Biography of Joachim Joesten

(Photo from rear cover of Joesten's Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, revised edition, 1964)

    Joachim Joesten is one of those early JFK authors who exists only fuzzily in the minds of most students of the assassination. They remember hearing his name, they guess that he was German, and they may know that he wrote an early book. But that's it. In truth, the man is much more interesting than that, if not more important in the history of JFK assassination research.
    Joesten is primarily remembered by JFK students as the author of two works on the assassination: his book Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? and his 50-page "A Brief Analysis of the Warren Report." The book appeared in September 1964, which means that it was written before the Warren Report appeared that same month. It shares with Thomas Buchanan's Who Killed Kennedy? of May 1964 the dubious distinction of being the only two books published before the Warren Report, and therefore being based exclusively on unofficial information. That fact didn't seem to bother either author. Joesten's analysis of the Warren Commission first appeared separately from the book, and then was incorporated into a revised edition of it.
    Joesten produced two additional, lesser-known books on the assassination, The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson in the Assassination of President Kennedy and Oswald: The Truth. Both appeared in 1967.
    Here is Joesten's short autobiography that appeared on the back cover of the revised edition of the book:

    I'm a cosmopolitan, a polyglot and even now in my advanced years, an indefatigable traveler. Born on June 29, 1907, at Cologne of a Rhenish father, a doctor, and a Bavarian mother, a painter, I studied first at German universities then, at 18, I went to Nancy University in France. Later, I attended the University of Madrid.
    At the time of Hitler's advent to power I was in Berlin, still studying and just starting to write for the press (in particular Carl von Ossietky's Weltbuehne). On March 5, 1933, I emigrated, first to France, later to the Scandinavian countries. In 1938, I wrote my first book which was published early in 1939 by Gollancz, London. It was prophetically entitled Denmark's Day of Doom—an accurate forecast of the invasion of Denmark by the Nazis, which materialized a year later.
    This lightning invasion, on April 9, 1940, caught me by surprise in Copenhagen and almost doomed me. Luckily, I was able that night to flee from the occupied country in a fishing boat that took me to Sweden, where I was interned for some five months. In September 1940, I married a Swedish girl, May Nilsson, and we started out together, immediately, on what we remember as our "Siberian Honeymoon," for we spent it—nine days—on the Trans-Siberian Railroad after having flown to Moscow from Stockholm, en route to America. By way of Vladivostok, Japan and Costa Rica, we finally reached New York in March 1941. In September of the same year our daughter Ingrid, only child, was born in New York.
    I first got a job with Newsweek magazine, where I worked for about two years as an assistant editor in the foreign department. Since 1944, I have been a fulltime freelance writer. To date, I have written 26 books, partly in English, partly in German, and hundreds of newspaper or magazine articles and features. I read and understand eleven languages and speak, more or less fluently, five (English, German, French, Spanish and Swedish). I have been an American citizen since 1948."

    Joesten's short autobiographical statement leaves out a lot of interesting material. Here is what Armand Moss wrote in Misinformation, Disinformation, and ...  about Joesten (pp. 93 ff.:

      “The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy—the Warren Commission—submitted its report to President Johnson on September 24, 1964. Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy?, Joachim Joesten’s first book, was reviewed in the September 23, 1964 issue of New Times by an “American journalist Victor Perlo”; Victor Perlo, a former employee of the War Production Board, had been the leader of the “Perlo group,” accused of espionage during the McCarthy era.
Instigating the writing of this book—or writing it—was the first covert propaganda undertaken by the Russians in their disinformation campaign, which would subsequently evolve at the same time as the mis- and disinformation circulated in the U.S. and Europe.
Joachim Joesten, a member of the German Communist party before the war, traveled to Russia in 1932–33. He came to the United States from Sweden through the Soviet Union in 1941. He was in charge, or took charge of the disinformation campaign in Germany. Two weeks after the tragedy he spent five days “investigating” in Dallas. He and his wife had a date for dinner on the day of his return, December 11, 1963, but his wife found a note when she got home in the evening telling her that he had left for Europe. One cannot help wondering what caused his unexpected and abrupt departure.
He soon submitted an article to Stern; they refused to publish it and the article grew into a short book. The translation Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy (Die Verschwörung von Dallas) was published in London by the Merlin Press and New York by Marzani and Munsell before the Warren Report.
The beginning of the New Times article reads: “Americans await the long-delayed report of the Warren Commission on President Kennedy’s assassination. Indications are that it will adhere to the FBI-police version that Kennedy was murdered by a lone operator, Lee Oswald, for no rational reason. Most Europeans, and many politically-oriented Americans, believe otherwise. The suspect Kennedy was the victim of a Rightist political plot.”
Tribute to a former member of the Communist party and to a “progressive” followed: “Unofficial investigators have done much research. The Buchanan book attracted much attention in Europe, but was kept from significant circulation in the United States. Attorney Mark Lane, former member of the N.Y. State Legislature, has been the leading advocate of a real investigation.”
According to New Times, the American publisher of Joesten’s manuscript “deserved credit for promoting it.” “Thousand of copies” were sold in a short time “despite a blacklist by commercial publishers.”: (The publisher, Carl Manzani, was convicted in 1947 for making false official statements in denying his membership in the Communist party and was sentenced to one to three years in prison.” Oswald, said New Times, “was ‘a fall guy,’ to use the parlance of the kind of men who must have planned the details of the assassination,” chosen because “as a petty, and perhaps discarded agent of the CIA, and later of the FBI, he was an ideal scapegoat.”
Joachim Joesten had already published a book in Germany in 1958 about the CIA, Wie American Geheimdienst arbeitet. In the eyes of the KGB the CIA is, like itself, above the law and capable of anything. Soviet commentaries and Soviet-inspired commentaries always portray the CIA as having played the biggest role in the conspiracy story.
New Times echoed some of the reasons Joachim Joesten gave to “demonstrate” that the assassination was the work of a “powerful conspiratorial group.” The scheduled itinerary of the motorcade was to have passed a block and a half away from the depository and had been changed at the last minute. The final route subjected the president to a cross fire from the depository and from the underpass ahead. (The underpass—the overpass for Thomas Buchanan—subsequently became “the grassy knoll.”) In fact the parade’s itinerary was the normal, direct and only permissive route to the site of the luncheon given by business and civic leaders. The initial statement issued by the doctors showed that some of the shots came from in front. (This point is cleared up in Chapter 7.) Ruby was a police-station hanger-on and operator of a night club at which the police procured prostitutes. (The only thing that has been uncovered on this point is that a policeman married one of Ruby’s former employees.) Such a man, added New Times, would not be moved by righteous indignation to avenge the murdered president, and his police pals had conceivable assigned him the job of executing Oswald without trial. The police showed two different guns at different times as being those Oswald was alleged to have used. (This was an invention of Mark Lane’s.) A man carrying a rifle was arrested in the railway yard minutes after the assassination and was never identified. (This was a variation on one of Thomas Buchanan’s allegations.)”

    Moss is painting the picture of former Communist Joesten writing an early book that trashed the Warren Commission and other American governmental bodies, a book that was heavily promoted by the Soviet Union and was possibly underwritten partially by it, maybe along with Thomas Buchanan's book. Whatever Joesten really was and whatever kind of relations he had with the Soviet Union, there is clearly more to Joesten's story than the version he himself put forth.

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