Monday, September 9, 2019

  Walking the Razor's Edge
The Dutchman and the Baron

by Tommy and Hilde Wilkens

published 2019

reviewed by Ralph Cinque

I suspect that this is the most important book on George DeMohrenshcildt ever written. And in reading it, I am reminded of how big a role chance plays in life. It involves the long and very close, and you could almost say "intimate," relationship between George Demohrenschildt and the Dutch freelance journalist, Willhem Oltmans. The crux of the story is that DeMohrenschildt knew a lot more about the assassination than he ever told the Warren Commission or ever admitted publicly. And eventually, he felt driven to spill his guts. He spilled them to Oltmans somewhat but only vaguely. And supposedly, he was going to reveal everything in great detail. But, that never actually happened. 

But, let's start at the beginning, and that is, with Oltmans meeting Marguerite Oswald by chance at an airport. He saw her and recognized her, and he was a freelance journalist always on the lookout for a scoop. So, he went up and introduced himself, and he was very suave and genteel, and she was very willing to talk to him. They formed a lasting friendship, but when he brought up DeMohrenschildt, she became agitated. She had a very bad attitude towards him. Why, she wondered, did this wealthy "baron" become so interested in her son? It wasn't natural; it wasn't normal. They came from completely different circles. So, she was suspicious of him. But, that only peeked Oldtmans' interest in DeMohrenschildt even more. And through a chain of contacts, he was able to reach DeMohrenschildt by phone. And to his surprise, George was quite receptive to the idea of doing an interview for Dutch television. 

But first, here are some interesting facts about George DeMo revealed in the book. He spoke 7 languages. He loved to teach, and he was a professor, but guess what he taught on his last teaching gig at Bishop College in Dallas, a black college? It was French. He had a lot of tragedy in his life. Of his three children, two were born with cystic fibrosis and died from it. And as a result, he started a foundation for cystic fibrosis research. I wonder if it's still going today. He had a third child, a daughter, from a different wife, and she was healthy. But, to that daughter, whose name was Alexandra, he spoke Spanish. And she looked Spanish. Hence, I suspect that her mother was from a Spanish-speaking country.  And he was said to be wealthy, but, he and his fourth wife Jeanne, lived in a small apartment in Dallas, and he drove a Ford Pinto. He was an avid tennis player, but he was also a heavy smoker. 

So, what led to the close and personal friendship, I mean to where he was a frequent overnight guest in their home, staying for Christmas, etc., between George DeMo and Willhem Oltmans? Jeanne accused them outright of being homosexual. They would take long walks together, and she frequently suspected them of sexual dalliance. And it was partly because Oltmans was openly gay. But, he had a lover, a lifelong lover, a man with whom he was involved to the day he died.  The bond may have been based on them both being European. George spoke very negatively about America and American culture and American people. He thought Americans were gullible and stupid for believing what their government told them. I have the sense that he preferred being around Europeans, and Oltmans was Dutch. 

So, what did he tell Oltmans about the JFK assassination? First, he didn't think Oswald did it. He made frank statements, such as "I'm confident Lee didn't shoot President Kennedy." He even wrote a manuscript called, I am a Patsy, I am a Patsy.  But, it was never published. He said he knew who was behind the assassination and that Jim Garrison "was on the right track." But, he also felt guilty for his part in it. He felt personally responsible because he "directed" Lee Harvey Oswald. Well, I don't know what he meant by that, but I do know that Oswald had nothing to do with the assassination except that he was the patsy in it. Oswald did not have advance knowledge of the assassination. If he had, he would have known why people were gathering on the sidewalk outside the Book Depository the morning of November 22, and he would not have had to ask James Jarman about it. So, that's an example of one of DeMo's vague admissions. What exactly did he "direct" Oswald to do?  

