…can’t you see he’s busy reading?
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.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and here is a letter of great desperation written by Vlado’s sister, Olga Fabry – who was still a stateless political refugee at the time of his death – asking Constantin Stavropoulos to help her obtain a professional position at the U. N. Library in Geneva. With both her father and her brother gone, she suddenly had to financially support her mother and herself, and that meant being bold and asking every important person she knew for help. This letter was translated from French:
Oct. 10, 1961
Allow me to thank you again for your presence at Vlado’s funeral and for your lovely speech to the church. Your presence was a great comfort to my mother so painfully struck by the cruel loss of her beloved son.
Maman has been admirable until now, but the much dreaded reaction unfortunately has already started to manifest itself. It’s a bit too much for her and for me, especially since Christmas, when Papa died, we had only Vladko for our support. Vladko was our support, notre soutient, our everything, in this world in which we are already deprived of homeland and family. Now we have also lost Vladko, so tragically, so brutally and it seems the ravine of misery and despair appears to engulf us slowly…. Mother is even more saddened and upset since she was always so opposed to his mission in Congo, especially so soon after the death of my father.
Even in New York in the Spring, you were out, I think, she asked M. Schachter could Vladko return as soon as possible. She has been very worried and unhappy ever since Vladko has been in Congo, as if she had a presentiment… She showed me now the copies of letters she wrote to you and Mr. Schachter when Vladko was sent to Congo; he knew nothing of these letter, but she had felt something, and she wanted to do everything for him to return… alas, he left his life there.
Now we have, in our present so heavy, such desperation to take care of our future.
After talks with the Head of Naturalization in Geneva, I obtained a promise of Swiss naturalization on the condition of having employment at the United Nations in Geneva.
I went to see the director of the Library of the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Breycha Vauthier, who told me of a professional vacancy in the library. He told me he would like very much that I take this position, because I have already worked in the Library of the United Nations in Geneva, I know the languages and that New York always sends someone who is not proficient, who does not know the languages and of which one wants to get rid of.
As I have already worked temporarily on several occasion in the Library, I have already a good experience and thorough knowledge of the functioning of the U.N. Library in Geneva. I’ve even done my diploma work. In addition, my experience in the United States where I am “Head Librarian”, my development from below can only speak in favor of my professional competence. In New York I hold a professional position and my salary is equivalent to that of P II in the United Nations.
Mr. Breycha told me he would write to Mr. Palthey in New York to recommend me from the professional point of view; the professional positions, as you know perhaps, are decided in New York. Mr. Marx told me that he would write to New York to recommend me, so to speak from a point of view of moral obligation of the United Nations to my mother and to Vlado.
If difficulties arise, if there are problems to vanquish, it must be overcome. It must make an exception this time, even if the United Nations have never done it before. Vlado, as you said yourself in your speeches, has rendered outstanding service to the United Nations, and everyone knows how and how much he worked, all that he has so generously given: his brilliant intellect, his intelligence of the heart, his multiple talents, his devotion, and ultimately the sacrifice of his life so young, all to the United Nations.
My mother may have only a few years left to live and I would like to make her life easier as much as possible and make it impossible for her not to suffer any more injustice or human wickedness. She would like to see me continue in some way not so nobly traced by her son and I would like to work in the institution and for its ideals for which Vladko sacrificed his young life.
Decisions for professional positions are taken in New York. Dear Costi, I pray you especially to do EVERYTHING for me to get this professional position in the Library of the U. N. in Geneva, I ask you on behalf of my poor mother so painfully affected and on behalf of our beloved Vladko of which you were a friend. I beg you to continue your friendship with Vladko and also for my mother and me and not abandon us in our hours so difficult to endure.
My thanks go out to you with all my heart for all your help and I ask you to receive, from my mother and me, our best wishes and memories.
I have not found the letter that Olga sent to Sture Linner, Head of UN Civilian Operations in the Congo, but he found the time to respond her request – even asking Ralph Bunch for his assistance!
UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION IN THE CONGO
19 October 1961
Dear Miss Fabry,
You and your Mother have been in my thoughts very much indeed all this dreadful time. I was so sorry not to be able to find you again on the eve of my departure, but I trust there will sooner or later be an opportunity for me to pass through Geneva and I shall then certainly be very happy to look you up.
I do wish with all my heart that you and your Mother may find strength to endure all the strain from which you must be suffering. Already from our brief encounter, I am convinced that you have the fortitude of character that will carry through even this ordeal.
As to your request for me to help you to obtain an assignment as a Librarian with the UN in Geneva, I took it up with Ambassador Spinelli during our trip from Geneva to Stockholm after you had first mentioned to me your wishes in this respect. Mr. Spinelli promised to do everything he could to obtain some such post for you, and I got the impression that the prospects were quite bright. On receipt of your letter, I have cabled Dr. Bunche in New York, quoting what you say and also reporting on my conversation with Mr. Spinelli. I am sure you realize that a decision on this matter is beyond my competence, but I trust that with a double approach thus having been made, to Mr. Spinelli and to Headquarters in New York, the matter will be settled to your satisfaction.
Please give your Mother my warmest regards.
Because of Olga’s intelligence and determination to survive, she was able to find work and take care of herself and her mother, and would eventually spend many years as Librarian at the U.N. Foundation Library in New York, as a citizen of the United States.
In a previous post, “A Desperate Personal Demand For Help”, I posted correspondence written by Vlado’s mother to UN legal counselors Oscar Schachter and Constantin Stavropoulos, where she asks them to reconsider Vlado’s assignment to the Congo. Her need for Vlado was understandable – the stress of losing her husband suddenly, inheriting the legal cases he was unable to finish, and her own poor health, seemed too much to bear alone. What is also understandable, was Vlado’s need for adventure, and to be useful to the United Nations, and to the world. Even the death of his beloved father could not slow down his work, he was devoted to the peaceful goals of the Organization.
Here is the response to Madame Fabry’s letter from Constantin “Costi” Stavropoulos:
THE LEGAL COUNSEL
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK
13 February 1961
I have received your letter of 2 February, and Mr. Schachter has communicated to me the letter you sent to him. We discussed all the questions that have been raised, and here are the results.
At the moment, it is absolutely essential that Vlado go to the Congo, even if it is only for three or four months. We had to recall the replacement person due to illness, and at the moment there is only Vlado who, among others, has the advantage of having the necessary experience of UNEF and also speaks French. Conversely, I can assure you that we will do everything possible so that he does not stay more than a few months.
However, I wish to point out that when Vlado leaves the Congo, he will be obliged, after a vacation, back in New York because we have no legal position in Geneva, and it would be impossible to create one, at least for the time being. Besides, even if there was a position, we consider that there would be incompatibility between his duties with the United Nations and the work that your husband could not finish. Vlado, for his part, has already raised this issue. I hope that, in collaboration with him, we can find a solution for him to deal with his father’s business.
Oscar and I have the friendliest of feelings for Vlado and also a lot of appreciation for his work. We want very much to do whatever we can to help in this situation, but the difficulties appear insurmountable. We deeply regret not being able to respond to your request at this time.
Please accept, dear Madame, the expression of our respectful regards.
The entire staff of the United Nations mourns the sudden and tragic death of the Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold, and our other colleagues who lost their lives in the service of the United Nations: Heinrich A. Wieschhoff, Vladimir Fabry, William Ranallo, Alice Lalande, Harold M. Julien, Serge L. Barrau and Francis Eivers.
Our deep sense of shock and grief on hearing of their passing is all the deeper because we knew and respected them as colleagues; because we knew, admired and shared, each in his or her own way, their devotion to the ideals of the United Nations. The entire staff of the Organization extends sincere condolences to their families in their sadness.
R.V. Klein, Chairman, Staff Committee
IN THIS HOUSE
During these somber days, many of us have known a feeling of unreality. The world’s tragedy is to us a most grievous personal loss, not easy to speak of and not easy to accept.
Never before has this house been so full of quiet sadness and never before have we had so little to say to each other.
At the bleak opening of the General Assembly we began to realize, as perhaps we had not before, how much of our identity as members of the Secretariat was found in Mr. Hammarskjold, head of this house.
Sometimes thankful for the work which has had to be done, sometimes unable to do it, we have struggled to persuade ourselves that the routine jobs are not so irrelevant and unimportant as they now seem, knowing quite well that the best way we can pay tribute to those who died is to draw strength from their example and carry on as usual–better than usual.
Captain Per Hallonquist
Captain Nils-Eric Aarhreus
2nd Pilot Lars Litton
Flight Engineer Nils Goran Wilhelmsson
Air Purser Harald Noork
Radio Operator Karl Erik Rosen
Warrant Officer S.O. Hjelte
Private P.E. Persson
These six members of the air crew and the two soldiers of the Swedish 11th Infantry Battalion serving with the ONUC were members of the Secretary-General’s team on his last flight. Their death is part of our great loss and we include their families, their friends and their countrymen in our thoughts.
We who labor “in this house” share with the whole of humanity the deep feeling of unbelief that our great and esteemed chief has been lost to us and to the world. He served humanity in the noble mission of peace and reconciliation as Secretary-General of the United Nations for eight years, five months and one week. His passing marks the close of an era of unparalleled richness — in the charting of new paths in diplomacy, in combining rare gifts of energy, wisdom and intelligence to bring crises under control and to promote programs for human betterment. Sometimes his methods had the charm and quality of a symphony; sometimes the decisive abruptness of the hammer on the anvil, but they were always calculated to gain high ends of which he never lost sight. If he had accomplished less, his epitaph might be that in opening up bold new vistas of international cooperation he belonged to a generation yet unborn. But his accomplishments are myriad–they are like snowflakes on a dotted landscape and the glistening white on the mountain peaks–countless small almost unnoticed achievements joined with decisively constructive results on great issues which only he could achieve by virtue of his office and of the rare natural gifts with which he was endowed. He belongs to our generation; he has carved his name in granite upon it; but he belongs equally to those who will come after us, benefiting by the lights he lit that can illumine their way.
He was both actor and interpreter; both history-maker and historian; with the Charter as his guide and resolutions as his directives, he mobilized and conducted the action with the scope and initiative that each situation required; his executive actions were an interpretation of the Charter which, together with his speeches and reports, gave the document a living quality of rich potentiality for the welfare of mankind.
His unflinching courage rested upon faith and his faith upon principles and ideals derived from a sturdy and valued heritage and an intellect alive with almost limitless appraisal of values with meaning for himself and humanity.
From that day–April 10, 1953–when he took his oath of office, his dedication to the task and his single-minded devotion to duty has inspired the staff and the wider world.
Although working often from dawn to midnight or in crises around the clock, he had time for wide cultural interests — in literature, drama, art and music — which were a source of constant pleasure to his associates in the United Nations family and an inspiration to the masters in these fields.
His deep inner stillness was a mainspring of his strength — a fortress so strong that disappointments, failures, setbacks and even personal attacks could not weaken his will or compromise his resolution to carry on his great task. His interest in the Meditation Room was a deeply personal one, not only aesthetic. He wrote the words on the entrance — “This is a room devoted to peace and those who are giving their lives for peace. It is a room of quiet where only thoughts should speak.” He went there frequently for quiet reflection, knowing that retreats into loneliness were a source of strength for the struggle.
Our sorrow and grief for the one who led and inspired us, extend equally to all those who died with him. In life, Heinz, Vladimir, Bill, Alive, Harry, Serge and Francis were selfless in their interests, devoted to their tasks and dedicated to the noble cause of peace which the United Nations represents. Along with him they will be hallowed in precious memory. In future it will be said of them that they died with their chief in the line of duty.
Let us not be ashamed to shed some tears over our loss, nor shrink from reflection of the void that has been created for us and the world, but let this be a part of our rededication to the task which he so nobly advanced. His concern for the staff marked by two visits to all of our offices, and in countless other ways must now be matched by our increased concern for the future of the United Nations. His greatest concern would be that the staff should carry on with new resolve and in a spirit of magnificent cooperation. Our greatest tribute to him will be our continuing individual and collective efforts, by following his glorious example, to strengthen the edifice of peace.
His words taken from the pamphlet that he wrote for visitors to the Meditation Room, now have a prophetic meaning, a charge from him to all of us: “It is for those who come here to fill the void with what they find in their center of stillness.”
— Andrew Cordier
There are many, I am sure, who knew him longer. I would claim, however, that there cannot be many who could have admired and respected him more.
He was, to all appearance, cold, aloof and remote. And yet I have seen him time and again show a compassion for human frailty and an understanding of human foibles which made him more human than anyone could have guessed.
Flattery angered him. And yet, when some of his colleagues showed an understanding of the subtlety of his ways, he was genuinely pleased.
Subtle he was–so subtle that one sometimes wondered what he meant when he said something. And he never said a foolish word.
He was one of nature’s aristocrats–with a contempt for anything that was a sham or in the least shoddy or second rate.
He had a mind which could grasp a complicated problem at one go; at the same time he had a mastery of detail which was phenomenal.
His hospitality knew no limits. He was generous and forgiving, even to a fault.
