My friend Anna Bergman, who hosts the Justice for Dag Hammarskjold page on Facebook, has posted political cartoons about the Congo and Hammarskjold which she has found in the UN archives. They are sad, but a very important record of the attitudes in the press.
Here is an excerpt from “Mission For Hammarskjold: The Congo Crisis” by Rajeshwar Dayal(Princeton University Press, 1976; p. 303-305), in which his wife Susheela Dayal shares her memories of Hammarskjold:
Quite early in my association with Hammarskjold, I sensed his interest in matters of the spirit, although it was not before the lapse of several years and episodes in which we were together involved that I began to get an inkling of the depth and nature of his involvement. Hammarskjold, with his sharp antennae, also became conscious of my commitment, as became evident from chance remarks that he made in the course of political and other conversations. In talking of politics, he would bring in spiritual formulations, emphasizing the need for absolute ‘integrity’ in action, a word to which he attached a deep esoteric meaning. He also spoke of ‘maturity’ of mind, implying a higher state of understanding. He would frequently refer to the bedrock of principle from which one could never allow oneself to be swept away, whatever the cost. And he would add that he need not say more as he knew that I understood the depth of his meaning. But Hammarskjold never consciously discussed spiritual matters with me; the closest he came to revealing his inner self was in conversations with my wife Susheela at the dinner table. She recalls their conversations in these words:
‘We are on the same wavelength,’ Dag Hammarskjold once said to us, many years ago in New York when he showed us that he knew we too were seeking the path to inwardness.
I remember one such time in the early fifties when, sitting next to him at a diplomatic dinner, the whole formality of the occasion slipped away from us as we were drawn into a conversation on Advaita, the philosophy of the Non-dual. Unknown to me, he was drawing on his own rare knowledge of the mediaeval mystics, for there is a passage in Meister Eckhart, singled out by Hammarskjold in Markings, that holds in it the essence of our conversation that night. ‘But how then am I to love God? You must love him as if he were a non-God, a non-spirit, a non-person, a non-substance: love him simply as the One, the pure and absolute unity in which there is no trace of Duality. And into this One we must let ourselves fall continually from being into non-being.’ Dag Hammarskjold adds, ‘God help us to do this.’
In 1958, when he came to Lebanon, Hammarskjold drove through the besieged, entombed city of Beirut. Coming to the hotel, he leapt out of the car in that characteristic, light and free movement, and hailed me, saying, ‘I bring you greetings from Lakshmi.’
I smiled, remembering the little statue of the goddess Tara that had been our present to him. She stood now in a niche in his New York office, her inturned glance flowing at one with her outward beauty. It was he who had renamed her Lakshmi, the goddess of auspiciousness and of wealth, the goddess of inner riches.
Even those who knew him slightly knew of his love of the beautiful, his love for literature, for painting. In a crowd, his eyes would travel beyond the people and come to rest on a small picture, such as the abstract painting we had, by Rudolf Ray. He would go up to it and stand before it silently, gravely. Turning to me he would say, ‘It has the quality of stone under water.’
Coming to visit us in the Congo, he brought with him a small round box made of moss-leafed stone. I remember his look as I thanked him for it. He replied, ‘I wanted to bring you something that had the feeling of stone under water.’
Yet I cannot recall a single personal thing that Dag ever said to me. I cannot remember a single familiar question he ever asked me. How were we in the Congo? Was I afraid? Was it difficult? No, he never asked. Meals were an extension of work schedules, though Dag would often cut across the immediate to place it clearly in its distant perspective–the point of the circle in terms of its circleness.
‘Are the hero and the saint identical?’ I asked him on one such occasion in the Congo, when our talk had moved from the day’s events in Kalina to the wider issues of a nation’s history. Dag answered that their likeness to each other lay in their view of themselves; that neither the hero nor the saint sees himself in terms of the world, but as instruments of the Principle (God) and are used by It. In order to fulfill their destiny, he said, ‘Some men become heroes, others saints, but both see themselves as instruments of the One. The hero and the saint perform their roles in relation to God alone.’
Yet, such was his shyness that it was not easy to say the very simple things to him. At the farewell luncheon that Dag gave for us when Rajeshwar had completed his mission to the Congo I took the opportunity of talking to him more closely, knowing that a long time might elapse before our next meeting. We talked of the inner direction of progress that a human being must make, away from the personal, which is the limited, to the impersonal, the limitless. The personal must not be rejected, but it must be contained in the impersonal, in the Whole, the One. That, Dag said, is one’s work in life.
Then, continuing to speak of the men and women serving under him at the United Nations, Dag said that his presence, his person, should not matter to them. It was the impersonal, the idea of the U.N. that was important, and it was into this that their idealism and their loyalty should be transcended. But, I replied, I had seen what his presence did to people; how it illuminated and inspired their spirit. It was not just the concept of a United Nations that they loved, it was him, the embodiment of that concept. I asked him, ‘Can you think of an abstract thing?’
He was quiet for a moment, and then he replied, ‘Of course not. People need a symbol, that is right.’ He added with grave honesty, ‘But if they must have one, then it should not be a person. Let them take the U.N. Building as their concrete symbol, not me!’
It’s been a while since we’ve heard Vlado’s “voice”, so here are a few letters between him and his friends, Don and Marty Davies, from 1955. Their fondness for Vlado is obvious, but it was Marty who wrote these wonderful letters. We don’t get to learn exactly what happened to the Davies car, but there was an accident on the road to La Berarde; and Vlado was being a know-it-all about the altitude of Col d’Izoard with Don, which prompted a “scolding” from Marty. Vlado refers in one letter to a dispute with a Czech Ambassador in Washington about his passport renewal, and I have included scans of the documents in regards to that. Also included are the condolence letters from Don and Marty to Vlado’s mother and sister, from September 1961.
Dear Don and Marty,
you might remember the little Indian chappie called Radhakrishnan who was precis-writer for the GOC and UNCI (if you still remember what that stood for!) – he used his savings from various currency operations etc to make a trip to New York and was taken by Foster to see the Empire State Building. Asked for his impression, he said simply: “It reminds me of sex.” Poor Foster speculated for a while about the symbolic implications of that comment and finally asked point blank for an explanation – which was “but everything reminds me of sex.” Mutatis mutandis (and there’s quite a bit of mutatis, I hasten to add) I’m in the same predicament – everything seems to remind me of the Davieses. To start with – a year ago was the momentous date when I tried to introduce you to the noble sport of skiing and found a response enthusiastic beyond all my expectations; also, last weekend I spend at Mrs Cornwall’s Lodge in North Creek,- although this time both days were perfectly sunny and there was no need to have recourse to crossword-puzzles; going up I was caught speeding practically at the same spot as when we drove up to make our concerted attack on Mt. Marcy:- happily I was able to talk myself out of it; and so on ad infinitum. In other words, I miss you.
I started the New Year with a rather successful party, featuring the traditional roasted pig without the corresponding (also traditional) stinked-in apartment,- but things started going wrong thereafter. I tried to cold-shoulder an infected throat, hoping that the infection will get disgusted and leave if I don’t pay any attention to it, and ended up with a bad bronchitis which kept me at home for two weeks. It may have lasted longer but for the fact that at the end of two weeks came the weekend when I was assigned by the Appalachian Mountain Club to lead a 15-mile crosscountry excursion, my first leading assignment and so I decided to do my duty, fever or no fever. It turned out to be a blizzard day, and breaking tracks through two feet of new snow with a fifty pound rucksack on my back proved to be just the right medicine for my bug,- they took flight in absolute panick even before we finished the trip. I hope I discouraged them permanently from trying to return.
