Tag Archives: Czechoslovakia

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

“Biographical Sketches of the Secretariat Personnel Who Died in Air Crash”

Here is a 19 September 1961 article from the New York Times, paying tribute to Heinrich A. Weischhoff, Vladimir Fabry, William J. Ranallo, and Alice Lalande – but no mention of the ten other passengers who perished. The full article is transcribed below.
NYT Obituaries 1961

United Nations, N.Y., Sept. 18–Following are biographical sketches of United Nations Secretariat personnel killed with Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold in last night’s plane crash:

Dr. Vladimir Fabry
Dr. Vladimir Fabry, 40-year-old legal adviser with the United Nations Operation in the Congo, was an underground resistance fighter in his native Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation.

He joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1946 after helping organize the first post-war Czechoslovak Government. He became a United States citizen two years ago, a little more than a decade after the Communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia.

Dr. Fabry was born in Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas. He received a doctor’s degree in law and political science from the Slovak University in Bratislava in 1942. He was admitted to the bar the following year.

Before going to the Congo in February, Dr. Fabry had been for a year and a half the legal and political adviser with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. In 1948 he was appointed legal officer with the Security Council’s Good Offices Committee on the Indonesian question. He later helped prepare legal studies for a Jordan Valley developing proposal.

He participated in the organization of the International Atomic Energy Agency. After serving with the staff that conducted the United Nations Togoland plebiscite in 1956 he was detailed to the Suez Canal clearance operation, winning a commendation for his service.

Dr. Heinrich A. Wieschhoff

Heinrich Albert Wieschhoff, director and deputy to the Under Secretary, Department of Political and Security Council Affairs, had won distinction as an anthropologist in his native Germany and in the United States before he joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1946. He was 55.

Born in Hagen, Mr. Wieschhoff was educated at the University of Vienna and Frankfurt. He received a doctor of philosophy degree in African anthropology in 1933 at Frankfurt, where he served as an instructor in the university’s African Institute from 1928 to 1934. He moved to the United States and taught anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1936 until 1941.

During World War II Dr. Wieschhoff served as a consultant on African matters in the Office of Strategic Services. He joined the United Nations staff as a consultant to the Trusteeship Division. In 1951 he was secretary of the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on South-West Africa.

A frequent visitor to Africa since 1928, Dr. Wieschhoff accompanied Secretary General Hammarskjold on four trips to the Congo in the last fourteen months. Mr. Hammarskjold sent him on a special mission to Brussels last year to confer with Belgian officials. Dr. Wieschhoff wrote a number of scholarly books on African cultures and colonial policies and was a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

He was married to the former Virginia Graves of Caddo, Okla., in 1938. The couple had three children.

William J. Ranallo

William J. Ranallo, 39, went to work for the United Nations fifteen years ago as a chauffeur in the transportation pool and worked his way up to a unique position as driver, bodyguard, “man Friday” and friend of the Secretary General.

The relationship between Mr. Ranallo and Mr. Hammarskjold was such that at a Thanksgiving dinner at the Ranallo’s a few years ago the Secretary General went out to the kitchen, rolled up his sleeves and helped with the dishes.

Mr. Ranallo was born in Pittsburgh. He was graduated from Evander Childs High School here in 1941 and worked for a year as a technical employee at the Sperry Gyroscope factory in Brooklyn. He then served four years as a private in the United States Army.

Former Secretary General Trygve Lie picked Mr. Ranallo from the chauffeur pool to be his personal driver in 1951. The Secretariat staff, with whom the chauffeur was a popular figure, was delighted when Mr. Hammarskjold retained his services and increased his responsibilities.

Among the many places to which Mr. Ranallo accompanied Mr. Hammarskjold were Peiping, the cities of the Middle East, Laos and Africa. This journey to Africa with the Secretary General was his third in two years.

Last year Mr. Ranallo married the former Eleanor Gaal. The couple had three sons, one by Mr. Ranallo’s former marriage and two by his wife’s former marriage.