In the pursuit of his goals he was clear headed and quick, sometimes seemingly too quick. But then, in this pursuit, while his speed was tempered by his political judgement, he never allowed expediency to slow him down or give him second thoughts.
He was a tireless worker. His stamina was truly astonishing. It was difficult for most of his colleagues even to keep up with him.
He made a unique contribution to the theory of internationalism. In this regard, the Introduction to the Annual Report, every word of which he wrote himself, may well be regarded as his last Will and Testament.
He died, as he lived in the last eight years and more, in quest of peace.
His death, so sudden and so cruel, is a tragic loss not only to the United Nations whose prestige he raised to such heights, but to the entire world.
—C. V. Narasimhan
Almost everyone in the Secretariat knew Bill and many of us had the privilege of working with him. Probably no other member of the staff had so many warm friends. And every one of us remembers some act of kindness, of thoughtfulness, of genuine friendship that Bill rendered for us without fanfare of any sort, readily and cheerfully.
As I write this I am wearing a pair of glasses with a very peculiar frame, one side of it held together with a screw. My frame broke last Thursday. There was no time to go to an optician. Bill undertook to fix it then and there, and although he was preparing to leave on his trip with the Secretary-General, he insisted on doing it, because he said it would not be safe to drive home at night with a broken frame.
So many of us will remember him not in generalities but in a multitude of similar acts of thoughtfulness. The son of one of our colleagues will remember him as the man who fixed his toys. Others will remember his sound practical advice on what to do, whom to see, where to go, how to cope with a difficult problem. Many a staff member will remember him for the interest he took when they were in trouble and the discreet and tactful way in which he helped. Bill made it his job to be open and sensitive to the needs of all his colleagues.
William J. Ranallo was born on February 21, 1922, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked at the Sperry Gyroscope Plant at Lake Success and from 1942 to 1946 served in the United States Army. One of his assignments was as chauffeur and guard at the estate of President Roosevelt at Hyde Park. In March 1946 he joined the Secretariat.
At first Bill was assigned as personal chauffeur to the Secretary-General. Because of his outstanding personal qualities, his efficiency, his thoroughness, his devotion to his duties and his complete dependability, Mr. Lie appointed him as his Personal Aide.
Mr. Hammarskjold gave him still larger responsibilities, particularly in connexion with security arrangements for the Secretary-General both at Headquarters and on his numerous trips. He accompanied the Secretary-General on all his missions and he grew in stature with his job. He had a rare quality of fitting in perfectly into all sorts of unusual situations. He was easily at home at formal receptions, with heads of State and other top officials of Member Governments, among security officers in the various capitals, among civilian colleagues and among the Field Service staff on UN missions.
He met people face to face, directly, straight-forwardly, with a delicately balanced combination of due regard for their official position and genuine interest in them as human beings. And this is why he was never at a loss for something interesting to say to them, or to contribute, at the right moment, to the general talk. His good humour was never-failing. It was a part of the energy and personal warmth he brought to his job. Above all, he was wholly dedicated to his task, that of assisting his chief, the man who bore so heavy a burden of history, in all the thousands of daily arrangements, to guard him against petty annoyances and irritations, and above all to guard his life.
To Bill’s father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. N. Ranallo, his wife, Eleanor, his son, Richard and his step-sons, Richard A. Gaal and William H. Gaal, the members of the Secretariat extend their deepest sympathy.
HEINRICH A. WIESCHHOFF
Heinrich A. Wieschhoff was Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary, Department of Political and Security Council Affairs. He joined the United Nations Secretariat in 1946 with a most distinguished record of African studies behind him, both at the University of Pennsylvania and with the United States Government, and spent fourteen years in the Department of Trusteeship where he rose from consultant to Director. Called upon to organize research surveys on Trust Territories, he soon was playing an increasingly important role in all aspects of Trusteeship affairs. He was one of the leaders among the group of officials who built up the Department and helped to guide it in its far-flung activities until it can now look forward to the completion of its mission under the Charter.
His unequaled experience and wide contacts with African political leaders led him to be called upon increasingly with regard to the political problems that would arise for the United Nations in connexion with the accession of many African colonies to independent Statehood. It was therefore natural that the Secretary-General should turn to him in connexion with African affairs as that continent, with its many problems, burst into the forefront of world politics. He accompanied Mr. Hammarskjold on most of his trip through Africa in the winter of 1960. Subsequently, he was appointed Director of the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs.
Mr. Wieschhoff became one of the Secretary-General’s most intimate political advisers on Africa, assisting in the formulation of Congo policies and other African questions in regard to which political responsibilities devolved upon the the Secretary-General.
Mr. Wieschhoff was wholly devoted to the United Nations and to the cause of peace. He had a brilliantly sharp and penetrating mind which he applied not only to the analysis of political processes, but also to creative political action in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter.
He was a scholar, a man subject to the discipline involved in the pursuit of truth in the way of the scholar. The scholar’s discipline is sometimes stern and this was typical of Wieschhoff. He was an exacting taskmaster, particularly towards himself. He was always on guard against any kind of falsity or pretense. This at times caused him to be falsely judged as cynical. Those who knew him well saw beneath the gruff exterior, the man of high principle and lofty ideals. Many of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy his personal friendship will never forget his charm and kindness.
He worked a regular seven-day and seven-evening week, seldom took more than a few days’ leave, yet always maintained his dynamism, his good spirits, and his ability to act creatively and purposefully for the cause of peace. He was a leader among men, a valued and respected chief, and to many, a dear friend.
His untimely death has left a tragic void in the Secretariat, but especially in a closely knit family. In their hour of anguish, Virginia Wieschhoff and their three children, Heinrich, Eugenia and Virginia, know that the rich heritage which he has left them cannot be erased even by death.
Throughout her many years with the United Nations, most of them spent in the field, Alice never allowed hard work, physical hardship, or personal danger disturb her serene conviction that the job at hand must be done: now and well.
To those who worked with her, she will remain a source of inspiration as the devoted, self-possessed and unobtrusively efficient colleague that she was. For her many friends, the memory of a delicate, understanding and warm human being lives on. Who could forget her quiet smile, her ready response to a witty remark, the gay sparkle in her eyes?
