Upon arriving at Fort Worth on June 14, 1962, after the end of Lee Harvey Oswald’s long sojourn in Russia, Lee and Marina’s earliest contacts included 1) individuals associated with General Dynamics’ Security Division, and 2) members of the White Russian community.
According to the official narrative, these connections were facilitated through the Texas Employment Commission. It was at the Commission’s office that LHO received the phone number of Max Clark, a lawyer and former supervisor for General Dynamics’ security office, whose wife, Gali, being a Russian speaker, might be interested in meeting and conversing with Marina. Also, it was Virginia Hale, employee of the Commission, and wife of I B Hale, also of General Dynamics’ security division, who got LHO his job at Leslie Welding Company. (1)
From these beginnings, the Oswalds’ White Russian connections blossomed, leading eventually to their relationship with George de Mohrenschildt.
At least that is the official story. But it is certainly possible to conceive an alternate scenario.
Assuming that LHO was an intelligence operative at some level – and there is much evidence that he was – his first duty upon returning to the United States would have been to report to his superiors, his intelligence handlers. Surely he would have talked to them before going to the Texas Employment Commission. The arrow of time, then, starts with the intelligence connection, and flows to the Employment Commission.
And what better candidates for intelligence handlers than Oswald’s General Dynamics contacts? First, consider Max Clark with his “covert security approval” by the CIA for “Project ROCK/IDIO/SGAPEX”. Then I B Hale with his FBI background. (2)
Also, although he doesn’t enter the official narrative until much later, there was Mason Lankford, an ONI operative and General Dynamics security division employee who was certainly connected with Clark and Hale — and why not Oswald? (3)
Finally, to round things out on the General Dynamics side, consider Cyrus Doering, with his record of subscribing to Communist newspapers using false names. There’s no evidence he knew LHO, but who knows? (4)
The other component of the Oswalds’ contact nexus in 1962, the White Russian/Solidarist community, has always been somewhat of a mystery. But its members’ contacts with the Oswalds were continuing, real, and at least to some extent, documented. Many of these White Russians were, in fact, called to testify before the Warren Commission.
The term “White Russians” refers, of course, to those Russians who opposed the “Red” Russians, or Communists, during the period of the Russian Revolution and Civil War, and continuing long afterwards. Mostly members of the aristocratic, capitalist, military and professional classes, these White Russians were forced to flee the country at the conclusion of the Civil War in 1920 in a diaspora that included enclaves in Europe, China, Australia, South America, and the United States. One political arm of the community was called the “Solidarists”, an organization whose aims were to oust the Bolshevik government by more sophisticated, clandestine means than outright warfare. (5) (6)
Now in a sense, it should be noted that Marina Oswald was a White Russian, too. According to the testimony of George Bouhe, she spoke a very grammatically correct Russian, probably learned from her grandmother who was a graduate of the Smolny Institute, a school for noble girls. In other words, Marina may well have had aristocratic roots. So one interpretation of Marina might be that she was a member of some noble family “smuggled” out of Russia by the White Russian community, assisted by Lee Harvey Oswald. (7)
At any rate, it should not be forgotten that in 1963, for many White Russians the Russian Revolution was still a vivid memory, and a restoration of the Old Regime, or at least portions of it, an overriding goal. Certainly the Solidarists would not have been pleased with JFKs apparent rapprochement with Khrushchev, or his lack of aggression toward Castro. From the White Russian point of view, the assassination of JFK may well have been viewed as a late action of the Russian Civil War.
But now let us come to the place where the influences and contacts on Lee Harvey Oswald – intelligence, the military-industrial complex, and Russian Solidarists – all come together: with the husband and wife team of Max and Gali Clark.
In fact, Gali Clark is an interesting person. The Warren Commission certainly knew this, which is why they did not call her to testify, nor was she interviewed, nor did she provide affidavits, or anything. The only information we are provided about her is second-hand: either the testimony of others, or information incidental to Max Clark.
So who was Gali Scherbatoff Clark? George de Mohrenschildt gives us a clue in his WC testimony. She was a Russian princess, “Princess Sherbatov” – thus a member of the highest of the three orders of Russian nobility. (8)
Indeed, there is nothing so rare as a Russian princess. One wonders how a common Fort Worth boy could have landed such a prize. Ilya Mamantov tells us that Max and Gali married “during the American occupation of Europe”, presumably just after WWII. (9)
Mary Ferrell also shows some interest in the Scherbatoff family during WWII. It seems that members of the family were not far removed from the espionage activities of the “Red Orchestra”. It is not known whether the “Princess Sherbatov” of the narrative is Gali; but “Olga Sherbatov”, as we shall see, was the mother of someone with definite intelligence connections in the United States. (10) (11)
Further information about Gali comes from some of Max Clark’s files. Here we learn the names of Gali’s parents: Michael and Gali Hughes Scherbatoff. (12)
A more complete genealogy can be found at the “heirs of Europe” site (see footnote). Note that Gali Clark is the sister of #2 in this genealogy, Mikhail Mikhailovitch, so her ancestors are the same as his. (13)
Going further, it turns out, Gali Clark has some very interesting relatives indeed – on both her father’s and mother’s sides. Let us examine the Scherbatoff side first.
Paul Raigorodsky, in his WC testimony, gives us a good place to start. Speaking of Gali, he says: “While she is a Russian, in fact she is a first cousin of a very close friend of mine, Prince Sherbatoff, who lives in New York and lives in Jamaica. That’s where I see him occasionally.” (14)
A little internet research reveals that this “Prince Sherbatoff” must have been Kyril Scherbatoff (or Scherbatow, as that branch of the family spelled the name). Kyril’s father, Paul (or Pavel) Borisovich Scherbatoff was a brother of Michael (or Michel or Mikhail) Borisovich Scherbatoff. Thus, Kyril and Gali were first cousins, just as Paul Raigorodsky said. (15)
The mention of Jamaica suggests a connection to the “Tryall Compound” at Montego Bay, well-known to assassination researchers. In fact, a look through some genealogical and newspaper websites shows several references to Scherbatoffs or Scherbatows at Montego Bay. Also, Kyril’s stepson, John Munroe Jr. (son of Adelaide Scherbatow) is known to have been in the real estate business there. (16) (17)
Not far from Tryall is John Pringle’s Round Hill resort, a site where many notable guests, including John F Kennedy, are known to have spent some time. John Pringle was one of the initial investors at Tryall, along with Raigorodsky, John Connally, and others. (18) (19)
The Scherbatow home, from 1956 on, however, was not at Tryall, but not far away, at Wyndways (former home of the composer and actor Ivor Novello). Here they maintained a guest home “for society and celebrity visitors,” as they also did at High Time at Southampton, Bermuda. Thus, the Scherbatows seem not to have been directly involved with Tryall, but they certainly moved in the same elite circle as the founders of that establishment, and, having been long-time (at least seasonal) residents of Jamaica’s north shore, perhaps served as progenitors for Tryall’s model. (20)
Another cousin of Gali Clark’s was Alexis Scherbatow, brother of Kyril. Alexis was an academic who taught history and politics at Farleigh Dickinson University, was a Russian translator for the U. S. Army during WW II, worked for the Tolstoy Foundation, was vice president of the Association of Russian-American Scholars, and was a long-time president of the Russian Nobility Association. In short, he was a leading figure in the White Russian community in America. (21) (22) (23)
Given this background, particularly Alexis’s experience as a writer, one wonders if he was not an editor or writer for the White Russian newspaper to which LHO subscribed, as reported by Nelson Delgado, while he was stationed at Santa Ana, California in 1959. (24)
Moving on, we come to another Scherbatoff cousin who had a most interesting career as a tennis player, socialite, art collector, translator, military intelligence operative, and perhaps more. This was George Scherbatoff, or Stroganoff-Scherbatoff as he sometimes called himself in recognition of his descent on his mother’s side from one of the richest – probably the richest — and most powerful families in pre-Revolutionary Russia.
According to Kyril Scherbatoff’s 1939 wedding announcement George was a cousin of Kyril and Alexis – and thus would have been Gali Clark’s cousin, too. With his father’s patronymic being Grigorievich, however, George appears not to have been a pure first cousin, but maybe a second cousin (?) Nevertheless, he was a solid member of the family. (25) (26)
Born in 1897, the son of Alexander Scherbatoff and Olga Stroganoff, George served in the Russian Imperial Navy in his youth. In 1919 he escaped from Soviet Russia and lived in England and France for 8 years before coming to the United States in 1927. A lifelong bachelor, during the 1930s he was a well-known tennis player and member of the Palm Beach social scene. (27)
George seems to have had friends in high places. In 1942, when he needed to accelerate his application for U. S. citizenship in order to enter the Navy, he was able to enlist the aid of Winthrop Aldridge, chairman of Chase Bank, who paved the way for him. Once in the military, given his proficiency in several languages, especially Russian, he served as a translator, a job that brought him to important WW II conferences such as Yalta. He was also the leader of a “top secret” Combined Communications team composed of Russian speakers and radio communications experts. (28)
After WW II, George continued his career in the Navy, attending the Paris Peace Conference and the Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in New York in 1947, along with Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. (29)
Starting in 1951, George’s career took an interesting turn. He became the Navy’s member on the State Department’s Psychological Operations Board. Possibly related to this role was George’s involvement with the People-to-People program, designed to bring ordinary U. S. and Russian citizens together in various exchanges. George was particularly instrumental in bringing American and Russian veterans of WW II together. At least one such group is known to have been touring Russia in the summer of 1960. (27) (30)
The possible associations of these activities with the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, while not exact, are suggestive. Was there a connection between George Scherbatoff and Max and Gali Clark, and thence to LHO?
