In 1961, even in the midst of the Congo Crisis, Vlado was doing all he could to help his family. Conor Cruise O’Brien’s observations of Vlado, in his book To Katanga and Back – that he did nothing but work and hardly slept – were fairly accurate for the time he knew him, because it seems that he was spending every spare moment attending to the unfinished legal cases of his father, Pavel Fabry, who died December 19, 1960.
From February 2, 1961, here is a letter to United Nations legal counselor Oscar Schachter from Vlado’s Maminka:
Dear Mr. Schachter,
I am sorry to take your valuable time and to disturb you with this letter. It is only the serious situation and the emergency in which I find myself after the death of my beloved husband that urge me to write this letter.
As you may know my husband was working for some years as an international lawyer with the German Government on war reparation. My husband devoted not only his effort, time, money, but finally his life to this cause. Unfortunately it was not permitted to him to finish his affairs as he died so very suddenly in the middle of his unfinished task. Vladko who was always a remarkable son is now sacrifying[sic] all his free time besides his work and his vacations to work until late at night on his father’s affairs. There are many difficulties, many hard problems to be solved, which will need patience, time, travelling and possibilities of good communications.
All these are problems which I cannot face alone, and the only person to solve them and to continue the unfinished work of my husband is my son. If we had to take a lawyer, we would have to do it in many countries of Europe and my husband has indebted himself already too much to afford so many lawyers. It is therefore only my son who is the only person to help me out in this.
My health has been weakened by the sudden loss of my husband. When I learned about the transfer of my son to Congo, it was another shock for my heart illness. I am unfortunately unable to cope alone with the situation I have mentioned as much as I don’t like to ask something, I am driven to it by this emergency. It is furthermore a situation which presents itself during our life, such as accident, illness, death and its consequences, etc. I would like to ask you to help me, Mr. Schachter. You have always been very nice to us all, a real good and understable[sic] friend and I would like to ask you not to let me down now, when I most need it.
I wonder whether it would be possible to arrange a transfer for my son to Europe – Geneva or elsewhere – so that he could easier communicate and work to finish my husband’s most urgent cases. I have never asked you anything before and I would never have, but as you can see it is a very serious situation and I am in an emergency.
It is very difficult for me to write this letter and I am doing so on my own, without my son’s knowledge. Would you please consider it as such, a desperate personal demand for help.
Many thanks for everything you will do for me to help me out. Kindest regards to Molly and to you.
As ever yours,
Olga Fabry Palka
Vlado’s mother also wrote Constantin Stavropoulos for help. Here is a personal telegram she sent to him, dated February 11, 1961: