Category Archives: Dr. Pavel Fabry

Les Vacances de Monsieur Fabry

Couldn’t wait to share the treasure I found this summer, film footage of Vlado with his family in Switzerland. It may not be the best home movie ever made, but it gives me a lot of happiness to see these charming people all come to life, and to see Vlado skiing.

Like Father, Like Son

Curve of Longing For Family
One thing I really admire about Pavel Fabry, is how affectionate he was in the letters he wrote to his family. Here is a little sketch of Pavel’s, with him in a hospital bed, a graph behind him that says in Slovak “Curve of Longing For Family”. The doctors are saying they have no cure for this “curve”, and Professor Fabry says he thinks a “Javaensis-Genevensis” tincture is what he needs. This was likely drawn during the late 40’s – early 50’s – when Vlado was working for Independence in Indonesia, Olinka and Maminka were refugees in Switzerland, and Pavel was in a hospital recovering from torture in a concentration camp, in the now former Czechoslovakia. Pavel’s sense of humor here shows he was living life on his terms, that he followed his convictions, and that he was willing to endure suffering for a just cause – a true romantic.

Fall in Love and Lose Weight
Then there are times when I am a little annoyed with him, like with this undated letter, sent to Vlado around the time he was working on the Suez Canal Clearance project in 1957, most likely before the project was finished. Pavel is telling him that he has to lose weight in two weeks, before their family vacation together (which would end with Vlado coming down with Hepatitis, and the weight loss that came with his illness). Then he says with all the tempting food of the Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians and Indians in the desert, that he would have to ride a horse at full gallop all day just to keep fit. He gives Vlado the advice to fall in love to lose weight, but not too happily, so he doesn’t fall apart at the end of it. Really, as if Vlado didn’t have enough to worry about, he has his father telling him he is too fat and needs to go on a diet! He is right though, that falling in love is great for weight loss, but he must have thought Vlado had some kind of superpowers to find a girl to fall in love with on the spot!

If Vlado was a romantic, it was because Pavel set quite an example for him. Romance was never far from Pavel’s mind, as can be seen in this little boudoir sketch (click to enlarge):
Pavel boudoir sketch
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?

Sometimes, thoughts of love and food were in competition, like in his surreal sketch of a fish woman:
Pavel La Peche

Keeping to the subject of romance, in another post, we read the love letters of Vlado and Mary Liz, with the last letter written in September 1957. There are no more love letters written by Vlado after that, but I found a portion of a Mr. America magazine, from January 1958, with a cover banner that reads “USE YOUR SEX URGE FOR BUILDING A HANDSOME BODY”:
Mr. America Jan. '58

Who knows if Vlado was trying to control his “urge”, or what, but romance may have been distracting him from larger goals in his life. I think Pavel was not much different than Maminka, in that he wanted Vlado to find a nice girl to marry – but I also think he took vicarious pleasure in hearing about Vlado’s carefree romantic life as a bachelor.

Vlado left some heart-sick women in his wake, as is shown in this last letter from 1959, written by a woman who wasn’t over Vlado at all, and whose impending marriage brought to mind funerals and drowning. This letter is more a distress call than anything else, which makes it a very funny read!

March 4, 1959

Dear Vlado,

Now it looks as if I may be in NY at last, but for the most unexpected of reasons – on a honeymoon! Probably, April 12-25.

I’ve been so interested to notice in how many ways marriage is like death! First, probably the only reason so barbarous a rite as a wedding has lasted so long in our streamlined society is probably the same reason the funeral has – i.e. sociologists say that all the transactions involved in planning a funeral take the bereaved’s mind out of the depths & the same goes for the bride, bereaved of her freedom!

Marrying is also like drowning in that you suddenly relive your past – at least your past loves & all my former boyfriends have come parading their images across my minds eye – & I must say, Vlado, that as I go through my card file, choosing addresses to send announcements to, each card brings up a little doubt, but the most difficult card to process was yours! Isn’t that funny, because I had dated other boys a lot more than you & I was just as inflamed over them.

It’s just that when I think of me settling down to air force protocol (he’s in for 10 more years!) I think of your verve; & when I think of those forever churning conversation on the base about TDY’s, PFR’s, ER reports etc., I dream of the day you, Otto & I went to the woods and captured those flagstones in such a unique way!

When I ask my 3 F’s (friends, family, fiance) what they would think of my sort of going to NY to get my trousseau & choose my silver pattern & all, they retort “and get that Czech at the U.N. out of your system? You’d never come back.” I shall always wonder if I couldn’t have made you come crawling & writhing out of your shell (if there’d been time) like a tortoise does when the Indians tie him above the fire so he will squirm into the soup pot! But my fiance says I’d better marry him without travelling to NY, because regrets are better than despair….

This stationary is a memento from our bi-family conclave to plan the bash (it will be April 11 at the ——City Community Christian Church – I dare you to come & stand up when the preacher asks “If there be anyone who denies that they should be married…”). His family is from Texarkana, long time friends of my folks, but we conclaved on neutral ground – in Fayetteville!

I do hope some sort of wife won’t open this letter, although I’m sure she would be understanding; otherwise she couldn’t have married you! But just in case I wish there was something I could say which would make me sure you’d know who sent the letter, so I wouldn’t have to sign my name, but I have a strong suspicion that you’ve taken many a girl hiking in the rain, driven her to help her pack on Bank Street – & even many admirers have sent you wooden pigs & sustenance pills when you were in Africa! So I’ll just have to say,

so long,

———–

Letter From Pavel To Vlado, 28 May 1946

Here is a very special letter, written by Pavel Fabry to his son Vlado, when he learned that Vlado was leaving for the U.S. to join the United Nations Secretariat, in 1946. My sincere gratitude to the friends who translated this for me.

