Telephone Interview with Volkmar Schmidt. January, 1995. William E. Kelly
Kelly: Hello, Volkmar Schmidt?
K: I’m a journalist from Atlantic City and I’m affiliated with the Committee for an Open Archives in Washington D.C. First let me make sure I’m talking with the right Volkmar Schmidt. Were you friends with George DeMohrenschildt.
S: Yes. Who are you affiliated?
K: I’m a freelance writer and I’m associated with the Committee for an Open Archives, which lobbied for the release of the JFK assassination files that they are now releasing. I think it’s important as a journalist to try to track down as many witnesses as possible and talk with them to get as much information on the record as possible.
S: I have no problem with that at all.
K: I recently talked with Betty McDonald.
S: A wonderful lady. I think she has a new last name.
K: Yes, Miller. Do you have a few minutes to talk with me?
S: Absolutely, no problem.
K: Can you relate to me how you first came to meet DeMohrenschildt and Oswald?
S: I met the DeMohrenschilt through some of the people who worked with me at the research lab.
S: Yes, Magnolia, or Mobil Oil. I think the fellow who got us in touch was Everett, Doctor Glover, and they knew that two of us at the research lab, Norm Fredrickson and myself wanted to study Russian. So we were introduced to them. I forget the details, but it was through the people at the FRL (?). Soon after I met them they arranged this dinner party at their place at which they invited Lee Harvey Oswald. That was the only time I met the Oswalds.
K: You talked with him at length that night?
S: Yes, I spent about two solid hours with him.
K: What was your impression of him?
S: The same impression as my colleagues had, who all met them because I had arranged a party after that for them to meet Lee Harvey Oswald and his family. I was gone on a lengthily business trip then. A very disturbed man. A man desperate, spiritually, totally desperate. That’s why I talked with him, to try to get him back to sanity. His determination to leave an imprint in history was just incredible. The warning flags went right off for me that this man was ready to explode and do harm to him and others. Specifically what flashed to me, the logical suicide of Dostoevsky, that story, a man is devoid of spiritual meaning in life, then the knowledge of power of intellect creates a great dilemma. That’s what Dostoevsky beautifully put down. So anyway, I had been around people who were even more disturbed during my youth because I grew up in the house of a psychiatrist.
K: I read in Epstein’s book that you studied in Heidelberg with Dr. Kuetemeyer?
S: I didn’t study medicine, my friend did, but I was in his house and saw how he treated patients, as many as he could in his big house, six sometimes. He had many dinners with psychotic people.
K: I was in Heidelberg when I was a student. It’s a beautiful town, with the castle on the hill.
S: My daughter is now studying just below the castle and is just as happy as a bird.
K: What happened to Kuetemeyer?
S: He died of a heart attack, the old man, and his son, my best friend, his son, committed suicide because of betrayal by his father. But I’m in close touch, they are like my family, with the mother, the wife of Professor Kuetemeyer, and his daughters, so whenever I go to Germany, which is about once every season.
K: I was in Berlin when the wall came down.
S: You are very lucky. I must admit that that was one occasion when I truly had to cry.
I never expected it to happen in my lifetime.
K: Epstein mentions that Kuetemeyer was involved in the July 20th plot to kill Hitler.
S: Not directly, but he was certainly, and many of his friends were in the circle of those who tried to kill Hitler, Stauffenberg, and several of his close friends were executed, and one of the sons of his friends, lived at his house and became and is still a very close friend of mine. Fritz from Holland.
K: IÕve been looking at some of the history books on that incident but didn’t come across his name.
S: Fritz first name Frederick, Von – the symbol of nobility, Von Halen. He was actually arrested before the plot came out. He knew about the plot and was tortured to death. And another gentleman who was involved was Von Trott, a friend of Kuetemeyer.
K: I was also reading how Carl Jung was trying to influence the situation and was wondering if Kuetemeyer and Jung were associated?
