The Passing of George Michael Evica

By James DiEugenio


 

            On November 10, 2007 longtime writer and researcher George Michael Evica succumbed to lung and brain cancer.   He died at his home in Connecticut where he was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford.  Evica had taught at Brooklyn College, Wagner College, Columbia University, and San Francisco State before settling at Hartford. He taught there from 1964 until 1992 when he retired.

            In addition to writing books and articles on the JFK case, he was also associated with the Lancer group in Dallas.  He helped edit their quarterly journal Kennedy Assassination Chronicles. He also served as the program chair for their annual November in Dallas conference until his retirement from that position in 1999. Further, he hosted and produced a radio program called Assassination Journal. This was a weekly radio program broadcast live on WWUH in Hartford.  Evica broadcast the show from 1975 until July of 2007 when his illness forced him to stop. In the early nineties, Evica was one of the hosts and organizers of the Dallas based ASK conferences which sprung up in the wake of Oliver Stone's film JFK.

            Evica wrote two books on the John Kennedy murder case. The first was And We are All Mortal which was published in 1978. This volume was a solid all around reference work which was quite creditable considering the time at which it was written i.e. before the published volumes of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the release of JFK, and the declassification process of the Assassination Records Review Board.  That book had several areas of emphasis that the author developed in a sober and scholarly method.  Evica was one of the first to seriously look into whether or not the rifle the Warren Commission adduced into evidence could be the one the Commission said Oswald ordered. Writers like Sylvia Meagher had touched on this issue previously, but Evica explored it for five chapters and over sixty pages in this book. After this long and serious discussion, Evica came to the conclusion the rifle ordered was not the one in evidence. His work in this area would not be surpassed until John Armstrong's even more conclusive dissertation in Harvey and Lee nearly three decades later. In his first book  Evica also brought the possibility of John Thomas Masen as an Oswald imposter to the fore.  He poked holes in the FBI's spectrographic analysis of the bullet /lead evidence. Evica did a nice job of profiling David Phillips and his possible role in the plot and he concluded with a thesis that seemed to state that the conspiracy to kill Kennedy originated in the CIA/Mafia plots to kill Castro: They were reversed onto JFK when he pulled the plug on MONGOOSE.  And I should add here, Evica did all this in less than 450 pages.  Which seems almost nostalgic in these days of Lamar Waldron, Vincent Bugliosi,  and Joan Mellen.

            When Evica resigned from Lancer, he said he was planning to write several books on the case. Unfortunately he only published one of them.

A Certain Arrogance was published in 2006. It was both narrower and broader in scope than And We are All Mortal. It traced the history of U. S. government involvement with religious groups for both infiltration and surveillance purposes. It went back to the 1880's to what the Rockefeller family did with Christian missionary groups in South America to quell native American unrest against economic imperialism. It then traced this kind of activity forward in time to the activities of Allen and John Foster Dulles and how this intertwined with the mushrooming activities of American intelligence. This practice was used through two world wars and into the Cold War. And in this later manifestation, the practice broadened to Liberal Protestant groups, the Unitarian Church, and the Quakers.

Evica then connected all this to one of the most interesting and startling releases of the Assassination Records Review Board. On December 13, 1995 the Board voted to release a set of five FBI documents that the Bureau had resisted releasing for over a year. This was due to what was referred to as "third party interests". The third party was the government of Switzerland. And how the government of Switzerland got involved with the short but epochally impacting life of Lee Harvey Oswald was where A Certain Arrogance found its focus in the JFK case. After Oswald left for Russia in 1959, his mother Marguerite sent him a series of letters with money enclosed. She got no replies. In April of 1960 she complained to the FBI about this and the possibility that Oswald could be lost in Russia. Marguerite told the FBI that she had received a letter from an official at Albert Schweitzer College in Switzerland, a man named Casparis. Casparis told her that Lee had been expected there in April of 1960. And most interestingly, while in the service, stationed in California, he had sent them a deposit and registered for the spring, 1960 session.

Hoover began a search for the official and the college. He forwarded a cable to FBI legal representatives in Paris to find the college and Mr. Casparis. The FBI officials had no idea where the college was and had to get in contact with the federal Swiss Police. It took the Swiss authorities two months to locate the school. There was no official record of it with federal government records in Bern. As detailed in Probe (Vol. 3 No. 3) the "college" was founded in 1953 by the Unitarian Church and accommodated less than 30 international students, with apparently no Swiss nationals-which is why the Swiss government was unaware of it. Even though it had very few students, it had 68 international representatives of the college. The American representative was Robert Shact of the Unitarian Church in Rhode Island. It was he who had been in receipt of Oswald's application to the college. Shact told the FBI that Albert Schweitzer was not actually a "college" but an "institution". Whatever it was, it was closed down shortly after Kennedy's murder, in 1964. And the FBI had visited again in 1963 to review the records of Oswald.

The obvious question of course was if the institution was so obscure that neither the FBI nor the Swiss police knew of it, how on earth did Oswald ever hear of it in California? And what prompted him to apply for admittance? Further, why was he accepted and why did he then not attend? Predictably, none of these issues are explored in the Warren Report, which only mentions Albert Schweitzer in passing. (p. 689)

It was this arresting and unaddressed religious-intelligence phenomenon that formed the focus of Evica's final work. And I should add here that it relates not just to Oswald but other figures in the assassination landscape, like Ruth and Michael Paine, and Ruth Kloepfer. It had been ignored for too long and it took Evica to open up the issue. He will be missed.

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