Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles November 22, 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's open-top Lincoln Continental limousine drives through the streets of Dallas, Texas. Crowds are ecstatic, cheering, holding flags aloft and taking photos. Nellie Connally, the First Lady of Texas, who's also in the car, turns around to the President and says, “Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you.” Filled with joyousness, the President replies, “No, you certainly can't.” Moments later, as the car passes the Texas School Book Depository, shots ring out. The President's hands move towards his neck as he leans forwards and a little to the left. His wife Jackie, grabs hold of him. Another shot hits him in the head. Jackie, utterly distraught, cries, “They have killed my husband. I have his brains in my hand.” This was one of the most shocking events in US history, and not without controversy. For many years after, right up until today in fact, various theories have been put forward as to how it actually happened and who exactly did it. However, one man and one man only was ever charged with the crime and that was Lee Harvey Oswald. You've all heard the name, you've likely heard some of the countless conspiracy theories about the assassination, but we guess not so many of you know much about the man who was said to have pulled the trigger. Today you're going to meet him and you're going to ask yourself what would drive a person to do such a thing? That's something you can tell us at the end of this video. Lee Harvey Oswald is born on October 18, 1939. He doesn't have the best start in life since his father dies of a heart attack just two months into his life. The family, now the mother named Marguerite, young Lee, and his two half-brothers, John and Robert, are thrust into poverty. Those kids move around in the city of New Orleans, from orphanages to children's homes to boarding schools. Not having a father-figure around, young Oswald's development is what you might call strangled. As his older brother once said, “Very early on, he'd learned that he wasn't wanted. We weren't wanted. Mother was always alienating herself from us.” When he's 12, Marguerite takes him to New York City where they live in a run-down area in the Bronx. He is pretty much asked to take care of himself as his mother goes out to work. He hardly goes to school at all. Instead, he hangs around the zoo and rides the subway system. It's at the zoo where one day a truant officer sees him. Oswald is not happy about being found out, calling the officer a “damned Yankee.” He ends up in a detention center called Youth House and while there he has a psychiatric evaluation. He's said to live a “vivid fantasy life” and possibly has some kind of personality disorder. One thing for sure is, this kid desperately needs some love and attention. His social worker confirms this, saying he is “emotionally frozen”, having never really developed a relationship with anyone. “You got the feeling of a kid nobody gave a darn about,” says the social worker. In his early teens, he has an “awakening.” He's walking down the street when an old woman hands him a pamphlet. It's socialist in ethos and has in it two folks named Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. These two are sentenced to death in the US for spying for Russia. Sometime later Oswald writes in his diary: “I was looking for a key to my environment, and then I discovered socialist literature. I had to dig for my books in the back dusty shelves of libraries.” He writes this to The Socialist Party of America: “I am sixteen years of age and would like more information about your youth League, I would like to know if there is a branch in my area, how to join, ect., I am a Marxist, and have been studying socialist principles for well over fifteen months.” Later, after running from the clutches of truant officers, Oswald and his mother return to New Orleans. They live in an area beset with poverty and vice, something that affects young Oswald deeply. Drug addicts, prostitutes, violent crime, pervasive racism, dilapidated housing, oppressive cops, no help for the poor, and no opportunities for those not born with silver spoons. He's taking it all in, guided by his socialist sympathies. At age 16, he becomes a cadet with the Civil Air Patrol. He also tries to join the army but is turned down for being too young. That doesn't stop him from memorizing from back to front the “Marine Manual.” The obvious question is why does this budding Communist want to join the US military during a very cold war with the 'commies'? This is a kid who tells a friend he wants to kill President Eisenhower for exploiting the working classes. This is a boy who regularly showers praise on the Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev. One day a friend's father kicks him out of his house because he is “expounding the Communist doctrine and saying communism was the only way of life for the worker.” It seems his reason is he just needs to get away from his mother, that or it's the fact his father had been a Marine and his brother has joined up. The Warren Commission later wrote, “His study of Communist literature, which might appear to be inconsistent with his desire to join the Marines, could have been another manifestation of Oswald's rejection of his environment.” You should also remember, he's a boy who just wants to be accepted. And so at age 17, he becomes a Marine. Nothing much changes, though. He makes few friends and not so many people like him. He isn't seen as mentally unstable, but he just doesn't fit in, nor does he ever rise above the rank of private first class. Still, he knows something about foreign affairs because he reads voraciously. At times he picks fights with officers, according to one soldier, so he “could come out top dog.” This kid still hates authority with a vengeance, but he's also smart and can be likable to certain people. One day he shocks some folks listening to his rants by saying, “All the Marine Corps did was to teach you to kill and after you got out of the Marines you might be good gangsters.” During this stint in the Marines, he has two court-martials, one for having an unauthorized pistol he accidentally shoots himself with. His other court-martial is for calling an officer out to fight him. He still holds those sympathies towards the Soviet Union and he even teaches himself some Russian, albeit, he isn't very good. He gets taken off active duty to look after a sick mother, but then he decides he's going to Russia. For that decision, he's undesirably discharged. So, there he is in Russia, telling people how much he loves the Soviet Union in his rudimentary Russian. He tries to apply for citizenship, which is turned down. This is what he writes in a letter to his brother: “I have been a pro-communist for years and yet I have never met a communist, instead I kept silent and observed, and what I observed plus my Marxist learning brought me here to the Soviet Union. I have always considered this country to be my own.” He also writes this: “In the event of war. I would kill any American who put a uniform on in defense of the American government - any American.” Just