“You do not become a “dissident” just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.” – Vaclav Havel; excerpt from “Power of the Powerless”
“ADDRESS GIVEN BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE OCCASION OF THE UNITED NATIONS DAY CONCERT, 24 OCTOBER, 1960”
It is the tradition that the Organization marks United Nations Day with a concert including the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Today we shall, for the first time in this hall, listen to the symphony in its entirety.
It is difficult to say anything, knowing that the words spoken will be followed by this enormous confession of faith in the victorious human spirit and in human brotherhood, a confession valid for all times and with a depth and wealth of expression never surpassed.
When the Ninth Symphony opens we enter a drama full of harsh conflict and dark threats. But the composer leads us on, and in the beginning of the last movement we hear again the various themes repeated, now as a bridge toward a final synthesis. A moment of silence and a new theme is introduced, the theme of reconciliation and joy in reconciliation. A human voice is raised in rejection of all that has preceded and we enter the dreamt kingdom of peace. New voices join the first and mix in a jubilant assertion of life and all that it gives us when we meet it, joined in faith and human solidarity.
On his road from conflict and emotion to reconciliation in this final hymn of praise, Beethoven has given us a confession and a credo which we, who work within and for this Organization, may well make our own. We take part in the continuous fight between conflicting interests and ideologies which so far has marked the history of mankind, but we may never lose our faith that the first movements one day will be followed by the fourth movement. In that faith we strive to bring order and purity into chaos and anarchy. Inspired by that faith we try to impose the laws of the human mind and of the integrity of the human will on the dramatic evolution in which we are all engaged and in which we all carry our responsibility.
The road of Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony is also the road followed by the authors of the Preamble and of the Charter. It begins with the recognition of the threat under which we all live, speaking as it does of the need to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which has brought untold sorrow to mankind. It moves on to a reaffirmation of faith in the dignity and worth of the human person, and it ends with the promise to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours and to unite our strength to maintain peace.
This year, the fifteenth in the life of the Organization, is putting it to new tests. Experience has shown how far we are from the end which inspired the Charter. We are indeed still in the first movements. But no matter how deep the shadows may be, how sharp the conflicts, how tense the mistrust reflected in this hall and in this house, we are not permitted to forget that we have too much in common, too great a sharing of interests and too much that we might lose together, for ourselves and for succeeding generations, ever to weaken in our efforts to surmount the difficulties and not to turn the simple human values, which are our common heritage, into the firm foundation on which we may unite our strength and live together in peace.
The United Nations will be 75 years old this October 24th, and when I see how certain member nations react to having their human rights abuses pointed out to them, how they bully and attempt to silence others, interfere with elections, poison their tea, kidnap, arrest, dismember them, or shoot down their planes, it only reaffirms how important the UN truly is; how important it is that all nations be able to come together and communicate honestly with each other for peace. The UN makes a difference in so many lives every day around the world, and it made a huge difference in the lives of the Fabry family, pretty much saving Vlado’s life by giving him a legal position in 1946 and getting him out of Prague – Vlado was lucky to live to age 40.
In May of this year, I was sent an interview of Vlado’s personal secretary at Hotel Le Royal in Leopoldville(now Kinshasa), from Maurin Picard, author of “Ils Ont Tue Monsieur H”, and she says she “had worked for weeks with Vladimir Fabry and the issue of the “frightfuls”, these mercenaries.
“I made dozens of photocopies from these documents that had been somehow collected and that had to do with these mercenaries. Vladimir Fabry worked a great deal on this issue. We did an extensive research on these documents.”
She gives her recollection of 17 September 1961: “That day, when I arrived at my office, Vladimir Fabry immediately requested to dictate some telegrams. I spent the whole afternoon doing that: typing messages, then bringing them to the “chiffre” for them to be coded accordingly with the recipient’s identity.
By the time I was finished, they were getting ready to leave for the airport.
Before leaving, Vladimir Fabry was so thrilled.
Happy as a kid who was just offered a new toy.
Albeit a very reserved character, he was practically jumping on his feet.
He came into my office and said excitedly: “M******, I am leaving with the Secretary-General! I am trusting you with my car keys!”
He had to be very happy, for he would never have done such a thing otherwise. His car was an official UN vehicle. He told me I could use it all the time during his absence.”
In connection to mercenaries, here is one more document of interest I found during my visit to the UN archives in May 2015, concerning Vlado and Operation Rum Punch; when 79 mercenaries working for Katanga were arrested on 28 August 1961. From Series 0793-0012-81, with folder description “UNOC: Mercenaries, Fabry”, a letter from Conor Cruise O’Brien to Michel Tombelaine in English, with the legal advice of Vladimir Fabry in French:
In May 2015, I wrote “Apartheid: A Policy of Good Neighborliness” in defense of Allister Sparks, anti-apartheid journalist and author; and also to educate people about Hendrik Verwoerd, who was the architect of apartheid in South Africa. I was responding to an article on enca.com, that still falsely claims that Sparks “expressed his admiration”(their words, not his) for Hendrik Verwoerd in a speech. The original article included a video of his speech, which I watched several times to hear for myself what he said, but when I went to look at the article again recently, they took down the video and had edited the article.
Allister Sparks passed away on 19 September 2016, and because my post about him is the highest viewed here and people are still clicking on the link to the enca.com article, I am speaking up for him once again.
Here is a snippet from The Washington Post obituary, celebrating his courage and dedication to end apartheid. Rest in peace Allister.
[…]”Mr. Sparks wrote most recently for The Post in 2004, on the 10th anniversary of [Nelson] Mandela’s swearing-in as his country’s first black president.
“It was the most stirring moment of my life,” Mr. Sparks wrote. “For more than 40 years as a journalist in South Africa, I had written about the pain and injustices that apartheid inflicted on people. I had been harassed and threatened by a white regime that regarded me as a traitor for doing this, and here at last was a kind of vindication or triumph.
“It is a terrible thing to feel alienated from one’s own people,” he continued. “. . . I could not identify with the land of my birth because it stood for things I abhorred; I felt no sense of patriotism when I heard my national anthem or saw my national flag. But on that day in 1994, as I stood before a new flag, listening to a new anthem, watching a new president being sworn in, I felt, yes, my very first twinge of national pride.”
In memory of Dag Hammarskjold on his birthday, a photo of the meditation ring from his summer house, at Backåkra. This was sent to me by my dearest friend in Sweden, tack så mycket!
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead.”
—Elie Wiesel, 27 October 1986