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
I recommend this excellent film to everyone, it just became available to watch for free!
After recently watching this documentary from the History Channel, “Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall”, I started looking up old news footage from the day it fell, 9 November 1989. It is incredibly moving to watch the happiness and tears of the people as they crossed the border, they could hardly believe that this was happening to them. Remember this day and the joy of reunification, what we humans are capable of when we do not harden our hearts and work for equal rights and justice. Divisions and walls fall like nothing at all – and they will fall again!
Remember Patrice Lumumba and why he was murdered! Stand up for black lives, end the system of slavery and cruelty!
The First Prime Minister of the Congo (Zaire)
On June 30, 1960, Independence Day
Men and women of the Congo,
Victorious fighters for independence, today victorious, I greet you in the name of the Congolese Government. All of you, my friends, who have fought tirelessly at our sides, I ask you to make this June 30, 1960, an illustrious date that you will keep indelibly engraved in your hearts, a date of significance of which you will teach to your children, so that they will make known to their sons and to their grandchildren the glorious history of our fight for liberty.
For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today with Belgium, a friendly country with whom we deal as equal to equal, no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that is was by fighting that it has been won [applause], a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood.
We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.
This was our fate for eighty years of a colonial regime; our wounds are too fresh and too painful still for us to drive them from our memory. We have known harassing work, exacted in exchange for salaries which did not permit us to eat enough to drive away hunger, or to clothe ourselves, or to house ourselves decently, or to raise our children as creatures dear to us.
We have known ironies, insults, blows that we endured morning, noon, and evening, because we are Negroes. Who will forget that to a black one said “tu”, certainly not as to a friend, but because the more honorable “vous” was reserved for whites alone?
We have seen our lands seized in the name of allegedly legal laws which in fact recognized only that might is right.
We have seen that the law was not the same for a white and for a black, accommodating for the first, cruel and inhuman for the other.
We have witnessed atrocious sufferings of those condemned for their political opinions or religious beliefs; exiled in their own country, their fate truly worse than death itself.
We have seen that in the towns there were magnificent houses for the whites and crumbling shanties for the blacks, that a black was not admitted in the motion-picture houses, in the restaurants, in the stores of the Europeans; that a black traveled in the holds, at the feet of the whites in their luxury cabins.
Who will ever forget the massacres where so many of our brothers perished, the cells into which those who refused to submit to a regime of oppression and exploitation were thrown [applause]?
All that, my brothers, we have endured.
But we, whom the vote of your elected representatives have given the right to direct our dear country, we who have suffered in our body and in our heart from colonial oppression, we tell you very loud, all that is henceforth ended.
The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed, and our country is now in the hands of its own children.
Together, my brothers, my sisters, we are going to begin a new struggle, a sublime struggle, which will lead our country to peace, prosperity, and greatness.
Together, we are going to establish social justice and make sure everyone has just remuneration for his labor [applause].
We are going to show the world what the black man can do when he works in freedom, and we are going to make of the Congo the center of the sun’s radiance for all of Africa.
We are going to keep watch over the lands of our country so that they truly profit her children. We are going to restore ancient laws and make new ones which will be just and noble.
We are going to put an end to suppression of free thought and see to it that all our citizens enjoy to the full the fundamental liberties foreseen in the Declaration of the Rights of Man [applause].
We are going to do away with all discrimination of every variety and assure for each and all the position to which human dignity, work, and dedication entitles him.
We are going to rule not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and the will [applause].
And for all that, dear fellow countrymen, be sure that we will count not only on our enormous strength and immense riches but on the assistance of numerous foreign countries whose collaboration we will accept if it is offered freely and with no attempt to impose on us an alien culture of no matter what nature [applause].
In this domain, Belgium, at last accepting the flow of history, has not tried to oppose our independence and is ready to give us their aid and their friendship, and a treaty has just been signed between our two countries, equal and independent. On our side, while we stay vigilant, we shall respect our obligations, given freely.
Thus, in the interior and the exterior, the new Congo, our dear Republic that my government will create, will be a rich, free, and prosperous country. But so that we will reach this aim without delay, I ask all of you, legislators and citizens, to help me with all your strength.
I ask all of you to forget your tribal quarrels. They exhaust us. They risk making us despised abroad.
I ask the parliamentary minority to help my Government through a constructive opposition and to limit themselves strictly to legal and democratic channels.
I ask all of you not to shrink before any sacrifice in order to achieve the success of our huge undertaking.
