Tag Archives: Adolf Hitler

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.”

 

It begins with a book…

Last August, I took another look through the family collection of books about Czechoslovakia. What I found was a copy of “HISTORY OF MODERN SLOVAKIA” by Jozef Lettrich, which had, sadly, been overlooked in a damp corner of the house.
034
But in spite of mold damage, I put it in a mylar sleeve and kept it nearby, because the book mentioned Pavel Fabry (Vladimir Fabry’s father) as one of the first to be imprisoned in a concentration camp on March 30, 1939, in the state prison of Ilava.
036
I recognized the book immediately, since I had seen at least a half dozen photostatic copies in my archive from page 144, underlined in the same places, which Pavel must have referred to in his case for reparations in Germany.
037
038
From Chapter Two, “Under the Swastika”, pages 143-144:

“When prisons were no longer adequate, the Slovak Government issued an order on March 24, 1939, “concerning the imprisonment of the enemies of the Slovak State.” […] This order authorized the Minister of Interior to “arrange for the jailing of persons whose past and present activities give reason to fear that they would continue to obstruct the building of the Slovak State.” The Minister of the Interior was further authorized to create “a camp for the detention of such persons in which prisoners would be compelled to perform physical labor.” Vojtech Tuka lost no time in transforming the old state prison in Ilava into a “security camp,” the first concentration camp in Slovak history. The Ilava prison thus became the home of Slovak democrats–of authors, priests, teachers, newspapermen and statesmen, as well as of simple farmers, workmen and students. The first inmates of this camp, brought there on March 30, 1939, were: Anton Štefánek, Ján Ursíny, František Zimák, Ján Pocisk, Ferdinand Benda, Karol Hušek, Ján Paulíny-Toth, Jozef Rudinský, Pavel Fábry, Andrej Djuračka, František Třešnák, Hana Styková, Vinco Mihalus and Jozef Lettrich, three Members of Parliament, two Senators, three journalists, the Chairman of the Slovak National Party, and an actress from the Slovak National Theater. Others soon followed. In the few years of existence of the Slovak State more than 3,000 persons were to pass through the gates of the Ilava concentration camp. Some remained a few days, some for months, and others for several years. They were all sent to Ilava without trial , without judgement, without indictment, merely upon a denunciation and by administrative order of the Ministry of Interior. Tuka, on April 15, 1939, made the following characteristic statement, “Those who spread alarming rumors and false reports are obstructing our way. We have made arrangements to handle all of them in Ilava. Many of them are there now and many others will follow them there. It is your duty to denounce these instigators to the police and the Hlinka Guards, and the Slovak Government will take care of them.”

030
I now have another copy of this book, in very good condition, signed and inscribed by Jozef Lettrich on the title page. It was only after this that I looked at the title page of the copy I found, and it was also inscribed.
028
Title page from second copy.
040
From the copy that belonged to Pavel Fabry.

When I finally started to read it, it dawned on me that this book was written by the same Jozef Lettrich that was in prison with Pavel, and that I had letters from Lettrich – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in Czechoslovakia, who was an exile living in the United States. So I went back to the boxes. I was amazed by how this one book began to illuminate what I had missed before: letters to and from Milan Hodza – Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia; Jan Pauliny-Toth – lawyer and politician; Peter Pridavok – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in London; Juraj Slavik – Czechoslovak Ambassador to the United States; General Lev Prchala; Emil Stodola, and Kornel Filo. Pavel Fabry was seeking reparations for many of these people and others in Berlin, as their lawyer, so I have some of their testimonies, in Slovak, German and French.

But then I found two letters from Franz Karmasin, one of them signed. Franz Karmasin was state secretary for the German Minority, under President of Slovakia and Catholic Priest Jozef Tiso: an anti-semite who collaborated with Hitler and was key in making the Slovak State the first Nazi ally in the Final Solution, deporting tens of thousands of Jewish people to their extermination – he was hanged after WWII; Karmasin was also senticed to death but escaped prosecution and was living in exile in Munich. From what I was able to translate, Karmasin seems to be arguing against something Pavel said about him – and he begins his first letter in praising Pavel on his son Vlado – The Hague and Nuremberg are also mentioned. There were no letters from Pavel to Karmasin. I’ve transcribed the letters here for others to translate.

Page056

Page055

Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München 8
Trogerstaße 32

München, den 8-7. 1959

Herrn
Dr. Paul Fabry

14 Chemin Thury
Geneve

Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Fabry!

