Vintage Paris Flammonde: Fascist Ties to the John Kennedy Murder
New Orleans Prosecutor Jim Garrison: “We . . . are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. … ”
Merideth Press, 1969
hard cover, 1st edition
excerpts from pages 15-17
Garrison lives with his attractive blond wife Elizabeth and five young children in a handsome two-storied home near Lake Pontchartrain, where house prices run from $40,000 to $75,000. (Both his home and office phones, he declares, are tapped.) He keeps in good physical shape by frequent visits to the New Orleans Athletic Club and by practicing isometric exercises. When the load of work becomes too pressing, he will fly to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, or Phoenix for a two-day vacation and return revitalized.
In his spare time Garrison indulges his passion for chess, although he has complained to the author that “since this probe got under way I practically never have time for a good game.” Garrison compares his current investigation to a complex chess game: “What it took to solve this puzzle was imagination and evaluation. It was like a chess game—and I once played an expert eight hours to a draw.”
Garrison prefers to live well, and his taste is flawless in everything from his clothes (Brooks Brothers) to his food and drink (French haute cuisine, vintage wines, the best bourbon). Garrison is a faithful family man, devoted to his wife and children, but according to Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw: “The D.A. likes to be surrounded by attractive women and one of the legends about his office is that only good-looking girls are hired as secretaries. The legend has some foundation in fact; Garrison’s office has more good-looking secretaries, some young, some not so young, than any other office in town.” (16)
He reads omnivorously, often into the early hours of the morning, and widely; his interests encompass everything from Ibsen and Shakespeare to Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The subject of totalitarianism is of particular interest to him, and he has an extensive library of books on fascism. Garrison today claims to see a distinct parallel between what happened in Germany and Italy and current trends in the United States.
We . . . are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. It will be a different kind of fascist state from the one the Germans evolved; theirs grew out of depression and promised bread and work while ours, curiously enough, seems to be emerging from prosperity. But in the final analysis it’s based on power and the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state . . . Of course, you can’t spot this trend . . . The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same . . . Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of antifascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security. (17)
Garrison’s concern with the fate of the individual in the modern industrialized state is not of recent vintage. Several years ago he wrote a foreword to a legal textbook, Crime, Law and Corrections, edited by Ralph Slovenko, in which he said:
The ancient problem of man’s conduct has been converted by his own technology into the critical question of his survival on the planet . . . . History shows that man is the most savage, brutal creature to walk the earth since the dawn of time, and his vaunted rationality has merely increased his capability for bestiality. Such reason as he possesses has produced the cross, the bowl of hemlock, the gallows, the rack, the gibbet, the guillotine, the sword, the machine gun, the electric chair, the hand-grenade, the personnel mine, the flame thrower, poison gas, the nearly obsolete T.N.T. bomb, the obsolescent atom bomb and the currently popular hydrogen bomb—all made to maim or destroy his fellow man. [Garrison told the author that he now regrets one omission from this catalog of man-made horrors: napalm.]
“Whether we survive the Thermonuclear Age,” he soberly observes, “may come down to the simple question of whether we learn to care about our fellow men.”
This is Jim Garrison: prosecutor and philosopher, Bourbon Street bon vivant and student of history, law enforcement official and defender of the individual against the state, ambitious politician and iconoclast ready to sacrifice career for principle. A complex man, a multifaceted man. And, right or wrong, not the man of the newspapers and the one-minute TV news capsules, not a charlatan and not a saint. If Jim Garrison fails to prove his case, he will go down as a dismal footnote in the history books. If he succeeds, he will be history. This is his story.
16 James and Wardlaw, op. cit., p. 26.
17 Playboy, October, 1967.
from pages 37 – 42
Immediately following Ferrie’s death, Jack S. Martin, “bishop” of the “Orthodox Old Catholic Church of North America,” in which the late bewigged pilot-psychologist-cancer-researcher had claimed to be a clergyman, reappeared. However, before considering Martin in more general terms, attention should be concentrated on the ubiquitous and shadowy presence of the various faces of the Old Catholic Church, which, under diverse designations—including the Old Roman Catholic Church, the Apostolic Orthodox Old Catholic Church, the Catholic Church of the North American Rite, the American Catholic Church, et al. —hovers in the background of the case.
Dating back to the early 18th century at which time it was created in Utrecht, Holland, as a result of a schism with the Church of Rome over the local episcopacy, it claims—and is accorded by some objective theological historians—genuine (if quite probably “illicit”) apostolic succession. The disassociation became more formal in 1873, following the first Vatican Council’s proclamation of papal infallibility in 1870; a manifestation of this being the consecration, by the Old Catholic prelate of Deventer, of Prof. Joseph Reinkens of Bonn, establishing a new wing to the free-flying offspring.
An itinerant preacher named Vilatte arrived in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1884, professing Presbyterianism, but soon attempted to induce the entrenched Protestant Episcopal Bishop Brown to join him in the establishment of an Old Catholic diocese. His suggestion was rejected. However, soon afterward he did achieve an Old Catholic consecration from Bishop Herzog of Berne, Switzerland, on June 6-7, 1885. Vilatte’s adventures were many, culminating in his additional consecration, through the good offices of the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch, in the Independent Catholic Church of Ceylon, Goa, and India.