In conclusion, I ask you unconditionally to respect the life and the property of your fellow citizens and of foreigners living in our country. If the conduct of these foreigners leaves something to be desired, our justice will be prompt in expelling them from the territory of the Republic; if, on the contrary, their conduct is good, they must be left in peace, for they also are working for our country’s prosperity.
The Congo’s independence marks a decisive step towards the liberation of the entire African continent [applause].
Sire, Excellencies, Mesdames, Messieurs, my dear fellow countrymen, my brothers of race, my brothers of struggle– this is what I wanted to tell you in the name of the Government on this magnificent day of our complete independence.
Our government, strong, national, popular, will be the health of our country.
I call on all Congolese citizens, men, women and children, to set themselves resolutely to the task of creating a prosperous national economy which will assure our economic independence.
Glory to the fighters for national liberation!
Long live independence and African unity!
Long live the independent and sovereign Congo!
Grandpa Pavel Fabry made a lot of powerful enemies when he was a Governor in Czechoslovakia, he was not afraid to stand up to stark raving mad lunatics in power, and to make himself the target of Nazis and Communists. He also made many friends because he was a man of integrity, he loved and fought for his country, and he cared about the health and well-being of all Czechoslovakians. In his memory, I send my heartfelt appreciation to Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, and to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for their strong and compassionate leadership – thank you!
There is a story connected to Pavel’s escape from the prison hospital in January 1949 I have not written about here, but it comes from his daughter Olinka Fabry; which was recorded by Olinka’s son, Victor(my husband), December 2008, several months before she passed away.
Many years before 1949, she does not recall what year exactly, her father Pavel was out driving in his car, when he saw a young girl lying hurt on the side of the road. He did not know who she was or what was wrong with her, but he picked her up and drove her to his own doctor. He told the doctor to give her anything she needed and he would pay for it. By some twist of fate, the father of this girl was the jailer in charge of the keys of the prison hospital, and he did not forget Pavel and his kindness – he helped him escape, in the words of Olinka, in a “uniform of a nun with an enormous hat”.
To refresh the memory, short excerpts from Pavel Fabry’s Curriculum Vitae, 11 September 1952:
During World-War-I, Mr. Fabry served as officer in an artillery division as well as in the service of the Army’s Judge Advocate-General. He became the first Secretary of the Provisional National Council established to prepare the liberation of Slovakia and the orderly transfer of its administration to the Czechoslovak Government. After the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, he was appointed Prefect (chief Government official) for the Eastern part of Slovakia.
When the Communist armies of the Hungarian Government of Bela Kun attacked Slovakia in 1919, Mr. Fabry was named High Commissioner Plenipotentiary for the defense of Eastern Slovakia. In this function he was entrusted with the co-ordination of the civil administration with the military actions of the Czechoslovak Army and of the Allied Military Command of General Mittelhauser. His determined and successful effort to prevent Eastern Slovakia to fall under the domination of Communist Armies – the victorious results of which contributed to the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary – drew on Mr. Fabry the wrath of the Communist leaders; they declared him the “mortal enemy of the people”, led violent press campaigns against him and attacked him overtly and covertly continually and at every opportunity.
Among civic functions, Mr. Fabry devoted his services particularly to Church, acting as Inspector (lay-head) of his local parish and as member of the Executive Committee of the Lutheran Church of Czechoslovakia. His appointment as delegate to the World Council of Churches’ meeting in Amsterdam in 1948 prompted his arrest by the Communist Government.
Although Mr. Fabry never stood for political office nor for any political party function, he was well known for his democratic and liberal convictions, and for the defense of these principles whenever his activities gave him the opportunity to do so. He earned himself a reputation in this respect which brought him the enmity of the adversaries of democracy from both the right and the left. He became one of the first Slovaks to be sent to a concentration camp following the establishment of a Pro-German fascist regime in 1939. His release could later be arranged and he was able to take active part in the underground resistance movement against the occupant; for this activity the German secret police (Gestapo) ordered his pursuit and execution in 1945, but he was able to escape the death sentence. In spite of his resistance record (or perhaps because of it), Mr. Fabry was among those arrested by the Russian Army, on the instigation of the Communist Party which could not forget his anti-Communist activities dating back all the way to 1919. Due to pressure of public opinion Mr. Fabry’s imprisonment at that time was very short; but when Communist seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, they did not miss the opportunity to settle accounts with him. He was removed from all his offices, his property was confiscated, he was imprisoned and subjected to a third degree cross-examination taking six months. No confessions of an admission which could have served as a basis for the formulation of an accusation could, however, be elicited from Mr. Fabry, and he managed to escape from the prison hospital where he was recovering from injuries inflicted during the examination. He succeeded to reach Switzerland in January 1949, where he has continued in his economic activities as member of the Board of Directors, and later President, of an enterprise for the development of new technologies in the field of bottling and food conservation. He was also active in assisting refugees and was appointed as member of the Czechoslovak National Council-in-exile.