Alice Lalande

Miss Alice Lalande was a French-Canadian whose career as a bilingual secretary took her to remote trouble spots of the world as a member of the United Nations Secretariat staff.

Before her assignment to the Congo a year ago she had spent two years in Gaza as a secretary with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. In the Congo she was secretary to Dr. Sture C. Linner, officer in charge of United Nations operations in the Congo.

Miss Lalande was born Feb. 6, 1913, in Joliette, Quebec. She was graduated from a secretarial school in Montreal and was employed by the University of Montreal before she joined the United Nations in 1946.

After two years as a French-English stenographer in the languages division of the United Nations Department of Conferences and General Services she became bilingual secretary in the office of the department’s Assistant Secretary General.

In January, 1951, Miss Lalande went to Jerusalem for a three-year secretarial assignment with the United Nations Conciliation Commission. In 1957 she became an administrative assistant with the Preparatory Commission of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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.

Young Vlado in Photos

The Fabrys came from such a different world than mine, and maybe that is why I can so appreciate the big complicated story of their life, and why I want to devote myself to study and translating to make sense of it. When I get frustrated about not having enough time to research, I take comfort in reading about other biographers, like Antony Thomas, who took over a decade to write his brilliant book “Rhodes: The Race for Africa” – but I will talk more about that book later.

Here is a collection of young Vlado photos that leave a great impression of his grand life in Czechoslovakia. The photos are undated, but they are circa 20’s and 30’s, since Vlado was born in 1920. (Click on images to enlarge)

Young Vlado Bratislava

Fabry portrait

Vlado Olinka in carriage

Vlado w sister Olinka

Vlado and pony

Vlado Bratislava erector set

Vlado and Tatulo w bear

Vlado w dear friends

Vlado plays cards

Vlado pours champagne

Serious Vlado

Portrait of a Bachelor: 1952

King Throstle Beard Indonesia

Vlado, a.k.a. “King Throstle Beard”, at work in Indonesia

Before I begin with the letters of 1952, there is one letter from January of 1951 that needs to be included here first – from Madeline – who met Vlado when he spent 3 weeks in New Zealand in 1950, and she was a big fan of his beard. She writes to him again, one last time in January of 1952. Also included in the romantic cast of 1952 are “Sweet Little Darling”, a.k.a “The Little One”, and “Guapa mia carinosa”, a.k.a. “My sweet tenderheart”. There is also one letter to Boka, Vlado’s Secretary at the UN. I almost need a chart to keep track of their names! Vlado must have had a hard time getting to know a girl, never being in one place very long, and he must have felt lonely.

New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau

The Hermitage Mount Cook, New Zealand

January 1951

Dearest King Throstle Beard,

It was the nicest Christmas surprise receiving your letter and the pictures. The pictures, I think, are very good, and I’ve just now been having a peep at them. I received your letter on Christmas Eve, so you can see how good Santa is to some of his favourites. I really was beginning to think that brilliant young diplomat ex. room 17 P/B had forgotten all about poor little insignificant Madeline Long, frequenter of room 17, but not of the bath. because King Thros. does like a little privacy/ Though Madeline found it very hard to leave room 17, and King Thros. helped her not one little bit. I don’t know that I can do much about that job of Inspector-General of the New Zealand Tourist Trade, but you could be a little old hermit at the Hermitage, and I could clean out your cave, and steal you a bone when you get hungry. You don’t like the sound of that? You should have been here Xmas Eve. We looked under all the tables and beds for a man with a beard, but nary a whisker could be found.

