Young Olinka Fabry, in front of the Savoy-Carlton in Bratislava, with President Edvard Benes and his wife, and Dr. Ivan Derer. This photo is undated, likely taken after the election of Benes on 18 December 1935.
Tag Archives: Slovak history
56 Years Ago Today
In memory of the 16 who died in Ndola, here is some of the collection from my mother-in-law, Olga Fabry, who carefully saved all the documents and mementos I share here. Vlado was only 40 years old when he died, a man who was very much loved by his family and friends, and my thoughts are with all the relatives around the world who remember their family on this day. The struggle against racism and white supremacy continues for us, let us not forget their example of courage to resist, and to fight for justice.
Program from the first wreath laying ceremony at UN Headquarters, one year after the crash, 17 September 1962:
Invitation from Acting Secretary-General, U Thant, to Madame Fabry:
Letter and commemorative UN stamps from U Thant to Olga Fabry:
Signatures from UN staff were collected from all over the world to fill this two-volume set of books in memory of Vladimir Fabry:
Signatures from UN Headquarters in New York include Ralph Bunche, and his wife Ruth:
Signatures from Geneva Headquarters and a message from John A. Olver:
Telegrams from friends in every country:
Among them, a message of sympathy from the King of Sweden relayed through Ralph Bunche:
And a cable from Jozef Lettrich:
UN cables express the loss of a dear friend and highly valued colleague:
Newspaper clippings from 1961 and 1962, the first one with a photo of Olga Fabry and her mother at the funeral in Geneva, Switzerland:
The investigation will coming up for review in the General Assembly, and for those who think we should give up and be quiet about it already after all these years, Dag Hammarskjold said it best: “Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions.”
It begins with a book…
Last August, I took another look through the family collection of books about Czechoslovakia. What I found was a copy of “HISTORY OF MODERN SLOVAKIA” by Jozef Lettrich, which had, sadly, been overlooked in a damp corner of the house.
But in spite of mold damage, I put it in a mylar sleeve and kept it nearby, because the book mentioned Pavel Fabry (Vladimir Fabry’s father) as one of the first to be imprisoned in a concentration camp on March 30, 1939, in the state prison of Ilava.
I recognized the book immediately, since I had seen at least a half dozen photostatic copies in my archive from page 144, underlined in the same places, which Pavel must have referred to in his case for reparations in Germany.
From Chapter Two, “Under the Swastika”, pages 143-144:
“When prisons were no longer adequate, the Slovak Government issued an order on March 24, 1939, “concerning the imprisonment of the enemies of the Slovak State.” […] This order authorized the Minister of Interior to “arrange for the jailing of persons whose past and present activities give reason to fear that they would continue to obstruct the building of the Slovak State.” The Minister of the Interior was further authorized to create “a camp for the detention of such persons in which prisoners would be compelled to perform physical labor.” Vojtech Tuka lost no time in transforming the old state prison in Ilava into a “security camp,” the first concentration camp in Slovak history. The Ilava prison thus became the home of Slovak democrats–of authors, priests, teachers, newspapermen and statesmen, as well as of simple farmers, workmen and students. The first inmates of this camp, brought there on March 30, 1939, were: Anton Štefánek, Ján Ursíny, František Zimák, Ján Pocisk, Ferdinand Benda, Karol Hušek, Ján Paulíny-Toth, Jozef Rudinský, Pavel Fábry, Andrej Djuračka, František Třešnák, Hana Styková, Vinco Mihalus and Jozef Lettrich, three Members of Parliament, two Senators, three journalists, the Chairman of the Slovak National Party, and an actress from the Slovak National Theater. Others soon followed. In the few years of existence of the Slovak State more than 3,000 persons were to pass through the gates of the Ilava concentration camp. Some remained a few days, some for months, and others for several years. They were all sent to Ilava without trial , without judgement, without indictment, merely upon a denunciation and by administrative order of the Ministry of Interior. Tuka, on April 15, 1939, made the following characteristic statement, “Those who spread alarming rumors and false reports are obstructing our way. We have made arrangements to handle all of them in Ilava. Many of them are there now and many others will follow them there. It is your duty to denounce these instigators to the police and the Hlinka Guards, and the Slovak Government will take care of them.”
I now have another copy of this book, in very good condition, signed and inscribed by Jozef Lettrich on the title page. It was only after this that I looked at the title page of the copy I found, and it was also inscribed.
Title page from second copy.
From the copy that belonged to Pavel Fabry.
When I finally started to read it, it dawned on me that this book was written by the same Jozef Lettrich that was in prison with Pavel, and that I had letters from Lettrich – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in Czechoslovakia, who was an exile living in the United States. So I went back to the boxes. I was amazed by how this one book began to illuminate what I had missed before: letters to and from Milan Hodza – Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia; Jan Pauliny-Toth – lawyer and politician; Peter Pridavok – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in London; Juraj Slavik – Czechoslovak Ambassador to the United States; General Lev Prchala; Emil Stodola, and Kornel Filo. Pavel Fabry was seeking reparations for many of these people and others in Berlin, as their lawyer, so I have some of their testimonies, in Slovak, German and French.
But then I found two letters from Franz Karmasin, one of them signed. Franz Karmasin was state secretary for the German Minority, under President of Slovakia and Catholic Priest Jozef Tiso: an anti-semite who collaborated with Hitler and was key in making the Slovak State the first Nazi ally in the Final Solution, deporting tens of thousands of Jewish people to their extermination – he was hanged after WWII; Karmasin was also senticed to death but escaped prosecution and was living in exile in Munich. From what I was able to translate, Karmasin seems to be arguing against something Pavel said about him – and he begins his first letter in praising Pavel on his son Vlado – The Hague and Nuremberg are also mentioned. There were no letters from Pavel to Karmasin. I’ve transcribed the letters here for others to translate.
Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München, den 8-7. 1959
Dr. Paul Fabry
14 Chemin Thury
Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Fabry!
Unsere gestrige Aussprache hat mich sehr stark an Aussprachen in der Heimat erinnert. Ich glaube, diese angenehme Atmosphäre gibt es nur jenseits der Karpaten. Ich bitte, es nicht als Anmassung zu betrachten, wenn ich Sie zu Ihrem prächtigen Sohn beglückwünsche. Er hat großen Eindruck auf mich gemacht und ich freue mich wirklich von ganzem Herzen, dass die slowakische Sache so einen hervorragenden Vertreter ihrer Interessen besitzt.
In der Kanzlei habe ich mir dann den sehr dicken Akt “Dr. Fabry” vorgenommen. Ich war froh, dass ich dies erst nachher getan habe, ich wäre sonst kaum zu der Besprechung gekommen. Ich habe sehr stark den Eindruck, dass Sie in der Darstellung und Beurteilung der Situation der Deutschen Volksgruppe in der Slowakei sich weniger von Tatsachen, als vielmehr von Gefühlen leiten liessen. Ich kann es verstehen, umsomehr, als die Grenzen zwischen Reichsdeutschen und Volksdeutschen von Aussen her nicht immer sichtbar waren und vor allem die Situation der Volksgruppe und der Volksgruppenführung nicht für eine öffentliche Diskussion geeignet war. Aber in Ihren Ausführungen sind Sie doch etwas hart, ich darf Ihnen das in aller fahrens mit Ihnen und Ihrem Herrn Sohn über diese Dinge diskutieren, jetzt ist nicht der geeignete Zeitpunkt dazu. Ich will Ihren nur zu bedenken geben, dass der deutsche evangelische Bischof Scherer, für dessen Ernennung ich mich übrigens sehr stark eingesetzt habe und fast alle evangelischen u. katholischen Pfarrer Mitglieder der Deutschen Partei waren und dass die Deutsche Partei bei den Nürnberger Verfahren ausgeklammert wurde, obwohl man den Aliierten bestimmt nicht Unkenntnis der Lage vorwerfen konnte. Auch das Dokumentenmaterial, wenn man es vollinhaltlich zur Kenntnis nimmt, spricht eine andere Sprache als Ihre Darstellungen. Die Offenheit, mit der wir gestern gesprochen haben, verpflichtet mich, Ihnen das zu schreiben.
Die Zusatzerklärung habe ich lt. Durchschlag an das Regierungspräsidium, an Dr. Virgano, Herrn Minister Dr. Tiso und Herrn Birkner geschickt. Ich bin gespannt, wie sich die Angelegenheit weiter entwickeln wird.
Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München, den. 8.7.1959
Sehr geehrte Herren!
Betr.: Dr. Paul Fabry
Ich habe die verschiedenen Schriftstücke im Falle Dr. Paul Fabry, soweit sie mir zur Verfügung stehen, nochmals durchgesehen und darf meine seinerzeitige Darstellung wie folgt ergänzen:
Ich habe dargelegt, dass die Behauptung, Dr. Fabry sei durch die Gestapo verhaften worden, falsch sei, da sich auf dem Gebiete der Slowakei keine Gestapo befunden hat. Dagegen hatten z.Zt. der Besetzung des slowakischen Staatsgebietes rechts der Waag während der Tschechenkrise durch deutsche Truppen Organe des Sicherheitsdienst Dienst gemacht. Ich glaube mich erinnern zu können – ohne es allerdings beschwören zu können -, dass durch die deutschen militärischen Kommandostellen Angehörige der Hlinkagarde (HG) und der Freiwilligen Schutzstaffel (FS) diesen Organen als Hilfskräfte zugeteilt wurden. Inwieweit sich diese im Zuge der revolutionären Ereignisse Übergriffe zuschulden kommen ließen, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis, vor allem aber meiner und meiner Mitarbeiter Verantwortung. Sie unterstanden, falls sie sich in die Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht oder des SD begeben hatten, nicht mehr der Befehlsgewalt der Volksgruppe.
Zu dieser Ergänzung fühle ich mich verpflichtet einerseits, weil Aussenstehende die Unterschiede zwischen SD und Gestapo nicht ganz klar waren, andererseits weil mir im Interesse meiner ehemaligen Mitarbeiter selbst sehr viel an der Klärung dieser Angelegenheit liegt. Ich bitte, die Ergänzung in diesem sinne zur Kenntnis zu nehmen.
Portrait of a Bachelor: 1952
Vlado, a.k.a. “King Throstle Beard”, at work in Indonesia
Before I begin with the letters of 1952, there is one letter from January of 1951 that needs to be included here first – from Madeline – who met Vlado when he spent 3 weeks in New Zealand in 1950, and she was a big fan of his beard. She writes to him again, one last time in January of 1952. Also included in the romantic cast of 1952 are “Sweet Little Darling”, a.k.a “The Little One”, and “Guapa mia carinosa”, a.k.a. “My sweet tenderheart”. There is also one letter to Boka, Vlado’s Secretary at the UN. I almost need a chart to keep track of their names! Vlado must have had a hard time getting to know a girl, never being in one place very long, and he must have felt lonely.
New Zealand Government Tourist Bureau
The Hermitage Mount Cook, New Zealand
Dearest King Throstle Beard,
It was the nicest Christmas surprise receiving your letter and the pictures. The pictures, I think, are very good, and I’ve just now been having a peep at them. I received your letter on Christmas Eve, so you can see how good Santa is to some of his favourites. I really was beginning to think that brilliant young diplomat ex. room 17 P/B had forgotten all about poor little insignificant Madeline Long, frequenter of room 17, but not of the bath. because King Thros. does like a little privacy/ Though Madeline found it very hard to leave room 17, and King Thros. helped her not one little bit. I don’t know that I can do much about that job of Inspector-General of the New Zealand Tourist Trade, but you could be a little old hermit at the Hermitage, and I could clean out your cave, and steal you a bone when you get hungry. You don’t like the sound of that? You should have been here Xmas Eve. We looked under all the tables and beds for a man with a beard, but nary a whisker could be found.
Everything has been very gay, and the weather just perfect. Last night the most beautiful moon was looking so lonely, with no one to sit under her, and I did think that Vladimir Fabry might have popped in for just a half hour or so, but then he probably would have found it rather hard to get away, because there is a transport strike on just now, and he would not have caught that 1.p.m. bus to Queenstown. My, I wish that strike had happened a couple of months ago. I do feel unhappy for you having to spend Christmas in that Mad house that you call it. Seems so far removed from anything of that nature here, except of course, when everybody goes a little mad with gaiety especially Madeline Long. Know her? I don’t think you should. I’ve been playing lots of tennis lately and doing a good deal of climbing, but somehow or other, somewhere along the way something happens to my wind, and I look a great sad sack. I’m going away to stay in one of the huts for a couple of nights soon, feel that it would be just grand to be way up in the mountains on these balmy nights. Could you ask Vladimir if he would like to join me? Or maybe he’s just too busy telling all those madhouse inhabitants how to get out of one sticky bit into another. It’s so hot today I could sit here with just nothing on and be quite happy, or maybe a blade of grass to keep the locals happy. I thought I had better use my speedy typewriter, because you probably would find it rather difficult to read the things I write down. I was going to send you a cable and wish you a very happy New Year, but when I looked up the little book of words and saw the exorbitant charges, I quickly shut it again, and thought I had best settle for a letter. When a girl is saving her all to travel and see something of this wide wicked world before she is too old and senile to care anymore, that’s when she begins to think that money is money, and a little more is better that a little less. Afternoon tea is on and as we have a regular circus in the office every day now for that little event, I can’t concentrate on what I’m saying to Vladimir, and that would never do. I do hope you find a wee moment to write me again, and tell me what is happening to your present and your future. I too have thought of you so, often, but I never dreamt you would be doing so of me. And even if we should never see each other again that you should write and let me have your feelings is something very precious to always have with me.
Great Neck 4/1/1952
Above all, thank you for your two letters,- really, I would have never dreamed to hope that you would write me so much, the ratio used to be normally 3 to 1 in my favour,- but I do appreciate it, and I was very pleased and happy. I hope that by now you have recovered from the strains of family-life and that no permanent damage was inflicted on you. My mother wrote me that she liked you very, very much / which does not surprise me/, and the next line was that she wishes me for the new year a fine bride /and a grandchild/ and that she hopes that I will make the best possible choice. I wonder how much the second line was a reflection of the sentiments expressed in the first! I was very glad to hear your voice on Christmas, it was a very nice present, but it made me a little bit sad to think how perfect it would have been to be for the Holidays in Geneva, and having around me EVERYBODY I like. I was a bit scared of Christmas first, in Indonesia I was all the time looking forward to this one when I would be back from the “exile” and in surroundings where I could really feel in a holiday mood. Then I suffered the invasion of Milan and his friends during Thanksgiving,/it was really awful/, and looked with great apprehension at the arrival of Ivan. But he is the real opposite of his brother as far as consideration for others is concerned. We got quite friendly together always consulted each other on our moves and tried to respect each others wishes, and as a whole had a good time. I liked his friends, and of course their age and interests were more in line with mine than in Milan’s case. So it was quite nice. For Christmas Eve I had your father and Tana, Tana Makovická, Milan Ondruš and Karol, – we made up the Christmas tree together, had a Slovak dinner, gave each other presents, and has Slovak music from the records, as well as something less than music from our throats /meaning that we were singing/. Also a nice roaring fire and the scent of pine – and smoke all over the house. Also for New Year’s Eve I was with Tana, we had dinner with Milan O. at your place, and then went together to a terribly stuffy party where we saw the New Year come to the accompanying of Bible- reading, and kept singing “Drink of my eyes and you will not need any wine” – and there was no wine. So we decided that to welcome the New Year with a glass of milk could bring its wrath, postponed its arrival officially for one hour, left the party at 12.40 and dived for the next bar, where we properly wetted our thirsty throats with champagne, and drank our homage to it in this more appropriate liquid. After that we went to a party of Tana’s Airlines-friends, and had a good time,- finishing in New York, and with a hamburger and coffee at Prexy’s /the radio was admonishing us the whole evening that “death has no holidays, and if you have to have one for the road, make it coffee”, so I obeyed/. We became quite good friends with Tana, and I like her quite a bit now. Well, to come back to your letters and to answer your questions therein:- the green light refers to The One an Only One /what did he do in London, by the way, and why did he not come to expect the New Year in your company/, green of course being the “go ahead” sign, and “no turns allowed while the light is green” is a common traffic sign on boulevards, which I adapted to your case as meaning that you cannot enter any Lovers Lanes on the side while you still drive full speed on the main road of your desires, with The One giving you the “go ahead” sign, but only as far as he is concerned and not for turning towards others. A bit complicated as I wrote now, but I guess you will understand now what I meant. I gave a present to Shine, but not Virginia, – and I received nothing from either. Also I gave my present for the grab-bag at the Office party. As far as the župan [trans.: bathrobe or dressing gown.-TB] is concerned – I have my own intelligence service, but not Olga. I am glad you liked it, I hope my mother bought what I wanted. How did you get on with my papa – I hope he didn’t throw any tantrums while you were there, he gets so easily excited. Why did they not take you out on a car trip to the mountains – is Uncle Bucko ill, or what? As far as my job is concerned, the following developments took place: 1./ I saw Szeming-Sze, and the Geneva job is definitely out of the question. 2./ Marshall Williams told me that they intend to fill the Trusteeship post by internal promotion,- but nothing has been decide so far. 3./ They do have a post in Narcotics, – in Rey’s Section, they considered me and asked for my file just before Christmas. As far as I learned form Lande, I would be satisfactory except that Rey would like to have somebody English-born, as all of his Section are non-Englishmen and he has difficulties in drafting reports, etc. He told me, however, that if they would not find anybody else, or if I had enough push, my chances would be good. 4./ I saw Martinez-Cabanas and Barbosa, the Personnel Officer of TAA on several occasions. They have now two posts in my grade – and area officer for Bolivia /where I can hardly qualify because of lack of Spanish/, and one for Eastern Europe and the Near East. I would be very keen on the second job, it would be ideal from many points of view, and I think I could make a success out of it. But apparently they want to have somebody from the area, and are now in touch with the Yugoslav Government to get them a candidate. I could not speak with M-C about the job / I learned about it from Barbosa only the day before his departure/, and B. was rather reluctant about the whole thing. I had the impression, however, that it would not be impossible to get the job if M-C would agree, and if Hausner /who is Barbosa’s Superior/ would state that job-less staff members have to be given priority consideration before outsiders are recruited. I will ask Olga to take it up with M-C, and perhaps you could find a way of getting Hausner interested – unless, of course, you think that I should not overdo it and push myself too hard for this particular job. I aslo received and assurance that there may be further jobs in their new budget, but it is not expected that they would be approved before February,- so I would have to remain on my present post until March at least. Well, I think that’s all – I heard nothing more about Human Rights – did you? And please, do continue to be a sweet girl and keep me posted on what is happening at your end of the world!
All the very best in the New Year and lots of love,
15th Jan 52
Good Morning King T.
I was entirely delighted and surprised to receive your card, but as you see from the above it had to leave the Hermitage and come across to Fiji. I have been going the usual round of living here since May last year, and loving it. Such an entirely different life – much more romantic than that dull unimaginative New Zealand. It had its moments of course, when the King Throstlebeards of this world decided to hop around the mountains for a few days. Just imagine you living in great big New York! I think it a good thing that you have left that horrid Indonesia, because from what I have heard and gathered from running my little eyes over newspapers from time to time there seems to be a lot of stray bullets and even worse things popping round over there. It would be just terrible to think of bullets sneaking around that nice beard. (You are still wearing it I presume.) Have been extremely lucky here with accommodation – in common with the rest of the world today there seems to be a perpetual moan over the housing situation.. However, your friend Mad Long has got herself all set up in one of the prettiest little houses around. It has been built about two years only, and is nice and clean and modern and – everything. Living with another girl of course, and we have a Fijian girl to do all chores. I have often thought about you and wondered what you are doing, so you can just imagine how nice it was to receive your card. As you have probably guessed I am working with Tasman Empire Airways, and using their writing paper and time for my letter writing. The office is undergoing extensive renovations, and by this time next week I shall be sitting in one of the most swept up business places in Suva. In fact, we’re trying to persuade our Manager to put us into sarong type of frocks with hibiscus flowers tucked in odd places on our persons, just to have a tropical effect you know. You can just imagine how this conservative British atmosphere would react. I guess you have much more interesting and necessary things to do than read letters from me to you. Many thanks again for remembering me at Christmas, and lots of nice things to you for the New Year. I am enclosing a small picture of me taken at the back of the house looking ever so tropical.
My dear Little One,
It’s ages since I wrote you last / you see, I admit it freely/, but I have not forgotten you nor stopped to feel towards you the sweet, soft and warm longing that I had ever since we parted last summer. It’s just that I didn’t feel like writing, or that I had a lotsfull of other things to do, or that I was much too tired to write, or some other thing happened. And also, I did not get so much to hear from you to be coaxed into a real effort of writing – to wit, I received only one picture-postcard the last two months. I believe that you will be probably back from your skiing holiday by now,- and I hope that you managed to have lots of fun without getting any parts of your anatomy into a loose-flapping state. Also, that you got some sun after all. Also that you do not think any more of skiing as something difficult, but that you ski by now as easily as you think /or rather that you came to that blissful stage of skiing where it is enough to think of a movement,- and lo and behold, your skis and body do it all by themselves!/ I sincerely hope that I may have a chance to see you perform before this years snow melts completely away, although I still have no concrete clues as to whether and when that may be. I did quite a bit of skiing this year myself, practically every weekend since New Year. That also partially accounts for my backlog in correspondence – and sleep. The winter was rather mild around NY, so I had always to drive at least 700 miles each weekend to get to and from the snow – and that’s nearly as much as from Holland to Switzerland. I didn’t get any chance so far to get away for longer than from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 9 a.m., and consequently had to spend practically every Friday and Sunday night, or at least the greater part of it, behind the steering wheel. My former skiing partner from the Tatras is now in New York also, so we usually went together, and it was a bit like old times again. Unfortunately, he does not drive, and anyhow, he usually slept the whole journey through. Occasionally we took along some company, but usually I had only Little Carrot Nibbler /remember the little fellow?/ and memories of you to keep me company. I tried also to keep up my horseback riding, and occasionally manage to squeeze in an hour or so before going to the office. But mostly I am just too tired and sleepy to get up at six, and besides it is not such a pleasure to ride now on soft ground and in the usually cold and wet and dark mornings. So I seldom ride more than two days each week. Helenka’s Slovak cooking and my sedentary life ganged up on me, and I have gained 15 lb. since I came back. I’m a real fatty again. It is true that after each weekend’s exertions I manage to lose three or four pounds, but that only increases my appetite, and before Tuesday is over, the weight is back again, usually with interest. I guess I better become reconciled with the idea of a nice potbelly. My social life continues very active. I had invitations to some of the plushiest events of the Mardi-Gras season, and the moths didn’t get much chance to get into my tails and dinner-jacket this year. I am getting quite cynical about those things which worries me a bit,- the other evening I caught myself calculating the real-estate and property value of each girl with whom I went to dance and felt quite ashamed. But I made a few friends among the Wall-Streeters, and I am now following closely the Big Board, share-value analyses and earning-prospects, and hope to use the stray bits of information which I am getting from here and there to improve a bit my financial situation by putting my savings to work for me on the Market. With nearly half of my salary going to Geneva, and life in New York being expensive as it is, I sorely need some additional source of income. If only one would have more time for those things – but the UN is such an old fashioned type of Organization which demands its employees to work for the money it pays them, so I have to steal the time from where I can, mostly sleep and correspondence and reading. Besides, I started to learn Spanish, and that takes some of my time too. I still do not know what my future assignment in the UN will be – ce n’est que le provisoire qui dure seems to be a very true saying, and my temporary assignment to the Legal Department still continues. But I already have my eyes cast on something – the post of legal adviser to the Technical Assistance Administration, it’s a new, important outfit, where I might have chances to advance, an interesting and central job, and a chance to learn a lot. The post is still in doubt, the Legal Department doesn’t want to give up its prerogatives and let another outfit create a legal post, but I think that it will be set up eventually, and then I will have to go really to work to beat the competition which probably will start for the post. But at least I know now what I want. Well, I think I wrote you about all what there is new about me. Still two questions to answer from your 1/1 letter: I spent Christmas in my house, having invited a dozen homeless Slovaks and made a real Slovak Christmas Dinner, with Slovak songs, traditional dances under the Christmas Tree, gifts, and so on. I enjoyed it a lot. For New Year I had four invitations into private homes, and I took them in turn,- the stuffiest first, and the gayest at the end. And what did you do?
The letter ends here, with the last page missing. We learn soon enough why Vlado is learning Spanish. But first, the most amusing letter of 1952 is the last letter from “The Little One”:
17th April 1952.
My dear Vlado,
Here at long last is a letter from me. I am so sorry that it took so long, but lately I have been very busy. The reason for this is, now please hold tight to your chair or whatever you are sitting on, that I am going to be married. It is all rather quick and I would have written before had I known it myself, but as my husband to be has to be back in Indonesia in the beginning of May we decided to get married before he is going. I have no idea what you will think of this, but as you suggested in another letter that I had better look out for a husband, I don’t think you will mind too much. I am awfully sorry in a way, as it will be ages before I will see you and there will be no more holidays with you, but one can’t have ones cake and eat it too. I sent you an announcement of my marriage in the hope that you can read enough Dutch to make sense out of it. But before you got it I wanted to write to you myself. I hope you will wish me luck as I am sure that I will be very happy. I’ll write to you at a later date and a bit longer, if you want me to, but at the moment I have not got much time. I hope that you will write to me.
“The Little One”
Room 3478 NY, 20.11. 1952.
My sweet tenderheart,
I am going to write to you in English – it will be good for your practice, and besides I am too tired and involved in other thinking to make out anything comprehensible in Spanish. It’s nearly eleven at night, but I am still in my office waiting for my secretary to finish typing some drafts which I have to correct and get out to the night-shift for documentation. I am retroactively paying for my vacation, and have to make up the lost time. My trip here was pleasantly eventful,- while waiting in London for my plane-connections I had the chance to see the Lord Mayors Show, a big medieval pageant with all the trimmings of tradition, glitter, costume and showmanship that the English can still so well produce /the Spaniards also, I don’t doubt that, but I never had the opportunity to see and compare/. Then, after a very rugged flight with icing conditions up to 8000 feet and 250km/h headwinds above, our plane was forced to change course and land in Iceland for refueling. After persuading the authorities that I was not carrying mouth-and-hoof-disease, and an assorted waiving with Laissez-Passer and other documents, I was permitted to leave the international airport, hopped in a taxi, and went exploring the countryside. I could not see much in the darkness, but still managed to get some good views of one of the geysers in the car’s headlights, and get an impression of the force of the waterfalls from their thunderous ramblings, their spray and the darkness of the abyss in which the river disappeared./I sent you a picture of them how they look in day-time, hope you had received it./ New York greeted me with sunshine and a summery breeze so warm that I felt silly even in my light coat. I can’t imagine Geneva in snow. Most of my time I spent apartment hunting, a rather difficult predicament in view of my expensive tastes and thinning bank-account. I finally had to make a compromise /slanted quite heavily in favour of the bank-account/ and settled yesterday for a place on 37 East 83rd Street in Manhattan /which, incidentally, is my new address if you should care to write me/. It’s what they call here a three-and-half room apartment, consisting of a small bedroom, a fairly large living room, a kitchen in a wall closet, and entrance hall in which, if one is thin, it is even possible to turn around, and a good-sized bathroom with a three-way shower compartment nearly as big as the bedroom. That part is the only luxurious one, and I am looking forward to some pleasurable loafing in combined water streams coming from above, below, and the three sides. The address is a good one /which is very important here/, but in spite of the fact that the apartment is on the top floor I don’t have any penthouse-like view, because the houses all around me are even higher. I also don’t have any terrace nor fireplace,- but then, I am paying some 150 $ a month less than in any of the places which had such frills, and that is also something. So as a whole I hope I did not make a mistake, and shall be able to stay there for a few months until I get tired of it. By the way, I did not have time to write all this to my family /nor will I presumably have time to do so in the near future/, so if you should Olga please relay to her the information. I am moving in this weekend. I am thinking back with little tinges of sorrow of my wonderful Geneva days – and I am experiencing something I never felt before, a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. I got so accustomed to look forward to your company in the evenings and over weekends, that somehow my subconscious came to expect it as a rightful due and not as a godsend which does not belong to the undeserving, and feels cheated and unhappy now that it does not have it. On the other hand I lost the interest in my other friends that I had here, and as a matter of fact I did not look up any of them so far. There is a vague feeling of longing and of missing in me, and the work I have is a not so unwelcome escape from it. Well, I see that I wrote more than I ever have to anybody except my family and that I am letting myself be carried away by my feelings even here in the atmosphere of stark reality and competitive fight for survival. What an “unamerican activity”! If somebody should read this I might get involved into an investigation as a “bad security risk” or one who “puts loyalty to a particular person or persons above that to the Cause”. I better stop putting things on paper. But you might by now know, even without my writing it, what goes on in my heart. Hasta la vista, guapa mia cariñosa – and I hope I can make it soon.
New York 25.12.1952.
Guapa mia cariñosa,
It’s Christmas day and I am remembering those with whom I would have liked to be on these Holy Days. I wrote to my family yesterday, and today it is first and foremost to you that I am sending my greetings, my best wishes, and my love. I am in a slightly melancholic mood thinking of you all and regretting of not being able to be with you. And this year in particular I could have had around me all those I like, as you were at our home for Christmas dinner. However, I should not grumble, as my friends took care to make my own holidays as nice as they can be for a lonely bachelor. As a matter of fact, I had two Christmas celebrations: last weekend I was invited to a family which celebrated earlier because one of its members is expecting a baby just about now, and yesterday I had dinner under the Christmas tree with my Slovak /and some Czech/ friends, and then a party which lasted until 8 a.m. Today I had the traditional x-mas lunch of choucroute-soup with spare ribs and sausages, and another party is coming up tonight. So I could not exactly claim to be deserted, although it still does not help me from feeling lonely – nothing can replace the presence of those one loves and misses. I received your letter yesterday morning. From its feel I could guess that it contains a gift, so I did not open it until evening, when we were discovering our gifts under the tree. But then of course I was subject to all sorts of jealous questions, especially from Karol Krcmery and had great difficulty to hide away your letter. The handkerchief joined your menu guide in a place of honour on my dresser, it will be used only on exceptional occasions deserving such high esteem. I hope that my letter arrived in time and that the needle of the barometer did not move during the transport. If it did, put it back in the place where you know best it belongs. By the way, you know now what L K means, don’t you? With best wishes for the New Year, and a special wish for both of us: that we can spend a lot of it together!
When I read this last letter for the first time, I was really frustrated, because the initials “LK” are engraved on a few things, and I still don’t know what that means! After 1952, there is not much romance to be found, until 1957, when Vlado meets Mary Liz. Those letters will be posted next, in a series.
Portrait of a Bachelor: 1951
At last, here are more love letters from Vlado. In 1951, he was just 31, so he was having a good time, dating lots of girls, and not interested in settling down to marriage. “Sweet Little Darling” is given more than a few hints about his need to be free, but her last letter to him is not until April of ’52; which I will include in the next post. Teckla M. Carlson (who has another letter here)was a travel agent from Spokane, who made friends with Vlado while travelling in Europe, and she appreciated his colorful letters, too. “Boka” was Vlado’s secretary and friend at the UN, and he seems to tell her everything – lucky for her, and us!
New York 22.8.51
My Sweet Little Darling,
Just a short note to let you know that I arrived well and that I am thinking of you all the time. I didn’t feel it maybe so strongly when my family was around me all the time, but now that I am on my own I realize how much you have become a part of myself and how it hurts to be separated from you. I am still not sure whether I love you enough to overcome in me the resistance against the taking of such a binding and definite step as a marriage is, and neither am I sure how lasting my feelings for you are and whether they would suffice to give me the power to transform myself into an understanding and forgiving creature for the long years of married life. But if longing for somebody’s presence is a sign of love, then it is a fairly strong one in my case. This longing is getting more constant and persistent now. Before it came mostly at special occasions, when I was seeing something that I would have liked you to see also, when I had some nice food or went to a good show, when the sun was shining and I felt like taking you out for a drive and stretching out at some flowery meadow, or (most often) when I was climbing into my lone bed. But now it is here all the time,- even while I am working I feel a compelling urge to dash out somewhere and meet you for a while, for a few words and for a few kisses.
My future is still as hazy and as muddled as it was when I was leaving. All the effort and goodwill that I tried to invest in my boss in Geneva seems to have dissipated into nothing – and not only am I in no position to choose an assignment which would bring me nearer to you (as I was half-ways promised in Geneva), but I will have a hard and uphill fight for maintaining my bare job. Things look quite bad here. Moreover, there are difficulties in my immigration status – they refused to admit me properly without a valid passport,- and unless I can do something about it I will be in a nice mess. Everything seems to be gone wrong since I have returned – even my driving licence is messed up, I had my third speeding ticket just before I left in 1949, I have forgotten all about it, but not the Bureau of Motor Vehicles which promptly suspended my licence and I just don’t know what I will be able to do about it. So you see, I need a bit of good luck or at least something to compensate me for all the adversities,- and now I am without you.
I am staying at the Beekman Tower Hotel, 3, Mitchell Place, New York 17, NY. It’s quite nice, high up in the clouds, with a view of the East River and most of New York, and only two blocks from my office. But the room is very small, I have no place to move around myself or my belongings, and it’s much too expensive in the long run. But without the possibility to drive I can’t go anywhere else. So you can still write me there for some time to come.
Otherwise there isn’t much about me to report. Write me soon, my Darling, if I cannot see you I long the more for something that would materially establish a nearer contact.
Great Neck 7/10/1951
My sweet Little Darling,
Here I was, waiting impatiently for a letter from you (nothing came since the one dated 9/9), and when it finally came, there were only 79 words in it, including date and signature. I was a bit disappointed, but then, I didn’t write any more since 3 September either, didn’t I? So I am trying out now whether the old maxim “if you want to receive long letters often, you must also write some from time to time yourself” will prove true, and I’m switching from the meager postcard diet to a fatter meal of a letter.
I was thinking a lot about you, specially the week you were alone in the house, and I was quite seriously thinking of inquiring at the KLM whether they had not some of their stewards sick so that I could get a job on the NY-A’dam run for two or three flights, preferably over the weekend. But then I remembered that stewards have to take care of babies and mothers on the plane, and I am quite sure that I would be no good at that,- and by the time I came around to thinking of some other possibility, the fortnight was over. So we have to postpone it for some other time – or maybe you could get yourself a job as a Stewardess – you would be awfully good at it, and you would have a rather nice house waiting for you at this end to receive you every time you land, with all the trimmings, including a pre-warmed bed if you still like to have it. Quite seriously, don’t you think it would be a nice job – you wouldn’t need to fuss over your shorthand, you could make good use of your language knowledge, helpfulness, and charming self, it would solve your travel-itch, and you might even land a nice husband if you should decide you want one (provided, of course, he wouldn’t mind that I would continue to see you).
Sorry I didn’t come around to send you some more of the pictures – I simply don’t find time to do anything. But it’s high up on my must list, to go to town and have some more enlargements made. I didn’t even touch my camera since I came back from Europe, and so you will also have to wait for snaps of the house. I also made a note to get hold of the “I am late, I am late” record.
I am quite pleased with life at my new place, and I am getting on quite well with my co-resident, mainly because I never see him. My housekeeper got very Americanized while I was away, she is grumbling if she has to work after dinner, and she made me a cheese-cake the other night with commercial cottage cheese, instead of making the cheese herself. But still, it’s quite pleasant to have every day one’s clothes freshly pressed and laid out, to have one’s food properly prepared, and to be rid of all the unpleasant worries about the small things of one’s home. It’s also nice to be out in the open country, near golf and riding stable, although sometimes I grumble a bit about having to drive every day a hundred kilometers through New York traffic to get to the office. It takes a bit too much time, and with social engagements, professional reading to catch on, and personal business to take care of, it leaves precious little time for myself. Most of it I spent unpacking, checking and rearranging my belongings – I never realized before I had such masses of them – and getting settled. Over weekends I played furiously golf, last week I managed to make 45 holes on one Saturday, wearing out two partners for 18 holes each, and making the last nine a solo. I also found a riding stable near-by, and twice got up at 5.30 for a stroll and canter before leaving for the office. I have to try hard to do something to keep my fat tummy down after the treats it gets every morning and dinner from my cook. I cut out lunches completely, but then I am having chops or a steak every morning on top of my ham-and-eggs, and Slovak desserts at dinner don’t constitute a reducing diet either. Yesterday I went swimming, and then made six miles in a brisk trot along the beach, until I had to admit shamefacedly to my companion, the girl [Boka.-TB] with whom I also usually play golf(by the way we are very old acquaintances, and she knows me much too much to think any good of me – to answer your question), that I couldn’t run any more (she couldn’t either, by the way, but was bluffing to stop me running first). And to-day it’s pouring cats and dogs, so I’m staying at home and will do some reading.
