The moment and place of the explosion, it now seems, was chosen by the handful of French, Belgian and other officers who were still in Katanga in defiance of their government’s orders. These mercenaries had made plans for effective military resistance.
One must assume they had drawn a defense line and had, in advance, made a decision, that they would strike if the United Nations troops crossed this line.
One must further assume that the United Nations troops, when they moved against the Post Office and radio station, crossed this line without realizing it and thus tripped the mechanism that touched off the explosion.
Then came Mr. Hammarskjold’s death.
Dr. Sture C. Linner, the head of the United Nations mission, lost a close friend, a man he had worshipped almost as a father. He lost his private secretary and, in Dr. Vladimir Fabri[sic] he lost what he had once called his “one-man brain trust.” Dr. [Fabry], officially the legal councilor[sic], had in fact been the mission’s thinker who analyzed events and suggested decision.”
From Tribune De Lausanne, 17 October 1961, “Mr. Hammarskjold’s Plane Was Allegedly Fired Upon”:
“Information from the Congo from a private source to the United Nations indicates that the investigators on the spot have proof that Hammarskjold’s plane was fired upon, writes L’hebdomadaire “News Week”. Several African countries, they added, intend to ask for full light to be shed on this matter.”
I am a bit slow in posting the latest Hammarskjold investigation news, but here is the link to the 2022 UN report from Judge Othman, which was released at the beginning of November. Many thanks to Judge Othman, and to all “individual researchers and non-State entities” who have been responsible for providing “almost all new information generated between 2020 and 2022”. From page 9 of the report: “Despite the decrease in the amount of information identified by Member States, the amount and quality of new information provided by individuals and non-State entities highlights that additional information is highly likely to exist in Key Member States’ records and archives.” As a reminder, those “Key Member States” are South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States. From page 34 of the report: “…a small number of Member States, which have been identified as being almost certain to hold relevant information, appear to have been the least willing to provide further disclosure.”
From the Fabry archive, I have recently discovered a new stack of international newspapers from the 19th-27th of September 1961. Here are two papers from London, both from the 19th of September:
My name is Tara Burgett, I am an independent researcher and archivist, and the author of this blog dedicated to Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry. My husband, Victor, is the nephew of Vlado, the only child of Vlado’s sister, Olinka. When Olinka passed away in 2009, we discovered a trove of papers and photos stuffed in old suitcases in the house in New York; recognizing their importance, we packed them up and brought them to Washington state, and since then I have made it my mission to share the family story with the world.
“Sheila considered her time in New York to be some of the happiest days of her life. She roomed with her dearest friend, a gorgeous Czechoslovakian socialite named Desa Pavlu. The two of them must have left a trail of broken hearts throughout Manhattan. Sheila had a proposal of marriage from a young man named Arthur Gilkey. She declined, and shortly thereafter, he perished while ascending K2. Sheila was also courted by a chap named Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry. Vlado died with Dag Hammerskjold[sic] in The Congo[sic]. It seems that Vlado may have been connected with the CIA. Sheila said she could never see herself marrying Vlado because of his “very round bottom”.”
The more time I spent reading and translating the letters and documents, the more I realized how important it was that I speak up for Vlado and his family. The Fabry family were the targets of intentional and malicious slander, in revenge for their fierce resistance to both Nazi and communist invasions of Czechoslovakia, and sharing their archive has been my way of setting the record straight.
Vlado studied Law and Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava, following in the footsteps of his father, Pavel Fabry, who was also a lawyer. Before joining the United Nations Legal Department in 1946, Vlado served as Personal Secretary to the Minister of Commerce in Prague. Vlado and his father were both very romantic and unconventional characters, who loved music, poetry, travel, and all kinds of adventure; they were not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, even in the face of danger and threats of death.
After the communist coup d’etat in 1948, the whole family were forced to flee Czechoslovakia, and lived as political refugees in Switzerland. Vlado was often on the move, working for the UN in many countries, including New Zealand, Indonesia, Ghana, Egypt, and Congo, but he would stay with his parents in Geneva whenever he was on leave, at 14 Chemin Thury.
Vlado was loved by many of his colleagues at the UN, for his kindness and hospitality, and for his enthusiasm for skiing, mountain climbing, as well as his intellect and charm.
I could say more about his personality, but I feel the letters Vlado left behind, and the letters of his friends and family who knew him, say it best. He was an example of courage that anyone who knew him tried to follow, and is an inspiration to me, personally.
I was hesitant to share this here, because of the editorial choice of the word “suicide” to describe the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, but it is important because this was saved in a collection of other international papers by Olinka and Olga Fabry. The political cartoon, showing Moïse Tshombe collecting his money from the Union Minière du Haut-Katanga mines with the murders of Patrice Lumumba and Hammarskjold, is gruesome but on point. From our personal coin collection, not from the Fabry archive, I have also included scans of two coins from Katanga from 1961.
Reading old letters from 1961, I learned Vlado’s personal request at his death was for his eyes to be donated, and for his ashes to be scattered over Mont Blanc. He was not able to donate his eyes, but it makes me happy knowing he is high up in the mountains he loved so much. Rest in peace, dear Vlado.
60 years ago today, Vlado, and everyone on board the Albertina with him, were shot out of the sky, hunted down and murdered by white supremacist mercenaries. There were so many people that wanted them dead. Our family demands that all stonewalling nations connected to this crash, the CIA, the NSA, all spy agencies, groups and organizations, including the United Nations, open up their archives and declassify all records NOW. The only way to break the chains of racism, handed down from our ancestors, is to hold our past to the light and examine it without reservations, so we can learn from our mistakes and not keep repeating them, this is true wisdom and maturity!