Everything has been very gay, and the weather just perfect. Last night the most beautiful moon was looking so lonely, with no one to sit under her, and I did think that Vladimir Fabry might have popped in for just a half hour or so, but then he probably would have found it rather hard to get away, because there is a transport strike on just now, and he would not have caught that 1.p.m. bus to Queenstown. My, I wish that strike had happened a couple of months ago. I do feel unhappy for you having to spend Christmas in that Mad house that you call it. Seems so far removed from anything of that nature here, except of course, when everybody goes a little mad with gaiety especially Madeline Long. Know her? I don’t think you should. I’ve been playing lots of tennis lately and doing a good deal of climbing, but somehow or other, somewhere along the way something happens to my wind, and I look a great sad sack. I’m going away to stay in one of the huts for a couple of nights soon, feel that it would be just grand to be way up in the mountains on these balmy nights. Could you ask Vladimir if he would like to join me? Or maybe he’s just too busy telling all those madhouse inhabitants how to get out of one sticky bit into another. It’s so hot today I could sit here with just nothing on and be quite happy, or maybe a blade of grass to keep the locals happy. I thought I had better use my speedy typewriter, because you probably would find it rather difficult to read the things I write down. I was going to send you a cable and wish you a very happy New Year, but when I looked up the little book of words and saw the exorbitant charges, I quickly shut it again, and thought I had best settle for a letter. When a girl is saving her all to travel and see something of this wide wicked world before she is too old and senile to care anymore, that’s when she begins to think that money is money, and a little more is better that a little less. Afternoon tea is on and as we have a regular circus in the office every day now for that little event, I can’t concentrate on what I’m saying to Vladimir, and that would never do. I do hope you find a wee moment to write me again, and tell me what is happening to your present and your future. I too have thought of you so, often, but I never dreamt you would be doing so of me. And even if we should never see each other again that you should write and let me have your feelings is something very precious to always have with me.

Much Love,

Madeline

Great Neck 4/1/1952

Milá Boka,

Above all, thank you for your two letters,- really, I would have never dreamed to hope that you would write me so much, the ratio used to be normally 3 to 1 in my favour,- but I do appreciate it, and I was very pleased and happy. I hope that by now you have recovered from the strains of family-life and that no permanent damage was inflicted on you. My mother wrote me that she liked you very, very much / which does not surprise me/, and the next line was that she wishes me for the new year a fine bride /and a grandchild/ and that she hopes that I will make the best possible choice. I wonder how much the second line was a reflection of the sentiments expressed in the first! I was very glad to hear your voice on Christmas, it was a very nice present, but it made me a little bit sad to think how perfect it would have been to be for the Holidays in Geneva, and having around me EVERYBODY I like. I was a bit scared of Christmas first, in Indonesia I was all the time looking forward to this one when I would be back from the “exile” and in surroundings where I could really feel in a holiday mood. Then I suffered the invasion of Milan and his friends during Thanksgiving,/it was really awful/, and looked with great apprehension at the arrival of Ivan. But he is the real opposite of his brother as far as consideration for others is concerned. We got quite friendly together always consulted each other on our moves and tried to respect each others wishes, and as a whole had a good time. I liked his friends, and of course their age and interests were more in line with mine than in Milan’s case. So it was quite nice. For Christmas Eve I had your father and Tana, Tana Makovická, Milan Ondruš and Karol, – we made up the Christmas tree together, had a Slovak dinner, gave each other presents, and has Slovak music from the records, as well as something less than music from our throats /meaning that we were singing/. Also a nice roaring fire and the scent of pine – and smoke all over the house. Also for New Year’s Eve I was with Tana, we had dinner with Milan O. at your place, and then went together to a terribly stuffy party where we saw the New Year come to the accompanying of Bible- reading, and kept singing “Drink of my eyes and you will not need any wine” – and there was no wine. So we decided that to welcome the New Year with a glass of milk could bring its wrath, postponed its arrival officially for one hour, left the party at 12.40 and dived for the next bar, where we properly wetted our thirsty throats with champagne, and drank our homage to it in this more appropriate liquid. After that we went to a party of Tana’s Airlines-friends, and had a good time,- finishing in New York, and with a hamburger and coffee at Prexy’s /the radio was admonishing us the whole evening that “death has no holidays, and if you have to have one for the road, make it coffee”, so I obeyed/. We became quite good friends with Tana, and I like her quite a bit now. Well, to come back to your letters and to answer your questions therein:- the green light refers to The One an Only One /what did he do in London, by the way, and why did he not come to expect the New Year in your company/, green of course being the “go ahead” sign, and “no turns allowed while the light is green” is a common traffic sign on boulevards, which I adapted to your case as meaning that you cannot enter any Lovers Lanes on the side while you still drive full speed on the main road of your desires, with The One giving you the “go ahead” sign, but only as far as he is concerned and not for turning towards others. A bit complicated as I wrote now, but I guess you will understand now what I meant. I gave a present to Shine, but not Virginia, – and I received nothing from either. Also I gave my present for the grab-bag at the Office party. As far as the župan [trans.: bathrobe or dressing gown.-TB] is concerned – I have my own intelligence service, but not Olga. I am glad you liked it, I hope my mother bought what I wanted. How did you get on with my papa – I hope he didn’t throw any tantrums while you were there, he gets so easily excited. Why did they not take you out on a car trip to the mountains – is Uncle Bucko ill, or what? As far as my job is concerned, the following developments took place: 1./ I saw Szeming-Sze, and the Geneva job is definitely out of the question. 2./ Marshall Williams told me that they intend to fill the Trusteeship post by internal promotion,- but nothing has been decide so far. 3./ They do have a post in Narcotics, – in Rey’s Section, they considered me and asked for my file just before Christmas. As far as I learned form Lande, I would be satisfactory except that Rey would like to have somebody English-born, as all of his Section are non-Englishmen and he has difficulties in drafting reports, etc. He told me, however, that if they would not find anybody else, or if I had enough push, my chances would be good. 4./ I saw Martinez-Cabanas and Barbosa, the Personnel Officer of TAA on several occasions. They have now two posts in my grade – and area officer for Bolivia /where I can hardly qualify because of lack of Spanish/, and one for Eastern Europe and the Near East. I would be very keen on the second job, it would be ideal from many points of view, and I think I could make a success out of it. But apparently they want to have somebody from the area, and are now in touch with the Yugoslav Government to get them a candidate. I could not speak with M-C about the job / I learned about it from Barbosa only the day before his departure/, and B. was rather reluctant about the whole thing. I had the impression, however, that it would not be impossible to get the job if M-C would agree, and if Hausner /who is Barbosa’s Superior/ would state that job-less staff members have to be given priority consideration before outsiders are recruited. I will ask Olga to take it up with M-C, and perhaps you could find a way of getting Hausner interested – unless, of course, you think that I should not overdo it and push myself too hard for this particular job. I aslo received and assurance that there may be further jobs in their new budget, but it is not expected that they would be approved before February,- so I would have to remain on my present post until March at least. Well, I think that’s all – I heard nothing more about Human Rights – did you? And please, do continue to be a sweet girl and keep me posted on what is happening at your end of the world!