Beyond this, there is little information publicly available about George Scherbatoff’s career. However, he did participate in the House Committee on Un-American Activities
Symposium on Anti-Stalinism and the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956, which basically concluded that although Khrushchev’s anti-Stalinism policy was altering the political structure of Communism somewhat, it was not changing its ultimate nature. (31)
Interestingly, George Scherbatoff’s home was in Sharon, Connecticut, the same place as William F. Buckley’s estate, Great Elm. There is no record that Scherbatoff and Buckley knew each other, but given the length of each’s residence in Sharon, it seems likely. (32) (33)
Next, let us look at Gali Clark’s family on her mother, Gali Hughes’ side.
As the genealogy in note 13 shows, Gali Hughes’s grandfather was John Hughes, Welsh inventor, industrialist, founder of the New Russia Company for Coal, Iron, and Rail Production, and founder of the town and steelworks of Hughesovka, or Yusovka, (later called Stalino, now Donetsk) in the Ukraine. John Hughes might well be considered the Andrew Carnegie of Russia. (One wonders if there may not have been a relationship between the Hughes and de Mohrenschildt families at this time, given that members of both families were in charge of massive pre-Revolutionary Russian industrial and energy interests.) (34) (35)
Gali Hughes, at any rate, was one of the heirs of an industrial empire, an empire of coal mines, steel mills, metal workshops, railroad yards and more, an empire that was lost when the Bolsheviks nationalized it in 1919 and the founders and their families were forced to return to England and Wales.
Looking at the record, John Hughes appears to have had a paternalistic relationship to his employees. He provided a hospital, schools, fire protection, churches and other amenities for the town he had built as an adjunct to his industrial works. Workers were paid compensation for industrial accidents and widows and injured workers were given jobs with light workloads to help them through their plight. (36)
Other writers, however, give a different picture of life at Hughesovka: long working hours, deplorable conditions, filth and disease. One such writer was Nikita Khrushchev, who, as a young man, had been employed as a metalworker and miner in Hughesovka and at the surrounding mines. (37)
In fact, the youthful Khrushchev seems to have been quite busy at Hughesovka – organizing workers, distributing socialist newspapers and organizing strikes and demonstrations. These activities were noticed by the police and by his employers, causing him to be fired more than once.
Indeed, members of the Hughes family would likely have been well aware of this irksome but affable young man, popular with the workers due to his oratorical and leadership skills, a young man who was elected unanimously by his co-workers as the chairman of the Rutchenkovo soviet, just outside of Hughesovka. (38)
But these events were positively benign compared to what was to come. The Russian Revolution and Civil War unleashed a terror such has rarely been matched in human history. The area around Hughesovka – the Donbas – lay along one of the most viciously fought fronts of the Russian Civil War, with at least 20 changes of power recorded during that conflict. Atrocities were committed on both sides.
Nikita Khrushchev was, of course very much a part of the military action around Hughesovka, first as a member of the Red Guard, and later as an officer in the Red Army. Although his primary function was political commissar, he is said (particularly by himself) to have been involved in several battles. Some of these battles were particularly barbaric. In fact, the Ninth Army, with which Khrushchev served, is said to have tortured captured White officers in a hideous manner.
Although in 1919 the White Army was ascendant, the tide of affairs, for various reasons, quickly changed. It was in this year that the industrial works of Hughesovka were nationalized, and the Hughes family fled. By the end of 1920, General Wrangel’s troops were evacuated from the Crimea, and the Civil War was over.
Or at least its military portion was. As General Wrangel stated: “The battle for Russia has not ceased, it has merely taken on new forms.” (39)
- New York Times, Jan 16, 1962, p. 36.
- The Gleaner, Kingston, May 7, 1957, p.1.
- The Gleaner, Kingston, May 15, 1956, p. 12.
- New York Times April 28, 1939 Society Section, p. 32.
- New York Times, Mar 3, 1945.
- New York Times, Dec 15, 1976.