Alice traveled the world in service of the United Nations. As secretary to Count Folke Bernadotte, UN Mediator in Palestine, she was on the Island of Rhodes and the borders of Syria and Lebanon when the armistice agreements were signed in 1948. She worked in Palestine for General Riley, UNTSO Chief of Staff, and for his successor, General Vagn Bennike. At the first and second UN International Conferences on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, Alice was secretary to Professor Whitman, the first Secretary-General, and to Dr. Eklund, the second. She also served with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at Headquarters, at UNESCO in Paris, and as an Administrative Assistant with the Preparatory Commission and first General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Alice is also remembered with warm affection in Gaza where she was secretary to Brigadier-General Rikhye, UNEF Chief of Staff, and in the Congo where she worked first for Ambassador Dayal and later for Dr. Sture Linner, Officer-in-Charge of the UN Operation in the Congo. While on duty in the Congo she accompanied Mr. Hammarskjold on one of his trips to South Africa.
We all share her family’s deep sense of bereavement. To those who were so dear to Alice–her father, her sister, Annette, and her brother, Abbé Lalande — goes our heartfelt sympathy in a loss which is also ours.
Dr. Vladimir Fabry, who spent almost all of his professional life in devoted and active service for the United Nations, combined to an unusual degree intellectual and physical vigor with personal charm and warmth.
When, in 1946 at the age of 25, he came to the United Nations, he held a Doctorate in Law and Political Science from the Slovak University and had completed graduate studies in Economics at the University of Bratislava; he had served in the Czech resistance movement during German occupation, had taken part in organizing the new Czech Government in liberated areas, and had been the Executive Assistant to the Minister of Commerce.
His adaptability, sound judgement and capacity for hard work made him a singularly valuable officer for mission duty, and his assignment were many and of ever-increasing responsibility. Among these were his two years’ service as Legal Affairs Officer with the Security Council’s Committee of Good Offices in the Indonesian Question in 1948, service on the UN Plebiscite in Togoland under UK administration and his particularly responsible and successful work in the Suez Canal Clearance operations for which he was commended by General Wheeler, the Secretary-General’s special representative. His service as Legal and Political Adviser with UNEF in the Middle East was, early this year, cut short by his being sent to Léopoldville as Legal Adviser with the UN Operations in the Congo, in which capacity he was accompanying the Secretary-General to Ndola on 18 September.
To his more difficult tasks Dr. Fabry brought the disciplined energy, courage, and careful preparation characteristic of a serious mountain climber–which, in fact, he was.
An enthusiastic sportsman — expert skier and horseman as well as mountaineer — Dr. Fabry was concerned to share these interests and, far from scorning the beginners or less agile among his friends and co-workers, encouraged them. He himself frequently enjoyed a solitary climb to his office on the thirty-fourth floor, a feat discovered by a colleague who, after seeing him emerge from a staircase door, jokingly asked whether he had walked upstairs and was answered with a quick smile and “yes”.
The loss of a man of such buoyant spirit, serious purpose and personal warmth leaves his colleagues and and friends sadly bereft. They share and sympathize with the great sorrow of Mrs. Fabry, his mother, and his sister, Olga.
SERGE L. BARRAU
Serge Barrau joined the UN Field Service only four months ago and was immediately assigned to service with the UN Operation in the Congo. We at Headquarters did not have the privilege of knowing him, but his friend from childhood, Serge Beaulieu of the Field Operations Service, has given us this portrait of him:
[Translated from French-T.B.]
Serge and I were childhood friends. In Port-au-Prince, his parents lived on the Rue Capois, which was the meeting place for all young people and very often the point of departure for the creation of all kinds of clubs, literary, sports and worldly. When it came to cultural events, sports or worldly, it was safe to rely of the presence and collaboration of Serge.
Strong-muscled, medium-sized, always a little smile drawn with languorous eyes under an imposing profile, he was loved by all. He had a passion for physical fitness. In football, which was also one of his favorite sports, he had the physical superiority which resulted in making him a feared and competent player. Above all, Serge Barrau was an intelligent element that could boast to have belonged to the true conscious intellectual youth of Haiti.
In spite of all these qualities and advantages, Serge was modest. He had tact, discipline in ideas, logic, which made him the arbiter in all discussions.
Separated after our studies, we met again in May this year on mission for the United Nations Organization, in Léopoldville. We had so much to say on that day. He told me about his activities in New York, his stay in the US Army where he performed his military service, his travels in Asia, particularly in Japan, where he received the baptism of fire, during a particularly dangerous drive, of moving crawling under machine gun fire, wherein the slightest imprudence can cost you your life; this training, he told me, this is my pass to the Congo. He was happy to be at the UN, to see me and to know Africa, the Africa of our ancestors.
It did not take long to prove his abilities in the UN Security Office where, newly arrived, he was assigned as assistant-investigator responsible for protecting the United Nations staff in trouble with the police.
Serge did not talk much, he did not trust himself to everyone, but he had an ideal, he wanted the initials of his name to be an example of courage and virtue to youth entire. That’s why I take pleasure in repeating his phrase which has become a reality.
S.B. – Serge Barrau – Servir bien
All his friends and colleagues express deep sympathy to Serge’s mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Barrau, and to his brothers and sisters in their great loss.
When Harry Julien left the United States Marine Corps and joined the UN Security Force in 1952 he felt that he had found a new opportunity for service, one to be looked upon as a “great challenge”. He never lost this attitude towards his job, though he seldom spoke of it. It was in this spirit that he accepted a years’ assignment to the Spinelli Mission in Jordan in 1958 and to the Congo Mission in July of last year.
He was an active man with wide interests, among which the Marine Corps stood high. The saying “once a Marine always a Marine” was particularly true of him. He was an enthusiastic athlete, a fine swimmer and diver.
From choice he became an “outside man” on the Guard Force and so a familiar figure on First Avenue to all of us. Familiar too, in the Staff Council, was his determination that the Guard Force should be “the best it could be”; to this idea he was dedicated. He had a warm interest in other people and a very human approach which made him exceedingly good at his job. He thought little of personal comfort and, whatever the weather or his hours of duty, he was always the same, a man of natural good humour and kindliness with a cheerful smile.
In losing him, we all share the sorrow of his mother and father, his widow, Maria, and his sons, Michael and Richard.
Frank Eivers, an unassuming, soft-spoken Irishman from Bally Bay and the Dublin Police Force, joined the UN Field Service in 1956. Those who worked with him during the four years he served with UNTSO in Jerusalem and the year he served in the UN Mission in the Congo speak with admiration of his outer gentleness and inner strength, “a thread of steel”, which made him into a man who met crisis with calm, personal hardship with philosophical humour, and the need of a friend with generous and utterly reliable friendship.
Frank was a methodical man–with a whimsical sense of fun. He was a keen player of Gaelic football and endowed with extraordinary physical grace. He was also a splendid cook and his friends say with affection that only an Irish imagination could have invented some of his ways with fish.
He is remembered, too, for a most loyal devotion to his job; for many small, unselfish acts of kindness to his colleagues, and for the quiet “God bless” with which he closed every conversation.
Frank was married only one month ago, and it is with great personal sadness that we express our heartfelt sympathy to his widow, Marie, to his mother and father and sisters in the loss which we share.
The Sixteenth Session of the General Assembly met last week in the shadow of tragedy, stricken by profound grief at the death of Mr. Hammarskjold and those members of the staff who died with him in the service of the United Nations.
Not in this Organization only, but in every corner of the troubled world, men now mourn his death because by dint of unceasing labour and selfless devotion he had come in himself to embody the ideals of the United Nations.
For all of us the task is heavier and the road darker without his courage and wisdom and without the devotion of his companions in death.
Shock and grief have shaken us to the heart, yet we must not permit them to weaken our resolve. The world pays its heartfelt tribute of grief, in which we join: but for those who had the honour of working closely with him, and especially the Secretariat, to whom his example was a perpetual inspiration, there is granted the privilege of offering a more fitting homage. It is to be rededicated to the unfinished work he and his companions had so far nobly advanced. This of all tributes is the one he would have most honouored and desired.
Let us, therefore, resolve to be worthy of the vocation to which we are called. Let his own words, addressed on the eve of his final mission, to the Secretariat in which he took such pride, and which he had sought to model in the image of his high view of its destiny, become the watchword for the future. Let all “maintain their professional pride, their sense of purpose, and their confidence in the higher destiny of the Organization itself, by keeping to the highest standards of personal integrity in their conduct as international civil servants and in the quality of the work that they turn out on behalf of the Organization”.
His death will not be the pointless and cruel calamity it now seems if everyone now stunned by grief determines to bend every effort to strengthen the United Nations as an instrument of peace.
As President of the General Assembly I can ask nothing more of the Secretariat than that with his example fresh in your minds you should resolve to set your feet firmly on the hard but rewarding path marked out by his wisdom and high purpose. I am confident that you will do so.
When reading biographies, I’m always disappointed when letters are quoted in part and not printed in full, because I’m interested in even the mundane details of a life. Vlado’s life was anything but mundane in 1957, and his letters tell a great story – Mary Liz was just one part of it. I’ve also included here correspondence from General R. A. Wheeler (a.k.a. “Speck”), Oscar Schachter, Vlado’s sister Olga (Olinka – who we learn has had a head injury that postpones a wedding to man she later decides not to marry); and Don Sullivan, who sent a poorly phrased letter that pushed an exhausted Vlado too far, showing that even someone as intelligent and respected as Vlado had his bouts of insecurity. And though I have not included the letters of Vlado’s Maminka and Tatulo, they make an appearance here in their own charming way.
9 May 1957
Thank you for your letter of 29 April. We had been wondering why we had not heard from you for so long a time, but I am glad to learn at long last that you had a particularly enjoyable assignment and that you found General Wheeler and the rest of the group so congenial. You may recall my discounting the story which you got about possible difficulties in working with the General. I am glad that your relations turned out to be as I anticipated. Stavropoulos told me that you had requested about five weeks’ leave and I am certainly agreeable to your taking it. I am terribly sorry to learn of Olga’s accident but I hope that by this time she has entirely recovered. We had heard somewhat indirectly about the forthcoming wedding but we were not quite sure of the date. I hope you found your parents well and in good spirits. Please give all of the family our warm regards. We look forward to seeing you on June 20th.
Dr. Vladimir Fabry
14 Chemin Thury
UNITED NATIONS SUEZ CANAL CLEARANCE GROUP
15 April 1957
Dear Mr. Fabry:
Mr. and Mrs. Connors and I cordially invite you to buffet supper at our residence at 6:00 p.m. Sunday, 21 April.
As we near the end of our Mission here, we wish to express our sincerest appreciation for your loyal and efficient assistance throughout our strenuous task. It will be a great pleasure for us if you are able to come to our farewell party.
Will you kindly let Miss Picard know if you can come.
With best wishes,
R. A. Wheeler
Special Representative of the
Mr. Vladimir Fabry,
16 April 1957
Vlado darling –
Just wanted to wish you a Happy Easter! And tell you that a package is on its way to you. However, I had it planned so that you would get it on the 20th and now I see in your last letter that you’ll be leaving Egypt on just that date. Honestly, I could scream! Aside from that, I think it’s wonderful that you[‘re] leaving – finally.
– Have a good vacation –
6 MAY 1957
PEREZGUERRERO UNTAB CAIRO
FOR FABRY FROM GENERAL WHEELER
QUOTE MOST ENJOYABLE VISIT WITH YOUR PARENTS AT AIRPORT ALSO WITH SECGEN AND DOCTOR BUNCHE WHO LEARNED MY ARRIVAL THROUGH TELEPHONE CALL TO UNATIONS HEADQUARTERS BY YOUR MOTHER STOP DISCUSSED OUR OPERATIONS FOR TWO HOURS WITH SECGEN AT AIRPORT STOP INFORMED HIM MANY THINGS WE DISCUSSED BUT STILL PLENTY FOR YOU TO DISCUSS BUT DON’T BELIEVE HE WILL REMAIN LONGER THAN ONE WEEK HOWEVER NOT URGENT SINCE CAN WAIT UNTIL YOUR RETURN STOP THANKS YOUR HELP ON MY DEPARTURE STOP BEST WISHES FOR HAPPY HOLIDAY UNQUOTE
6 May 1957
I hope you had a good trip, arrived safely and found everything just as you expected. Your poor little left-over here is quite busy and rather sad; Egypt and life in general without you just isn’t quite the same.
Nothing in particular happened since your departure except that two packages arrived with some workshop instruments. Basil just came from Ismaïlia; everybody there remembers you and of course they all miss UNSCO and you in particular. I reviewed and revised the Syllabus and it is being typed now. If we can finish typing it before the pouch closes, you will find it enclosed, if not it will have to wait until the next pouch. Yesterday and today I worked on Chapter XV – Administration and Finance and tonight I plan to tackle the concluding chapter. I will send you a copy of both separately with Friday’s pouch to complete your set of the provisional draft of the report.
I am enclosing the clippings of two articles from local papers which I think might be of interest to you. I spoke this morning with Aly Khalil and he will send to you an English summary of any interesting articles that appeared in the Egyptian press at the occasion of your departure. I am also enclosing the apportionment of cost of hire of salvage vessels to the individual wrecks, but unless you cable me and instruct me so, I shall not append this information to the report. Whoever wants to take the trouble can prepare a table for himself from the operational chart of work done on the wrecks. Your two albums received from Col Younes were given to the Information Centre for pouching whenever their weight permits.
I think that’s about all, except for my best wishes for a very pleasant vacation.
P.S. I sent a little thank you note and a few flowers to Mrs. Idriss also in the name of all the others who were invited on Friday afternoon; I am mentioning this only so that you are not surprised if you hear about it.
10 May 1957
Please find enclosed two copies of the revised draft of the Syllabus, as well as two copies of the first draft of Chapters XV XVI of the report. The only gap in the report now is the description of the “extraordinary feats” of our salvage crews in Chapter XVI, paragraph 5, which as you may remember, Jack Connors undertook to provide; I might try my hand on it when preparing the final draft. If you have any comments to make on what I said in these two chapters, please cable me.
I worked quite hard since you left and spent all my days and evenings in the office. But my work is progressing very slowly and I am still only about halfway through the report. There are so many things that give rise to second thoughts or flash danger signals when re-read, that making a second draft is nearly like writing the report anew. I am also trying to work out the language so that it would require minimum changes when the draft is finalized at Headquarters. I expect and hope to be able to send you the complete revised draft by next Friday’s pouch. As agreed, I will send a copy to you directly to Washington; three copies to you at Headquarters in a sealed envelope to be held until your arrival; and one copy to be held at the UN for Mr. Connors.
Thank you for your kind cable from Paris. I also got a letter from my mother who of course is enthusiastic about you but felt very sorry for you that you were deprived of your nap during the Geneva stopover.
You have probably read about the Secretary-General’s visit to the Middle East. I have asked Shastri to bring to the Secretary-General’s attention my presence here and my availability to report to him on UNSCO if he so wished, and also obtained the necessary visa so as to be ready to travel to Beirut or Jerusalem at a moment’s notice. But there was no reaction to my message so far and I assume that he has probably too many other things on his mind right now. In any event, by your meeting with him in Geneva the need for an immediate oral report has, I believe, been largely obviated.
I hope you don’t mind my bombarding you with papers during your vacation. After all, you don’t have to read them.
14 May 1957
You’re probably thinking that I’m very silly for bringing this up, but I can’t help thinking it’s important — polio vaccination. Everyone here is getting vaccinated (that is, everyone under 40) so I think if you can, you should. The germs have to go somewhere & they’re going to be a lot more virile too. Of course you’re healthy and never catch anything but since everyone else is doing it…..(that’s what the doctors say).
It’s going to be so good to see you again Vlado — I can hardly believe it’s only a few more weeks. We’ve got so much lost time to make up.
Wish I had time for more but I’m on my way to work now and have to dash.
Take it easy on those Swiss mountains.
Love from Mary Liz
16 May 1957
DRACO 253 FOR FABRY FROM WHEELER
GRATEFUL YOUR LETTER TEN MAY STOP EVEN BACK HOME WITH ALL ITS PLEASURES I STILL FIND MY PRIORITY INTEREST IS YOUR WORK IN CAIRO STOP YOUR DRAFTS ARE MOST EXCELLENT AND YOUR PROGRESS PHENOMENAL STOP WILL BE PLEASED TO RECEIVE COMPLETE REVISED DRAFT STOP SECGEN HAS APPROVED MY LEAVE TILL JUNE FIRST WHEN I WILL RETURN NEWYORK STOP HOPE VERY MUCH YOU CAN SOON BEGIN YOUR LEAVE WHICH YOU HAVE SO WELL EARNED BEST WISHES
23 May 1957
Dear Mr. Fabry:
Since I have returned to New York I have been doing some of the completion work required here in the Suez Canal Office. Unfortunately, the question has arisen here by others on the date you were supposed to depart from Cairo. My only reply was that according to the best of my knowledge you were due to depart from Cairo approximately 10 May or the latest 12 May and had planned to spend just a couple of days visiting Luxor. I was advised today that on 20 May you were still in Cairo and were planning to leave there on 22 May. This was quite a surprise to me, but my only reply can be that any arrangements about your delay must be due to a special arrangement with General Wheeler in connection with the report. However, you know that it is rather difficult for us to visualize what type situation developed which required your stay in Cairo as late as 22 May.
In a letter received today by Mr. Frerker it was noted that you planned to arrive Monday or Tuesday in Rotterdam. Therefore I am writing this letter to you via the Information Officer in order that it may reach you on Monday. I have been instructed to inform you that you are to finish your work within two days in Rotterdam and mail all papers in your possession to me here at Headquarters. As a result we will assume you are on annual leave beginning Wednesday, 29 May. Furthermore, relative to your extended stay in Cairo from 10 or 12 May to 22 May, I think, for per diem purposes, you should submit a report on your requirements for your continued stay in Cairo. Pending the receipt of this report I have no alternative but to consider your stay in Cairo from 12 May to 22 May as on personal annual leave.
I am sorry to have to write you this type of letter, but when we discussed this matter in Cairo I told you at that time that the officials at Headquarters take a rather serious view of mission personnel staying in the area beyond the agreed departure time, unless there is adequate and full justification.
26 May 1957
You’re post-card arrived on Friday as a big surprise. Here I was thinking you were enjoying yourself in Europe when all the time you were slaving away in Egypt. I would have written if I knew you were still there but I figured that, since you were on vacation and with your family etc., you wouldn’t miss not getting a letter from me. Thank you for that particular card, too.
Also I feel that anything I may write seems so trite, especially compared with what you would tell me. I mean, there you are making history and really tidying up this world of ours and here I am telling you about the latest movie I’ve seen. Which reminds me that Karol took me out a while ago and we saw the “Bachelor Party” – very good, people were so real. But before we left each other (to go home) he asked me to try & arrange something with Helse – just the three of us. And I did – about 3 weeks ago we went out & had a very good time. First to the Beekman Towers for a drink, then to Gay Vienna, & we had dessert at the Cafe Geiger. It’s fun playing cupid.
Actually, the last movie I saw was “The Mountain” and thought it good from the climbing point of view and the photography but the main character was a little too good to be true. I just couldn’t believe it was Spencer Tracy either.
But I do other things besides go to the movies, I assure you. Just finished Greene’s “The Quiet American” & was very amused, although I realize he must have been feeling sort of bitter when he wrote it. Yet I can’t help feeling that he does like us after all. (Maybe I say that because I’m just like a lot of Americans who can’t see why they should have any enemies.) But there was one part I liked & that reminded me of someone I know. He is describing the girl he’s in love with (she is Vietnamese) & how “…she is wonderfully ignorant. If you were speaking of General Thế [leader of Vietnamese forces] in a conversation, she’d interrupt to ask who he was.”