All the very best in the New Year and lots of love,

Vlado

Suva, Fiji

15th Jan 52

Good Morning King T.

I was entirely delighted and surprised to receive your card, but as you see from the above it had to leave the Hermitage and come across to Fiji. I have been going the usual round of living here since May last year, and loving it. Such an entirely different life – much more romantic than that dull unimaginative New Zealand. It had its moments of course, when the King Throstlebeards of this world decided to hop around the mountains for a few days. Just imagine you living in great big New York! I think it a good thing that you have left that horrid Indonesia, because from what I have heard and gathered from running my little eyes over newspapers from time to time there seems to be a lot of stray bullets and even worse things popping round over there. It would be just terrible to think of bullets sneaking around that nice beard. (You are still wearing it I presume.) Have been extremely lucky here with accommodation – in common with the rest of the world today there seems to be a perpetual moan over the housing situation.. However, your friend Mad Long has got herself all set up in one of the prettiest little houses around. It has been built about two years only, and is nice and clean and modern and – everything. Living with another girl of course, and we have a Fijian girl to do all chores. I have often thought about you and wondered what you are doing, so you can just imagine how nice it was to receive your card. As you have probably guessed I am working with Tasman Empire Airways, and using their writing paper and time for my letter writing. The office is undergoing extensive renovations, and by this time next week I shall be sitting in one of the most swept up business places in Suva. In fact, we’re trying to persuade our Manager to put us into sarong type of frocks with hibiscus flowers tucked in odd places on our persons, just to have a tropical effect you know. You can just imagine how this conservative British atmosphere would react. I guess you have much more interesting and necessary things to do than read letters from me to you. Many thanks again for remembering me at Christmas, and lots of nice things to you for the New Year. I am enclosing a small picture of me taken at the back of the house looking ever so tropical.

Mad Long

Great Neck

10/3/52

My dear Little One,

It’s ages since I wrote you last / you see, I admit it freely/, but I have not forgotten you nor stopped to feel towards you the sweet, soft and warm longing that I had ever since we parted last summer. It’s just that I didn’t feel like writing, or that I had a lotsfull of other things to do, or that I was much too tired to write, or some other thing happened. And also, I did not get so much to hear from you to be coaxed into a real effort of writing – to wit, I received only one picture-postcard the last two months. I believe that you will be probably back from your skiing holiday by now,- and I hope that you managed to have lots of fun without getting any parts of your anatomy into a loose-flapping state. Also, that you got some sun after all. Also that you do not think any more of skiing as something difficult, but that you ski by now as easily as you think /or rather that you came to that blissful stage of skiing where it is enough to think of a movement,- and lo and behold, your skis and body do it all by themselves!/ I sincerely hope that I may have a chance to see you perform before this years snow melts completely away, although I still have no concrete clues as to whether and when that may be. I did quite a bit of skiing this year myself, practically every weekend since New Year. That also partially accounts for my backlog in correspondence – and sleep. The winter was rather mild around NY, so I had always to drive at least 700 miles each weekend to get to and from the snow – and that’s nearly as much as from Holland to Switzerland. I didn’t get any chance so far to get away for longer than from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 9 a.m., and consequently had to spend practically every Friday and Sunday night, or at least the greater part of it, behind the steering wheel. My former skiing partner from the Tatras is now in New York also, so we usually went together, and it was a bit like old times again. Unfortunately, he does not drive, and anyhow, he usually slept the whole journey through. Occasionally we took along some company, but usually I had only Little Carrot Nibbler /remember the little fellow?/ and memories of you to keep me company. I tried also to keep up my horseback riding, and occasionally manage to squeeze in an hour or so before going to the office. But mostly I am just too tired and sleepy to get up at six, and besides it is not such a pleasure to ride now on soft ground and in the usually cold and wet and dark mornings. So I seldom ride more than two days each week. Helenka’s Slovak cooking and my sedentary life ganged up on me, and I have gained 15 lb. since I came back. I’m a real fatty again. It is true that after each weekend’s exertions I manage to lose three or four pounds, but that only increases my appetite, and before Tuesday is over, the weight is back again, usually with interest. I guess I better become reconciled with the idea of a nice potbelly. My social life continues very active. I had invitations to some of the plushiest events of the Mardi-Gras season, and the moths didn’t get much chance to get into my tails and dinner-jacket this year. I am getting quite cynical about those things which worries me a bit,- the other evening I caught myself calculating the real-estate and property value of each girl with whom I went to dance and felt quite ashamed. But I made a few friends among the Wall-Streeters, and I am now following closely the Big Board, share-value analyses and earning-prospects, and hope to use the stray bits of information which I am getting from here and there to improve a bit my financial situation by putting my savings to work for me on the Market. With nearly half of my salary going to Geneva, and life in New York being expensive as it is, I sorely need some additional source of income. If only one would have more time for those things – but the UN is such an old fashioned type of Organization which demands its employees to work for the money it pays them, so I have to steal the time from where I can, mostly sleep and correspondence and reading. Besides, I started to learn Spanish, and that takes some of my time too. I still do not know what my future assignment in the UN will be – ce n’est que le provisoire qui dure seems to be a very true saying, and my temporary assignment to the Legal Department still continues. But I already have my eyes cast on something – the post of legal adviser to the Technical Assistance Administration, it’s a new, important outfit, where I might have chances to advance, an interesting and central job, and a chance to learn a lot. The post is still in doubt, the Legal Department doesn’t want to give up its prerogatives and let another outfit create a legal post, but I think that it will be set up eventually, and then I will have to go really to work to beat the competition which probably will start for the post. But at least I know now what I want. Well, I think I wrote you about all what there is new about me. Still two questions to answer from your 1/1 letter: I spent Christmas in my house, having invited a dozen homeless Slovaks and made a real Slovak Christmas Dinner, with Slovak songs, traditional dances under the Christmas Tree, gifts, and so on. I enjoyed it a lot. For New Year I had four invitations into private homes, and I took them in turn,- the stuffiest first, and the gayest at the end. And what did you do?

