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The Kennedy curse

It might have been provoked by a secret weapon

John Kennedy. Photograph taken minutes before the assassination of the president.
John Kennedy. Photograph taken minutes before the assassination of the president.
The Kennedy family are perhaps one of the most influential, beloved and political dynasties in the United States, and despite of all their power and authority their fate was marked by staggering tragedies. They use the word 'curse' themselves when describing the endless chain of unfortunate events, assassinations and tragic accidents which befell them – 11 death cases in just a few decades, amongst which four plane crashes with casualties.

This story begins as far back as the Second World War. Lieutenant Joseph Kennedy-Junior (29) was literally turned to ashes in the air while attempting to aim an American secret weapon against a Nazi one. Joseph-Junior was the eldest of four sons and five daughters in the family of Joseph Kennedy-Senior and his wife Rose Fitzgerald. The following article is going to tell you the tragic tale of their children and how they have influenced the future of our world. Their most famous child is John Kennedy.

We have all seen videos of the assault on the American president John F. Kennedy (JFK) in Dallas, Texas, on 22th November 1963 at 12:30p.m. Kennedy was one of the most successful and beloved American presidents and his murder was national tragedy in the USA. JFK was shot in his open limousine in front of the eyes of hundreds of witnesses with two bullets, fired from a sniper rifle. The person arrested for his murder was Lee Harvey Oswald – a worker in a nearby school book depository. The investigation concluded that the shots were most likely fired from the windows of the depository. His was betrayed by his suspicious behaviour about an hour after the assassination. He was charged with murder on the very same day. While he was being taken through the hallway of the police department, Oswald cried out in front of reporters: "I didn't shoot anybody. They've taken me in because of the fact that I lived in the Soviet Union. I'm just a patsy!"

The leaders of USSR and USA - Khrushchev and Kennedy, who managed to avoid a Third World War.

He did indeed live in the Soviet Union and he worked in an electronics factory in Minsk. He even married a 19-year-old Russian pharmacology  student. But Oswald never admitted to having shot at Kennedy and the case never reached court, because two days after the assassination he was also killed. Many things remained unclear around his assassination as well. The irony of fate is that he passed away in the same hospital as Kennedy.
Oswald's killer was Jack Ruby– a nightclub owner in Dallas, born Jacob Rubenstein, well-known to the police with his good connections with the Italian mafia.
Whether or not the mafia was involved in the assassinations remains a mystery. Four years later, Ruby died of embolism and the special committee in charge of the investigation of the Dallas assassination reached to the conclusion that Oswald acted on his own. However, even today most Americans believe that there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy's assassination. Only 46, he died younger than any other US president.

Long before all of this happened, however, John Kennedy narrowly escaped death. During the Second World War he was the captain of motor torpedo boat PT-109 (PT stands for patrol torpedo). The young Kennedy (then aged 26) commanded a crew of 10 marines who patrolled in the Solomon Islands region of the Pacific Ocean. On the 2nd of August 1943, PT-109, along with two other American boats ran into the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. A Japanese shell literally split Kennedy's boat in two. The other boats withdrew without an attempt to search for survivors – seeing the massive explosion they presumed that all crew members on PT-109 had perished. When they returned to their base, the Americans had a memorial service for Kennedy and his crew. Rather too soon.
In fact, only two of the marines on PT-109 died during the explosion. Other two were heavily injured, but the others survived. Kennedy saved one of the injured members of his crew – the severely burned Patrick McMahon; he pulled a life-saving jacket on him, clenched its belt with teeth and towed him to the closest island. John coped with this challenge thanks to his experience as a swimmer – as a student he had been part of Harvard's swimming team. On the island, there was no food or water available and the young captain swam a further six kilometres to a neighbouring island, where he found coconuts and drinking water. Then he returned to get the other members of his team. The survivors were found and saved a week later by two Melanesian scouts from the American army.
John Kennedy was the politician, who started the Apollo program which brought a man to the Moon, the only catholic American president and the only one awarded with the Pulitzer literature prize for his book "Profiles in Courage".

The young John Kennedy Jr. playing next to his father in the Oval Office.
Years later John Jr., still young, will leave this world under unclear circumstances.