Your postcard from Garmisch had the foreseeable effect, it made me turn a proper green with envy and spoiled my working efficiency for the rest of the day while I was mulling over in my mind the more pleasant alternatives to my enforced location behind a steel grey desk in a steel grey room under a steel grey sky. Would also be interested to know how you made out in Vienna – bit of home territory for me, you know-, whether it was able to shower on you a sample of its old-time Gemuetlichkeit. Don’t take all your vacation time now – I am still hoping that I may get some assignment to Europe this year, and this time I would like to spend a bit more time with you than last year.
My office activities got somewhat expanded into related channels. I was elected representative on the staff committee, i.e. made a shop steward in our trade union,- I have the smallest unit in terms of number of staff but the only one who represents three Under-Secretaries; and I got stuck with the chairmanship of the UN Ski-Club..- Lonely Hearts Club would probably be really a better name, we have 97 girls and 14 men as members (not to speak of some married couples),-some of the girls quite charming little things [but] I still have a lot of troubles chasing after my bachelor-friends and trying them to induce to come as guests on our weekend excursions. I am probably getting to be known as a hopeless lecher, arriving every weekend to a ski-lodge with a carfull (up to six) of different girls. Good thing I have my visa in the bag, I would never have gotten through the investigation after this.
Remember me to your father, please,- you don’t know how wonderfully comforting it felt to know there are kind and thoughtfull people who not only are willing to help us, but will go out of there way in doing so and in taking the initiative themselves. In your words of the understatement of the year: Nice guy, really. God bless him.
With best wishes to you all-
25 May 1955
Dearest Vlado —
Don’t you suppose you could take Mr. Hammarskjold aside and explain that a very important mission takes you to Europe practically immediately, it is a mission in the best interests of the UN, peace and the fellowship of mankind. You know, the usual sort of stuff. You will be happy to report to him personally of your findings and recommendations. This is by way of telling you our time is up, almost. Plans of this moment are for our departure the twenty-second of June for –guess?? Algiers. Don is going to be something called Public Affairs Officer, much better than visa-stamping, but Algiers is not Paris. Since the French insist the problem there is an internal one which does not concern the UN I fear we can’t expect to see you there. I’m so sad. Paris is heavenly even if it is gray and rainy all the time. It is a divine, divine city and I don’t want to leave.
My only hope of getting you over here before we leave is to tell you we’re making the grand tour south to Marseille, to make you so envious you can’t bear the thought of our doing the Route d’Ete via the Col d’Isere, Col du Galibier, Col Izoard so we can see Briancon and Barcelonnette and you’ll come over to drive south with us. Oh, I know, I know, this isn’t by any means the route to Marseille. We’re going to Vienne for dinner and theatre in the amphi—-. What else can you do in an amphitheatre except theatre? And then we do the mountains. Suddenly, unexpectedly inexplicably Don has taken a fancy to mountains. He like them. Does this sound reasonable to you? Me, neither. I’ve just wound up ten pages to the family which sort of explains the typing, I’m typed out but I’m hoping that with sufficient warning of what is in the wind you will take a plane this way. Not only has Don taken a fancy to mountains, he is also fancying sightseeing. This is not to be believed. He drags ME sightseeing. For an entire year I’ve been apologizing at the same time I’ve been insisting on seeing things. Don used to go wash the car while I did churches or chateaux. Now he has the bug and it has bitten him badly. Won’t you come? Can’t you come? Don’t you think your family would like to see you?
We had such a nice visit with your family one evening ages ages back. I was then going to write you immediately to tell you how well he looked and how full of beans and plans he seemed. Goodness he is such a cutey. We’ve both got pretty sweet fathers. I’d be willing to bet he is all hot and bothered about the possibilities in Czechoslovakia now that Austria has been released. My poor darling of a Pop, though, just when he was getting all set to come to Europe for a long holiday, had a stroke. The news cut my heart in shreds simply because I couldn’t visualize Daddy as a cripple. I didn’t count on the incredible spirit which moves the old boy. Nothing is impossible. At his age, with his heart he has stunned the doctors. Instead of spending the entire summer in California as they has thought necessary, they leave for home the middle of June with Pop back on his feet, navigating, weakly, true, but determined that this will not stop him. The subject of a trip to Europe has been brought up again….He belongs to a tougher breed than any of his children.