It had a happy ending, which was nice. Some people say he’s pessimistic – I don’t know as all I ever read by him was some short stories and the “End of the Affair.” I must read The Heart of the Matter, tho.
Hope you come home early in July since I’ll be going away the 29th to Cape Cod but not with the family (they were so vague about when they would go, I went ahead & made plans with a girlfriend). We’ve got to go hiking together!
I’ve been waiting to wear your skirt till you return but I’ve shown it to all my friends & they all agree that it’s just beautiful. I don’t know who actually purchased it and whether you mentioned whom it was for but you may tell the person who bought it that I appreciate and enjoy it so much. Thank you again, you’re a prince.
All my love,
Remember what you said before you left about keeping to myself. You know, I am (in the way I think you meant) but not just because you said so, but because I want to.
Rotterdam, 6 June 1957
I trust you have received my letter from Athens and I hope you were able to decipher it. It took me nearly a week to shake off my flu – I would probably not have had the patience to stay in bed that long, but my mother was with me and I had to obey higher authority. She also convinced me that it would not make sense to fly off to Rotterdam on a Friday and we spent three wonderful days in Rhodos, basking in the sun and enjoying the sea and sights. As it turned out, there was no need for me to have a guilty conscience about delaying the Salvor’s operational report: it is still in preparation, and only today was I able to see the draft of its third section. I was pleased to note that our information is more accurate in many respects that that available to Salvors, and the comparison of our draft reports was decidedly not a one-sided affair. I am writing to you under separate cover on the results of my inquiries here.
I had a very disagreeable surprise upon my arrival here: a letter from Mr. Sullivan informing me “that it is rather difficult to visualize what type situation developed which required your stay in Cairo as last as 22 May” and that he has no alternative “but to consider your stay in Cairo from 12 to 22 May as on personal annual leave”. Mr. S. instructed me to finish my work in Rotterdam within two days and to mail all papers in my possession to him. He told me that officials at HQ take “a serious view” of mission personnel extending their stay without adequate justification; the whole tenor of the letter clearly indicates that I am very much in the dog-house.
I feel quite certain that Mr. S’s letter was not written on your instructions. In any case, I can’t believe that you would have such a low opinion of my honesty and loyalty to my duties to have authorized a letter questioning my integrity and placing a black mark on my record. I have swallowed quietly and without complaint many an undeserved slight and insult caused to me, and I always tried to assuage the feelings of other mission personnel when they were incensed by Mr. Sullivan’s tactlessness or arbitrary manners. But this time I was too deeply hurt to let things pass without comment. It is not for me to say whether I managed to do an useful job, but I certainly worked hard and long hours up to exhaustion. Since you left Cairo, there was only one evening when I quit my desk before 2 a.m.; I did not even take the time to have a look at the museum or a haircut. I have of course no witness for the solitary evenings spent in the office, but Mr. Perez-Guerrero dropped in occasionally and can testify that I was never idle and quite worn out by the time I left Egypt. Excuse my getting so emotional about it, but I resent very much Mr. S’s implication – and his placing it on the record – that I was goldbricking and trying to swindle the UN out of per-diem or leave. Maybe he cannot visualize how anyone can work hard when his superior’s back is turned, but I happen to be one of those queer characters who take a pride in completing their jobs for the sake [of] achievement and who feel unhappy as long as something is left undone.
I still consider myself bound by your instructions to send all my communications concerning the report in a sealed envelope addressed to you, and I am therefore disregarding Mr. Sullivan’s directive to send my papers to him. On the other hand, I cannot but obey his injunction not to spend more than two days in Rotterdam; I am therefore regretfully sending on some of the Appendices in an uncompleted form, not having had the time to prepare a clean copy or (as in the case of Appendix O) to select and annotate the relevant material. I assume it will have to be done in New York.
It was a wonderful mission, and having met you and worked for you was one of the nicest things that ever happened to me. I am glad and proud to have been assigned to UNSCO and will always look back with pleasure at the time spent on this assignment (even though my sincere efforts will apparently end up with a blot on my record). I only hope that my work was not quite useless and that you found my services to be of some advantage. I am looking forward to see you and Mr. Connors at Headquarters by the end of this month.
11 June 1957
Thank you for your letter of 6 May from Cairo, of 27 May from Athens and of 6 June and 7 June from Rotterdam. There is no need for me to tell you again how very much I appreciate the fine work that you have done in completing our report. It is a most excellent job that I am very proud to sign. I am sure that its thoroughness, accuracy and completeness will impress the Secretary-General.
I am informed here that a short report is desired from us by 15 June. We have, therefore, decided to submit under date of 13 June the syllabus that you prepared and which we are forwarding as you wrote it except for the following changes in paragraph 2, Survey of Obstructions:
“44” obstructions changed to “43”.
“five” to a dumping ground changed to “six”.
Last sentence changed to read, “Thus, the total number of wrecks which were removed by the United Nations Clearance Operation was 30, although two additional wrecks which had been worked by the Anglo-French salvage fleet were re-worked by the United Nations forces, one of which was re-floated”.
I will, therefore, write a letter to the Secretary-General saying that our report on field operations of UNSCO will be completed and submitted to him before the end of the month; that enclosed is copy of the index of its contents and also copy of the list of appendices; that the report, exclusive of the appendices, will contain about 200 typewritten pages; that there is herewith also submitted a syllabus of our report which, it is suggested, could serve as the desired brief report on our field operations.
I don’t know how this letter and our syllabus will be handled by the Secretary-General. Colonel Katzin mentioned that he will be writing a few pages for his report to the S.G., but I don’t know whether it will be a separate one or will become a part of ours.
Our complete report will be forwarded to the S.G. about 20 June. We want to submit it as soon as we can complete our careful review and can finish assembling the appendices. Colonel Katzin is going to Rotterdam late in June and, of course, would like to have our report before he departs.
Regarding your letter of 6 June in which you referred to a letter from Sullivan, I knew nothing about it until I received your letter. Needless to say, I am very unhappy about any possibility of your receiving any black mark against your record by having done your duty in accordance with my instructions, and I assure you that I have taken the precaution of informing all those involved that you were working under my orders.
I had a talk with Oscar Schachter, and I am sure he understands the situation. He asked me my views about extension of your leave until 5 July, and I replied that it had my full approval as you have completed the report most satisfactorily in every respect.
I suggest that, if there are any administrative problems in your case, they can await your return for discussion. Naturally, I would be available for any reference that is needed, but I am sure that there is nothing serious for you to worry about.
I propose to return to Washington and my old job at the World Bank at the end of June. If necessary for me to return to New York thereafter, I will look forward with great pleasure to reunion with you.