During his presidential mandate in the White House, humanity got closer to its self-destruction than ever before. On the 14th October 1962 an American spy plane U-2 flew above Cuba and managed to capture photographs of a secret soviet military base armed with rockets and nuclear warheads aimed towards the United States. The news quickly spread and caused mass panic - Cuba is as close to America as Plovdiv is to Sofia and the range of some of the rockets which had been photographed, was more than 4500 kilometres – enough to reach any given part of the USA.
On 15th October the photographs were handed to the president and the high military command. Some of the generals insisted on immediate military intervention and attack on Cuba, but Kennedy decided to enforce a blockade on the island and try to seek a diplomatic solution to the matter. This decision probably saved the World, because it turned out that the Soviet Union had 18 ships and 11 submarines in the region, 7 of which armed with nuclear warheads. This was the beginning of the so-called Caribbean crisis – for 13 days the nuclear weapons of both America and USSR were put on high alert. The world could have been completely destroyed literally within hours.

Few people are aware that the decision, which could have lead to this catastrophe, was taken in our country. Although Bulgaria is far away from Cuba, for us the situation was not safe either – in the region of Izmir, there were 15 American nuclear ballistic missiles PGM-19 Jupiter with a range of 2400 kilometres. More of the same type were ready for action in Italy and each of them was capable of destroying half of Bulgaria or flying above us and reaching Moscow. The Russians secretly decided to deploy nuclear weapons on the island in order to counterbalance those threats and protect Cuba from invasion. This counter step was the brainchild of the leader of the Soviet Union at the time Nikita Khrushchev during his visit in Bulgaria in May 1962. In his notes, published recently, Khrushchev had described in detail his thoughts which led to this decision, while he was discussing the threat coming from the American bases in Turkey with his Bulgarian comrades. Khrushchev noted, that he did not discuss his plan with the Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov not because of mistrust, but because of the need to discuss it with the communist elite in Moscow first.
Luckily, during the Caribbean crisis the self preservation instinct of the nations prevailed and after several days of ceaseless telephone negotiations between Khrushchev and Kennedy on 28th October the threat from the impending nuclear war was avoided. The USSR withdrew its nuclear weapons from Cuba, and USA agreed to never attack Cuba (an agreement kept to this very today). The agreement also had an unofficial part that obligated the USA to withdraw its warheads from Turkey and Italy immediately.

Thee of the four brothers – John, Robert and Edward (from left to right)

Not even five years had passed since the assassination of JFK and his younger brother – Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot in his back in Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles, California, in front of many witnesses. This happens on 5th June 1968 – four months before the presidential elections; Robert was seen as the most likely winner with his charismatic nature and incredible popularity.
Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, was arrested for his murder but quickly a hypothesis that there was a second shooter arose. This was another plot that remained unsolved and the existence of an accomplice was never proven.
Sirhan was disarmed and brought down immediately after the shooting by several journalists, actors and the Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson. In court, Sirhan explained his motives by saying that he had killed Robert in order to protect his country – Kennedy had promised to send military help to Israel in the form of 50 American jet-fighters Phantom if he became a president. Sirhan (who was a Christian by belief) explained, that he had decided to murder Robert exactly on 5th of June, because it was one year anniversary from the start of the Six-Day war, in which Israel won over Egypt, Syria and Jordan. What is paradoxical about this story is the fact that Robert Kennedy was in fact a pacifist and on many occasions he had said that his biggest motivation to run for president was the chance to end the war in Vietnam. Sirhan was sentenced to death by the court in California, but that sentence later was commuted to lifetime in prison. Today he is 68 and still serving his sentence in the city of Corcoran, California.

John Kennedy had been through a terrible tragedy 3 months before he was murdered. His wife Jacqueline had been pregnant, but because of complications their son Patrick was born 5 weeks preliminary. The baby lived for just a few days. The president had another son – his first-born, John F Kennedy Jr., born in 1960. The athletic John Jr. received excellent education, became an actor, a lawyer and a book publisher and enjoyed a lot of attention from women. There were many rumours of love affairs with famous singers, models and actresses like Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Sarah Jessica Parker. He was one of America's most wanted bachelors, widely accepted as a prince. In 1988 'People' magazine proclaimed him the sexiest man alive.
Kennedy Jr. survived through a few severe car accidents. In 1996 he married Carolyn Bessette (30 year old). They both died in a plane crash on the night of 16th July 1999. John was piloting his 'Piper Saratoga' plane on their way to the Martha's Vineyard Island resort in Massachusetts when he lost control of the aircraft and crashed in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the fourth plane crash tragedy in the family.

