Tag Archives: New York

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Letters From Vlado: 1953

Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (104)
Vlado on a pic-nick with his mother and sister

To give balance to the glowing eulogies of Vlado, I offer two charming letters that he wrote from 1953.
The first is written from New York, 3 March:

Guapa mia,
I think it’s something like two months since I wrote you a decent full letter, and you would have the undeniable right to be quite angry if I hadn’t warned you about my extremely bad writing habits. Even so, please divide your anger equitably between me and my office, for we are both solidarly and undivisibly[sic] guilty for the long delay in my letter-writing. My Committee met from January 5 to February 22, and it was more of a mad-house than ever. I enjoyed the work very much, and so I did probably more than would have really be required of me, with the end result of spending and average of 70 hours a week in my office. Add to this the time one has to spend on various official parties and other quasi-mandatory occasions, the time for dressing, eating, household chores and – unfortunately – a bit of time that one unavoidably spends sleeping, and there remains just enough left to do the minimum of reading to keep in touch with financial events and other news that one cannot afford to miss. Apart from the lack of time, my mind was too preoccupied and too tired out to write a decent letter anyhow. You are not the only one who had to bear up with me during these last two months – my own parents didn’t hear much from me either, and I had to refuse nearly all private social engagements and pleasures. At one point I got so tired, after having worked until 3 or 4 in the morning for several days in a row, that I bumped with my face right against the steel edge of my car’s roof – and then was so preoccupied that I did not notice that I had hurt myself until the blood covered my left eye and I suddenly realized that something is wrong with my driving. But don’t worry, my beauty – sic! – is not affected – at the emergency ward of a hospital where I stopped I was given a thorough stitching, and they did such a nice job that there is practically no scar left.
The last two weekends I was catching up a bit on my body’s craving for exercise – I had worked all weekends since Christmas and so had not been out on the fresh air except for the 10 or 20 meters from the door to the car – and went skiing. Of course, to go skiing here is not so easy as in Geneva – Stowe, which is the nearest place with good trails and good snow, is 600 km away, so one has to spend most of Friday night and Sunday night driving. There are no wide open slopes either, just trails through woods where one has swing it around like in a slalom. The trails are of course of varying steepness and difficulty, from easy softly sloping ones for beginners to steep twisters, and towards the evening when they get iced up from the hundreds of skiers who hurtle through them. some of these trails can be a real challenge even for experts. Both weekends I had a carful of friends with me, to save on transportation expenses, and last weekend we rented an entire floor of a house, complete with a large living room with a big fireplace, and with kitchen, and the girls cooked our breakfast and dinner so that we did not spend too much money.
To correct the impression that all of my life was only work I must add that I also managed to go to two balls, one Latin American affair given by the Brazilian government and the Pan-American Union, with two orchestras flown in from Rio, and an excellent gay atmosphere, and one extremely fashionable “high class” American ball, which was much more stuffy but very interesting because it was “the” exclusive ball of society. Last week I resumed accepting dinner invitations – which I had to refuse while the Committee was meeting because I would have never found the time to go, and yesterday I gave myself a little bachelor-dinner party for fourteen guests. It was a bit of a problem to fit in everything in my small apartment, and I didn’t start shopping and preparing for the party until five in the afternoon because I was tied up in the office, so that when my first guests came I was still out getting ice and they had to wait for a few minutes before I came back and let them into the apartment. I couldn’t of course give them anything as fancy as your little Chinamen-eggs, but while they were having drinks and in-between keeping up conversation I managed to prepare some hors-d’oeuvres salad with tongue, ham and salmon, and while they were eating that I cooked my lobster-dish, something like a langouste cardinal, which I had learned how to do while visiting some friends near Boston last year, and then we all swarmed over the fondue pot and everybody dunked into it right in the kitchen-cupboard and was delighted at the extravagant delicacy. So you see, it’s much easier to satisfy guests here, you don’t have to go into so much trouble and formality. Around two in the morning I called for volunteers for dishwashing, and in less than half-hour all the hundreds of dishes, glasses and silverware – which I had rented for the occasion – were stacked away and I could compliment my guests out and go to bed.
Well, I think that’s about all the news for now. I am looking forward to a bit more varied life now, want to see some plays and do more skiing – and in reverting to the nice things I will be thinking more of you.
Love,
Vlado

This second letter was written from Geneva, 26 December:

My dear one,
You must excuse my rather disorganized(and probably hardly legible)first letter – I wrote it between appointments in an effort to give you news of me as soon as possible. But this purpose was thwarted when I discovered that in addition to the airfield strike, also postal employees were on strike in France, so that sending the letter from Paris would have simply meant its getting lost in the piles of amassing mail which was being left uncollected. Really, France managed to get itself in a mess again – no president, no air traffic, no mail – and everything so expensive that I didn’t dare to buy anything. The theaters also were rather disappointing – a general air of decadence and negativity pervades the selection of plays, their direction and production, and to some extent also the performances of the players. If I didn’t have business to take care of, I would have probably left disgustedly the first night – as it was, I left disgustedly the third night.
The trains for Geneva were sold out, so I left through Basel and Lausanne, leaving Father behind for another day. In Lausanne, I had a big surprise – my mother walked suddenly through the carriage looking for a place to sit – she was at a wedding there, and neither of us knew that the other will be using the same train.
I had a very nice Christmas Eve, just the four of us, mother prepared a big Slovak Christmas dinner, and it was all very sentimental and mellow, each of us had shining eyes and tears ready at the slightest provocation. We all went together to church, and I even joined then in Confession and Partaking of the Cene, which I had not done for quite a few years. Yesterday I made another concession – visiting relatives and friends – but I managed to be carried away by the spirit enough to enjoy all of it. On Christmas Eve, we had phone calls from all over Europe, – Madrid, Stockholm, Munich, Zurich – friends wishing us Merry Christmas and welcoming me here, – it was all very sweet and comforting to know that there are still friends around who will go into so much trouble to make us feel good. I was also surprised at the number of people who sent us gifts and cards, many of whom I could hardly recall.
There is practically no snow anywhere, and skiing prospects look very gloomy. All the major roads across the Alps are still open – something nobody can ever recall having happened at Christmas. Even if there should be snow now, it would not have enough base to permit mountain-crossings, and so I will have to postpone skiing until at least the second week of January. In the meanwhile, I shall probably leave for the Cote d’Azur next Monday or Tuesday, and stay there for a week or so. I shall let you know what next.
I haven’t thanked you yet properly for your Christmas wishes (or rather, for Mona Lisa’s) – I had not seen the card when I was phoning you from the air-terminal, having eyes only for your picture, and there was no more room on my letter from Paris. How is dear ML, does she behave (and do you)???
I thought of you at Christmas time, and I shall be thinking of you when the New Year arrives (and quite often in-between, before and thereafter). I am wishing to you and to your mother all the very best for the coming year, and as a special little wish for myself I add that of being with you very, very often.
Love,
Vlado

Vlado: United States Citizen

With the help of the 1951 UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNHCR), Vlado Fabry was eventually able to become a United States Citizen on August 31, 1959, but not without troubles along the way. For one thing, it took a while before he had work at the UN in New York that kept him in the US for the required consecutive time period – he was called all over the world. But there was also trouble from the new Czechoslovak Government, who invalidated Vlado’s passport and asked the Secretary General to dismiss Vlado from the UN.
This undated Annex was found with the naturalization papers:

Annex A
To application to file petition for naturalization
Page 2, question No. 6

I am not aware of ever having committed any crime or offense, in the United States or in any other country, except for minor traffic law violations. However, in October 1940, after having organized a mass walk-out of Slovak protestant students from a Nazi-sponsored organization called the Academic Hlinka Guard, I was arrested and without formal charge, trial or hearings of any kind condemned to deportation. On 27 January 1945, I was sentenced to death by the “Sicherheitsdienst”(Gestapo) for obstructing the German war effort and participation in the Slovak liberation movement against German occupation forces. After the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, I was charged with “anti-state activities” for having expressed anti-Communist opinions and advocating freedom of private enterprise while employed as an official of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Commerce in 1945-6. As far as I know no formal trial was held on these charges, as I refused to return to Czechoslovakia when my passport was withdrawn and the Secretary-General did not deem it fit to comply with the request of the Czechoslovak Government for my dismissal from the United Nations service.

Vlado had to return to the US from his mission in Indonesia with an invalid passport, and he gives his account in this document dated August 22, 1951, addressed to Miss Alice Ehrenfeld:

Admission to the United States.

On your request, I herewith submit to you the information which you may need to deal with the question of my admission to the United States.
I was born on 23 November 1920 as a citizen of Czechoslovakia. I have been a member of the staff of the United Nations Secretariat since 15 June 1946, serving under an indeterminate (permanent) contract.
I entered the United States for the first time on 15 June 1946 and was admitted under Section 3, paragraph 7, of the Immigration Act for the duration of my status as an International Organizations Alien. In April 1948 I left the United States on an official mission, re-entered the country on 6 January 1949 and left again on 15 February 1949 to serve with the United Nations Commission for Indonesia. After completion of my duties there, I was instructed to return to Headquarters for service with the Legal Department of the Secretariat in New York.
As a consequence of my political convictions and activities, I became a displaced person after the communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in February 1948. The Czechoslovak Government has ceased to recognize the validity of my passport (No. Dipl. 2030/46).
I drew the attention of the competent officer in the Department to this fact when I was leaving on my mission assignment, and I received the assurance that there would be no difficulty regarding my re-admission to the United States. This assurance had been given, I understand, after consultation with the State Department.
I also explained my case to the United States Vice Consul in Djakarta, Indonesia, who was issuing my United States visa. He advised me that it was sufficient if I held my invalid passport as an identity paper, and that no difficulty would result from the fact that my visa was not stamped in a valid passport.
Upon arrival at Idlewild Airport, New York, on 20 August 1951 (7:30 A.M.), I was told by the immigration officer on duty that I could not enter the United States. I was then requested to sign an agreement according to which I was released on parole. My passport and the Alien Registration Form on which the United States visa was stamped were taken away from me with the remark that my office should undertake further steps to regularize my status and affect the release of my documents.

Here are some images of Vlado’s United Nations Laissez-Passer (UNLP), issued to him on October 6, 1952, and signed by the first UN Secretary General Trygve Lie:
Vlado UN passport cover
Vlado UN passport
Trygve Lie passport signature

By 1954, Vlado had long been stateless, with no place to call home. He writes to Marshall Williams, Administrative Officer, Bureau of Personnel at the UN, on May 18, 1954:

Request for permission to change visa status

1. I was notified by the United States Consulate-General in Zurich that a number on the DP immigration quota became available for me and that I should present myself at the consulate in Zurich before 27 May.

2. I should be grateful to receive permission to sign a waiver of United Nations privileges and immunities, which I understand to be a condition for the granting of a permanent residence visa. I trust that such permission will not be denied as it is essential for me, for the reasons indicated below, to acquire the right to establish a home somewhere. In view of the shortness of time given to me for appearance before the consular authorities, I should appreciate it if my request could be considered as urgent.

3. I should also like to apply for the permission to change my visa status without losing entitlement to tax reimbursement. The Report on Personnel Policy adopted by the Fifth Committee during the last session of the General Assembly states that the Secretary-General should be able to grant such permission in “exceptional and compelling circumstances”. In accordance with a statement made by the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on this subject, this provision relates to “certain officials of the Secretariat who had lost their nationality through no fault of their own and who might quite legitimately seek to acquire another”. I sincerely believe that these conditions are present in my case.

4. I have lost my nationality and I am unable to return to my country of origin because of substantiated fear of persecution on account of my political opinions and activities undertaken prior to my joining the United Nations. In the years 1945-1946, I was an active member of the Slovak Democratic Party which at that time was lawfully permitted and recognized as an instrument of the political will of the majority of the Slovak people; I also held the position of Assistant (Chef de Cabinet) to the Minister of Commerce. In accordance with my beliefs and official directives, I worked to the best of my ability on fostering the resumption of normal conditions under which trade could prosper, and on preventing the suppression by force of the right to enjoy private property and freedom of enterprise; such activity, lawful and constituting part of my official duties at the time it was undertaken, is considered criminal by the regime which since has come to power in my country. I was therefore compelled to become an expatriate, or else to make myself the object of grievous persecution. My fear of persecution is substantiated by the facts that members of my family and several of my friends had been arrested and interrogated regarding my activities; and that persons who held positions similar to mine, and did not escape abroad, were sentenced to long prison terms or maltreated to death.

5. Having thus without fault of my own lost my nationality, I consider myself legitimately entitled to seek to acquire the right to establish a permanent residence, a home, in another country. For although it is true that I have the right to stay in a country as long as I remain there in the United Nations service, I must provide for the possibility, which I hope shall not occur, that I might lose my present employment (and in any case, I shall need some place where I can reside after I reach the age limit). Moreover, being stateless and without the right to permanent residence anywhere, I am subject to many restrictions and deprivations.

6. I therefore firmly believe that I have compelling reasons for obtaining a visa status authorizing my permanent residence in the United States, and I hope that I shall be granted the permission to change my visa status without losing entitlement to tax reimbursement. I feel that it would be unjust if, having lost my nationality, I should be penalized for this misfortune by being made subject to financial burdens which I can ill afford.

Here is Vlado’s passport, renewed and signed by Dag Hammarskjold:
Dag Hammarskjold passport signature

And finally, the sought after United States Certificate of Naturalization:
Vlado Certificate of Naturalization

Statement of Samuel Bellus, November 30, 1956

I don’t know who Samuel Bellus is yet, but here is his statement on behalf of Mrs. Olga Fabry – Vlado’s mother:

I, Samuel Bellus, of 339 East 58th Street, New York 22, New York, hereby state and depose as follows:
That this statement is being prepared by me at the request of Mrs. Olga Viera Fabry, nee Palka, who formerly resided in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, but since 1948 has become a political refugee and at present resides at 14, Chemin Thury, Geneva, Switzerland;
That I have known personally the said Mrs. Olga Viera Fabry and other members of her family and have maintained a close association with them since the year 1938, and that I had opportunity to observe directly, or obtain first hand information on, the events hereinafter referred to, relating to the persecution which Mrs. Olga Viera Fabry and the members of her family had to suffer at the hands of exponents of the Nazi regime;
That in connection with repeated arrests of her husband, the said Mrs. Fabry has been during the years 1939 – 1944 on several occasions subject to interrogations, examinations and searches, which were carried out in a brutal and inhumane manner by members of the police and of the “Sicherheitsdienst” with the object of terrorizing and humiliating her;
That on a certain night on or about November 1940 Mrs. Fabry, together with other members of her family, was forcibly expelled and deported under police escort from her residence at 4 Haffner Street, Bratislava, where she was forced to leave behind all her personal belongings except one small suitcase with clothing;
That on or about January 1941 Mrs. Fabry was ordered to proceed to Bratislava and to wait in front of the entrance to her residence for further instructions, which latter order was repeated for several days in succession with the object of exposing Mrs. Fabry to the discomforts of standing long hours without protection from the intense cold weather and subjecting her to the shame of making a public show of her distress; and that during that time humiliating and derisive comments were made about her situation in public broadcasts;
That the constant fear, nervous tension and worry and the recurring shocks caused by the arrests and deportations to unknown destinations of her husband by exponents of the Nazi regime had seriously affected the health and well-being of Mrs. Fabry during the years 1939 – 1944, so that on several such occasions of increased strain she had to be placed under medical care to prevent a complete nervous breakdown; and
That the facts stated herein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Vlado and Guapa Mia

This is one of many letters from Vlado to “Guapa Mia” in Madrid (He writes to her in English, she writes back to him in French), dated 28/7/1953:

Guapa Mia,
This time it is not entirely my fault for not writing so long,- I had to wait for your new address in Madrid. June was a very bad month for me; lots of work, financial worries caused by the declining/ and sometimes plummeting/ stock market, a round of social functions and the heat added to my natural antipathy to writing, and by the time I decided that I simply MUST make myself to write, I realized that it was too late for the letter to reach you in Geneva.
I was glad to hear that you have taken so well to your new “part-time” job/ I would never admit that to work six hours a day could be considered full employment/- and I am sure that under the brilliant sun and society of Madrid you will shine even more than ever with radiant beauty. Also, I believe, the gallant and temperamental caballeros will be a more deserving background against which your charm can find the proper appreciation, than Geneva’s dullish “burghers”. Spain seems to be in a big vogue among the city’s smart set, everybody who is somebody seems to be on his or hers way there this year, I wonder whether they have already learned that you have moved there?- I get stinking mad every time I learn of some lucky bird who is on his way to fly over, and wish to be in his place. But no luck,- with the special session of the General Assembly due in August, I will have no vacation at all this summer.
I got bitten by a reading bug lately – all my free evenings this month I spent here in my office/ which is air-conditioned, cool and dry/ reading and average of one book per evening. I reread Ortega y Gassett‘s Revolt of the Masses yesterday, and found it/ apart from fascinating reading/ a wonderful apology for my way of life. It looks as if he had exactly known what my thoughts, ambitions and ways of life will be when he depicted the non-common man and I found great comfort in his philosophy. It’s a pity that more people do not agree with his ideas, I might be better off if they would. Otherwise I am in the throes of my periodically recurring struggle to find absolute moral standards of behavior by reason – a wearisome substitute for faith or the ability to conform to conventions. This time I am following the approach of analyzing the progress of life in the universe, mans position in it, the characteristics by which his development to the present position was achieved,- and trying to deduce from the past road the direction in which the road ahead should lie, and which landmarks to take as guides. It’s all much more complicated than simply being able to accept revelations, dogmas of a church or the party-line, but it also is much more satisfactory.
As far as my body is concerned, I am trying to make up the enforced lack of exercise/ I can’t go riding in this heat, and living in the city I do not have the possibility to go for a round of golf before coming to the office/ by a strict reducing diet. I have only half-a-dozen oranges, a steak, or some chops, and two or three eggs in the morning,- no pancakes, bacon or ham, and no bread, butter or marmalade,- nothing for lunch except, if I am working late, some yogurt or fruit in the afternoon and lots of coffee without sugar, and only meat or fish, raw vegetables, salad or fruit for dinner,- no potatoes, soup, cheese or dessert,- and I drink skimmed milk with my meat instead of wine or beer. I lost 27 lb in the last five weeks, and can count all my ribs now. The only thing that throws me back from time to time is if I am invited to dinner- but everybody has left town now for holidays, so it does not happen more often than once or twice a week.
Most of my weekends i spend lately within 200 miles of New York,- somehow I lost enthusiasm for moving around. Only once I went to Northern Maine, some 1000 km from here, where friends of mine have bought an island with the most beautiful forests of huge pine trees, and marvelous cliffs falling hundreds of meters into the open Atlantic Ocean. They keep there a horse-breeding farm and have excellent thoroughbreds, a small fleet of yachts and sailing boats, and a small private golf-course, so there is plenty of things to do there during the weekend. They have five daughters, which all had their boy-friends visiting them/ I am a friend of the parents and was rather peeved at the deferrent and respectful way with which they treated me, as if I was fifty and not thirty-two/; each of the girls has her own little house, the three eldest had theirs completed last year, and the other two are being built this year from prefabricated parts, all is done without the help of a single laborer or architect. I helped in putting up the roof of one house and installing bathroom plumbing in the other. So it was quite instructive, apart from being good fun and a bit of muscle stretching.
Well, that’s about all that is to be reported about the dull life of an old bachelor. I am now looking forward to hear more how you are getting on. By the way, my parents send me your most amusing letter in which you described how you were tested in the office, I received it the same day as your letter directly to me.
With best wishes of much happiness,- and be good.
Love and Kisses,
Vlado