The letter ends here, with the last page missing. We learn soon enough why Vlado is learning Spanish. But first, the most amusing letter of 1952 is the last letter from “The Little One”:

The Hague

17th April 1952.

My dear Vlado,

Here at long last is a letter from me. I am so sorry that it took so long, but lately I have been very busy. The reason for this is, now please hold tight to your chair or whatever you are sitting on, that I am going to be married. It is all rather quick and I would have written before had I known it myself, but as my husband to be has to be back in Indonesia in the beginning of May we decided to get married before he is going. I have no idea what you will think of this, but as you suggested in another letter that I had better look out for a husband, I don’t think you will mind too much. I am awfully sorry in a way, as it will be ages before I will see you and there will be no more holidays with you, but one can’t have ones cake and eat it too. I sent you an announcement of my marriage in the hope that you can read enough Dutch to make sense out of it. But before you got it I wanted to write to you myself. I hope you will wish me luck as I am sure that I will be very happy. I’ll write to you at a later date and a bit longer, if you want me to, but at the moment I have not got much time. I hope that you will write to me.

Love,

“The Little One”

Room 3478 NY, 20.11. 1952.

My sweet tenderheart,

I am going to write to you in English – it will be good for your practice, and besides I am too tired and involved in other thinking to make out anything comprehensible in Spanish. It’s nearly eleven at night, but I am still in my office waiting for my secretary to finish typing some drafts which I have to correct and get out to the night-shift for documentation. I am retroactively paying for my vacation, and have to make up the lost time. My trip here was pleasantly eventful,- while waiting in London for my plane-connections I had the chance to see the Lord Mayors Show, a big medieval pageant with all the trimmings of tradition, glitter, costume and showmanship that the English can still so well produce /the Spaniards also, I don’t doubt that, but I never had the opportunity to see and compare/. Then, after a very rugged flight with icing conditions up to 8000 feet and 250km/h headwinds above, our plane was forced to change course and land in Iceland for refueling. After persuading the authorities that I was not carrying mouth-and-hoof-disease, and an assorted waiving with Laissez-Passer and other documents, I was permitted to leave the international airport, hopped in a taxi, and went exploring the countryside. I could not see much in the darkness, but still managed to get some good views of one of the geysers in the car’s headlights, and get an impression of the force of the waterfalls from their thunderous ramblings, their spray and the darkness of the abyss in which the river disappeared./I sent you a picture of them how they look in day-time, hope you had received it./ New York greeted me with sunshine and a summery breeze so warm that I felt silly even in my light coat. I can’t imagine Geneva in snow. Most of my time I spent apartment hunting, a rather difficult predicament in view of my expensive tastes and thinning bank-account. I finally had to make a compromise /slanted quite heavily in favour of the bank-account/ and settled yesterday for a place on 37 East 83rd Street in Manhattan /which, incidentally, is my new address if you should care to write me/. It’s what they call here a three-and-half room apartment, consisting of a small bedroom, a fairly large living room, a kitchen in a wall closet, and entrance hall in which, if one is thin, it is even possible to turn around, and a good-sized bathroom with a three-way shower compartment nearly as big as the bedroom. That part is the only luxurious one, and I am looking forward to some pleasurable loafing in combined water streams coming from above, below, and the three sides. The address is a good one /which is very important here/, but in spite of the fact that the apartment is on the top floor I don’t have any penthouse-like view, because the houses all around me are even higher. I also don’t have any terrace nor fireplace,- but then, I am paying some 150 $ a month less than in any of the places which had such frills, and that is also something. So as a whole I hope I did not make a mistake, and shall be able to stay there for a few months until I get tired of it. By the way, I did not have time to write all this to my family /nor will I presumably have time to do so in the near future/, so if you should Olga please relay to her the information. I am moving in this weekend. I am thinking back with little tinges of sorrow of my wonderful Geneva days – and I am experiencing something I never felt before, a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. I got so accustomed to look forward to your company in the evenings and over weekends, that somehow my subconscious came to expect it as a rightful due and not as a godsend which does not belong to the undeserving, and feels cheated and unhappy now that it does not have it. On the other hand I lost the interest in my other friends that I had here, and as a matter of fact I did not look up any of them so far. There is a vague feeling of longing and of missing in me, and the work I have is a not so unwelcome escape from it. Well, I see that I wrote more than I ever have to anybody except my family and that I am letting myself be carried away by my feelings even here in the atmosphere of stark reality and competitive fight for survival. What an “unamerican activity”! If somebody should read this I might get involved into an investigation as a “bad security risk” or one who “puts loyalty to a particular person or persons above that to the Cause”. I better stop putting things on paper. But you might by now know, even without my writing it, what goes on in my heart. Hasta la vista, guapa mia cariñosa – and I hope I can make it soon.