In 1904, a branch of the Old Catholic movement, which was later to be known as the Catholic Church of North America, was instituted in Wisconsin by William Henry Francis (Brothers). During the following forty years he wandered in and out of the more and less legitimate areas of church activity and in 1940 settled in Woodstock, New York. One of Bishop Arnold Harris Mathew’s successors excommunicated him from Old Catholicism in 1944 and he finally accepted ordination into the Russian Orthodox Catholic Church in America in 1962.
The most apostolically valid Old Catholic Church in this country arrived just prior to World War I in the august person of Rudolph Francis Edward St. Patrick Alphonsus Ghislain de Gramont Hamilton de Lorraine Barbant, Prince de Landas Berghes, et deRache et Duc et Winsock, who was consecrated by Arnold Harris Mathew, Count Provoleri di Vicenza, du jour Earl of Llandaff, Regionary Old Catholic Bishop of England, Archbishop of London, etc. The Vilatte, as well as the Ferrette, Hereford, and other claimant lines are generally questioned. However, through one or more channels, almost too complicated to understand, let alone explain, and, in terms of apostolic succession—which constituted its assertions of “legitimacy” —the Church in the United States was concentrated and consecrated in the holy vessels of Carmel Henry Cafora and William Henry Francis. From the former, clergy spewed forth; the latter had his ordinational fling and then retired, some thirty years ago, to a charming Woodstock mountaintop and built a rarely visited church.
In its modern history the church has had many schisms of its own. The World Almanac lists various denominations as having 83,000, 62,000, and 4,300 followers, but these self-estimates are probably grossly exaggerated. Nonetheless, some of these fragments are quite sincere and rather ordinary. Others are not.
One network of the Old Catholic Church, concentrated in the East and the South (although it also has its advocates in the Southwest), is totally controlled and peopled by homosexuals. The small congregations are homosexual, the priests are homosexual, the bishops are homosexual.
David Ferrie and others involved in the case were practitioners, priests or prelates in one or more of these tentacles of the body Old Catholic. Others were members of the clergy of offbeat Protestant sects, just as conservative in their philosophy as many of the “serious” Old Catholic hierarchy.
A last point should be made before we return to other activities of “Bishop” Martin. This overwhelmingly homosexual segment of the Old Catholic Church is closely allied with peripheral factions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church (exchanging ordinations and consecrations with each on occasion). Needless to say, the ties of both, especially the Russian Orthodox Church, to the White Russian community are very close.
Ferrie himself was never an actual priest. Reports indicate that, nominated by Bishop George A. Hyde, once of Washington, D.C., he was to have been ordained, in Kankakee, Illinois, on July 19, 1963, but that Church officials, informed that Ferrie had been arrested on charges of homosexual activities, canceled the ritual of installation. There seems little doubt that it was the arrest which disconcerted the clergy, not the homosexuality, since one of the churchmen involved was once widely talked about in the Church for having run an advertisement for that-wayward souls in One, the well-known homophile publication.
This rejection severely disappointed Ferrie and he seems to have accorded himself the rank of priest. Had he known where to look, he could have bought an ordination for a very moderate donation to the purse of a well-known Old Catholic clergyman.
However, returning to Jack Martin—
Originally he had called Assistant District Attorney Herman S. Kolhman in the late 1963 and told him that Ferrie had known Oswald. Interviewed by Garrison, he revealed that the two had been friends and that Ferrie had instructed Oswald in the use of a rifle with a telescopic sight. Shortly afterward supposedly he told the Secret Service and the FBI separately that the story was not true. These reports as well as related information, consisting of about sixteen pages, were finally declassified in September, 1965; forty others on Ferrie are still “classified” and are unobtainable.
Martin, who appears to have been born in Phoenix, Arizona, around 1915, and variously sports the titles “Colonel,” “Bishop,” and simple “Mister,” is said to consider himself a writer, journalist, soldier, adventurer, and philosopher. On one occasion he suggested that Oswald had been put into a hypnotic trance state by Ferrie, who then imposed a posthypnotic order to go to Dallas and kill the President.
More important is his claim that he never told any type of federal investigator that his first story was untrue. He certainly manifested apprehension when Ferrie died, expressing fear for his own life and fleeing the city for some time.
The most startling posthumous “revelation” regarding David Ferrie came to public attention in mid-August, 1968, when the Rev. Raymond Broshears, who had roomed with the late pilot some three years earlier, stated on a Los Angeles television program: (11)
“David admitted being involved with the assassins. There’s no question about that.” Broshears said Ferrie “was in Houston at the time Mr. Garrison has him in Houston, with an airplane waiting.” According to the minister the alleged conspirator was supposed to pilot two of the actual assassins on the second stage of an escape flight which would eventually carry them, by way of South America, to South Africa, with which the United States had no extradition treaty (and to which the CIA front operation Permindex moved when it was asked to leave Europe).
Ferrie, recalls Rev. Broshears, was in readiness at the Houston airport the afternoon of the murder, but the assassins, flying a light plane, panicked and attempted to make it all the way to some point in Mexico non-stop. They crashed off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas, and perished, according to the minister’s recounting of the Ferrie confession. Like Gordon Novel, the minister holds that the purported escape pilot was murdered. “No matter what happens I will never commit suicide,” Broshears remembers him saying.
Rev. Broshears, an admitted homosexual, tells of having been subjected to almost constant threats and harassments since his brief relationship with David Ferrie; however, in at least one instance, he somewhat aggravated the situation. In his words: “I said that Mr. Johnson who was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the assassination of President Kennedy should be put to death.”
A low requiem mass was said for David William Ferrie at St. Matthias’ Church, on March 1. Only two mourners attended. Interment followed in near solitude at St. Bernard’s Memorial Cemetery. His body was claimed by Parmalee T. Ferrie of Rockford, New York, understood to be a brother. Two weeks later the press reported in an isolated three-inch item that attorney John P. Nelson, Jr., representing J. T. Ferrie of Rockford, Illinois, also identified as a brother (the same or another?) had petitioned for a search for a will.
Among Ferrie’s final possessions were found four rifles, an assortment of shotgun shells and .22 rifle blanks, a radio transmitter tuning unit, two Signal Corps field telephones, a 100-pound aerial-type practice bomb and—a sword.
No one wrote an epitaph for this melancholy puppet of phantasy and fate. No one, that is, save the man he must have feared. Jim Garrison, almost a year afterward, recalled:
I had nothing but pity for Dave Ferrie while he was alive, and I have nothing but pity for him now that he’s dead. Ferrie was a pathetic and tortured creature, a genuinely brilliant man whose twisted drives locked him into his own private hell. If I had been able to help Ferrie, I would have; but he was in too deep and he was terrified. From the moment he realized we had looked behind the facade and established that Lee Oswald was anything but a Communist, from the moment he knew we had discovered the role of the CIA and anti-Castro adventurers in the assassination, Ferrie began to crumble psychologically. So, to answer your question directly—yes, I suppose I may have been responsible for Ferrie’s death. If I had left this case alone, if I had allowed Kennedy’s murderers to continue to walk the streets of America unimpeded, Dave Ferrie would probably be alive today. I don’t feel personally guilty about Ferrie’s death, but I do feel terribly sorry for the waste of another human being. In a deeper sense, though, Dave Ferrie died on November 22, 1963. From that moment on, he couldn’t save himself, and I couldn’t save him. Ferrie could have quoted as his epitaph the last words of the Serb partisan leader Draja Mikhailovitch before Tito shot him for collaboration: “I was swept up in the gales of history.” (12)
The man was dead and his playthings had not been put away gently; they had not been put away at all, but lay scattered about the flat like the shrapnel of a demolished personality.
Through the parlor doors is a dust-filmed dining room, with a set of scarlet-and-white false teeth on a walnut sideboard, a model airplane with no propeller, a cheap plaster head of the Virgin, and a college pennant.
The kitchen is peeling, scratched and rusty looking. Fragments of cosmetics still clutter the bathroom. At the foot of Ferrie’s bed hangs a large crucifix; the remainder of the chamber seems all bed.
The final room reflects his intellectual interests, and their number and variety is evident. Hundreds of books—classics, novels, poetry, histories, biographies, legal tomes, texts of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and languages, detective stories, social and political tracts, and books on the acquisition of power. Two microscopes, a telescope, a mimeograph machine, barbells, and countless other seemingly disconnected items.
However, to the world he left—voluntarily or otherwise—these shards of David Ferrie are only a pile of grubby junk. For notwithstanding Garrison’s appraisal that he “was one of history’s most important individuals,” the truth is that at most he was an incidental catalyst, and it is not usually the motivator we remember, but the motivated, not the theoretician, but the men who act. This was no Brutus, no Essex, no Burr—this was a twisted, hating, emotionally corrupted phantasizer, costumed in false eyebrows and a bright red wig, probably dreaming of a place in the constellation of some historic conspiracy.
David Ferrie was a pawn who thought he was a bishop, who sought the ultimate coup, the taking of the king. He forgot that pawns go, bishops go, and even rooks and queens, but, win or lose, the king alone remains upon the tessellated board of human history.
11 New York Free Press, August 15, 1968. Report of a Los Angeles television interview by Stan Bohrman.
12 Playboy, October, 1967
from pages 145 & 146
Marina Oswald, who three years later was to become the Warren Commission’s most important “prosecution witness” against Lee Oswald, plays an important and frequently enigmatic role in his life. Little attention has been accorded Marina’s life before she married the defector—and the question is rarely raised, why did she marry him?
Marina was born on July 17, 1941, at Severodvinsk in the Archangel area of northern Russia, the illegitimate daughter of Klavidya Vasilievna Prusakova. Two years after her mother’s death, in 1957, the eighteen-year-old Marina moved to Minsk to live with her uncle, Col. Ilya Prusakov, a member of the Communist Party (restricted to the upper few percent of political elite in the USSR) and a prominent officer of the KGB. The Warren Report specified: “The Prusakovs had one of the best apartments in a building reserved for MVD employees.” (The initials KGB and MVD are used interchangeably to designate the Soviet Secret Police.)
The Warren Report added that during their courtship, “Oswald visited Marina regularly at her aunt and uncle’s apartment: they were apparently not disturbed by the fact that he was an American and did not disapprove of her seeing him…”
Either Colonel Prusakov was remarkably broadminded for a senior official of the KGB or he was encouraging Marina to cultivate Oswald’s friendship for some purposes of his own—or the KGB’s. It should be remembered that from the day he announced his “defection” in Moscow, Oswald was kept under surveillance by a string of beautiful and cultured Intourist guides who spoke perfect English and encouraged the boorish and unromantic Oswald to squire them around Moscow to dinner, ballet, and the theater—in clear violation of Intourist rules prohibiting social fraternization with foreign tourists. Marina’s interest in Lee Oswald may have been perfectly sincere and spontaneous—but it can also be viewed in another light.
Marina’s biographer, Joachim Joesten, asks:
Did it ever strike the Warren Commission as peculiar that Lee Harvey Oswald, an American and a former Marine, at large in “enemy territory” under most questionable circumstances, should have come to marry a girl who happened to be the niece of a local top official in the secret police? To be sure, the Commission, in its own words, “is aware that many of the Soviet officials with whom Oswald came into contact were employees of the KGB, the agency which has primary jurisdiction for the treatment of defectors.” This may be news to Chief Justice Warren and his fellow commissioners, but the KGB’s primary jurisdiction does not lie with defectors, who are few and far between in the Soviet Union. Rather, its principal job is to keep a sharp eye on potential spies and saboteurs…(26)
Nothing in Marina’s record indicates a genuine fondness, much less love, for her husband. Two White Russian friends of the Oswalds in Dallas, George and Jeanne De Mohrenshildt, told the Warren Commission that “right in front” of Oswald, Marina bemoaned his sexual inadequacy, and she complained to her friend Ruth Paine that they only rarely had sexual intercourse since Oswald “was not a man.” Without any pangs of remorse, or concern for the impact on her children, she blackened his memory before the Warren Commission, even inventing stories, such as Oswald’s alleged attempt to assassinate Richard Nixon, that were so fantastic the Commission was compelled to reject them. In Mark Lane’s words, “The case against Lee Harvey Oswald was comprised essentially of evidence from two sources: Dallas police officers and Marina Oswald.” (27) Even during their courtship Marina never evidenced anything approaching a grand passion for Oswald; she never seemed even to like him. Why then did she marry Lee Harvey Oswald? One possible explanation is that she was an opportunist who wanted a free ticket to the United States. Another is that she viewed Oswald not as a lover, but as an assignment.
26 Joachim Joesten, Marina Oswald (London, Peter Dawnay, Ltd., 1967), p. 20
27 Playboy, February, 1967.
from pages 170 & 171
Another of the Warren Commission’s conclusions absolving Ruby of involvement in a plot, the fact that he was too “moody and unstable” to ever have “encouraged the confidence of persons involved in a sensitive conspiracy,” (14) causes the prosecutor to burst into a gale of derisive laughter. “I’m sure they would have preferred a bishop of the Episcopal Church or a Nobel Prize winner, but they made a pretty good choice in Ruby. At least, I don’t see Lee Harvey Oswald walking around today.” (15)
Nor does Garrison find it peculiar that Ruby, professedly a devout Jew, would cooperate in a conspiracy with elements the district attorney designates as “neo-Nazi.” When asked what Ruby’s motivation could be, Garrison replies bluntly:
“Money. As far as my office has been able to determine, Jack Ruby had no strong political views of his own. Historically, of course, there have been a number of self-hating Jews who abetted their own tormentors: Adolf Hitler’s mentor in Vienna, Karl Lueger … but I don’t believe Jack Ruby falls into this category; he was just a hoodlum out for a buck. I will say—with the understanding that it’s pure speculation—it’s not impossible that Jack Ruby developed certain guilt feelings in prison over his role in the plot. Remember his repeated lament, ‘Now there will be pogroms. They will kill all the Jews.’? Most people assumed this was just the fantasy of a crumbling mind. But maybe Jack Ruby knew better than the rest of us what the master-racist authors of the assassination had in mind for the country.” (16)
14 Warren Commission Report, p. 373
15 Author’s private files.
16 Playboy, October, 1967.
from pages 214 -224
Garrison’s office also claimed that it had unearthed evidence of three rendezvous between Shaw and Oswald in small, rural Louisiana towns during the late summer of 1963.
The New Orleans States-Item then ran a copyrighted story (11) by Hoke May, David Snyder, Ross Yockey, and Rosemary James of its staff and R. T. Endicott of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, which began to crack the shell of denial regarding the CIA’s involvement in the case and with some of the principal participants. Gordon Novel had already announced that he intended to hide behind the cloak (and his famous “Mr. Weiss letter” suggested even the dagger) of the Central Intelligence Agency in the face of the looming Garrison inquiry. Now Shaw himself was seemingly revealed as having connections with that mysterious department of the United States government. Certainly he was associated with two organizations which were widely identified by responsible figures as being arms, fronts, or financial conduits for its activities.
Rather than draw on the excellent, but necessarily secondhand, report of the group of star journalists mentioned, the author established communications with the original source, the newspaper Paesa Sera of Rome. What follows is the result of that line of inquiry.