The third accident happened on 19th June 1964 to Senator Edward (Ted) Keneddy, the youngest of the four brothers, and the last of them to leave this world.  His plane crashed during a private flight from Washington to Massachusetts. The pilot and one of the Senator's aids died, but Ted was saved in the last moment by another senator, who pulled him from the burning rubble. His life was saved in hospital, where his multiple cuts and tears and broken bones were treated for months. A chronic pain in the back remained and caused him suffering until his death in 2009.
When he died, more than 50 000 people stood vigil for hours in front of the 'John F Kennedy' library in Boston, waiting in line for their chance to pay their last respect to the last of the brothers from this renowned family. Four American presidents attended the funeral service – Obama, Clinton, Bush and Carter.
One of the reasons for the incredible popularity of Ted Kennedy was his long hospitalization in Massachusetts after the crash. He experienced first-hand the many flaws in the American healthcare system and later used his strong influence to turn his home state of Massachusetts into the first American state with universal health care, accessible to all of its citizens. Currently Barack Obama is making attempts to apply this model to every American state.
We will not continue enlisting all the unfortunate accidents in the family history, but instead will go back to the beginning – to the first accident in the family – the disappearance of Lieutenant Joseph Kennedy Jr.

On 6th June 1944 the United States and British joint forces initiated a large-scale military invasion in Normandy. Two days before that the allies had liberated Rome from Nazi rule. Back in 1943 the Soviet Union had turned the course of events on the East-European fron in its favour and rather than defending itself, it had started advancing towards Germany. Hitler's only chance of success now could come from the invention of a powerful weapon never seen before. His scientists were on the verge of achieving that – the Nazi laboratories were working ceaselessly on several projects – the nuclear bomb, the first rockets capable of reaching the stratosphere and the first jet-engine powered plane.

The nuclear bomb was potentially the most powerful weapon, but its development and completion would have taken the longest so Hitler ordered his scientists to focus on the development of a strong rocket warhead instead, since the project was already at a more advanced stage.
The code name of the new weapon was V-1 (Vergeltungswaffe 1) or 'The weapon of retribution'. Exactly one week after the invasion in Normandy the first V-1 struck London. On 8th of September
1944 a new generation warhead – V-2, flew through the stratosphere without any prior indications and hit the London suburban district of Chiswick. British prime-minister Churchill, terrified by his utter helplessness and inability to react, ordered that news reports spread false rumours about the reason for the explosion. But the false statement that the cause was a gas explosion would not help for long. In the forthcoming months, Germans launched over 3000 V-2 rockets, inflicting huge damage.
The rocket, as tall as a 5-storey building, weighing 13 tons and four times faster than the speed of sound, reached the boundary with Space and then almost soundlessly descended, unleashing its deadly load on some town or city regardless of whether it fell on a military base or a kindergarten. Hitler's scientists continued to develop the technology and were about to develop V-3 – intercontinental warheads, capable of reaching New York or Moscow with a load of explosives or chemical weapons. Their creator is Sturmbannführer (Major) Wernher von Braun. He was the same scientist, who would later develop for the Americans the technology, which would help mankind land on the moon after the war. During the war, however, the Americans were looking for a way to stop him. Since they could not find a way to destroy the rockets in the air, they decided to make attempts at striking their launching sites on ground. This is how the secret "Operation Aphrodite" was born, in which Joseph "Joe" Kennedy Jr volunteered to participate.

The parents of the four brothers – Joseph Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (she died in 1995 aged 104)

Joe was a very highly educated Harvard graduate, an athlete from a rich family with grand expectations for his future and favourable forecast for a successful political career. But when the dark fog of the Second World War thickened, he decided to enrol in a pilot school. In 1942 and the beginning of 1943 he served as a flying patrol over the Caribbean islands, but in the autumn of the same year he left for Europe as a fighter pilot.
Joe had the required flight hours, which would allow him to retire back in America, but he refused to do so. Instead, he volunteered in the top secret and highly risky Operation Aphrodite. The goal was to destroy as many German launch sites as possible, in order to cease the V-2 terror over Great Britain.
All previous attempts to do so had failed. The German anti-air defence wiped out everything that dared to approach its secret bases. The allies decided to create the first flying robots. Unmanned fighter aircraft systems, also known as Drones, are commonly used nowadays by the USA, and more recently by Israel, China and other countries. Modern technology today allows even the fresh and inexperienced soldier to safely control a Drone from a base in Florida while scouting or bombing in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