Italy was great fun. Another time I’ll forget the existence of Rome which is a dull and singularly unattractive city and just concentrate all travel in the north of Italy. Those wondrous hill towns, each more delightful than the next….The news of the move to Algiers was here on our return. Fine thing to come home to.
Hotel St. George
6 July 1955
Dearest Vlado —
Don has had his scolding; it is now your turn. The two of you were acting like a couple of children. This has absolutely nothing to do with the incident on the road to La Berarde. It was an “accident” in the real sense of the word, unexpected, unavoidable, unpremeditated. Pfft, we forget about it.
But, Vlado, what earthly difference does the precise altitude of the Col d’Izoard make? What great importance does St. Andre’s location on or not on a lake make? There are times when exactitude is frightfully important and insistence upon upmost precision may mean the difference between life and death. But, when Don reads from a travel folder that the Col d’Izoard is blank number of meters high and you flatly contradict him, he can only think that you think he is a stupid oaf because you know the Col is at least blank plus X. I know your reaction because it is one I’ve had to discipline myself to overcome. Fourteen years of discipline because I don’t want to contradict Don and be rude or hurt his feelings. I’ve had to learn that if I disagree or know Don’s position is not right, I must find a way around answering him that will not be contradicting him. Often it means keeping my own counsel if the matter has no great significance; at other times the subject has to be tossed around indirectly until Don sees by himself. Flattery works much better than insult and contradiction often sounds like insult. Contradiction makes conversation impossible….I could watch Don hedging his ideas to protect himself from being pounced upon, hedging them in such a way as to be completely meaningless and thus making himself look exactly the way you made him feel……..Therefore the sullen clouds.
I know now why three squabbling children used to get on Mother’s nerves — yes it is, no it isn’t, it is too, it isn’t either, you’re crazy, I am not, you are too and on and on ad nauseum. And that’s the end of the scolding. Let’s forget it too.
I’ve been told no mountain-climbing here before October, so, unless you can be persuaded to postpone your next summer holiday until Fall, we probably wont see you again till we get home on leave….Thank you for Moustiers Ste. Marie and the very thoughtful call to Marseille. Without you we would have known neither.
Dear Don and Marty,
time flies,- it just knocks my breath out when I stop to think that it is three months since I waved you good-bye at the Roches Blanches in Cassis,- it still seems like last week. I better start recapitulating what I did since to realize how much time I let go by before writing you.
I had a lovely week with mother, Olga and a friend of hers in the Dolomites – each early morning I popped off for a climb while the ladies were resting and picking wild-flowers, and by the time the clouds started gathering in the afternoon, I was back and off we went to the next place. I stopped for a few days of skiing in Cervinia,- went up the Breithorn /4200m/ on skis in shorts, and was roasting through my seventh skin with a tan which even now is still around. Was joined by some friends, fellow-climbers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, in Chamonix for a week’s climbing in the Aiguilles, interspersed with afternoon picknicks in the valley in which Olga and another girl joined up. And then the vacation was over with a blow and back through an empty Paris bereft of your presence and on to New York. Stops in Iceland and Gander, with temperatures near freezing and icy gales, a cold /non-pressurized/ plane, and the shock of landing in New York on the hottest day of the year, and being left standing in our warm clothing and weighted down by assorted luggage on the blazing hot concrete apron in the middle of the relentless afternoon sun. Struggling with heat and humidity through a rather erraticly[sic] unpleasant summer, to be relieved only by the blow and deluge of hurricanes. Apartment hunting /my South-African landlords decided not to have any babies for a while and gave up their “maternity ward” apartment, forcing me to look for a new one/ – but found a very nice place /apt.14-D, 2, Beekman Place, N.Y.22/ a stone’s throw from the office, high up, with unencumbered view over the East River, with the green of the UN garden right under me, bookcases lining not only the living-room and study, but also the bedroom up to the ceiling, and plenty of air,- and I managed to push the price down to 125 a month which is still within my means. A couple of weekends at the shore and one in the White Mountains, and then I took up rock-climbing again and am now hard on it, climbing every weekend. Am spending most of the evenings getting acquainted with the book supply,- see very few people.