S: Yes, definitely, he definitely followed Jung and professor Whitesager (?). Dr. Kuetemeyer was a psychosomatic specialists, but he also followed Jung and he treated patients as a psychiatrist and he was also a professor of religion at Heidelberg. He lectured on literature and such.
K: And you studied with him?
S: I grew up in his house basically. My father had passed away and so half the time I stayed there, not overnight, but I had many, many dinners, and Prof. Kuetemeyer’s wife asked me to call her mother. It was mutual, I contributed something and they were very kind to me.
K: How did you come to Dallas?
S: I got a job with Magnolia in Germany because I worked for the German subsidiary as a co-op student in Germany, so they hired me after I graduated. They interviewed me in Paris and hired me on the strength of my thesis work.
K: DeMohrenschildt had some high praise for your work.
S: I didn’t know that.
K: On research on petroleum bearing rock formations?
S: Yes. I’m a specialist, and I’m still appreciated although I am ready to retire now.
K: Can you give me some more of your impressions of Oswald?
S: Oswald found out that if you really want to do something you can succeed in a lot of things, it just takes determination. That’s how he learned Russian, hea? It took incredible determination. And he pulled himself out of really low class upbringing in Fort Worth, which was hell, so he was a bitter young man because of social injustice, which quite frankly existed in Texas especially. So he was a nothing, who tried to make something out of himself. And he was looking, like many Americans, for notoriety. It was subconsciously, the only avenue to succeed. He would kill himself if he could leave a mark, and he left a terrible mark. So he was a very, very desperate man.
K: You mentioned General Walker when you talked with Oswald?
S: Yes, Professor Kuetemeyer told me you know, to deal with people like this who are disturbed, you have to use empathy, be slightly over zealous yourself to like up with them and that total insanity, towards reality. When I heard how hateful he was towards Kennedy and Cuba, which was kind of irrational, I tried to say “hey, there’s something much more real to be concerned about,” because I don’t know about Castro, but I know about this Walker, he’s kind of a Nazi, yea? Not so bad as those Nazis in Germany, but I had specifically mentioned to Lee Harvey Oswald, that Walker had given a speech to the students at the Mississippi campus and those guys went off and killed a couple of journalists.
K: Yes, reporters died during those racial riots.
S: Absolutely, and here’s something that we have to protest, and think about it. But I said it has to be all constructive, yes? There was a racial problem and you have to bring justice to the minorities.
K: So do you think your conversation with Oswald about Walker may have instigated him to take a pot shot at him?
S: Yes, he did, and naturally it was a terrible responsibility, and for years when I drove past the underpass I literally had to cry because, you know. But I exonerate myself completely because I had the best intent, embarrassed Kennedy, and I certainly didn’t tell him to take a pot shot at him.
K: I didn’t think you told him to do it, just because you were talking to him about it…
S: I may have triggered it. Actually, a few days after I talked with him, he bought his weapons.
K: It’s a shame that it’s been 30 years and we are just beginning to look at the files.
S: One thing is that the DeMohrenschildts were terribly afraid of all kinds of things, people disappearing and what not, and were afraid to talk about it. They also said that Oswald didn’t do it, but I think it could have been that they had the key in their hand. When they saw this nut giving them a picture with, “the Nazi killer.” It was totally irresponsible for George DeMohrenschildt not to make a noise about it. He told me about it.
K: He knew that Oswald had the rifle.
K: Now DeMohrenschildt had a shady background himself. And by shady I mean he had these affiliations with intelligence agencies, which leaves open the possibility that the assassination was a covert operation disguised as a patsy as the lone nut. Do you think that is possible?
S: No. He (DeMohrenschildt) was a bit of a nut, but he was also a very spread out person. He was totally irresponsible, the playboy, being the old man, but he was loyal in certain ways to his family and friends, and I don’t think George used this to make money, but he was an opportunist to the first degree, but he had some ideals, like Hemingway.
K: He was a debonair kind of guy.