Unsere gestrige Aussprache hat mich sehr stark an Aussprachen in der Heimat erinnert. Ich glaube, diese angenehme Atmosphäre gibt es nur jenseits der Karpaten. Ich bitte, es nicht als Anmassung zu betrachten, wenn ich Sie zu Ihrem prächtigen Sohn beglückwünsche. Er hat großen Eindruck auf mich gemacht und ich freue mich wirklich von ganzem Herzen, dass die slowakische Sache so einen hervorragenden Vertreter ihrer Interessen besitzt.
In der Kanzlei habe ich mir dann den sehr dicken Akt “Dr. Fabry” vorgenommen. Ich war froh, dass ich dies erst nachher getan habe, ich wäre sonst kaum zu der Besprechung gekommen. Ich habe sehr stark den Eindruck, dass Sie in der Darstellung und Beurteilung der Situation der Deutschen Volksgruppe in der Slowakei sich weniger von Tatsachen, als vielmehr von Gefühlen leiten liessen. Ich kann es verstehen, umsomehr, als die Grenzen zwischen Reichsdeutschen und Volksdeutschen von Aussen her nicht immer sichtbar waren und vor allem die Situation der Volksgruppe und der Volksgruppenführung nicht für eine öffentliche Diskussion geeignet war. Aber in Ihren Ausführungen sind Sie doch etwas hart, ich darf Ihnen das in aller fahrens mit Ihnen und Ihrem Herrn Sohn über diese Dinge diskutieren, jetzt ist nicht der geeignete Zeitpunkt dazu. Ich will Ihren nur zu bedenken geben, dass der deutsche evangelische Bischof Scherer, für dessen Ernennung ich mich übrigens sehr stark eingesetzt habe und fast alle evangelischen u. katholischen Pfarrer Mitglieder der Deutschen Partei waren und dass die Deutsche Partei bei den Nürnberger Verfahren ausgeklammert wurde, obwohl man den Aliierten bestimmt nicht Unkenntnis der Lage vorwerfen konnte. Auch das Dokumentenmaterial, wenn man es vollinhaltlich zur Kenntnis nimmt, spricht eine andere Sprache als Ihre Darstellungen. Die Offenheit, mit der wir gestern gesprochen haben, verpflichtet mich, Ihnen das zu schreiben.
Die Zusatzerklärung habe ich lt. Durchschlag an das Regierungspräsidium, an Dr. Virgano, Herrn Minister Dr. Tiso und Herrn Birkner geschickt. Ich bin gespannt, wie sich die Angelegenheit weiter entwickeln wird.

Hochachtungsvoll!

(Karmasin)

Page057

Copy

Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München 8
Trogerstaße 32

München, den. 8.7.1959

An das
Regierungspräsidium
Köln
Zeughausstr. 2-4

Sehr geehrte Herren!

Betr.: Dr. Paul Fabry

Ich habe die verschiedenen Schriftstücke im Falle Dr. Paul Fabry, soweit sie mir zur Verfügung stehen, nochmals durchgesehen und darf meine seinerzeitige Darstellung wie folgt ergänzen:

Ich habe dargelegt, dass die Behauptung, Dr. Fabry sei durch die Gestapo verhaften worden, falsch sei, da sich auf dem Gebiete der Slowakei keine Gestapo befunden hat. Dagegen hatten z.Zt. der Besetzung des slowakischen Staatsgebietes rechts der Waag während der Tschechenkrise durch deutsche Truppen Organe des Sicherheitsdienst Dienst gemacht. Ich glaube mich erinnern zu können – ohne es allerdings beschwören zu können -, dass durch die deutschen militärischen Kommandostellen Angehörige der Hlinkagarde (HG) und der Freiwilligen Schutzstaffel (FS) diesen Organen als Hilfskräfte zugeteilt wurden. Inwieweit sich diese im Zuge der revolutionären Ereignisse Übergriffe zuschulden kommen ließen, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis, vor allem aber meiner und meiner Mitarbeiter Verantwortung. Sie unterstanden, falls sie sich in die Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht oder des SD begeben hatten, nicht mehr der Befehlsgewalt der Volksgruppe.

Zu dieser Ergänzung fühle ich mich verpflichtet einerseits, weil Aussenstehende die Unterschiede zwischen SD und Gestapo nicht ganz klar waren, andererseits weil mir im Interesse meiner ehemaligen Mitarbeiter selbst sehr viel an der Klärung dieser Angelegenheit liegt. Ich bitte, die Ergänzung in diesem sinne zur Kenntnis zu nehmen.

Hochachtungsvoll!

(Karmasin)