before his visa runs out and he's about to leave the country, he cuts himself on purpose, after which, he's taken to a psychiatric facility. He actually can't believe that the country he's given his heart to has snubbed him. In his diary, he writes, “I am shocked!” He says his dream has been shattered because one solitary official has taken it upon himself to turn his visa down. He finishes an entry in his diary with these words: “I decide to end it. Soak fist in cold water to numb the pain. Then slash my left wrist. Then plug wrist into bathtub of hot water.... Somewhere, a violin plays, as I watch my life whirl away. I think to myself 'How easy to Die' and 'A Sweet Death'.” When he gets out of the hospital he goes straight to the American Embassy. He has a signed note with him which he hands over to an official. On it are the words, “I Lee Harvey Oswald do hereby request that my present citizenship in the United States of America, be revoked.” He says he wants this for political reasons. He's a Marxist now, and damn American poverty and the life he lived as a kid. He says the only real reason he joined the Marines was that he wanted to have “a chance to observe American imperialism.” He writes in his diary, “I'm sure Russians will accept me after this sign of my faith in them.” He's right. He's allowed to stay, but does he then become a tool of the Soviet government? Is he hired as a spy? Is he trained as an assassin? Perhaps not, and later investigations will say that. Not only that, The Russians are obviously a bit suspicious of him, so the KGB follow him around a lot and plant bugs in his house. Oswald is actually working for neither side. He's sent to work as a lathe operator at an electronics firm in Minsk. Over there he's given quite a good wage packet and lives in an apartment that is better than most people's places. Still, his distrust of authority doesn't change. Now he talks about the oppressive Soviets. Communist Party officials he writes are given benefits that he believes they shouldn't receive. His conclusion is that there are “fat stinking politicians over there just like we have over here.” In January of 1961 he writes in his diary: “I am starting to reconsider my desire about staying. The work is drab, the money I get has nowhere to be spent. No nightclubs or bowling alleys no places of recreation except the trade union dances. I have had enough.” He subsequently gets in touch with the US Embassy and says he wants to come home. Prior to that happening, he has a whirlwind romance with a 19-year-old pharmacology student named Marina Prusakova. After six weeks, they marry, and around a year later they have their first child. Not long after, the three of them land on American soil ready to live the American dream... But something happens on Oswald's return. He suddenly becomes not himself, not the man Prusakova knows. He's become easily enraged, irritable. She later told a court, “after coming to the United States Lee changed. I did not know him as such a man in Russia.” What has happened to him? Well, that's the million-dollar question. Maybe his demons have caught up with him. This is a young man who's had psychological problems as a child. He's tried the Marines and that hasn't helped. He's tried moving to the Soviet Union and that hasn't helped, either. Here is a man that now detests both communism and capitalism. This is evident in his writing, of which one diary goes like this: “No man, having known, having lived, under the Russian Communist and American capitalist system, could possibly make a choice between them, there is no choice, one offers oppression the other poverty.” He believes there can be another system, one which doesn't have the shortfalls of capitalism and one which isn't a corrupt and twisted form of Marxism. He writes that he hates the mass exterminations of Stalin and how Communism oppresses people, but he equally detests what he considers a corrupt form of capitalism in the US. He gets a job as a sheet metal worker, but he soon leaves that. He then starts working as a photoprint trainee but is fired after rankling one too many people when waxing about his beliefs. He isn't very good at the job, either, but what really peeves his fellow employees is the fact one day he brings into work a Russian language newspaper. His employer later said the newspaper incident wasn't the only reason he was let go, but it “didn't do him any good.” Oswald is rejected once again. Is he now ready to put his hand on the trigger? In March 1963, he pays $29.95 for a secondhand 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle. He buys himself a revolver, too. The next month, retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker is sitting at his desk in his home in Dallas when suddenly there's a loud crash. He's injured after bullet fragments connect with his arm. To investigators, it looks like an assassination attempt, and it is, one it will turn out that was undertaken by Lee Harvey Oswald. This isn't discovered until later, though. Why has he done it? Ozwald despises Walker for his far right-wing sentiments, his anti-communist stance and his racist attitude. According to his wife, he believes that, “If someone had killed Hitler in time it would have saved many lives.” He thought he was doing the right thing. The family moves to New Orleans, where Oswald becomes more infatuated with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. There he distributes leaflets supporting Cuba, and even though he gets on the radio twice, he doesn't really garner that much attention for the movement. Not only that, Cuban exiles can't stand him. It seems Oswald is as much concerned about getting attention for himself as he is for the plight of Cuba. His wife later said in court, “He wanted to be arrested. I think he wanted to get into the newspapers, so that he would be known.” He then tries to get to Cuba via Mexico. In Mexico he pleads to officials at the Cuban embassy, saying he supports the cause, and can he have a visa. He says he also intends to return to the former Soviet Union. After speaking with officials, and even the KGB, he is turned down. The Cubans say he'll do more harm than good for the cause. Ok, so now it's just days before JFK is gunned down in the street. His heavily-pregnant wife is happy when he returns from Mexico, seeing as he is in a pleasant mood and treats her well. He seems like his old self again. She later said in court, “He helped me more - although he always did help”, adding that he was delighted about the prospect of having a second child with her. Strange, because he's about to give all that up. It's this kind of fact that will later give birth to a thousand conspiracies. Around this time, Oswald is told about a job that is going at the Texas School Book Depository, and after an interview on October 16 he's hired there for $1.25 an hour. It's now just over a month before the fateful day. He is apparently pretty good at his job. Things are looking up, and then his second child is born. Life couldn't be any better, on paper anyway. He still argues with his wife at times. Because of his radical left activities, he is now on the radar of the FBI. Agents visit his house, but he isn't there.