S: He was too disorganized to be a truly efficient conspirator. He was a good operator.
K: You knew him up until he died?
S: Up until hid death, and I could have probably avoided his suicide because he wrote me a very moving, desperate letter to me, asking if he could come and stay with us in my basement. A desperate letter. And I probably would have let him come, but his wife Jean and her dogs, she would have been a vexation to my wife.
K: That’s a shame, because I read his manuscript, “I’m a Patsy,” and I learned that Jean just died recently.
S: I lost touch. She became a vexation to me. I visited her, and she became more and more irrational. And she used the daughter of a Mexican friend, a common friend of my family and really disturbed her life.
K: Do you know what became of the slide show of their walking trip through Mexico and Guatemala?
S: I don’t know what happened to that.
K: Did you see that?
K: What was your impression of that?
S: Well it was truly an adventure when he and Jean got together and traveled through the back country there. It was an adventure trip.
K: Yes, I was interested in it and was disappointed that it wasn’t among the official records.
S: He wrote a whole story about it. I read a manuscript on it. Do you have that manuscript?
K: No, but I was trying to locate it.
S: It was interesting. They ran into bandits, and so forth, and visited Mexican friends. The guy had spirit and guts, very smart, spoke many languages. He was a fellow, despite all of his flaws, which I saw, I was really a loyal friend to him. And he knew that I am a solid Christian in my actions, and he respected my honesty and I respected him, despite all his flaws, for whatever good was in his personality. It shows a lot. There was also a lot of irresponsibility in him.
K: What about Michael Paine, did you know him?
S: I did not know them very much, but they were a wonderful family that I knew through the circle of young professionals at the Magnolia labs.
K: Magnolia was at one time owned by a man named Little, did you know him?
S: That must be before me. When I came in it was solidly in Mobil Oil’s hands.
K: I think he must have been in the 50s.
S: I came in 1961.
K: Then you moved to Canada.
S: I moved to Canada in 1968, but I still worked for Magnolia and Mobil Oil until 1976, so I was very often down in Dallas.
K: When you organized the party for the Paines to meet the Oswalds, you were on a business trip?
S: A whole bunch of people came there, but I was on a trip to Libya and overseas. But I put some money down and arranged it, and did my best.
K: You were trying to help Oswald out.
S: Absolutely, especially Marina. That was the other thing. I saw Marina and the little child and Oswald just didn’t take any notice of them, and I thought, “boy, are you in trouble.”
K: What about Glover?
S: Glover, he got married, his second marriage, maybe he’s divorced by now.
K: Is that a German or Russian girl?
S: Hungarian girl, who I met, but she wasn’t my girl friend, but I met her, and maybe I even introduced her to him. Anyway, we were room mates – Pierce, myself and Glover. And Norman Fredrickson, it’s all romantically involved, he married my sweetheart from Germany, but because my sweetheart had left me.
K: Where are they now?
S: He was with the U.S. Geological Survey, but when we last met he didn’t mention her, and I talked all about my marriage and daughters and all.
K: And Pierce was murdered?
S: By a Negro fellow who just wanted to get money from him.
K: A robbery, hea?
S: It was a robbery.
K: Well Betty McDonald Miller had some nice things to say about you.
S: I’m glad. Actually I was down there when PBS invited me and I walked memory lane there.
K: Thank you for talking to me. Do you mind if I call you back if I have any more questions?
S: No, I don’t mind. You see the one thing I can do, is you have to be very honest and upright and open to anybody. I’m not scared of conspiracy. If anybody wants to go after me, fine.
K: Well my goal, as a journalist, the only thing I am after is the complete truth.
S: That’s what I do to, because I see how easily people misinterpret things, including Epstein, who misinterpreted a number of things.
K: I was disappointed when I talked with Betty McDonald when she said she never talked to Epstein, but was interviewed by his secretary. I do all my own interviews, and try to talk to as many people as possible. And thank you for talking with me.
S: Well good luck, it is an important endeavor.