Last Monday I had a phone-call from a girl I met five years ago in Cuba. I had forgotten all about her in the meanwhile, and as she identified herself only by her first name, I had to leaf through stacks of old correspondence to find a reference to her second name when I went to call on her. After all, you cannot barge-in into the Waldorf Astoria and search for a Miss Coquitta Idontknowwhatelse. But I found the name finally, although it made me more than an hour late for my appointment. And she was a bit disappointed apparently that I didn’t quite respond to her temperament – well, I’m not quite the same as I used to be five years ago in Cuba, and besides she didn’t please me any more as much as she did then. You know the old story,- I have met somebody in the meanwhile whom I like so much, much more, and although I still am not above meeting another nice girl, and having fun with her, I think I ceased to be quite the “free agent” I used to be before. But it was quite an amusing game, keeping aloof and watching her getting more and more excited and temperamental as I continued to remain amiably and graciously, but correctly, polite.
The week before last I was invited to participate in a meeting of the so-called Czechoslovak National Council, where they were discussing their future policy. I got quite disgusted with some of the dear old politicians, they seen to have overslept some twenty years, or else being in a backward development and on their way to fossilization. But it was also quite pleasant to be for two evenings in a dream-like atmosphere, where the restitution of the old order in my home-country was a naturally accepted reality. I refused, however, to be dragged into any of the groups, and intend to remain independent and apart of emigree politics.
Well, I guess I made up in the size of my letter for the gap in correspondence. I am now awaiting eagerly a dozen of long, long and longing epistles from you.
Palace Hotel, Madrid, Spain
Oct. 19th 1951
I think so many times of our little trip from Geneva, Switzerland by train to Basel, by airliner to Brussels and our sight seeing trip together in Brussels. I lost your card with your new address so if you write me again please give it to me again. Have spent one month here already 8 days in Switzerland 10 days in Scand countries and 10 days in Spain now I leave tonight for Paris for one week and then to Jerusalem for 10 days. Then I go home, hope to be there by Nov. 15th if all goes well. Please do write to me in Spokane.
Your traveling companion, Teckla M. Carlson
My sweet little Darling,
I could really slap myself into the face for the way I am behaving towards you. I just don’t deserve it that nice girls like you should care for me – and sometimes I wonder how you still manage to do so. When I am looking at my father and mother – both wonderful people, kind and human,- I can’t understand it where this nasty egotistic streak in me came from. In my better moments I fight against it and here and then I am even able to suppress it for awhile. But then it comes up again and somehow I always achieve to hurt most those people to whom I have most to thank for. I do realize my caddish behaviour, and it make me thoroughly unhappy, but I don’t seem to have enough willpower or stamina to make myself act otherwise – or at least not in time. I do want to do good, and at the end I usually wind up making a thorough mess of everything and spoiling everything. What a curse to have a devil like that warring inside!
And I hate the telephone. I was never very good at it, even for strictly business calls, but I never thought it could be so awkward and difficult to speak over it to somebody I love. I just simply couldn’t tell you any of those things I would have liked to – how much I miss you, how I long for your tenderness, for your love, for your companionship, for the fun and giggles we had together, how empty and lonely I feel sometimes, how I would like to talk to you, show you things and take you places, kiss you and hug you, feel your soft, warm and loving presence near me, touch your smooth skin, press you in my arms,- and many other things which I don’t even feel like writing. Instead I spent precious minutes in a silly argument. I loved to hear your voice – you sound terribly British over the phone, much more than when you speak to me directly – but it only made me realize to more your absence. My mind just refused to click properly, and I kept arguing around in circles. Oh darling, everything is so much easier when I can see you and be near you!
I don’t think, however that it would have made much sense to meet you here in Geneva. Apart from the complicated and expensive travel for you, the conditions and atmosphere under which I am living here would not have been conducive to a happy being together. My family is definitely jealous of you (or anybody else who “dares” to diminish by a few minutes the time which they can spend with me), I have work to do and duties towards my job to keep in mind, I would have been torn in between all this, and unable to behave humanely. You know how tense and upset I can get about such situations, and how unpleasantly I behave in such cases. We had such a nice time together, and I try frantically (and without success) not to do anything that would spoil the memories of it. Besides, I took an engagement for this weekend to go out with my new boss, and I simply could not cancel it now. I know it’s egotistic and nasty of me to state that to you, who has done everything for me – but that’s how I am, always looking for my own good more than for other people’s feelings.
I think it will be much more fun to be together in London – we will be all for ourselves, without anything to bother us except parting. The exposition is supposed to be quite good, we can go to some theaters together, and I already wrote to my friend there to get me some introductions into the poshier nightclubs – we will be finally able to “make the town” together. I phoned for accommodations immediately after I talked with you, they were full at the Cumberland, but I got two communicating rooms at the Grosvenor House. They are sending me also the theater plan so that I can make reservations in advance. Tomorrow I will get you your plane ticket – I will choose a late plane on Thursday night, so that you will arrive at about the same time as I, and you will miss only one day (Friday) in your office. I am leaving London Sunday morning, the latest possible plane which will bring me to New York in time for office on Monday,- and that gives us two full days and three nights,- except for a few hours on Friday when I will have to take care of some of my father’s business, and maybe an hour more to see my friend, whom I cannot completely disregard as he is arranging the nightclub introduction for me.
Darling, however much I am looking forward to the chance of being together with you, I would rather miss it than cause you thereby troubles and difficulties. I have no right to demand such things from you, and it would make me very unhappy and spoil our being together if it should be in any way detrimental to the relations with your family or to your good name. We must be reasonable about it. It’s all my fault, stubborn, egotistic bachelor-perseverance, but things being what they are we must face the consequences. So please, darling, think it over well, and don’t hesitate to cable me if you think you cannot make it.
It’s getting light outside and I better finish. I still have a contract to go through for my father, and a hard day tomorrow (or rather today) at the office. That’s all I can report about me – work; I did little else since I returned, haven’t been out anywhere except for a small drive with Mom and Sis on Sunday. And I am feeling very blue, unhappy and lonely without you!
Be happy, my sweet little darling.
I feel lonely without you – nemám sa ku komu íst poradiť a nemám nikoho na kom by mi záležalo a s kym by mi robilo radosť deliť sa o prijemné zážitky. Not that I would be short of girls,- but it’s not quite the same.
Tana I see quite often, and she looks quite well and moderately cheerful. She had been afraid she had stomach ulcers, but her doctor said she only had anemia / no wonder she has it, the way she is scared of fresh air and outdoor exercise/,- but personally I think it’s all just nervousness and quite an overdose of introspection. What she seems to need would be some boy-friends in whom she could get interested,- but she doesn’t seem to want it. I escorted her to a party of AirFrance people, and there were quite a few good lookers who showed interest in her, but she just sat in her corner and didn’t seem interested at all. Well, somebody might come one day and sweep her off her feet, I only hope it will be a boy who will appreciate her and who will be worthy of her. I am going again to visit her this afternoon; I am giving a dinner to her boss / Mrs. Eshaya/ and she wants me to meet another Roumanian girl whom I should also invite. But you will probably hear more from herself.
My weekend in Boston was very successful – I was invited to a family in one of the very nice residential suburbs, and they had five girls in the house / age 1 to 22/, plus two more whom they asked to come for the occasion. Although it’s only a few miles from the city, they have very nice unbroken forests all around, and I spent most of Saturday cutting a trail through them. I also met a rather fascinating divorcee from the Gardiner family, and to my great surprise she appeared at the last moment at the train and traveled with us coach although she had a Pullman ticket. She asked me to call her up at her New York apartment – but she is not in the phone book and the operator could not locate a phone at the given address. So I don’t really know what to think of it. I would have had no time to do it anyhow, I had socially a very busy time. Rhoda Neilson / my friend’s from Djakarta who are divorcing/ came to New York and we saw each other a lot. I also made friends with an English girl, who seems to be quite taken by me, and very pleasant company, and with a Swedish-born American, who plays double for somebody in Seventeen, who probably doesn’t care a bit for me but who is a master in the art of making one feel that she is enjoying his company. Besides, she is physically exactly the type for which I go.
