Bernard Weissman

Bernard Weissman

Bernard Weissman was born on 1st November, 1937. After graduating from Edison Technical High School in Mount Vernon in June, 1956, he went to work for the Nuclear Development Corporation as an experimental machinist. He the moved to New Jersey where he was employed as a sales manager.

In August, 1961, Weissman joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany where he met Larrie Schmidt. The two men shared an interest in right-wing politics and were both supporters of the John Birch Society. While in Germany the two men discussed the possibility of establishing a right-wing political group when they returned to the United States.

Weissman was discharged in August 1963 but was unable to find work. Short of money, Weissman contacted Larrie Schmidt who at that time was living in Dallas. Schmidt told Weissman about his involvement in the attack on the liberal politician, Adlai Stevenson. According to Schmidt, this had been organized by General Edwin Walker. Schmidt added that his brother was working as General Walker's chauffeur and general aide.

Schmidt invited Weissman to Dallas. Weissman later told the Warren Commission that Schmidt argued: "If we are going to take advantage of the situation, or if you are," meaning me, "you better hurry down here and take advantage of the publicity, and at least become known among these various right-wingers, because this is the chance we have been looking for to infiltrate some of these organizations and become known," in other words, go along with the philosophy we had developed in Munich."

Weissman arrived in Dallas on 4th November, 1963. Soon afterwards Weissman joined an organization called the Young Americans for Freedom. Schmidt also invited Weissman to join the John Birch Society but according to his testimony before the Warren Commission he changed his mind when he discovered too many of them were anti-Semitic (Weissman was Jewish). While in Dallas he found work as a carpet salesman.

Larrie Schmidt introduced Weissman to Joseph P. Grinnan of the John Birch Society. Grinnan was involved in organizing protests against the visit of John F. Kennedy. Grinnan seemed to know about the visit before it was officially announced to the public. Grinnan suggested that they should place a black-bordered advert in the Dallas Morning News on 22nd November, 1963. The advert cost $1,465. Grinnan supplied the money. He claimed that some of this came from Harvey Bright, Edgar R. Crissey and Nelson Bunker Hunt, the son of Haroldson L. Hunt. Weissman was given the task of signing the advert and taking it to the newspaper office.

The advert attacked Kennedy's foreign policy as being anti-American and communistic. This included the claim that Gus Hall, "head of the U.S. Communist Party praised almost every one of your policies and announced that the party will endorse and support your re-election in 1964". It also attacked Kennedy's domestic policies. Another passage asked why Robert Kennedy had been allowed "to go soft on Communists, fellow-travelers, and ultra-leftists in America."

Weissman was shocked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and told Larrie Schmidt he feared he would be accused of being involved in the killing. Weissman suspected that Kennedy had been killed by supporters of General Edwin Walker and that as a result he would be implicated in the plot. However, he told the Warren Commission he felt relieved when he discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had been arrested for the murder. The Warren Commission did not ask how he knew that Oswald was not a right-winger. Despite this news, Weissman and Schmidt decided to leave Dallas

Mark Lane testified before that Warren Commission that Thayer Waldo, a journalist on the staff of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, had told him that Weissman was involved in a two-hour meeting with Jack Ruby and J. D. Tippit at the Carousel Club on 14th November, 1963. According to Joachim Joesten, the author of How Kennedy Was Killed (1968), has argued "a rich oil man" was also at this meeting. Weissman denied he had ever been to the Carousel Club and had never met Ruby or Tippit.

George Senator told reporters that Jack Ruby had tried to contact Weissman after the assassination. Seth Kantor, the author of Who Was Jack Ruby? (1978) has pointed out that: "He (Ruby) couldn't get to Bernard Weissman. There was no such person in the Dallas phone book."

Primary Sources

(1) Hugh Aynesworth, JFK: Breaking the News (2003)

Relying on pitifully weak evidence to elevate a jack-leg Marxist such as Lee Harvey Oswald to membership in the supposed international communist conspiracy was precisely the sort of irresponsible straw man fabrication at which the News editorial writers excelled. No self-respecting communist would have wanted himself or his movement associated with the likes of Oswald.

Behind the News' editorial's bluster, however, lurked a different truth. It wasn't political conservatism, but intolerance-outright knee-jerk hostility to any opposing view-that characterized the thought of Ted Dealey and his fellow believers on the right. It was this brand of extremism that was discredited in Dallas by the events of November 22nd.

Fear for their own safety gripped some of the anti-communist crusaders after the shootings, possibly for good reason. Larry Schmidt and Bernard Weissman left town, the dust of The American Fact-Finding Committee settling to earth in their wake. General Walker grabbed a plane for Shreveport, La., where he hunkered down for several days.

(2) Joachim Joesten, How Kennedy Was Killed (1968)

When Chief Justice Warren and other members of the Commission on June 7, 1964, interviewed Ruby at the Dallas County jail. General Counsel Rankin told Ruby:

There was a story that you were sitting in your Carousel Club with Mr. (Bernard) Weissman, Officer Tippit, and another man who has been called a rich oil man, at one time shortly before the assassination. Can you tell us anything about that?'