Soon after my arrival in New York I was called by my former neighbour from Riverdale, who has taken over /together with three other associates/ the controlling interest in the Muldrow Aerial Survey Corp., a well-established company producing geological maps, surveys, etc. He offered me a job as the manager of their subsidiary company in Calgary /a Canadian corporation/, at a salary of $1.000 monthly, 2% of the sales /another $1.000 monthly/ and expense account including car, club memberships, etc. It was a very tempting offer – it would have meant considerably higher earnings /some 500 $ more monthly after taxes, taking into account that some of my present expenses e.g. car would have been borne by the company/, and a chance to get into private business a few stories about the ground-floor level. However, after a lot of thinking, I refused the offer. Immigration told me that as an employee of a Canadian corporation, I could not maintain my american residence for purposes of acquiring citizenship; the higher earnings seemed more than outbalanced by the lesser security of the job /I had my permanent contract here confirmed, and I have a promotion “in the works”/; the prospect of spending my working day in selling was rather dismal when compared with the pleasure and stimulation that my present job gives me; and last but not least, the prospect of exchanging my independent private life for one where I would have to keep up with the Joneses, backslap prospective customers and be a gregarious “regular” fellow seemed gloomy indeed. So I guess I shall remain an international civil servant for some time to come – offers like that are not falling from heaven each day.
To end this long egotistic tirade – I just had received a registered letter from the Czech Ambassador in Washington asking me to set a date at which it would be convenient to discuss with him personally the question of renewal of my passport /a similar letter was also sent to other emigrees in UN employ/. This is one of the occasions where I wish I was not an international civil servant bound by the rules of diplomatic curtesy[sic] towards an official of one of the Member-governments, so that I could answer the letter in a language appropriate to the occassion!
Before I close, there are two things I want to do. First, to apologize for my behaviour at the Route des Alpes,- I am sincerely sorry to have so stupidly spoiled such a nice trip, and my only and true excuse is that I did not realize what I was doing. My thanks to Marty for opening my eyes. Secondly, to inquire after the health of Mlle. Fregate and about the status of her doctor’s bills – did the insurance company pay up?- Because if not, my offer to cover them still stands, and I will feel much better with a slimmer bank account and a quieter conscience than the other way around. So please let me know.
All the best and lots of love – Vlado
These four documents were paper-clipped together. Click to enlarge.
Miss Mary McKenna, Administrative Officer
Bureau of Personnel
1. As I have informed you by telephone, I have received a letter from the Czech Ambassador in Washington suggesting that “in the matter of your passport it may be necessary to hold person to person negotiations on this question”, and offering three alternative dates on which I may visit his office.
2. I consider myself stateless and I am at present residing in the United States on an immigration visa obtained in accordance with provisions made for immigration of displaced persons; after fulfilling the required period of permanent residence in this country, I intend to apply for United States citizenship. For reasons which I trust are known to the Bureau of Personnel, I cannot in good conscience comply with the suggestion made by the Czech Ambassador.
3. On the other hand, I realize that the staff regulations, while not requiring me to give up my national sentiments or political and religious convictions, impose on me the duty to exercise the reserve and tact incumbent upon me by reason of my international status. Consequently, after consultation with my superiors, I decided to send a polite reply to the letter of the Czech Ambassador. The English translation of my reply would read as follows:
In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of 17 September 1955, I should like to inform you courteously that I do not intend to avail myself of your offer to hold person to person negotiations with regard to the granting of a passport, as this issue has become irrelevant(literal translation: as this question has lost its object)”.