There was established in Rome an organization named the Centro Mondiale Commerciale. Its origins, functions, rotating presidency, geographical displacements, sub-, subsequent, and alternate designations, were so complex and labyrinthine as to make a comprehensive and comprehensible description of it in anything less than a moderate-sized book impossible. Nonetheless, the essence of its activities can be sketched here, and as they seem to deeply incorporate Clay Shaw, a former OSS colonel, Italian Fascists, supporters of the far, paramilitary right in Europe, the CIA, and other like subjects, it is vital that the fundamentals of this situation be clarified as much as space and the entire business’ innate irreducible confusion permit.(12)
In 1959 another of the mysterious figures who appear to comprise the major portion of the persons somehow related to the investigation in New Orleans, a Hungarian, George Mandel, at one point Italianized to Giorgio Mantello, created a Societa Italo-Americana, the purpose of which was announced as industry and commerce. On November 14 of that year he inaugurated what Paesa Sera regards as his most important “creation,” the Italo-American Hotel Corporation. Its stated object was the construction of the Hotel du Lac of the EUR (Exposition Universale Roma). The largest of its shareholders were three foreign credit groups, “represented in Italy by the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, the De Famaco Astalde Vaduz (Swiss), the Miami Astalde Vaduz (American), and the Seligman Bank of Basel. The De Famaco and the Seligman institutions were among the most powerful stockholders of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale.” (13)
The CMC was founded in 1961. Spokesmen asserted that it would function as an international commercial organization, that it would aid in the establishing of a permanent exposition, and generally assist concerns involved in trade. The staffing was expansive, the offices elaborate, and it gave all the appearance of being a rather grand operation.
The board of directors was interestingly assorted. Several respected Italians were present—Christian Democrat Deputy Mario Ceravolo and former Social Democrat Deputy Corrado Bonfantini. Listed as president was Carlo D’Amelio, lawyer and administrator of the former royal family’s interests. The remainder of the board consisted of non-Italian names. Swiss Minister Ernest Feisst; Swiss Professor Max Hagemann, owner-editor of the newspaper National Zeitung (not to be confused with the neo-Nazi German National and Soldaten Zeitung); Hans Seligman-Schurch, Basel banker; Professor Edgar Salin, president of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Basel; Dr. Enrico Mantello, brother of George Mandel (Mantello), the power behind the Societa Italo-Americana; Ferenc Nagy, former Hungarian premier and erstwhile leader of the anti-Communist Countryman’s party, and president of Permindex (the head office of the CMC); Prince Gutierez di Spadafora, industrialist and landowner of oddly totalitarian turn of mind, related through his daughter-in-law to Adolf Hitler’s notorious Minister of Finance, Hjalmar Schacht tried as a war criminal at Nuremburg; and Clay L. Shaw, of New Orleans.(14)
Now what of these associates of the “old-fashioned liberal of the Wilson-Roosevelt persuasion”? What kind of persons did they seem to be? Again, space precludes a full examination of each, or, for that matter, even a cursory individual analysis, but we certainly can look into the background and activities of a few.
First there is Giorgio Mantello (Mandel), a Hungarian refugee, Austrian citizen, functioning in Italy, Switzerland, and elsewhere with financial transactions reaching throughout Europe, Africa, and America, who has, according to Paesa Sera, been condemned for his “criminal activities” in Switzerland. This latter revelation was originally carried in the August 19, 1961, issue of the Basel newspaper A-Z, which featured a report about directors of government agencies, saying: “In many articles we have justly spoken of the criminal activities of Messrs. [Ferenc] Nagy and Mantello.” Mantello initiated a suit against the Swiss journal, then abruptly abandoned it, causing A-Z to observe: “Too bad; we would have heard some great things at the trial.” (15)
Ferenc Nagy was closely associated with Mantello in his highly secret financial-political maneuverings. When Mantello founded Permindex, the head office and other face of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale, Nagy became its president. He was the Nagy accused of “criminal activities” along with Mantello, and identified by Swiss newspapers as a “dependent” of the CMC in Rome.
“As president of Permindex, I would like to thank the Italian government for the good will and sincere interest shown toward our great undertaking, the permanent industrial exposition and the CMC,” orated Nagy, as the operation he fronted began. It was all very grand and impressive, but to quote Paesa Sera:
“The farce . . . reached the point of the grotesque when the lawyer D’Amelio, praising Permindex as ‘a capillary organization located in the principal centers of production, with its head office [CMC] in Rome’ (an organization, all the while, virtually non-existent), brought all of Italian civilization into play by affirming that thanks to the Centro [CMC], ‘Rome will recover once again her position as caput mundi, as center of the civilized world.'”(16)
Actually it was soon to become evident that the seemingly vast, mighty structure was not a rock of solidarity, but a shell of superficiality; not constructed with mass, supporting promise, but composed of channels through which money flowed back and forth, with no one knowing the source or the destination of these liquid assets.
Ferenc Nagy, who, while premier of Hungary, was “compelled by Communists in key government positions to expel from his party various of its members who had been arrested for plotting . . . against the government,”(17) and who, while on a trip to Switzerland on May 29, 1947, telephoned his resignation to Budapest, moved in shadowy areas of finance and politics. “President of Permindex and Board Member of the CMC,” reports Paesa Sera, ” [he] was said by the French press to be a munificent contributor to the philo-fascistic movement of [Jacques] Soustelle, and [a] patron of far-right movements throughout Europe, including Italy.” (18)
Certainly one is led to wonder why, of all the hundreds of nations on earth, Nagy ended up in the United States; and why of all the thousands of cities in the United States, Nagy ended up in Dallas. For that is where the violently right-oriented, GAS-financing, president of Permindex and board member of the Centro Mondiale Commerciale did end up, in the city that boasted the infamous “Wanted for Treason” manifesto, which accused Kennedy of being a Communist; in the city where the President was assassinated—in Dallas.
These were two of liberal Clay Shaw’s associates in his European activities.