I didn’t play much golf since you left, the weather was not too good. I planned to go yesterday / and it is one of those lovely Indian Summer days/, but then I started raking leaves in the garden, collecting wood for the fire-place, and doing similar chores, and it kept me busy until after dinner. Last Saturday we had the first snow – it melted quickly here, but was beautiful upstate where I went for a drive.
Tana Makovická sent the copy of the letter from Schwelb to Dr. K., but she wouldn’t let me have a look at it. She only told me it is not hopeless; but I did not see any vacancy listed any more in the new edition of the bestseller. The P-3 in Trusteeship, territorial research division, is still posted as vacant, also a job in the Narcotics Division / P-3/, about which I had told Dr. K. Friday afternoon. I received a reply from Barbosa about the job in the Reports Division of TAA – informing me that my application was not successful in the Junior Promotion Board. I will try to find out why, and will try to see what else I could get there. From your end I would appreciate to look after the Trusteeship job and see whether I could get anywhere in Human Rights. If not, let me know please and I will ask Dr. K. to see Steinig about the post in Narcotics. Also please check on Olga about jobs in Green’s office and in Economic Affairs in general, and on jobs in the Refugee office. And let me know what the score is, please.
How are you doing? – And how is Costi?, give him please my very, very best, I’m really sorry that I cannot see him, but then, he is probably much happier in Paris than he would be here right now anyhow. And how do you like Olga / but honestly/, do you think she ever will be able to stand pat on her own feet and make headway, or do you consider her rather the protection-requiring type? I hope she is not too much nuisance for you. You may meet my mother too, there was an indication in her last letter that she might go to Paris to have a look if everything is OK. I hope they will let you alone, though,- I remember how you “liked” “stará” [translation: “old lady” or “old girl”.-TB] and I surely would hate it to see my family included into the same category.
Thanks for your nice little missile from Halifax – it cheered me up a lot. Write to me again soon, please.
All the best in everything, Vlado
Great Neck, New York 2.12.51.
Thank you for the birthday wishes – really sweet of you not to forget about it! You really make me feel ashamed, I tried to rake my brain but I forget completely when your birthday comes up. Will have to do some sneaking in AW’s files to find out.
I am glad you are getting on alright with my sis – I was a little bit nervous how it would work out and scared that my family would encroach upon you / you know I do not want too much competition/. She didn’t write me a line yet / neither did I/,- but antiscribitis runs apparently in the family. Is she still épris by her Dutchman or did she get somebody else for a change in her silly-sweet little head? I hope you impress her with the advisability of looking after sausage kings, specially Latin American ones. And how are your chances looking – or is it still and always The Only One, and no turns allowed while the light is green?/ Is it green, by the way?/ I have quieted down a bit, my divorcee went back to Chicago, and I never found the other one. Also skipped the would-be-actress, it was nice for a change, but it would have probably run into too much money if I would have tried to keep it up. The English girl is still around, we usually drive out together Saturday or Sunday, and have dinner here, and about once a week I have dinner at her apartment in Manhattan when her room-mate is out. My girl-friend from Holland is coming to Paris on the eleventh, I asked her to look up Olga, so you can also look her over a bit and tell me what you think of her. If only she was like you are, or only if you loved me like she does, my household problems would greatly advance towards a satisfactory solution. Still, my private life is not unsatisfactory at the moment, although I am spending more money on food and expenses than I thought I would, and I just don’t find the time to do all the things I want. The approach of Christmas is worrying me a bit, all the cards I will have to send, and the gifts – although I think I will not give gifts to anybody but my family and Helenka, don’t you agree?
I am also getting a bit worried about my job since the end of the year approaches and I don’t know whether you can carry me on after that. I saw Barbosa, but he was not hopeful at all. Hausner is also gone. Do you know anything about the Human Rights job, or is that out? And what about Trusteeship? I saw Lande from Narcotics again and took him out to lunch, he told me that the post in his Division is still not filled, but that it is entirely up to Steinig to decide. Could you please let me know how things stand at your end? Balinski is coming back by the end of the year, and I am sure that Krczkiewicz[sp?-TB] will try to push him into the trusteeship job, so if something is to be done, it has to happen before he returns. Did Olga find out anything about jobs in Economics or in the Refugee office?
I didn’t see too much of Tana the last two weeks, but I have two dates with her for the next. I phone her from time to time, and was glad /and rather surprised/ to hear lately that she feels physically fit. Your Daddy being with her helps probably to make her forget her troubles. It also rather surprised me that she likes to…
…and the letter cuts off here on a humorous and somewhat intriguing note. She likes to…what?
I will be publishing the letters of 1952 next, so I hope you are as amused and enamored by the private life of Vlado as I am, and will return to read more.
Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Pavel Fabry, December 17, 1955, Geneva
(Pavel Fabry is front and center – click on photo to enlarge)
To understand the character of Vlado Fabry, it’s important to know the character of his father – Dr. Pavel Fabry, who was imprisoned and tortured by Nazis and Communists for his opposition. When Pavel escaped from the Czechoslovak prison hospital, with the help of his friends, they dressed him as a nun and hid him inside a beer barrel on a train headed to Switzerland. In Geneva, Simone Baridon (a close friend of my mother-in-law) was with Olga Fabry the day Pavel arrived, and she remembers her bravery that day, when Olga said “Daddy is crossing the border now.”
This is the C.V. of Dr. Pavel Fabry that was written in English, and the following document was written in German – this was my first attempt at translating German, so it’s a little awkward, but the story of Pavel is still very compelling.
Pavel Svetozar FABRY, LLD, was born on January 14th, 1891 of an old family of industrialists and businessmen. After graduating in business administration, he studied law, attaining the degree of Doctor of Law; passed the bar examinations; and successfully completed the examinations required to qualify for judgeship.
During World-War-I, Mr. Fabry served as officer in an artillery division as well as in the service of the Army’s Judge Advocate-General. He became the first Secretary of the Provisional National Council established to prepare the liberation of Slovakia and the orderly transfer of its administration to the Czechoslovak Government. After the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, he was appointed Prefect (chief Government official) for the Eastern part of Slovakia.
When the Communist armies of the Hungarian Government of Bela Kun attacked Slovakia in 1919, Mr. Fabry was named High Commissioner Plenipotentiary for the defense of Eastern Slovakia. In this function he was entrusted with the co-ordination of the civil administration with the military actions of the Czechoslovak Army and of the Allied Military Command of General Mittelhauser. His determined and successful effort to prevent Eastern Slovakia to fall under the domination of Communist Armies – the victorious results of which contributed to the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary – drew on Mr. Fabry the wrath of the Communist leaders; they declared him the “mortal enemy of the people”, led violent press campaigns against him and attacked him overtly and covertly continually and at every opportunity.
After the consolidation of the administrative and political situation of Slovakia, Mr. Fabry left the Government service and returned to his private practice as barrister. He specialized in corporation law and his assistance was instrumental in the founding and expansion of a number of industrial enterprises. He became Chairman or one of the Directors of Trade Associations of several industrial sectors, particularly those concerned with the production of sugar, alcohol, malt and beer. He was elected Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Federation of Industries, and played the leading role in several other organizations. He also was accredited as Counsel to the International Arbitration Tribunal in Paris.