Love,

Vlado

New York 25.12.1952.

Guapa mia cariñosa,

It’s Christmas day and I am remembering those with whom I would have liked to be on these Holy Days. I wrote to my family yesterday, and today it is first and foremost to you that I am sending my greetings, my best wishes, and my love. I am in a slightly melancholic mood thinking of you all and regretting of not being able to be with you. And this year in particular I could have had around me all those I like, as you were at our home for Christmas dinner. However, I should not grumble, as my friends took care to make my own holidays as nice as they can be for a lonely bachelor. As a matter of fact, I had two Christmas celebrations: last weekend I was invited to a family which celebrated earlier because one of its members is expecting a baby just about now, and yesterday I had dinner under the Christmas tree with my Slovak /and some Czech/ friends, and then a party which lasted until 8 a.m. Today I had the traditional x-mas lunch of choucroute-soup with spare ribs and sausages, and another party is coming up tonight. So I could not exactly claim to be deserted, although it still does not help me from feeling lonely – nothing can replace the presence of those one loves and misses. I received your letter yesterday morning. From its feel I could guess that it contains a gift, so I did not open it until evening, when we were discovering our gifts under the tree. But then of course I was subject to all sorts of jealous questions, especially from Karol Krcmery and had great difficulty to hide away your letter. The handkerchief joined your menu guide in a place of honour on my dresser, it will be used only on exceptional occasions deserving such high esteem. I hope that my letter arrived in time and that the needle of the barometer did not move during the transport. If it did, put it back in the place where you know best it belongs. By the way, you know now what L K means, don’t you? With best wishes for the New Year, and a special wish for both of us: that we can spend a lot of it together!

Lovingly,

Vlado

When I read this last letter for the first time, I was really frustrated, because the initials “LK” are engraved on a few things, and I still don’t know what that means! After 1952, there is not much romance to be found, until 1957, when Vlado meets Mary Liz. Those letters will be posted next, in a series.

Respect For The Word

Vlado and Hammarskjold full image

Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity — intellectual, emotional, and moral.
Respect for the word — to employ it with scrupulous care and in incorruptible heartfelt love of truth — is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.
To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution.
“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men speak…”

~ Dag Hammarskjold “Markings”

This Christmas, I bought myself a copy of Conor Cruise O’Brien’s TO KATANGA AND BACK, and the first thing I did was look for Vladimir Fabry in the index. This is what I found on pages 70-71:

Another important figure on the 6th floor at this time was Vladimir Fabry, an American citizen of Croat origin and ONUC’s legal adviser (‘Special Councelor’). Fabry was a thin-faced young man with a frequent but unamused smile and a stoop brought on by unremitting work. Even in an organization where all the key people worked excessively hard (surrounded, for no apparent reason, by large numbers of non-key officials who seemed to do no work at all) Fabry’s industry stood out. He slept little, he read nothing for pleasure, he had no vices or other hobbies, he simply worked – fourteen to eighteen hours a day. Dealing with paper he was accurate, penetrating and happy; with people he seemed on edge, as if he found them distressingly large and imprecise; and this was especially true of his relations with M Poujoulat. At this time, on first meeting Fabry, I was taken aback, mistaking his uneasy, abstracted air for personal hostility. Later, I came to respect his clarity of mind and to appreciate, and even admire, his lonely integrity. ‘I am an anti-social person’, he told me once, with melancholy pride. It was not true, but what was social in him – his fierce drive to bring some tidiness and predictability into the activities of man – took the impersonal form of a shy, jealous, exclusive loyalty to the abstract and developing idea of the United Nations. It is not unfitting that he should have met his death as he did, on the flight towards Ndola, working for Hammarskjold.

While I agree with a few things he said about Vlado, so much of this is just O’Brien’s opinion, and he doesn’t bother to fact check. Vlado is not “of Croat origin”, he was born in Liptovský Svätý Mikuláš, in the former Czechoslovakia. There is no doubt Vlado was working hard and sleeping little when O’Brien met him – considering the pressure of the situation in the Congo, Vlado was compelled to sacrifice his social life for a greater cause – but O’Brien really didn’t know Vlado as well as he thought he did.
Here are two photos of Vlado at work:
Vlado at work
Here he is in Egypt, taking in the sights:
Vlado in Egypt

Here are two letters of condolence from September 1961, from friends who knew and loved Vlado:

52 Champs Elysees
Paris

My Dear Friends,
Although it may seem selfish, I think the best way I can express my condolence and my sympathy to you is to tell you what Vlado meant to me.
I won’t tell you how much admiration or respect or affection I felt for him. I will tell you only that I think I can honestly say I considered him my best friend – and I was proud of knowing him: and I can say that all the more validly because I knew his faults as well as his virtues. I am very well acquainted with loneliness – but the thought of losing Vlado makes me feel even lonelier.
Please believe that just as I share your grief and sorrow at losing him, so also, since you can be very proud of him, I feel privileged to be able to share, even a little bit, your pride.
With very deep sorrow,
Peter Kenton

United Nations
New York, NY

Dear Olga,
I want to offer you my help in any way I can give it.
He was loved by so many people; he was kind and honest and strong, very strong.
He told me that memories are good to have. He lived with high standards and he died for them. He worked tirelessly in Gaza and the Congo. No tribute will be adequate to his merits.
I write this from his office here, where he spent many evenings alone. He said he liked thick walls and solitude, music and ideas. Of course he was also, at times, very gay, full of the joy of living.
Please accept my silent condolence to you and your mother.
Cynthia Knuth

And from the UNEF weekly, THE SAND DUNE, September 22, 1961, here is a tribute to Vlado from friends who understood his devotion to the UN:

With the sudden death in Congo of Vladimir Fabry UN has lost a distinguished and devoted son. Until his recently acquired US citizenship he had no country but UN to which he gave that same fierce loyalty with which he had served his own land. He was a sagacious lawyer, a skillful negotiator and a indefatigable worker for whom time did not exist. There were many Fabrys. The scholar and man of affairs who in his twenties had managed a huge industrial combine. The fighter whose activities sent him to exile. The mountaineer, skier, gourmet and music lover who was fluent in nine or ten languages and had knowledge of as many countries. He was an epitome of European culture.
We in the UNEF will remember Vlad not only for the work he did here but for his personal quirks. His hatred of the sea which did not prevent daily voyages on an air mattress. His pull ups on door lintels to tone the Mountaineer’s arm muscles and controlled skidding on sand to remind him of skiing. His undisguised joy in good food, good wine and good conversation, all of which he delighted to provide. No matter how busy, he could always find time to advise and aid anybody, no matter how humble, who had any problem. He was unassuming, courteous, exquisitely polite and we will never forget him.

Sand Dune Sept 1961 2
Sand Dune Sept 1961