During the Second World War, however, this technology was rather primitive and undeveloped. Americans managed to create an aircraft robot, which was successfully controlled with the help of radio commands, but there was a problem – those planes could not take off on their own. Someone had to lift the plane into the air in order for the radio control to become possible and Joe Kennedy was one of the pilots, who decided to carry out this dangerous task. For this purpose, the radio control was mounted on old and damaged B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers.
The planes were loaded full of explosives and two pilots had to take off with each of them. Once they reached the necessary height, the radio control would be turned on and the pilots would jump off with parachutes. The control of the awe-inspiring flying bomb would then be taken over by a radio control specialist, who was on board a plane flying at great heights, unreachable to German interceptors.
On the 12th August 1944 the mission of Joe and his partner – Lt. Wilford J. Willy was to pilot a robotized B-24 "Liberator" plane, loaded to the brim with 10 tons of Torpex explosives, an explosive much more powerful than dynamite. The mission was expected to reach France and strike a V-2 launch site. Kennedy and Willy completed their part of the mission successfully – they took off, switched the radio controls on and made sure that everything was functioning normally. As the plane was making a broad turn, Kennedy and Willy were getting ready for their parachute jump. They were being escorted at a distance by fighter plane, piloted by Elliot Roosevelt, the son of US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Colonel Roosevelt reported that without any prior indication, just before Kennedy's bomber reached open sea, it exploded with a tremendous blast near the seaside village of Blythburgh in Suffolk England. The explosion was so staggering. It damaged dozens of buildings in the village.
Roosevelt's plane was also damaged, but he managed to land it. The place where Kennedy disappeared in a huge fireball is not an accidental one. Next to Blythburgh is the village of Bulcamp, where back in 653 Penda, king of Mercia killed Anna, the king of Christian East Anglia and his son Jurmin.
Little is known about King Anna, but what is known is that all of his children – a son and five daughters were canonized as Anglo-Saxon saints because of their dedication to the Christian faith.
The explosion 1291 years after King Anna's murder was about to change the world. The ambition of the Kennedy family and mostly of Joe Kennedy Sr. was to guide his eldest son in the direction of politics and to help him make a career in the Democratic Party. After his death, Joe Sr. transferred this ambition to his second son John Kennedy, who was destined to become a president and play a crucial role in the solution of one of the biggest crisis ever to threaten human kind. No one can claim that there is any connection with the fact that the elder brother died exactly where some of the first English saints were killed. One of the most popular biographers of the Kennedy family –researcher Edward Klein, however, has another theory.
According to Klein, the Kennedy curse was brought upon them by the father of the four brothers – Joseph Kennedy Sr. From 1938 to 1940 he was the US ambassador in London. But before he took on this assignment, there was a little-known visit to the British royal court. In 1937, on his way back from that visit, Kennedy Sr. travelled on a transatlantic liner. On that liner, together with six of his yeshiva students, running away from the Nazi, was Israel Jacobson - a Lubavitch (Jewish religious centre in present-day Russia) rabbi. Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution where students focus on the Torah and Talmud study to prepare them for rabbis. Rabbi Jacobson and his students were following all rituals of Judaism and on 5th September were preparing to celebrate Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. As part of the ceremony they were supposed to play on a powerful brass instrument called Shofar, made from the horn of a ram. Kennedy Sr. insisted that the captain of the liner should prohibit the ceremony because it disturbed other passengers. According to Klein, because of that, Israel Jacobson cursed Kennedy Senior and all his male descendents with tragic faith.

This story has several versions, according to some of which it happened not in 1937 but at the beginning of the war with other refugees from Nazi Germany involved. No one can confirm its authenticity. The critics argue that there is no curse, and each of those unfortunate events can be explained with a tragic turn of events rather than with the supernatural. According to others, the many accidents in the Kennedy family may be largely explained by their high living standards and their tendency to take risks. Kathleen Kennedy died in a plane crash in 1948 after she had ordered the pilot to fly in a severe storm. JFK Jr. piloted in bad meteorological conditions on his own, without having sufficient experience needed for this and it would be an understatement to say that Joseph did take a truly great risk, when he decided to fly a huge bomb.
Alas, it is not likely that we will ever find out the whole truth about the mysteries surrounding the Kennedy family.