I intend to send this reply on Friday, October 14th, unless directed otherwise by the Bureau of Personnel.
And a message to Vlado from Mary McKenna: “The Office of Personnel has no objections to your letter to the Czech Ambassador but we do not, of course, accept the responsibility of approving it.”
And now, the letters of condolence from Marty and Don:
1908 Belmont Road, N.W.
Washington 9, D.C.
27 September 1961
Nos tres cheres deux Olga,
This morning we laughed again at the mad escalade of Mt. Marcy in the company of Vlado. This evening at dinner we wept for the morning’s excruciating frivolity. Don returned from the office this evening to tell me that his worst suspicions had been confirmed; that the Fabry on the Hammarskjold plane was indeed Vlado.
How could it be, and, yet, how could it be otherwise, for so long as we have known dear Vlado he has been where the UN was having to handle difficult problems. The excitement, the intellectual challenge and the demand upon resources of courage both physical and moral — where else could Vlado be expected? Right there. And Don said this evening he felt that Vlado was merely a younger Hammarskjold, that everything which made Hammarskjold’s loss so irreparable could be repeated in Vlado’s case. Only Vlado, well, Vlado is a very dear and cherished person whom we were privileged to call a friend and whose family we have come to love as our own. Our sense of loss is that of a member of the family.
Our own desolation can be but very little in terms of your own. Vlado was so much more than son or brother; he was your guardian angel, bringing the family together as he did after it had been so painfully separated and then keeping it together with his enthusiasm, devotion and tender care.
Naturally, we are concerned for you both. Wont you let us have a word from you when you feel you can write. If it would suit your plans or your desires, we have heart and the room to take care of you here with us.
With all my devotion deeply saddened,
Sept. 27, 1961
Very dear friends,
It was not until today that I heard about the other members in Mr. Hammarskjold’s plane, and received confirmation of the identities. My first thought was for you. Where are you and what can we do to help?
I found late today that you both are in Geneva – or at least the telegram said “the family” is there.
We grieve for you and our hearts are with you in this difficult time. You must know, of course, that you have our affectionate sympathy.
Please let us know if we can be of assistance. If you plan to return to the United States perhaps we can be of some help in that way.
We would like to be with you now but since I am on post in Washington and will be assigned here for two more years, we cannot see you at least for a while if you are in Europe. But please let us know if there is anything we can do to ease your problems.
We both send our love. Bon courage.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas card, so here is one for you. I don’t know who the people pictured are, but they do look merry! This was sent to Vlado – United Nations Box 20 Grand Central Station – with no return address.
And now for the good news: The Resolution put forward by Sweden passed in the United Nations General Assembly today – and now there are 56 co-sponsors from around the world! Is someone trying to restore my faith in humanity? To all who have contributed in some part to this worthy effort, my thanks and gratitude!
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.
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):
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?
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”:
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
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,
With deep respect for Dag Hammarskjold, and all those who died with him, here are the photos from Vladimir Fabry’s funeral in Geneva, 28 September 1961. I’ve also included a postcard photo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Geneva, the location of Vlado’s memorial service.
John A. Olver, who had been Chief Administrative Officer for the UNOC, and was asked to accompany his fallen friends on the the Pan-Am flight around the world (The first stop was Leopoldville, then Geneva, Malmo, Stockholm, Dublin, Montreal, and last, New York), gives his reflections of this day in his memoir “Under Fire With Dag Hammarskjold”; which is part of “Dag Hammarskjold Remembered: A Collection of Personal Memories”, edited by Mary-Lynn Hanley and Henning Melber:
“As morning light started to appear we arrived at the Mediterranean, and then flashed across that same sea I had crossed in the other direction so recently. By early morning the high mountains began to appear, and suddenly, or so it seemed, the great white tower of Mont Blanc speared upward below us. The view was unusually sharp and clear, and it occurred to me that Dag Hammarskjold, passionate mountain lover, would have enjoyed this moment. I glanced over at Knut [Hammarskjold].