Prince Gutierez di Spadafora, Undersecretary of Agriculture in Mussolini’s Fascist government, was another. After his wartime achievements he turned his talents to his vast landholdings and commerce, especially to the establishment of a corporation, with himself as president, which constructed a huge refinery at Milazzo, in Messina, Sicily. He is also president of the Sicilian Compagnia Armatrice Industriale Petrolifera Armatoriale, which is involved with arms and oil. The prince also owns what is reputed to be the largest hothouse in the world, in Pachino, Syracuse. The more than a hundred employees were for some time supervised by “landsmen” from his feudal estates in Valle d’Olma and Mussomeli, in the province of Caltanissetta who rode about in velvet jackets and high black boots, with fancy revolvers flashing from their belts. According to Paesa Sera “the Syracusans, unaccustomed to these Mafia-like habits, held a great general strike in protest, in December, 1962, and the Mafiosi of the Prince were forced to return” to his more feudal properties.
The Centro Mondiale Commerciale boasted another interesting name in its background. He is Giuseppe Zigiotti, president of the Fascist National Association for Militia Arms.
“Another fact which may help us understand certain things about the personalities around the CMC,” said Paesa Sera, “is the presence in this group of H. Simonfay, Hungarian refugee, who directs BO-DA, an agency for provocative information from and for the socialistic countries. He is director in Italy of ACEN (specializing in hostile activities on the confrontations of socialist countries), who had an important position in the field of public relations for the CMC, for which he received a secret fee of half a million lire a month.” (19)
However, no behind-the-scenes figure is more intriguing than Maj. L. M. Bloomfield, formerly of the American OSS, and later suspected by Jim Garrison of having some affiliation with the CIA.
On July 21, 1961, Giorgio Mantello appeared at the Italian Assembly representing all the stockholders of the CMC. These included himself, his brother Enrico, another Hungarian refugee, Joseph Slifka and Fellender Erwin, banker Hans Seligman, and lawyer Carlo D’Amelio . . . . holder of 500,000 lire worth of shares. And Major L. M. Bloomfield, who held half the shares or 250 million, for party or parties unknown.(20)
Now obviously the activities of these Shaw associates were closely orchestrated, considering the financial-political manipulator Mantello was permitted to represent not only himself but the six other stockholders of the CMC, including Bloomfield, former United States espionage agent and now a banker in Montreal, who is reputed to control Le Credit Suisse of Canada, Heineken’s Breweries, Canscot Realty, the Israel Continental Company, the Grimaldi Siosa Lines, Ltd., etc.(21)
Even Montreal is not without significance, for to quote the Canadian journal Le Devoir:
“But here is where the affair assumes stranger and stranger characteristics. It has just been learned that the name of Clay Shaw was found among that of eleven directors of a company which, up until 1962, had its headquarters in Montreal [italics added] . . . [presently] in Rome, it is known as the Centro Mondiale Commerciale . . .” (22)
Shortly thereafter, while alluding to other directors, Le Devoir reports:
“Ferenc Nagy, exiled head of the Hungarian Peasants Party . . . maintains close ties with the CIA and which link him with the Miami Cuban colony.” Also listed are the previously mentioned Fascist Giuseppe Zigiotti, Bloomfield, and an Egyptian, Faruk Churbagi.
This particular episode is worthy of mention for various reasons, not the least of which is its exemplifying of some of the tactics which seem as common to forces behind the CMC and its activities as to those of other forces halfway around the world.
The CMC or the Italo-American Hotel Corporation (into which part of the former turned) are, relates Paesa Sera, “also linked to other names which have appeared recently in the yellow press; another sign that, taking part in the same groups as the CMC and its former members, are persons who are quite suspect.
“One of these persons is Faruk Churbagi, the young Lebanese-Egyptian industrialist who was killed in Rome under still unexplained circumstances. It is said in groups around the former CMC that shortly before he was killed, the young man had turned over 200 million lire as dues for participation in the activities of the Centro . . . .”
And then there was the German Christa Wanniger, connected to the CMC by business dealings and “personal friendships,” who was stabbed to death in Via Veneto under [apparently inevitably] unexplained circumstances.” (23)
However, to return to areas of CMC endeavors about which a fragment or two more is known.
Le Devoir elaborates on Bloomfield, noting that he was active in the espionage arm of the U.S. government during World War II and “was at the time the principal shareholder in a society having headquarters in Switzerland and affiliated with the Centro Mondiale Commerciale in Rome, known as Permindex. Other shareholders in Permindex were banks of a more or less shadowy character with headquarters in Liechtenstein, plus Miami Astaldo Vaduz, De Famaco Vaduz, and the Credit Bank of Geneva.
Among the directors, the name of Max Hagemann was noted, director of the National Zeitung, a newspaper specializing in anti-Communist diatribes. Whatever the case may be, the Centro Commerciale and Permindex got into difficulties with the Italian and Swiss governments. They refused to testify to the origins of considerable amounts of money, the sources of which are, to say the least, uncertain, and they never seemed to engage in actual commercial transactions. These companies were expelled from Switzerland and Italy in 1962 and then set up headquarters in Johannesburg.” (24)
Another individual described by Paesa Sera as a “high level financial backer” was one Dr. David Biegun, “national secretary of the National Committee for Labor Israel, Inc., whose offices are in New York. Biegun was the person who actually handled the liquidation of the agency (CMC), receiving considerable credit for this, though officially ‘unknown to the banks.’ ” (25)
“A short time [after its inauguration],” reports Paesa Sera, when the enormous Centro began to show the true face of its organization with very precise goals, which were anything but commercial, certain persons in Parliament became interested. Odo Spadazzi presented the question to the Chamber. But when the news came out, Spadazzi quickly withdrew. Shortly thereafter, he became [the new] president of the CMC.
While under the presidency of Spadazzi, the Centro was again questioned by the Christian Democrat Mario Ceravolo, who asked for an accounting of all of the activities of the Centro. Ceravolo, a member of the CMC’s Board of Directors. . . had been a member of the board since its founding. Since then, he had seen money spent left and right, and had also seen that no commercial activities were being concluded. He wanted to know where the money was going and where it was coming from, but could get no accurate response. At this point, in 1962, he returned [sic; resigned?] from the board and directly demanded the bankruptcy of the Centro, obtaining a confiscation of two million lire.(26)
The Centro’s attorneys immediately assured one and all that “the CMC is straightening itself out” and was “now in the process of complete recovery.” A recovery which never occurred.
It was these curious and mostly untraceable manipulations which led Ceravolo to make public the following letter:
I refer to the article concerning Clay Shaw which appeared in your paper [Paesa Sera] of 4 March 1967. My name was mentioned therein.
To avoid misunderstandings and false interpretations, I ask that you please publish the fact that I left the administrative board of the CMC on 25 July 1962 because it was no longer possible to understand the sources of great sums of money obtained abroad by Mr. Giovanni [Giorgio] Manteilo, and the real destination of this money.
I was the first to call for the bankruptcy of the CMC and of Mr. Mantello, which paid their representatives, administrators, employees, etc. according to their own pleasure. The magistrate did not wish to grant the request for bankruptcy which I, first of all, presented against the Centro.(27)
The letter is clear, and so is the question it poses. Who was giving virtually unlimited sums of money to the CMC and who was getting it? And for what?
In less than five years of activities which seemed to begin nowhere, go nowhere, and accomplish little or nothing, while receiving from unnamed sources and delivering to anonymous persons and causes vast sums of money, the CMC found reason to change its presidents or directors ten times, or on an average of every six months, although the men controlling its destinies—whatever they may be—are always the same. “Among its possible involvements (supported by the presence in directive posts of men deeply committed to European organizations of the extreme right),” comments Paesa Sera, “is that the Centro was a creature of the CIA . . . set up as a cover for the transfer of CIA . . . funds in Italy for illegal political-espionage activities. It still remains to clear up the presence on the administrative board of the CMC of Clay Shaw and ex-Major Bloomfield.” (28)
“It is a fact,” the newspaper subsequently commented, “that the CMC . . . is nevertheless the point of contact for a number of persons who, in certain respects, have somewhat equivocal ties whose common denominator is an anticommunism so strong that it would swallow up all those in the world who have fought for decent relations between East and West, including Kennedy.” (29)
A mysterious financial manipulator and a former Hungarian premier who supported the military right-wing GAS, kept close ties with the CIA and went halfway around the world to live in Dallas, both of whom were accused of “criminal activities” by the Swiss press. These are two of Shaw’s European associates. A former member of Mussolini’s cabinet, father-in-law to the daughter of Hitler cabinet minister Hjalmar Schacht, and the leader of a national Fascist organization. Two more who sat on the CMC board with Shaw. A mysterious ex-spy and a man who resigns from the organization out of conscience. Two more of Shaw’s companions in business in Rome.
Surely a strange assortment of colleagues for an “old-fashioned liberal of the Wilson-Roosevelt persuasion.” But then, the Centro Mondiale Commerciale and Permindex are curious operations, as has become evident.
Clay Shaw’s name first appeared in the Rome newspapers in relationship to the CMC on February 14, 1962, in Paesa Sera, but, as that journal itself said, his “name did not have, at the time, any particular significance.” Later that was to alter, of course.
“There have been great repercussions from the revelations of Paesa Sera,” remarked that publication in its March 6, 1967, issue, “concerning the connection between Clay Shaw, the man incriminated by D.A. Garrison in the Kennedy assassination, and the World Trade Center (CMC) which was [until] recently working in Rome. The information we published was amply followed up by all the Italian dailies. Il Giorno of Milan, La Gazette del Popolo of Turin, De La Sera in Rome, even Il Tempo, which wrote ‘the businessman accused by D.A. Garrison was among the administrators of the CMC . . . .’ ” (30)
“. . . the lawyer d’Amelio,” continued Paesa Sera, “. . . confirmed Shaw’s presence on the administrative board of the CMC at the time he [d’Amelio] was its President.” Subsequently d’Amelio called Shaw “the inventor” of this type of commercial organization. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know quite what kind of organizations the CMC and Permindex were. One of the few things public about them—if one looked—was that Clay Shaw of New Orleans was a member of both of their boards.
“D’Amelio has tried to justify Shaw’s presence (in the CMC and on its Board of Directors),” says the newspaper, “by the fact that Shaw ‘had organized in New Orleans a permanent trade exhibit like the one which we wanted to set up in Rome,’ and therefore ‘through courtesy, we offered Shaw a position on the administrative board.’
“D’Amelio did not speak of the activities of Ferenc Nagy who, through the CMC’s head office, Permindex, had financed [Jacques] Soustelle and the OAS; he did not know that several Swiss newspapers had called the activities of Nagy and Mandel [Mantello] ‘criminal’; and he did not speak of the completion of the CMC (nor could he, since [in terms of its publicly announced intentions]) this has turned out to be nothing but a tremendous failure.” (31)
On March 14 Paesa Sera observed that Clay Shaw had “confirmed everything” it had reported regarding his European alliances. “That is to say,” it wrote, “that he has declared that he had been, in effect, administrative adviser to the CMC. Shaw, however, has tried to minimize the importance of this, saying that he had accepted the position ‘in exchange two New Orleans-Rome airline tickets.’ ” (32)
Comments Paesa Sera: “According to American sources, Shaw left the U.S. two days after the assassination of Kennedy and came to Europe, visiting, among other places, Italy.” (33)
Further, it reports, “Clay Shaw, by his own admission, came to Rome during the time preceding the disbanding of the CMC.”
Two enigmatic organizations, shadowy figures of finance, neo-Nazi, Fascist individuals manipulating interests in various areas including arms and oil, untold funds from unnamed origins funneled to unspecified ends—the information piles higher and higher, and one senses that one has barely begun to climb the mountain of mystery atop which these men sit and direct their unknown acts to unknown ends. However, to sum up very briefly Clay Shaw’s role in this extraordinary drama, a final quote from Paesa Sera of March 6, 1967.
It is certain that Clay Shaw, who was arrested in New Orleans . . . (and, therefore, whether on true grounds or not, is a person who is certainly not limited to the quiet pursuit of his profession as a director of industry, but who must therefore have his finger in the pies of it is not clear what political activities) had a position on the board of the CMC in Rome.
It is certain that the CMC (taking advantage of the good faith of d’Amelio and of other Italians who were involved in that disastrous enterprise) has not fulfilled any of the activities for which it was originally projected.
It is certain that an important shareholder in the CMC was an ex-official of the American service.
Concerning the CMC and the organizations formed by Mandel, it is not clear on whose account many Hungarian refugees who were implicated in espionage activities were working, nor through what agencies large financial dealings in European political movements have been taking place.(34)
It was stated at the beginning of this examination of Clay Shaw’s European participations and alliances that the entire matter of the CMC, Permindex, and the various presidents, directors, members of the boards, shareholders, theoretical and actual intentions, extra- and inter-organizational financial manipulations, far- and military-right sponsorings, and so forth, was so complicated as to require a book to cover what is known about these subjects, and that, even then, the most one could draw from would be iceberg visibility. However, it was felt that to understand anything of this strange man, Clay L. Shaw of New Orleans, and who knows where, the simple two-dimensional sketch offered to the public should be given the depth a more concrete mass of material would reveal.
One last point must be noted before we leave this particular area of inquiry. Seeking more information regarding the Centro Mondiale Commerciale, the author telephoned the office of the Italian Consul General in New York. After having received silence in response to requests for information in three successive steps, the author was turned over to an apparent superior. When the question “What can you tell me about the CMC in Rome?” was put, for the fourth time, to a man whom the entire series of exchanges indicated to be of considerable authority, he replied: “Why don’t you contact the American Embassy?” “The American Embassy?” echoed the author, not a little surprised at the candidness implied. “The American Embassy in Rome,” the anonymous informant repeated. “But we are interested in the CMC as seen from the Italian perspective,” the author explained. “Try the American Embassy, I can’t help you any further.” The gentleman was thanked for his assistance and the conversation concluded.(35)
In New Orleans, Clay L. Shaw is a distinguished citizen.
In Rome he was a key member of the boards of two highly recondite, clandestine organizations, numbering among his colleagues persons accused of “criminal activities” on an international level, Fascists, and victims of European assassinations.
Are they, in any way, reconcilable images?
The complexity of Shaw’s associations does not end with the Centro Mondiale Commerciale and Permindex, but extends deeply into his personal relationships in Europe. His private address and telephone book, for example, carries the name and address of the wife of a well-known English Fascist, as well as the name, address, and private telephone number of Principessa Marcelle Borghese (now Duchessa de Bomartao), who is related to Prince Valerio Borghese, sometimes referred to as “the Black Prince,” or “the New Duce,” leader of the Movimento Sociale Italiano, the anti-British, anti-American neo-Fascist organization. The prince was a much-decorated midget-submarine commander during the war, following which he was tried and sentenced to twelve years in prison for cooperating with the Nazis after the Italian armistice with the Allies was signed. However, as he had spent four years in jail awaiting trial, after sentencing, the remaining prison period was suspended.(36)
To return to the happenings in New Orleans.
11 New Orleans States-Item, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, April 25, 1967.
12 Paesa Sera, March 4, 1967.
16 Ibid., March 11 – 12, 1967.
17 Universal Standard Encyclopedia, Vol. XVI, p. 5,974.
18 Paesa Sera, March 4, 1967.
21 Ibid., March 14, 1967.
22 Le Devoir, March 16, 1967.
23 Paesa Sera, March 4, 1967.
24 Le Devoir, March 16, 1967.
25 Paesa Sera, March 18, 1967.
26 Ibid., March 11 – 12, 1967.
28 Ibid., March 4, 1967.
29 Ibid., March 14, 1967.
30 Ibid., March 6, 1967.
32 Ibid., March 14, 1967.
34 Ibid., March 6, 1967.
35 Author’s private files.
36 Dennis Eisenberg, The Re-emergence of Fascism (London, MacGibbon and Lee, 1967).