Tag Archives: history

Letters from Sumitro

From 1949 to 1951, Vlado was working for the United Nations in Indonesia, during the time of independence from the Dutch. Due to the complications of being a political exile from Czechoslovakia, Vlado had only a temporary passport – until October 1952, when he finally received his UN Laissez-Passer. Here is one alternative ID, a ‘Tourist Introduction Card’ from the Government of India:
India Tourist Card
India Tourist Card II
Sumitro Djojohadikusumo (not to be confused with General Sumitro)was the only Indonesian with a doctorate in economics after independence in 1949, and had been Deputy Head of the Indonesian delegation to the UN Security Council, so he and Vlado were colleagues. While going through the 1951 box of papers again, I found two letters – one for Vlado’s sister and one for his mother, with Indonesian letterhead, handwritten and signed by Sumitro. It shouldn’t surprise me that Sumitro came to be friends with Vlado and his family, and that their example of kindness moved him to open his heart to others, but I had no idea how fond he was of Vlado’s sister!
Sumitro letter Olinka

Stockholm, June 15, 1951

Merea Guerida,

Enfant-terrible? Non, – enfant cherie with eyes as lovely as ever to remember and a voice as sweet as ever can be: sweet, soft and gentle –

You asked me (“a penny?”), when I wrote those words in my brochure what I referred to: a general truth, people in Indonesia or personal reflections? I think it was a combination of all three. You see, I have long learned to see situations of Indonesia always as an integral part of a general trend, the strive for betterment, the urge of mankind for improvement and progress, although many times specimens of mankind itself seem to turn the clock back more or less deliberately. Nonetheless, all of us individually have our responsibility as to the fate of others —

Sumitro letter Olinka II

Then, general truth has particular significance only if one can attach to it, personal reflections. I told you that evening (la ultima noche) alongside the lake looking towards Geneva, against the background of mountains and twinkling stars, the lesson I learned from you and your parents. I do not exaggerate – your brother I think can tell you how much under control, reserved and reticent I usually am when meeting people – but how strikingly touched I was, when I met with such generous welcome and kindheartedness from all of you. And I compared my own attitude in the recent past, shying away from gatherings and from people (- though many of them were out for quick profits and complaints, maybe you remember I told you.) My time in Geneve taught me that only through kindness and understanding can you make people understand. Needless to say that my time in Geneva is inextricably connected with the shining, lovely personality of Olga Irene. (remember again, I do not exaggerate, wherever you are concerned.) Now, Carisima[sp?], till next time, for I hope you will continue writing me from time to time, for never shall I forget….

Ever Yours,
Sumitro

Here is the letter he wrote to Mrs. Fabry, with an apology regarding Vlado’s sister:
Sumitro letter Mrs Fabry

Dear Mrs Fabry,

Having arrived in Stockholm yesterday I hasten to send you and the other members of your family, my greetings and best wishes. By this time Dr Vladimir, your son must already be with you and I do hope that all of you will have a lovely time together. I think back of my sojourn in Geneva with more than a great deal of pleasure and gratitude towards you all.

Sumitro letter Mrs Fabry II

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you my profound apologies for the fact that Olga came home so late that Monday-evening. I have no justifiable excuse really and should have been wiser at my age — With kindest personal regards and all my best wishes for you, Dr Pavel Fabry, Vladimir and Olga,

Sincerely yours,
Sumitro

I wonder if Sumitro got a scolding at the door from Maminka? He didn’t sound very sorry about coming home late in his letter to Olga!

More Photos from UNEF Gaza and the Suez Canal Clearance Project

From the personal collection, here are just a few more photos from two of Vlado’s most important missions: UNEF and the Suez Canal Clearance Project. I am not able to identify the people Vlado is with, but I am hoping that will change when I make my first visit to the United Nations Archive in New York in a few months, to do further research. I have a lot of hard work to do before I even get there, but I am happy for the challenge. Thanks to all the good friends who encouraged me to take this step, I’m looking forward to sharing some of my discoveries here.
Vlado in Egypt II

Vlado in Egypt

Vlado in Egypt III

Vlado UNEF

Vlado UNEF IV

Vlado UNEF III

Vlado UNEF II

Vlado UNEF V

Vlado UNEF VI

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 III

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 II

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 IV

Suez Canal Clearance 1957

More Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite to British Togoland, 1956

Here are some more photos that Vlado took, while acting as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite to British Togoland in 1956; which includes some of the fantastic architecture he saw there.

(For greater detail, please click on photos to enlarge)

British Togoland Plebiscite 21

British Togoland Plebiscite 20

British Togoland Plebiscite 19

British Togoland Plebiscite 18

British Togoland Plebiscite 17

British Togoland Plebiscite 22

British Togoland Plebiscite 27

British Togoland Plebiscite 26

British Togoland Plebiscite 24

British Togoland Plebiscite 23

British Togoland Plebiscite 25

British Togoland Plebiscite 31

British Togoland Plebiscite 30

British Togoland Plebiscite 29

British Togoland Plebiscite 28

Before It Was Ghana: Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite in British Togoland, 1956

In 1956, Vladimir Fabry was assigned as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite in British Togoland; which would vote to join the Gold Coast in May of that year, and on 6 March 1957, would become part of Ghana – the first African nation independent from colonial rule. Exciting, hopeful times for Africa, and Vlado was lucky to be there, to be a part of it.

The first three photos are from the UN photo collection, showing Vlado at work. The other photos are of the people Vlado met while he was there – the future independent people of Ghana. In two of the photos, you can see a man making Kente cloth on a loom – amazing!

(click on photos to enlarge)

Vlado and R West Skinn British Togoland May 56

Vlado British Togoland April 56

Vlado and Jan Van Wyck British Togoland April 56

British Togoland Plebiscite 1
British Togoland Plebiscite 2
British Togoland Plebiscite 3
British Togoland Plebiscite 4
British Togoland Plebiscite 5
British Togoland Plebiscite 6
British Togoland Plebiscite 7
British Togoland Plebiscite 8
British Togoland Plebiscite 9
British Togoland Plebiscite 10
British Togoland Plebiscite 11
British Togoland Plebiscite 12
British Togoland Plebiscite 13
British Togoland Plebiscite 14
British Togoland Plebiscite 15
British Togoland Plebiscite 16

In Memory of Vlado: 28 September 1961

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.”

Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva2
Pan-Am Geneva Sept.1961
Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva1
Pan-Am funeral procession Geneva Sept. 1961
Funeral procession Geneva Sept. 1961
Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva postcard
Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva Sept. 1961
Vlado's funeral Geneva Lutheran Church
Vlado's casket Geneva Lutheran Church
2 Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva Sept. 1961
Cimetiere Petit-Saconnex Sept. 1961

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.”

Vlado and Mary Liz, 1957: Part 2

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

Dear Vlado,

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.

Sincerely,

Oscar

Oscar Schachter

Dr. Vladimir Fabry
14 Chemin Thury
Geneva

—————————————————————————————————-

UNITED NATIONS SUEZ CANAL CLEARANCE GROUP

ISMAILIA

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,

Yours sincerely,

R. A. Wheeler

Special Representative of the
Secretary-General
United Nations

Mr. Vladimir Fabry,
UNSCO
Ismailia.

——————————————————————————————————

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 –

Love

Mary Liz

—————————————————————————————————-

General Wheeler cable 6 May 1957

CABLE

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

PANOMNIPRESS

——————————————————————————————————

6 May 1957

Dear General,

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.

Yours respectfully,

Vlado

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

Dear General,

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.

Respectfully yours,

Vlado

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14 May 1957

Vlado darling,

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

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COPY (CABLE)

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

KATZIN NEWYORK

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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.

Regards.

Don Sullivan

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26 May 1957

Vlado darling,

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,

Mary Liz

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.

——————————————————————————————————

V. Fabry.

Rotterdam, 6 June 1957

Dear General,

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.

Respectfully yours,

Vlado

—————————————————————————————————-

11 June 1957

Dear Vladimir,

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

Most sincerely,

R. A. Wheeler

—————————————————————————————————-

12 June

Dear Vladimir:

Copy for you.
Have a happy vacation.

As ever,
Speck

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,

Most sincerely,

R. A. Wheeler

Special Representative of the
Secretary-General
United Nations

The Legal Counsel
United Nations
New York

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12 June 1957

Vlado darling,

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

Mary Liz

P.S. Your package did not arrive yet. But thank you anyway for remembering.

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14 Chemin Thury
Geneve

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.

Affectionately yours,

Olga

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General Wheeler letter 25 June 1957

25 June 1957

Dear Vlad:

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,

Sincerely,

Speck

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General Wheeler letter 26 June 1957

SUEZ CANAL CLEARING OPERATION

26 June 1957

PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Vlad:

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,

Yours sincerely,

Speck

R. A. Wheeler
Special Representative of the
Secretary-General
Untied Nations

——————————————————————————————————

26 June 1957

Dear Olga,

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.

Sincerely,

Oscar

Oscar Schachter

—————————————————————————————————-

30 June 1957

Darling –

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.

Mary Liz.

Portrait of a Bachelor: 1952

King Throstle Beard Indonesia

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

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

New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau

The Hermitage Mount Cook, New Zealand

January 1951

Dearest King Throstle Beard,

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

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

Much Love,

Madeline

Great Neck 4/1/1952

Milá Boka,

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

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

Vlado

Suva, Fiji

15th Jan 52

Good Morning King T.

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

Mad Long

Great Neck

10/3/52

My dear Little One,

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

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

The Hague

17th April 1952.

My dear Vlado,

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

Love,

“The Little One”

Room 3478 NY, 20.11. 1952.

My sweet tenderheart,

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

Love,

Vlado

New York 25.12.1952.

Guapa mia cariñosa,

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

Lovingly,

Vlado

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