To which Ruby replied with a counter-question: 'Who was the rich oil man?'

After that, unbelievably, the subject was dropped. Apparently, Messrs. Warren and Rankin felt they were getting too warm. Ruby's reaction indicated that he was ready to talk since he had nothing to lose. But the Commission members weren't looking for the truth. They shied away from it, as from the plague. And so the topic was quickly shifted. Ruby never got a second chance to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the vitally important question of whether such a meeting was held. Yet his surprise reaction, which so put off Messrs. Warren and Rankin that they quickly changed the subject, indicates that the story of that meeting is true...

Tippit, I am satisfied, was up to his neck in the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. A Bircher, a marksman and a member of the police force which almost openly connived at the ambush in Dealey Plaza, he was most probably one of the actual snipers - and was quickly silenced for that very reason. And the description which Howard Brennan has given of the Man in the Window makes it a near-certainty, in my opinion, that Officer J. D. Tippit impersonated Lee Harvey Oswald at the deadliest part of the frame-up.

(3) Bernard Weissman was interviewed by Albert E. Jenner for the Warren Commission (1964)

Albert E. Jenner: Now, are you acquainted with a gentleman by the name of Larrie Schmidt?

Bernard Weissman: Yes; I am.

Albert E. Jenner: When did you first meet him?

Bernard Weissman: In Munich, Germany, about July or August of 1962.

Albert E. Jenner: Where does he reside?

Bernard Weissman: Well, he was in Dallas. I understand he has dropped from sight. I don't know where he is now.

Albert E. Jenner: Was he residing in Dallas in the fall of 1963 when you were there?

Bernard Weissman: Yes.

Albert E. Jenner: When did you arrive in Dallas?

Bernard Weissman: In Dallas, on the 4th of November 1963.

Albert E. Jenner: And was Mr. Schmidt aware that you were about to come to Dallas?

Bernard Weissman: Yes.

Albert E. Jenner: And what was the purpose of your coming to Dallas?

Bernard Weissman: I will be as brief as possible. It was simply to follow through on plans that we had made in Germany, in order to develop a conservative organization in Dallas, under our leadership.

Albert E. Jenner: Did that conservative organization, or your purpose in going to Dallas, as well, have any business context in addition to politics?

Bernard Weissman: I would say 50 percent of the purpose was business and the other 50 percent politics. We figured that only rich men can indulge full time in politics, so first we had to make some money before we could devote ourselves to the political end completely...

Albert E. Jenner: What contact did you have with Mr. Larrie Schmidt and Mr. Burley after you left the Army, which eventually brought you to Dallas? State it in your own words and chronologically, please.

Bernard Weissman: Well, I got out of service on the 5th, and I spent the month of August looking for a job. During this time, I had been in contact with Larrie. I had telephoned him once during August. Things were pretty bad. I didn't have any money. As far as I could ascertain he was broke himself. There wasn't any percentage in going to Dallas and not accomplishing anything. As a matter of fact, I had lost a good deal of confidence in Larrie in the year that he left Munich and was in Dallas, and the letters I got from him - he seemed to have deviated from our original plan. I wasn't too hot about going. He didn't seem to be accomplishing anything, except where it benefited him.

Albert E. Jenner: You say he deviated from the original plan. What was the original plan?

Bernard Weissman: Well, the original plan was to stay away from various organizations and societies that were, let's call them, radical, and had a reputation as being such.

Albert E. Jenner: When you say radical, what do you mean?

Bernard Weissman: I mean radical right. And I considered myself more of an idealist than a politician. Larrie was more of a politician than an idealist. He went with the wind - which is good for him, I guess, and bad for me. In any case Larrie wrote me easily a dozen letters imploring me to come down, telling me in one that he doesn't need me down there, but he would love to have my help because he can't accomplish anything without me, and in the next one saying, "Forget it, I don't need you," and so forth. As the letters came, they went with the wind, depending on what he was doing personally. And along about the end of October, I had been in contact with Bill - he was in Baltimore, Maryland, selling hearing aids. He wasn't getting anywhere. He was making a living.

Albert E. Jenner: Up to this point each of you was barely making a living?

Bernard Weissman: Right.

Albert E. Jenner: And you had no capital?

Bernard Weissman: No.

Albert E. Jenner: No funds of your own?

Bernard Weissman: None at all.

(4) Bernard Weissman was interviewed by was interviewed by Albert E. Jenner for the Warren Commission (1964)

Albert E. Jenner: When did you first hear the name Lee Harvey Oswald?

Bernard Weissman: We were sitting in a bar, right after President Kennedy's assassination.

Albert E. Jenner: This was the 22d of November 1963?

Bernard Weissman: Yes; it was Bill Burley, myself, and Larrie. We had made we were to meet Larrie and Joe Grinnan at the Ducharme Club.

Albert E. Jenner: For what meal?

Bernard Weissman: For luncheon. We were supposed to meet him at 12:30 or 1 o'clock, I forget which - about 1 o'clock. And I had a 12:30 on the button, as a matter of fact - I had an appointment to sell a carpet out in the Garland section of Texas - it was a 2:30 appointment. And I was in a hurry to get to meet Larrie and finish the lunch, and whatever business they wanted to talk about I didn't know. So I looked at my watch. I remember specifically it was 12:30, because at that time Bill had been driving my car. He had quit the carpet company and was looking for another job. He had looked at a franchise arrangement for insecticides. He picked me up. He was waiting for me from 10 after 12 to 12:30. We got into the car. I am a great news bug. So I turned the radio on, looking for a news station. And they had - at that time, as I turned the radio on, the announcer said, "There has been a rumor that President Kennedy has been shot." So we didn't believe it. It was just a little too far out to believe.

And after several minutes, it began to take on some substance about the President's sedan speeding away, somebody hearing shots and people laying on the ground. In other words, the way the reporters were covering it. I don't recall exactly what they said. And, at this time - we were going to go to the Ducharme Club through downtown Dallas. We were heading for the area about two blocks adjacent to the Houston Street viaduct. And then we heard about the police pulling all sorts of people somebody said they saw somebody and gave a description. And the police were pulling people off the street and so forth. So Bill and I didn't want to get involved in this. So we took a roundabout route. We got lost for a while. Anyway, we finally wound up at the other side of Dallas, and we were at the Ducharme Club.

Albert E. Jenner: When you arrived there, was Mr. Schmidt there?

Bernard Weissman: He was waiting for me. But Joe Grinnan wasn't there. He had heard this thing and took off. I guess he wanted to hide or something.

Albert E. Jenner: Why?

Albert E. Jenner: Well, because the way it was right away, the announcers, even before it was ascertained that President Kennedy was dead, or that he had really been shot, that it was a right-wing plot and so forth. And he had every reason to be frightened.

Albert E. Jenner: Why did he have every reason to be frightened?

Bernard Weissman: Because, let's face it, the public feeling would suddenly be very anti-rightwing, and no telling what would happen if a mob got together and discovered him. They would tear him apart. Bill and I were frightened to the point because I knew about the ad. And I knew exactly what - at least I felt in my own mind I knew what people would believe. They would read the ad and so forth, and associate you with this thing, somehow, one way or another. So we went to another bar - I don't remember the name of it - the Ducharme Club was closed, by the way, that afternoon.

Albert E. Jenner: When you reached the Ducharme Club, it was closed, but you found Mr. Schmidt there?

Bernard Weissman: Larrie was waiting on the corner. He got in the car. We sat and talked for a few minutes. We went to another bar a few blocks away. We drank beer and watched television. And we had been in the bar, I guess, about an hour when it come over that this patrolman Tippit had been shot, and they trapped some guy in a movie theater. And maybe half an our, an hour later, it came out this fellow's name was Lee Harvey Oswald. This is the first time I ever heard the name.

Albert E. Jenner: What was said at that time?

Bernard Weissman: By us?

Albert E. Jenner: Yes. When it was announced it was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Bernard Weissman: We were relieved.

Albert E. Jenner: Anything said about it?

Bernard Weissman: I don't recall. First, what was said, like, I hope he is not a member of the Walker group - something like that - I hope he is not one of Walker's boys. Because it is like a clique, and it is guilt by association from thereafter. So it came over later this guy was a Marxist. This was the same afternoon, I believe. It was found out this fellow was a Marxist. And then the announcers - they left the right-wing for a little while, and started going to the left, and I breathed a sigh of relief. After 4 hours in the bar, Bill and I went back to the apartment, and Larrie went to the Ducharme Club. He was afraid to go home.

(5) Lee Israel, Kilgallen (1979)

Under the headline NEW DOROTHY KILGALLEN EXCLUSIVE - TALE OF "RICH OIL MAN" AT RUBY CLUB - Dorothy printed Mark's secret testimony. But his testimony implicated a trio at the Carousel: Ruby, Tippit, and Weissman.

Reexamining the transcript of Ruby's testimony before the commission, she noticed that the questions posed to him concerned not a trio, but a quartet. Earl Warren, in his questioning, informed Ruby that Lane had said: "In your Carousel Club you and Weisman (sic) and Tippit... and a rich oil man had an interview or conversation for an hour or two."

Dorothy, who did not have access yet to the complete Warren Report, had to deduce:

"The mention of the "rich oil man" by Chief Justice Warren would indicate then, that the Commission was informed of the meeting by a source other than Mr. Lane, and that this second source provided the name of a fourth party - the oil man. If that is not the case, if the Commission had only Mr. Lane's testimony to go on, it would appear that the oil man was "invented" by the investigators. And it is difficult to imagine the Commission doing any such thing.

The introduction of the rich oil man into the questioning effectively discombobulated the already-confused Jack Ruby.

When the report was released, it was clear that no testimony was given by any of the 552 witnesses about a rich oil man. Either there was a significant omission in the report of the Warren Commission, or the oil man was part of the unofficial corpus of information to which Warren was privy, or Dorothy's thesis - however "difficult to imagine" - was correct.