safe-house where the real shooter of J.D. Tippit found sanctuary?

Less mainstream religions, born of con men who were ordained by mail, are prevalent as well. David Ferrie was a “priest” in the Old Orthodox Catholic Church. His vestments were found in his apartment after his death. Guy Banister's investigator, Jack Martin, was also a member of the Old Orthodox Catholic Church clergy and he encouraged Thomas Beckham to join and be ordained as well. Later “Bishop” Thomas Beckham set up his own obscure ministry in the Holy Orthodox Christian Church. Fred Chrisman was a minister in the non-existent Universal Life Church.18 An employee of Jack Ruby and Oswald look alike, Larry Crafard, was affiliated with the General Assembly and the Church of the First Born.” Is it yet another coincidence that five peripheral characters in the JFK assassination story just happen to be members of “Old Church” ordination mills? Beckham, it seems, was a patsy and later concluded that his “Old Catholic Church” was just a front for a group of Cuban Exiles. John Bowen was affiliated with the Council of Christian Churches. Bowen was an apparently self ordained minister who ran several missions in Mexico and founded “The Campfire Council” a youth group that promoted fascist ideologies.19 Bowen was also known as Albert Osborne and it was he who sat next to Oswald or his impersonator on a bus to Mexico City. He also may have run a school training assassins in Mexico.

United Missions of America, a Texas Corporation located in Dallas and represented by O.B. Graham (president) purchased the Oak Cliff Christian Church in April 1962 and renamed it the Abundant Life Temple. One of the incorporators of the United Missions of America was Walter C. Tucker. Tucker was a mechanic with the Continental Trailways which was located across the Stemmons Expressway from the TSBD. Continental Trailways also employed a man named Kenneth Cosy as a bus driver. Cosy's telephone number (FR5-5591) appears twice on the last page of Lee Oswald's notebook.20

Now that we know more about ASC, let's speculate about the mystery of Oswald's involvement with this institution. Why would he apply to a tiny, unaccredited school in a remote village in Switzerland? Even more intriguing is how he even knew of it's existence.

The possibilities are few. The College was dependent on the Unitarian Church for support. A group called Friends of Albert Schweitzer College helped recruit and raise funds. As stated, there was no advertising or promotion in the US. It is almost a certainty that LHO used personal contacts in making his application. Who could it have been? Kerry Thornley is a possibility. Thornley was a Unitarian and told the Warren Commission that he had been attending the “far left” First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles around the time he was friendly with Oswald.

Another source of ASC students was Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It seems ironic that researchers would find connections between Antioch and Lee Harvey Oswald. There were reports of sightings of him at a demonstration there in the early 60's. One FBI report contained an “unverified” statement that Oswald had attended the college briefly in 1957. That would be a good trick since he was in the Marines at the time. Ruth Paine, of course, attended Antioch from 1949-1955. In addition, a Navy Department document revealing that Ruth Paine had been requesting information about the family of Lee Oswald in 1957 was found by researcher, Michael Levy. Officially, Ruth didn't know of the Oswalds until she met them in 1962. Could it be that Ruth was infiltrating left wing institutions as far back as the mid 50's and reporting back to the CIA, to whom her family had so many ties? Was Angleton or ONI beginning to consider Oswald for intelligence work in 1957 and needed to know more about him and his family? Was Paine the source of this information.

ASC was being watched by FBI and CIA due to alleged communist affiliations of Schweitzer himself. Could Oswald have been manipulated by one of these agencies to apply?

If so, why? Spying on ASC is a possible reason, but he never attended. I began to look at Oswald's strange behavior from a conspiratorial viewpoint. When you consider that the leftist organizations he was involved with or corresponded with, such as The Fair Play For Cuba Committee, ACLU, CPUSA etc. were all groups being investigated and discredited by the CIA and or FBI, you become aware of a connection. Oswald's Clinton, LA escapade was part of an assault on CORE (Congress on Racial Equality), a target of Hoover's COINTELPRO. Tying these institutions to a commie defector to the Soviet Union created an indirect link to Moscow and the Communist Party. It is a standard intelligence practice to use defamation to discredit your enemies. After the assassination and Oswald's conviction in the media, the FPCC ceased to exist.

So, is this evidence of an intelligence involvement in the Oswald-ASC saga? As a matter of fact, there is a smoking gun. In 1995 the AARB was in the process of reviewing FBI documents related to the JFK assassination in general and ASC in particular. The 1960 release of these docs had been heavily redacted and portions blackened out. The review board decided it was time for a full release. The FBI balked. Why after 35 years or more would they resist the release? They went as far as appealing to President Clinton. When the smoke cleared they finally released the materials uncensored. The new releases were surprising. Especially an October 12 memorandum from the American Embassy in Paris to the FBI. It contained three statements that were contrary to the official story about Oswald and the ASC. The memo said that Oswald had originally registered for the Fall trimester of 1959, that he had originally written to ASC from Moscow, and that Marguerite had written directly to Oswald at the ASC address. A November 3 memo to the Director contradicted the October 3 version. This one said Oswald applied from Santa Ana for the Spring trimester and that Marguerite had written, not to Lee, but to college personnel to ask about Lee's whereabouts.

These new documents reveal two things. First, the findings of the 1960 investigations were changed dramatically within a few weeks. Second, they were covered up by the Bureau for 35 years? As researcher Dennis Bartholomew put it, “...these documents mean that many of the documents printed in the WC exhibits would have be false and intentionally manufactured to support an incorrect description of Oswald's ASC activities.”21

Why did the chicken cross the road?

So, there is still no definitive answer. Who told Oswald about ASC? Why did he apply if he had no intention of showing up? Did he apply for the Spring or Fall trimester? Did he apply from Santa Ana or Moscow. Why did the FBI cover up for 35 years? If only Oswald had had a trial. If only we could ask him questions. Instead there are a multitude of critical inquiries that will never be answered. Jack Ruby, what have you done?


1 It seemed odd to me that Oswald was accepted at a college with no high school diploma. However, Robert Oswald disclosed in his book “Lee”, that his brother had earned a GED while in the Marine Corps. in March of 1959.

2 A box of candy fell off a shelf in a store she worked in and hit her on the nose.

3 He made the travel arrangements through “Travel Consultants,” a New Orleans based travel agency also used by Clay Shaw. On the agency's questionnaire he gave his occupation as “shipping export agent.”

4 CE2677

5 What is mysterious, is why the CIA did not identify nor collect the passenger lists for these flights, which would have still been available in 1964. (Or if they did, why were they not submitted to the Warren Commission?) It would prove or disprove that this was his method of travel. Or was there a sensitive name on the same flight with Oswald?

6 Description of ASC provided by Richard Boeke of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF).

7 International Association for Religious Freedom

8 A Certain Arrogance, George Michael Evica, p.72

9 Lee Harvey Oswald's Cold War, Greg Parker

10 A Certain Arrogance, George Michael Evica, p.72

11 It was Overholser, as Chairman of the American Psychiatric Association, who concluded that United States Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, "came to his death by suicide while in a state of mental depression".

12 Fritchman's name was found in the note book of Richard Case Nagel.

13 President of Friends of ASC. A Unitarian.

14 The Other Oswald, A Wilderness of Mirrors, Gary Hill

15 Also popping up were Trotskyites: George Lyman Paine, Harold Issacs, Harry Power etc.

16 The Other Oswald, A Wilderness of Mirrors, Gary Hill

17 Brush With History, Eric R.Tagg p154

18 Beckham and Crisman were subpoenaed by Jim Garrison to testify in the Clay Shaw trial.

20 Brush With History, Eric Tagg, p157-158

21 LHO on Campus, Dennis Bartholomew, The Fourth Decade, March 1997


A Certain Arrogance, George Michael Evica, TrineDay 2006

Brush With History, Eric Tagg, Shot in the Light Publishing, 1998

Lee Harvey Oswald's Cold War, Greg Parker, New Disease Press, 2015

LHO on Campus, Dennis Bartholomew, The Fourth Decade, March 1997

Oswald and the CIA, John Newman, Carroll and Graf 1995

The Other Oswald, A Wilderness of Mirrors, Gary Hill, TrineDay 2020

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