Happy 100th Birthday, Vlado!

Born 23 November 1920, a toast to Vlado from the S-G – and me! Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with your fond memories of Vlado, I appreciate them all.

From New York to Gaza, 22 November 1960, birthday wishes from Vlado’s sister Olinka.

Not a birthday telegram, just a “confidential” message from Vlado’s mother to write home more often!

A birthday message and pep talk from big brother Vlado to his sister, sent late September 1960:

“However it may be, there’s no use fighting it or grumbling about what could be – just try to enjoy life as it comes and make every year of it – or every day, or every minute, – a memorable experience and adventure. Carpe diem! -“

Courage to the Optimists

From Helen Keller’s book, “Optimism”; published 1903

“I know what evil is. Once or twice I have wrestled with it, and for a time felt its chilling touch on my life; so I speak with knowledge when I say that evil is of no consequence, except as a sort of mental gymnastic. For the very reason that I have come in contact with it, I am more truly an optimist. I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life. The world is sown with good; but unless I turn my glad thoughts into practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap a kernel of the good.”

[…]

“The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy. One who believes that the pain in the world outweighs the joy, and expresses that unhappy conviction, only adds to the pain. … Life is a fair field, and the right will prosper if we stand by our guns.”

Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. … If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.”

Step down, Lukashenko! Freedom for Belarus!

“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”

Vlado and the Mercenaries: Operation Rum Punch

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: