“He Was A Man Who Made Friends Easily…”

Vlado and Olinka
Vlado and his sister Olinka

After taking a little break to study and travel, I decided to return to share more about Vlado. I’ll be posting more letters and translations here soon, and I hope you’ll enjoy them with me.
Here are two statements made at the service of Vladimir Fabry, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Place du Bourg-de-Four, Geneva, on Thursday 28 September 1961.
The first is given by Mr. Constantin Stavropoulos, Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs of the United Nations:

We are gathered here to pay our last respects to a man who devoted his life to the pursuit of freedom, peace and justice. He gave unsparingly of his great intellectual and physical powers to these ideals, undeterred by dangers, hardship or even death itself.

Vladimir Fabry’s early manhood was spent in fighting for the liberation of his country and for its re-construction after the Second World War. With peace again established, he turned to the United Nations.

In 1946, at the age of 25, Vladimir joined the Secretariat of the United Nations, having already gained a Doctorate in Law and Political Science from the Slovak University, and having completed graduate studies in Economics at the University of Bratislava. He was to have a devoted, useful and successful career. His adaptability, sound judgement and capacity for hard work soon established how invaluable he was on missions requiring such qualities. His assignments were many, and of ever increasing responsibility. In 1948 and 1949 he served as Legal Affairs Officer with the Security Council’s Committee of Good Offices in the Indonesian Question. Thereafter he saw service with the United Nations Plebiscite in Togoland under United Kingdom Administration and with the Suez Canal Clearance Operations. His service as Legal and Political Adviser to the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East was, early this year, cut short by his being sent to Leopoldville as Legal Adviser to the United Nations Operation in the Congo. Throughout all these missions he won universal commendation, respect and affection. The measure of regard in which the Secretary-General himself held Vladimir may be seen from the fact that he chose him as a companion on the important mission to Ndola that ended in the tragedy which has occasioned universal grief.

Vladimir Fabry was also throughout his life an enthusiastic sportsman, expert skier, horseman and mountaineer. Here, as in his professional career, he was always ready to extend a hand to those less talented and skilled as himself. It is my sad duty today to convey, on behalf of the United Nations, to his family, and in particular his mother and his sister, the most sincere and heartfelt sympathy. I want them to know that I, and all the others who worked with him and counted him as a friend, join in their grief. I want to extend to them the thanks of the United Nations, and of all who believe in it, for the devoted and talented service which Vladimir gave to the Organization. I want to repeat, too, what I have already conveyed to Mrs. Fabry – namely my hope that she may gain some consolation from the thought that her son’s life was a happy and useful one in the service of some of mankind’s highest ideals. His devotion and integrity as an international civil servant will long be remembered by all of us, and he will find his memorial in the history of those who fought for justice and humanity.

The second statement is given by Mr. Gurdon W. Wattles, a fellow Legal Adviser at the United Nations:

I wish to express to you all the profound sorrow felt at the death of Vladimir Fabry by his friends in New York, both inside and outside the United Nations. Vlado lived in New York from 1946 onward, whenever his duties did not take him elsewhere. He became a New Yorker not only by reason of the many bonds of friendship which he had there, both inside and outside the United Nations, and inside and outside the legal profession. He was a man who made friends easily, and who kept the friends he had made.

The first impression one had on meeting Vlado was one of human warmth, charm, and lively intelligence. He was interested in people in all their variety, and they in turn were drawn to him by his qualities of imaginative sympathy and sensitive considerateness. But as one got to know him better, one realized that here was a man who had not only great charm and great intelligence, but a remarkable strength of character.

It is evident that the wholeness and strength of his personality were largely the result of an unusally happy life with his family from his earliest childhood. From his conversation it could be realized how deep was the love that linked him to his mother, his father and his sister, and what security he derived from closeness of his family relationships. Thus any friend of Vlado’s must esteem the family he loved so well, and who by loving him so well, and so wisely, contributed so much to the formation of a distinguished man. His friends, themselves feeling the loss of a man of great value, are also in a position to realize in some measure, and to sympathize with the especially poignant sense of loss which his family must feel.
The principle qualities in Vlado which made his friends esteem and honor him were his sense of duty, his courage, and his integrity. He whole-heartedly devoted his career to the United Nations, and his sense of duty made him seek out the posts of the greatest difficulty and danger. He was not content to sit in his office in New York, dealing with matters in relative tranquility and comfort; he sought out the forward posts of the United Nations, the advanced echelons where difficult and crucial decisions have to be made sometimes in a matter of minutes, with little opportunity for the calm reflection which a lawyer often needs. He had the ability to serve in these most difficult positions, and, having the ability, he felt an obligation to undertake them.

Whether he was in the field or in New York, Vlado’s sense of duty led him to devote his energies unstintingly to the task in hand. He was never satisfied with an easy or stop-gap solution; he got to the bottom of things, and his thoroughness and breadth of view have left a legacy of solid work and an example to all who follow in his footsteps.

Vlado’s quiet and un-self-conscious courage was that of mountaineering, a sport which he sometimes practiced in his leisure. He was simply unperturbed by dangers and difficulties, and worked his way calmly and methodically from one safe point to the next. He had in this life greater changes of circumstances and greater challenges than come to almost any of us, but he met them with a graceful gallantry which in making them seem smaller made him seem a bigger man. He triumphed over adversity by turning it into opportunity, and found a broader field of usefulness when his original one was denied to him. His courage left an example which must be particularly precious to his family in their present sorrow.

Finally, I should like to mention his invincible integrity, which no stress of circumstance or pressure of the passions of others could subdue. He judged events for himself, according to his own rigorous standards, and acted on his conclusions, without fear or favor. He showed in a pre-eminent degree the integrity, with its concomitants of independence and impartiality, which is the first requirement for his chosen career.

Vlado’s life is now a part of history, and his spirit is with God. For us remains the duty – and the privilege – of carrying on our lives in a world which is the better for his having lived, and where his example can strengthen us who knew him to bear the burdens laid on us.

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