But, towards the end of the story, George DeMohrenschildt was losing his mind. There is no doubt about that. The question is: why? Word was spreading that he was itching to spill his guts about the assassination. They got him hospitalized in Dallas for "depression" where he was subjected to heavy drug treatment and shock treatments. His doctor, a Dr. Delouch was the brother of the CIA official Cartha Deloach. Do you believe in coincidences? Because, I don't. So, was this part of an MK-ULTRA  mind control operation? The authors suspect so, and so do I. But, when he got out of the hospital, still shaky, unstable, and paranoid, Oltmans convinced George to return to Holland with him, where he could tell everything he knew about  the assassination to the Dutch television company that Oltmans worked for.  And they traveled to Holland together to do that, and it almost happened. But, George got cold feet at the last minute, and he actually ran away before it happened. He excused himself momentarily and then vanished. Circuitously, he wound  up in Florida, staying with his friend, Nancy Tilton. His marriage to his 4th wife Jeanne, the one he went through the assassination with, had crumbled, and it was never good. They fought like cats and dogs, and it was nasty and violent. She really didn't like him. She assumed the worst about him always, and out loud to others too. And she's partly to blame for his book never being published because she flipped his lawyer, whom he thought was his friend, and they blocked it. It seems that the only thing they shared was a love for these two little dogs, who were like their children. 

The authors, Tommy and Hilde Wilkins, do a great job of analyzing DeMohrenschidlt's death, but I am not going to go into it. I'm just going to say that it's as good a forensic analysis of a violent, controversial death that I have ever read, and I have read some good ones, such as The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H. Wolfe. This is as good as that, and I will tell you that their conclusion is that he was murdered, and I agree. 

And you know, of course, that George DeMo died right before he was scheduled to testify to the HSCA. But, Oltmans wound up testifying to the HSCA, you might say in his place. And, there is a CBS video about it on Youtube:

But, the strange thing is that in that video, you can hear Oltmans say that DeMohrenschildt said that he put Oswald up to shooting Kennedy, that he discussed it wit him, from A to Zed. 

But, early on in the book, we learn that DeMo said that he did not think that Oswald did it. And his manuscript being called I am a patsy, well, a patsy is one who is framed for a crime he didn't commit. So, I am taking this as a contradiction. The implication is that, for years, Demohrenschildt lied. 

Let's get our bearings straight here: Oswald was standing in the doorway of the Book Depository during the shooting. There isn't a shadow of a doubt about that. So, he DEFINITELY did not shoot at Kennedy. There were multiple shooters, but Oswald was not one of them. If DeMo thought that Oswald was up on the 6th floor, then he was wrong. I really don't know the particulars of what DeMo thought at the end. He really was having mental problems. But, he certainly didn't "direct" Oswald to kill Kennedy. 

To me, one of the most telling things in the book is that DeMo did know Alan Dulles. DeMo used aliases at times, and one of them was Phillip Harbin, which he came to because Harbin was the name of the city in China where his 4th wife Jeanne was born. And Dulles knew about that alias and reportedly introduced him to someone as Phillip Harbin. 

I tried to find Oltman's long testimony to the HSCA, but I have not been able to find it online. But, of course, nothing came of it. Oltmans was largely and widely dismissed, smeared and discredited by the American press as a moneygrubber, gigolo, and opportunist. They treated him not like a real journalist but a tabloid journalist. He wound up returning to Holland but spent part of his remaining years in South Africa before dying of liver cancer in his 70s.

What I believe is that Allen Dulles got George Demohrenschildt to be Oswald's handler, to watch him, to stay tuned to what he was thinking, feeling, and saying, and to report anything that could be important. In a word, he was assigned to keep tabs on Oswald. But, I don't believe for a second that DeMo directed Oswald to kill Kennedy. He may have directed him to go to New Orleans. They needed him to do that, so, DeMo may have encouraged him to do it. 

Did DeMo know that Kennedy was going to be killed? He may have. The authors seem to think so. They pointed out repeatedly that DeMo hated John Kennedy and hated the whole Kennedy family. The only one he liked in it was Jackie. And get this: early on, Robert Kennedy called Oltmans and urged him, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from DeMohrenschildt, that he was dangerous and bad. So, apparently, the contempt between DeMohrenschildt and the Kennedys was mutual. 

But, I want to address this a little further. Did Allen Dulles, or anyone else, tell George DeMohrenschildt that Kennedy was going to be killed? It's possible.  But, I consider it unlikely. And that's because there was no need to tell him. He wasn't needed for it. This was a "need to know" situation, and he didn't need to know. 

Anyway, this book is very good. It isn't long. It's written very concisely. But, it's meaty. There is important, interesting stuff on every page. And, it's well written and easy to read.  

And it occurs to me that it would make a great movie. It's got everything: intrigue, mystery, peril, violence, sex. And as one who has written screenplays, and I have written 3, I think this one would be fun to write.  

But, it is a good read, and it is a very important book. I dare say it is one of the most important JFK-related books of the 21st century. Here is the link to it on Amazon.

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