Author Archives: fabryhistory

Governor Fabry of Czechoslovakia

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.”

 

Nothing – not even religion or politics – can stop us from caring for each other! Choose Love!

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.”

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”


My favorite bit from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”, with love to all of you, please stay safe and healthy!

48
I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

A Legacy of Love and Hope


Uncle Vladimir and Grandpa Pavel Fabry.

When I think about the lives of my relatives, and spend time holding their personal belongings in my hands, there a feeling of love so real that expands my heart, that reminds me I am connected to everyone and everything. It is like they are speaking in my ear, encouraging me to learn from their lives, to have a positive attitude in times of trouble, to greet the world with love and not with fear. Love is an energy that is open to the new and the unknown, that wants to know and to understand and heal what is broken, that believes in the best in others, and to love courageously is the greatest goal.

I have attempted in the past to translate the following document in German from Pavel Fabry, but it deserves a better translation, and I am posting it here for those fluent in German to help me.

The mention of Valerian Zorin in this testimony is the one thing that has always stood out for me. Valerian Zorin was the Soviet ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1945-47, and in 1948 he helped organize the Coup d’état in Czechoslovkia; he was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union from 1947-1955 and 1956-1965, and also the permanent Soviet representative for the United Nations Security Council from 1952-53 and from 1956-1965. Valerian was not a friend to Pavel and Vlado or any Fabry, and because of his high rank he likely gave the order for the seizure of our home in Bratislava in 1948, making it their Russian embassy; and for ordering the arrest, detention, and torture of Pavel Fabry, on false charges, while he was on his way to Amsterdam to a meeting with the World Council of Churches. I am not sure how it felt for Vlado to work at the UN with Valerian – someone who hurt his family and friends – but good and evil has always existed, in high and low places, we have to work with our enemies and stay focused only on what is in our power to change.






















No to racism and white supremacy!

Ian Smith, the last Prime Minister of Rhodesia, in this news report from 1976, says “I am not a racist”, he just has “standards” – he was only following the “standards” of the British colonists that came before him, “and if it was right then, I wonder, why it is wrong now?” I had to rewind this crazy interview several times(starting 15:35), Smith has a forked tongue, manipulating words and changing their meaning to justify the unjustifiable, stirring up violence – like the snake currently occupying the White House. His tone in defense of white minority rule reminds me of Hendrick Verwoerd, who also spoke like a very concerned and condescending parent, as if apartheid for Black Africans was a fair thing, a neighborly thing.

I do not need to ask why there is a lack of cooperation in getting information concerning the death of uncle Vlado and Dag Hammarskjold and their friends on September 17-18, 1961, I know why. For governments and organizations to open up their archives to examination of the past, that would mean an examination into present day activities, and the truth is that nothing has changed, it’s business as usual. One has to be willfully blind not to connect the dots of the past to the present, racism is real and so is white supremacy. There have been so many times it has scared the hell out of me to speak up here and stand for what is right, but I refuse to let fear silence me!

Never give up in doing good!

Tired
And lonely,
So tired
The heart aches.
Meltwater trickles
Down the rocks,
The fingers are numb,
The knees tremble.
It is now,
Now, that you must not give in.

On the path of the others
Are resting places,
Places in the sun
Where they can meet.
But this
Is your path,
And it is now,
Now, that you must not fail.

Weep
If you can,
Weep,
But do not complain.
The way chose you–
And you must be thankful.

–Dag Hammarskjold’s “Markings”, July 6, 1961