Zurich 28/V/946

Our Dear Vladinko,

It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life when I read your [one word cannot be deciphered] telegram. I don’t know if it was so constructed that even I could understand it – but I think it was God’s blessing that made it possible for me to understand it word for word.

I know that one of Maminka’s eyes was tearing with pleasure and the other with the worries of a mother (but I know she will carry even this sacrifice for you thankfully) – when I conveyed the telegram to her over the phone.

And throughout my trip in the heights of the airplane I was thinking of you – for in a few weeks you too will be flying…and not into the unknown.

The entire world is opening up for you in the real sense of the word. I have been in my room for only a few minutes and already am grabbing a pen, so that at least this way you can feel how warmly I hug you and bless your future journey.

Perhaps it is The Almighty’s way of rewarding you for having been such a good son to us, that so far you have followed the course of life that made us proud and that he wants to reward us for all the parental love and worries which we have always and at every step shown toward you, just as to our other child, Olicka!

Vladinko dearest! Cherish this gift – it being merely one link in the chain of your life, which was wrought by a lot of hard work.

And I beg you – while you are still at home, donate as much time as possible to your dearest Mother (who donated the biggest part of her life to you). She first of all deserves it in full measure.

Hopefully God will help to make it possible for her to visit you in your new lovely position – even with Olicka!

I pray that The Almighty bless your journey and keep you in good health and strength – for the honor and glory of your nation – and for our parental happiness.

With kisses for you from your Tatusko

Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 1
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 2
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 3
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 4
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 5

And here are three more documents pertaining to Vlado’s appointment with the United Nations: A confirmation letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague; an application for a non-immigrant visa from the American Embassy in Prague; and last, the letter of appointment from the United Nations, signed by Trygve Lie.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs UN confirmation 1946

American Foreign Service visa application 1946

Vlado UN letter of appointment

Tatusko

Here are just a few photos of Vlado’s “Tatusko”, Pavel Fabry, and some more of his charming illustrations. He didn’t seem to lose his enjoyment for living, or his sense of humor, even after all he had been through in Czechoslovakia. I have re-posted the C.V. of Pavel at the end of this, for those of you unfamiliar with this heroic human. I recommend you click on the drawings to enlarge – they are hilarious.

Pavel and Tiger Cub

Pavel Fabry Praha 1925

Pavel Fabry 2

Pavel Fabry

Pavel Fabry (2)

Pavel Fabry 2 (2)

Pavel Easter egg letter

Pavel Fabry drawing 2

Pavel Fabry drawing 3

Pavel Fabry drawing 5

Pavel Fabry drawing 4

Pavel Svetozar FABRY, LLD, was born on January 14th, 1891 of an old family of industrialists and businessmen. After graduating in business administration, he studied law, attaining the degree of Doctor of Law; passed the bar examinations; and successfully completed the examinations required to qualify for judgeship.

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.

After the consolidation of the administrative and political situation of Slovakia, Mr. Fabry left the Government service and returned to his private practice as barrister. He specialized in corporation law and his assistance was instrumental in the founding and expansion of a number of industrial enterprises. He became Chairman or one of the Directors of Trade Associations of several industrial sectors, particularly those concerned with the production of sugar, alcohol, malt and beer. He was elected Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Federation of Industries, and played the leading role in several other organizations. He also was accredited as Counsel to the International Arbitration Tribunal in Paris.

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.

“A Desperate Personal Demand For Help”

Tara 2013 003
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:

Maminka Stavropoulos telegram
(click scan to enlarge)

Vlado’s Final Rest in Geneva

Just recently, I purchased the book WHO KILLED HAMMARSKJOLD?: THE UN, THE COLD WAR AND WHITE SUPREMACY IN AFRICA, written by Susan Williams, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and reading it has left me disturbed. It was a shock to open the book to the back page and see, for the very first time, the drawing of the wreckage plan of the Albertina. There was Vlado’s body, indicated by a circled “B 7”, not far from Dag Hammarskjold (“B 8”) and Sgt. Harold Julien (“B 16” – the only survivor of the crash, who died six days later). This book is an incredible help for my research, and I want to thank Williams for writing it. I hope the U.N. does not ignore the evidence she has presented in her book – Dag Hammarskjold’s death was not an accident, and there should be a new inquiry. Like so many good men that dared to live out their philosophy on this planet, he had to pay for it with his life.
From the family photo archive, here is Vlado’s body being delivered to Geneva on the Pan Am DC8 that carried the body of Hammarskjold and the other 14 victims, the first stop of many around the world. The UN flag that drapes his coffin was later given to Madame Fabry-Palka and her daughter Olga, and is now in our home. (click images to enlarge)
Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva1

In this photo, Madame Fabry-Palka is consoled by a UN staff member as Olga Fabry (Vlado’s only sibling) stands nearby. I wish I knew who the other people in the photograph were – especially the man with the reflective glasses and the baton at the foot of the stairs.
Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva2

Vlado is buried in the Cimetière du Petit-Saconnex in Geneva, next to his father – they died within 9 months of each other. Madame Olga Fabry-Palka died in 1974, and is buried there with them, also. Whenever I am in Geneva, I pay my respects to this good family, and thank them for their example of courage.
Fabry Grave Petit-Saconnex