Oswald on SS Maasdam IV

Oswald on SS Maasdam IV

Received a mail from someone who was interested in information I shared in the period 2007-2010, on the trip Lee Harvey Oswald made from Rotterdam (the Netherlands, my country) to the United States. Oswald travelled with his wife Marina and their baby, June. They left Minsk and travelled by train through Moscow, Poland and Germany, spending a night in a boarding house (in an expensive neighbourhood!) in Rotterdam. On June 4, the SS Maasdam, a Holland America Line ship, took off, bound for Hoboken, New Jersey. Oswald’s European adventures were over.

The trip across the Atlantic sea is interesting for several reasons.

  • No element in the whole Kennedy investigation has been treated this undervalued. Take for instance the bus Oswald took to Mexico, in september 1963: every single passenger has been found by authorities, every person has been questioned. Why did no one ever search for the passengers of the Maasdam IV? The investigation was poor and minimal when it comes to this.
  • Marina has made contradictional testimonies: for example, one time she told authorities that they arrived in the US by plane. Some investigator are still in doubt: has Lee Harvey Oswald actually been on the Maasdam?
  • In Marina and Lee, by Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Marina remembers a Russian-speaking steward named Pieter Didenko. He is possibly the only person who has been in contact with Marina during the 9 days aboard: she rarely left her cabin. No one ever found Didenko – I went through the archives of the Holland America Line and couldn’t find anyone by that name. I have spoken to some veterans of the company: they do not remember him.
  • Lee did not stay in his cabin: among other places he visited the library, where he wrote several documents. The famous questionnaire with two totally different sets of answers, are written on Holland America Line stationary. Like later in New Orleans, Oswald seemed to create two different identities. In other writings, he displayed his political or philosophical views.
  • Oswald got his tickets for the ship at an American Express office in Rotterdam. More on this in my article here: the receipts of the Oswalds finally surfaced!.

The Maasdam IV
Ordered: 1950
Builder: Wilton-Fijenoord, Schiedam
Yard number: 733
Laid down: December 19, 1950
Launched: April 5, 1952 by Mrs. Adriaan Gips
Maiden voyage: August 11, 1952 Rotterdam-Southampton-Le Havre-Montreal-New York
In service: 1952-1966

Article continues below the images of the interor of the Maasdam IV

Below images of the dock in Rotterdam (left, departure location) and Hoboken, New Jersey (right, arrival location). On the satellite image in the right, the left arrow points to the dock, the right one points to the location of the Times Square Hotel where the Oswalds were staying during their first night in the US, June 13/14, 1962.

Article continues below the images

Cabin 473 and the surrounding cabins
You can see a map of the tourist class deck (Deck B) at the top of this page. Thanks to an investigator named Peter Fokes, the passenger list is on the web since 2006. You can find the total list here; Oswald is on page 7. I’d like to thank mr. Hans Segboer, who as a young child travelled from Holland to America with the same steamship. He never left New Jersey since and was a big help in 2007, sending me lists and maps of the ship.

Lee, Marina and June slept in cabin 473. Here is a list of people that had their cabin nearby:

475  J Einhorn (3 adults, 1 child)
473  LR Oswald (2 adults, 1 child) – misspelled initial on passengers list
471  J Barkmeyer-Kivid (1 adult) and WR Pietersma (1 adult, more on her below)
469  DJ Land (2 adults)
467  CL Alexandro (1 adult) and HG Roubos (1 adult)
465  G Dragt (2 adults)
463  H Vermandel (1 adult) and O Versteeg (2 adults)
461  M Salverda (4 adults, 1 child)
459  Part of the Salverda Family (see 461) and JLP Gasper (1 adult)
457  SJ Bosman (2 adults)
455  GP Rouleaux (1 adult) and HP Rouleaux (1 adult)
454  unknown or empty cabin
453  JA Advocaat (2 adults)
452  unknown or empty cabin
451  unknown or empty cabin
449  D de Rijdt (1 adult)
447  FG Gomes (2 adults)
445  R de Jong (2 adults)
443  PK Liem (1 adult)
441  KM Schubert (1 adult)
439  B D’Altroy (1 adult)
437  PL Laroque (2 adults)
435  HM Zwaardmaker (1 adult)
433  PM Starks (1 adult) and SP Whitlock (1 adult)

Has anyone on this list met Oswald during the trip? I tried to reach every single person on the above list, during several months in 2007, but without success. Some of them must be living in the US, if still alive, because lots of Europeans immigrated to the promissed land in those years. Others just went for a holiday or a business trip – they are probably in the Netherlands (again, if still alive). During the years however, two people contacted me – finally! Johannes Adriaansen sent me a photo, believing it has Lee Oswald in it (man with black tie). You can click on the left image below. Johannes: “Is that Oswald, in the upper left?” Wil Pietersma, a Dutch lady, slept in cabin 471: she was a neighbour of the Oswalds on the Maasdam IV. She sent me two pictures (below: middle and right) of herself and her party; she did not recall meeting Lee or Marina.

In April 2023, an article by Riekelt Pasterkamp suddenly appeared in the Dutch newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad. The journalist spoke with Anna Maria Wiebes-van de Brink from California, born in the Netherlands in 1945, who emigrated to the United States in 1962 with her family (father, mother, an older brother and Anne Maria). They were also on board the Maasdam IV; they slept in cabin 472, close to the Oswalds. “A strange couple; we never really saw them.” The woman turned 17 on board the Maasdam. “I cried all day. I didn’t want to go to America at all.”

His writings
Marina noticed that on the SS Maasdam IV, Lee was spending a great deal of time by himself in the library. On Holland America Line stationery he wrote questions he expected to be asked by newspapermen at the dock in the US, like why had he defected to the Soviet Union and why he’d come back to the United States. Remarkable is that he wrote two sets of answers: he acted like a communist in the first and as a patriotic American in the second set. The questions and answers are listed as Warren Commission Exhibit 100. See the photo below. Why did Oswald create two identities? That’s a question that will never be answered. He did the same in later months, like in New Orleans, acting like both pro- and anti-Cuba. Next to the questionnaire, he also wrote on the problems of capitalism and communism, listed as Warren Commission Exhibit 25.

Perry Vermeulen

Author of two books related to the assassination of JFK, published in The Netherlands in 2008 and 2012. Wrote a lot about this subject; built this website in 2023 to accommodate all those different stories. I will continue to produce new articles on the case.

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