With my warmest good wishes
R. A. Wheeler
Copy for you.
Have a happy vacation.
SUEZ CANAL CLEARANCE OPERATION
12 June 1957
Dear Mr. Stavropoulos,
Now that Mr. V. Fabry has completed his assignment with the Suez Canal Clearance Operation, I wish to thank you most sincerely for making his services available to us. In writing the report of our field operations, he has performed a valuable and important service to our Mission, for which I shall always feel grateful to him.
I wish to commend him highly for his intense application to our work and for his quick grasp of the technical side. He showed unusual ability in clearly and accurately preparing reports of complicated technical operations.
I admire Mr. Fabry not only for his high intelligence and professional competence but also for his fine personal character, honesty and integrity.
With best wishes,
R. A. Wheeler
Special Representative of the
The Legal Counsel
12 June 1957
This is just a note. Because I think you might misinterpret a silence. But all I want to do now is wait until I see you. You do understand.
All my love
P.S. Your package did not arrive yet. But thank you anyway for remembering.
14 Chemin Thury
20 June 1957
Dear Mr. Schachter,
As it will take some time before Vladimir can write himself, I thought I better give you the bad news: Vlado came from Holland all drawn out and only a shade of himself, complaining of indigestion. He thought that perhaps the intestinal ‘flu which he caught upon leaving Egypt was coming back. But his fever was getting worse and worse, hovering around 104, with peaks up to 105, and finally last Saturday his doctor conceded that it looks like an infectious hepatitis. You just cannot imagine in what state the rest of the family was…We were all very worried about Vladko, especially the high fever, and until the diagnosis could be stated, we were all in a panic. The doctor said that his body fought the outbreak of the disease very strongly, and it was not until yesterday that it could be proved that Vladko has in fact jaundice of the tough virus type, contracted sometimes between 6-12 weeks ago. It is too early to say yet how long it would take to cure him, but it is usually the matter of 2-3 months. The doctor also said that the ‘flu he had when leaving Cairo was apparently part of it. I am very sorry for Vladko, he was so much looking forward to spent his leave with us, and now he is suffering in bed. My poor parents had just too much this year, first my accident, and now this bad illness and all the worry and anxiety it brings with it. Well, let’s hope that there will be no further complications and that about 2-3 months he will be feeling well again.
I was, and all the family was sorry to hear that you are not coming this year to Geneva. It would have been lovely to see you again. How is Molly? And how are the young ladies? I hope all goes well for you.
Please excuse this letter, which is rather shaky. I am still not quite well, it seems that my head is still not in a right place, and now it will be 3 months since the accident happened.
Kindest regards from my parents and Vladimir, all our best wishes for you, Molly and the young ladies.
25 June 1957
Last night I met Stavropoulos at a party and he said that he had received a letter from your sister telling of your illness. I am greatly distressed because I feel certain that it was brought on mostly by your devoted attention to our report, working intensively and for long hours at a time without sleep.
I just wanted to send you a note of good wishes for your speedy recovery. Please write me the good news that you are feeling fine again.
I am returning to Washington tomorrow. Jack will meet Katzin in Rotterdam on July 1st to negotiate certain items of cost and expects to be back home by July 10th. The World Bank will continue to be my employer as I will be back at work on the old problems that are not as susceptible of definite solution as is canal clearance.
My residence address is 2022 Columbia Road, N.W., Washington 9, D.C., telephone Executive 3-6360, extension 3931.
Please remember me kindly to your Mother and Father.
With best regards,
SUEZ CANAL CLEARING OPERATION
26 June 1957
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Just a note to tell you that during a farewell talk last night with Andy Cordier, he decided that he would ask you to prepare the report that the Secretary-General will submit to the General Assembly, or, at least that part of the report pertaining to our field operations. He said that I would be requested to come up to New York for reviewing this report before its submission.
Andy also said that decision has not yet been made concerning how our report will be handled but he suggested, and I agreed, that perhaps it should be printed by U.N. as a basic document because so many governments are interested in having copies of our detailed report. In fact, several representatives have already spoken to me about it and of course I always refer them to the Secretary-General.
I hope you are improving rapidly. I will be glad to see you again. I am leaving here in a few minutes to return to Washington.
With best regards,
R. A. Wheeler
Special Representative of the
26 June 1957
I was greatly distressed to receive your letter of 20 June telling of Vlado’s illness. I can only tell you how much we hope that he will speedily recover and that he will have the vacation to which he has been looking forward and which he has so well deserved. His work in Suez has received the highest possible praise from General Wheeler who, in addition, has told me of the great respect and warm affection which he has for Vlado. Vlado has undoubtedly been too modest to tell you of this, but I am sure your parents will be happy to hear of the high regard in which he is held by those who have worked with him.
We are sorry to hear that you too had not yet gotten over the effects of your accident, but I hope that by the time this letter reaches you you will be completely well. Perhaps you will be able to come with Vlado when he returns to New York.
Molly joins me in sending our love and best wishes to all of you. Please let me hear from you as to how Vlado is getting on.
30 June 1957
Although I couldn’t believe it when Karol told me, it’s really no wonder after the super-human feat you accomplished. I only hope you haven’t suffered too much. I know it has been awful for you and not only physically. But Vlado, the only way you’re going to lick this thing is with Rest & Diet. And complete rest – you must force yourself not to think of international affairs for now. And you can force yourself if you really want to.
A friend of mine, who is a doctor, came down with it last spring and had to stop seeing her patients for a length of time. It was hell – she has a real vocation, she feels – but she did it. And now she’s cured.
You’re so healthy anyway that you should recover easily & quickly. Don’t forget I took care of people with Hepatitis, so I know what I’m talking about.
You know I miss you terribly, especially now it is hard. But I have beautiful memories. Like the night we went to the concert at the U.N. You kept looking at me from time to time and I was torn between listening to the music and wanting to look back at you – which I did. It’s so good to have the records of the music – that is your Overture to Egmont, & my Beethoven #7 & Scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream. I wonder why we love music – is it just because of the collection of harmonious sounds or does music contain something intangible. To continue through with my remembrance – Afterwards we went for a drink to Bemelman’s Cafe & talked about how stupid conformity was. And I knew right then that I more than liked you.
I’ll never have to ask myself why I love you Vlado.
You said that night that you felt comfortable with me. I hope this is always true because even though we haven’t had time to talk about everything, I think we feel the same about a lot of things.
It’s time for bed now so I’ll say good-night and please be good to yourself, darling.
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
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.
Great Neck 4/1/1952
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,
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.
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”:
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.
“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.
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!
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.