From Pavel Fabry’s CV from 1955, translated from German:
“My parlous state of health has not allowed me to carry my work further. The law firm I have has only a limited representation of associates, and these are only my best performing workers.
After the Communist coup performed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister [Valerian] Zorin for the Communists, the time is broken up with invoices to settle for my work against Communism as High Commissioner in 1919. And on the instructions of the insulted Mátyás Rákosi I was first of all relieved of all my functions and representatives, and subjected to all possible harassment, interrogations, etc. When I went to the delegation, as elected President of the Financial and Economic Committee of the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Amsterdam, and was asked for my passport, I was arrested on the pretext of excessive imaginary charges. My whole fortune was taken, all accounts were confiscated and my Villa locked with furnishings, clothes, supplies, and everything, since it was the Consul-General of Russia; and on the same evening I was arrested as a “National Gift”, the nation was taken over, and in the night the Russians transferred the land register.
And so, my health still shattered by the persecution these Nazi monsters caused, they transferred me to the locked section of the hospital to make interrogations there. After seven months detention the workers and employees of some companies succeeded to liberate me in the night on January 21-22, 1949, and led me to a kamion near the border. I had foreseen that the police would know about my escape during the night, and that’s why I escaped (uberschreitete ?) to the Hungarian border with Austria, and again by the Austrian border, since I was immediately searched with many dogs.
I managed with the help of my friends to leave the Soviet zone disguised, and made it to Switzerland where I anticipated my wife and daughter.
The Swiss authorities immediately received me as a political refugee and assured me of asylum, and issued all the necessary travel documents.”
From Albert Camus’ “The Plague”, Part IV: a conversation between priest(Paneloux) and doctor(Rieux), shortly after witnessing the death of a child:
He heard a voice behind him. “Why was there that anger in your voice just now? What we’d been seeing was as unbearable to me as it was to you.”
Rieux turned toward Paneloux.
“I know. I’m sorry. But weariness is a kind of madness. And there are times when the only feeling I have is one of mad revolt.”
“I understand,”Paneloux said in a low voice. “That sort of thing is revolting because it passes our human understanding. But perhaps we should love what we cannot understand.”
Rieux straightened up slowly. He gazed at Paneloux, summoning to his gaze all the strength and fervor he could muster against his weariness. Then he shook his head.
“No, Father. I’ve a very different idea of love. And until my dying day I shall refuse to love a scheme of things in which children are put to torture.”
A shade of disquietude crossed the priest’s face. “Ah, Doctor,” he said sadly, “I’ve just realized what is meant by ‘grace.'”
Rieux had sunk back again on the bench. His lassitude had returned and from its depths he spoke, more gently:
“It’s something I haven’t got; that I know. But I’d rather not discuss that with you. We’re working side by side for something that unites us–beyond blasphemy and prayers. And it’s the only thing that matters.”
Paneloux sat down beside Rieux. It was obvious that he was deeply moved.
“Yes, yes,” he said, “you, too, are working for man’s salvation.”
Rieux tried to smile.
“Salvation’s much too big a word for me. I don’t aim so high. I’m concerned with man’s health; and for me his health comes first.”
Paneloux seemed to hesitate. “Doctor–” he began, then fell silent. Down his face, too, sweat was trickling. Murmuring: “Good-by for the present,” he rose. His eyes were moist. When he turned to go, Rieux, who had seemed lost in thought, suddenly rose and took a step toward him.
“Again, please forgive me. I can promise there won’t be another outburst of that kind.”
Paneloux held out his hand, saying regretfully:
“And yet–I haven’t convinced you!”
“What does it matter? What I hate is death and disease, as you well know. And whether you wish it or not, we’re allies, facing them and fighting them together.” Rieux was still holding Paneloux’s hand. “So you see”–but he refrained from meeting the priest’s eyes–“God Himself can’t part us now.”