“Yes,” he nodded, “Dag would have liked this.”
Now began the descent for Geneva, down the length of the long, blue lake with the tidy Swiss city waiting for us at the far end. The familiar bump of landing was felt again, and my watch confirmed that the leap from the heart of Africa to the heart of Europe had been accomplished with split-second timing: it was precisely eleven in the morning.
The plane was towed to a large hangar at one end of the airport, and we disembarked into a glorious Geneva day, to join the silent ranks of thousands of mourners. We were home again, yet somehow we felt lost and far away.
In the hangar, the authorities of the city and canton, long accustomed to important ceremonies yet personally affected by the loss of a world leader whom they had come to know well, had set up a small chapel where last respects could be paid to the Secretary-General and his companions. There was a catafalque upon which the Hammarskjold casket would rest, accompanied by a book in which mourners could inscribe their names. In a few minutes, the casket was in place, and a long procession, stretching far out along the side of the airfield, began to form and move slowly into the hangar and out again. We saw in the endless line the faces of family members, friends, and persons from all walks of life and from offices of the United Nations, and the many other international organizations, plus the diplomatic corps and representatives of the Swiss Government.”
One of the most touching tokens of respect to the memory of Vlado, is a large, two-volume book set, embossed with the UN emblem, containing the collected signatures from every UN staff member around the world. Among the signatures of the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva, is this brief homage from John A. Olver:
“He perhaps came as close as humanly possible to being the ideal international civil servant. Certainly his example will endure lastingly in the Secretariat as an inspiration to us all.”
And from another Geneva staff member, whose signature I cannot decipher, there is this:
“I knew him to be a man of courage and of tenderness. It was a fine combination born of a fine mind and of an instinctive respect for his fellow man. When you see a young man growing in stature with the years and being consistently true to the things in which he believes, it leaves an impression that stays with you. Vladimir was just such a man. I shall remember him and be thankful in that memory.”
Here is what appears to be the first draft of Article 98 of the UN Charter, labelled with the initials “VF” for Vladimir Fabry. All the notations are in Vlado’s script. It was a little confusing to see “first draft”, because according to the UN Librarians (Thank you, Ask DAG!), Article 98 was adopted at the same time as the rest on 25 June 1945. Perhaps this was a first draft of a revision?
What makes Article 98 so significant, is that it gave Dag Hammarskjold the authority to go on his final peace mission to Ndola. Holding this document in my hands for the first time, recognizing its role in the destiny of Vlado and his colleagues, I recalled this quote from Hammarskjold:
“Destiny is something not to be desired and not to be avoided – a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.”
In regards to Article 98, here are a few excerpts from Dag Hammarskjold’s address to Oxford University, 30 May 1961, “The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact”:
“To sum up, the Charter laid down these essential legal principles for an international civil service:
» It was to be an international body, recruited primarily for eﬃciency, competence and integrity, but on as wide a geographical basis as possible;
» It was to be headed by a Secretary-General who carried constitutionally the responsibility to the other principal organs for the Secretariat’s work;
» And ﬁnally, Article 98 entitled the General Assembly and the Security Council to entrust the Secretary-General with tasks going beyond the verba formalia of Article 97 – with its emphasis on the administrative function – thus opening the door to a measure of political responsibility which is distinct from the authority explicitly accorded to the Secretary-General under Article 99 but in keeping with the spirit of that Article.
This last-mentioned development concerning the Secretary-General, with its obvious consequences for the Secretariat as such, takes us beyond the concept of a non-political civil service into an area where the oﬃcial, in the exercise of his functions, may be forced to take stands of a politically controversial nature.”
“In Article 98 it is, thus, provided not only that the Secretary-General “shall act in that capacity” in meetings of the organs, but that he “shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs.” This latter provision was not in the Covenant of the League. It has substantial signiﬁcance in the Charter, for it entitles the General Assembly and the Security Council to entrust the Secretary-General with tasks involving the execution of political decisions, even when this would bring him – and with him the Secretariat and its members – into the arena of possible political conﬂict. The organs are, of course, not required to delegate such tasks to the Secretary-General but it is clear that they may do so. Moreover, it may be said that in doing so the General Assembly and the Security Council are in no way in conﬂict with the spirit of the Charter – even if some might like to give the word “chief administrative oﬃcer” in Article 97 a normative and limitative signiﬁcance – since the Charter itself gives to the Secretary-General an explicit political role.”
“A simple solution for the dilemmas thus posed for the Secretary-General might seem to be for him to refer the problem to the political organ for it to resolve the question. Under a national parliamentary regime, this would often be the obvious course of action for the executive to take. Indeed, this is what the Secretary-General must also do whenever it is feasible. But the serious problems arise precisely because it is so often not possible for the organs themselves to resolve the controversial issue faced by the Secretary-General. When brought down to speciﬁc cases involving a clash of interests and positions, the required majority in the Security Council or General Assembly may not be available for any particular solution. This will frequently be evident in advance of a meeting and the Member States will conclude that it would be futile for the organs to attempt to reach a decision and consequently that the problem has to be left to the Secretary-General to solve on one basis or another, on his own risk but with as faithful an interpretation of the instructions, rights and obligations of the Organization as possible in view of international law and the decisions already taken.
It might be said that in this situation the Secretary-General should refuse to implement the resolution, since implementation would oﬀend one or another group of Member States and open him up to the charge that he had abandoned the political neutrality and impartiality essential to his oﬃce. The only way to avoid such criticism, it is said, is for the Secretary-General to refrain from execution of the original resolution until the organs have decided the issue by the required majority (and, in the case of the Security Council, with the unanimous concurrence of the permanent members) or, maybe, has found another way to pass responsibility over onto governments.
For the Secretary-General this course of action – or more precisely, non-action – may be tempting; it enables him to avoid criticism by refusing to act until other political organs resolve the dilemma. An easy refuge may thus appear to be available. But would such a refuge be compatible with the responsibility placed upon the Secretary-General by the Charter? Is he entitled to refuse to carry out the decision properly reached by the organs, on the ground that the speciﬁc implementation would be opposed to positions some Member States might wish to take, as indicated, perhaps, by an earlier minority vote? Of course the political organs may always instruct him to discontinue the implementation of a resolution, but when they do not so instruct him and the resolution remains in eﬀect, is the Secretary-General legally and morally free to take no action, particularly in a matter considered to aﬀect international peace and security? Should he, for example, have abandoned the operation in the Congo because almost any decision he made as to the composition of the Force or their role would have been contrary to the attitudes of some Members as reﬂected in debates, and maybe even in votes, although not in decisions.
The answers seem clear enough in law; the responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the Charter cannot be laid aside merely because the execution of decisions by him is likely to be politically controversial. The Secretary-General remains under the obligation to carry out the policies as adopted by the organs; the essential requirement is that he does this on the basis of his exclusively international responsibility and not in the interest of any particular State or groups of States.
This presents us with this crucial issue: is it possible for the Secretary-General to resolve controversial issues on a truly international basis without obtaining the formal decision of the organs? In my opinion and on the basis of my experience, the answer is in the aﬃrmative; it is possible for the Secretary-General to carry out his tasks in controversial political situations with full regard to his exclusively international obligation under the Charter and without subservience to a particular national or ideological attitude. This is not to say that the Secretary-General is a kind of Delphic oracle who alone speaks for the international community. He has available for his task, varied means and resources.
Of primary importance in this respect are the principles and purposes of the Charter, which are the fundamental law accepted by and binding on all States.”