Among civic functions, Mr. Fabry devoted his services particularly to Church, acting as Inspector (lay-head) of his local parish and as member of the Executive Committee of the Lutheran Church of Czechoslovakia. His appointment as delegate to the World Council of Churches’ meeting in Amsterdam in 1948 prompted his arrest by the Communist Government.
Although Mr. Fabry never stood for political office nor for any political party function, he was well known for his democratic and liberal convictions, and for the defense of these principles whenever his activities gave him the opportunity to do so. He earned himself a reputation in this respect which brought him the enmity of the adversaries of democracy from both the right and the left. He became one of the first Slovaks to be sent to a concentration camp following the establishment of a Pro-German fascist regime in 1939. His release could later be arranged and he was able to take active part in the underground resistance movement against the occupant; for this activity the German secret police (Gestapo) ordered his pursuit and execution in 1945, but he was able to escape the death sentence. In spite of his resistance record (or perhaps because of it), Mr. Fabry was among those arrested by the Russian ARmy, on the instigation of the Communist Party which could not forget his anti-Communist activities dating back all the way to 1919. Due to pressure of public opinion Mr. Fabry’s imprisonment at that time was very short; but when Communist seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, they did not miss the opportunity to settle accounts with him. He was removed from all his offices, his property was confiscated, he was imprisoned and subjected to a third degree cross-examination taking six months. No confessions of an admission which could have served as a basis for the formulation of an accusation could, however, be elicited from Mr. Fabry, and he managed to escape from the prison hospital where he was recovering from injuries inflicted during the examination. He succeeded to reach Switzerland in January 1949, where he has continued in his economic activities as member of the Board of Directors, and later President, of an enterprise for the development of new technologies in the field of bottling and food conservation. He was also active in assisting refugees and was appointed as member of the Czechoslovak National Council-in-exile.
The following C.V. is addressed to the “Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Geneva”:
Curriculum Vitae (Lebenslauf)
Before the Persecution
I come from an old industrial family. My ancestors in 1603 – Matheus Fabry – from the Geneva area, Satigny Place Moulin Fabry, after the then Upper Hungary present Slovakia immigrated and in the free royal town of Nemecka Lupca – German Luptschau – in the county Liptov, Circle Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas established a tannery. This industrial tradition has remained in the family, according to the chronicles of General Hradsky.
My father Josef was a prosperous merchant and industrialist. Also Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and president of several trade and finance companies. Board member of some industry and financial companies. Maternally I am also descended of Industrial and Estate-owning family.
We were 10 siblings – seven are behind the Iron Curtain still alive, some of them in prison, some of them forcefully resettled.
The parents sought to give us a good education with University studies, but all children had to complete some studies in trade.
I attended Hungarian schools, because we did not have a middle school in their mother tongue.
My parents tradition and my studies gave me the future direction of my C.V.
I have allowed for easier overview and orientation in the supplements a special list of 1. Personal Data, 2. Vocational activities, 3. the International profession – Law practice, 4. The national economy – Professional activity, 5. Of the public, political, religious, social and charitable activities, as well as a line up of assets and income up to the time of the persecution, submitted, which discuss my work and resume enough.
[I don’t include the list in this post.-T]
During the time of Persecution
In order to make aspects of the persecution more understandable, it is necessary to strip some events even before this time:
As evident from the personal data, I had at the end of WWI, as a military lawyer for the military commander in Budapest, opportunity to observe the infiltration of communism and drew all my future consequences therefrom.
As can also be seen from the personnel records, I was appointed as High Commissioner Plenipotentiary for the military command of eastern Slovakia. At that time, the Kremlin gave directives to the members of the Comintern, to create all the conditions you can imagine out of the Ruhr against an eastern power, as potential factor for war. Therefore, the then Hungarian Communist leader Bela Kun was commissioned to warlike attack of Slovakia, since at the same time Poland was to be attacked by Moscow military, the objective was, from Poland as an Industry and Agricultural country, and from Slovakia and Hungary as Agricultural states, to form a political unity under Communist leadership. This should then be as the basis for conquest of East and Central Germany, and then the Ruhr territories served.
These efforts have been, in spite of fierce fighting in Poland and Slovakia, thwarted under great bloodshed. Unfortunately at Yalta was Communism facilitated, by Stalin’s perfidy, clumsy (plumpen) breach of contract, and betrayal to conquer these areas.
In negotiating the boundaries demarcating the then Bratislava, I had a sharp conflict with Bela Kun. The then Secretary of the way, was none other than the present ruler of Hungary, Mathius (Matyas) Rakosi, who could not forget me and my actions against the Communist terror gangs. Since that time, I was attacked during the entire years until WWII, at every opportunity, both in newspapers and at public rallies of the Communist Party. The communist leader Vietor asserts in his “Faklya in 1952” [Not included here.-T] that the failure of the plans of the Communist International was partly due to my vigorous defense activities. The statement that my work was supported by the Communists after the seizure of power in 1948, settled bitterly with my arrest, as will be further mentioned. The second point I would list is represented by the German-friendly setting:
As can be seen from the personnel data, the Slovak Intelligentsia before WWII was eager to visit the great German culture as close neighbors, and study them in the country of origin. Therefore, each family was trying to get their children educated in the German Universities, as well as other German institutions. So I spent the semester of 1910/11 at the University of Berlin. Of course, religion played a significant role with cultural trends, since a third of Slovaks were Augsberg Confession Protestant and wanted nothing more than to visit the land of Luther and his faith.
The great and unique education of that time has influenced my whole future life, and has quite clearly had an impact in my subsequent work in business and public. So I led as President of Industry Associations that all protocols and negotiations were bilingual, though barely 20% of all industrialists in Slovakia were of German language and nationality. The leading representatives of German diplomacy and economy were in my home, and were frequent preferred guests on my extensive hunting grounds.
It is therefore understandable, that the persecution under the Nazi Regime of Germany has hit me doubly hard. I will mention only in passing that I spent many years on my annual holiday in Germany, specifically in Reichenhall, in the Kurhaus Hotel Axelmannstein of the Seethaler family. However, I also observed at that time the undemocratic developement of the Nazis in Munich at Reichenhall, and practiced my objective critique so that I was advised to disappear from Reichenhall. I then had to follow with the establishment of the Slovak state by Hitler, immediately carried out by the exponents of the Nazi Organization.
After these explanatory notes I will venture to list my persecution during the Nazi Regime chronologically:
Even though I with the then Prime Minister Dr. Tiso and his staff maintained very friendly relations in the then state of Slovak autonomy, I was, after the creation (on Hitler’s orders) of the so-called Independent Slovak State, on command (einschreitung ?) of Nazi Franz Karmasin‘s leadership, arrested and taken by the Hlinka Guard (Slovak SS) — locked military barracks (Kasernen eingesperrt). There I was subjected to torture and abuse of the second degree. When this became public knowledge, it upset the leadership of the Slovak State, and after several days I was released.
But a week later, in late March, I was re-arrested again on the orders of Nazi Leadership (Karmasin), and transferred to the prison fortress Illava, to be held prisoner there under menschenwurdigsten (?) circumstances. I was put in the basement of this prison fortress, where the primitive central heating had long been out of operation. Days and nights, we had to spend in indescribable cold, with nothing to protect us but a few ragged horse blankets. In preparation for these inhumanities, specially chosen prisoners, I also among them, were tortured in the infamous “Koks-oder Schreckenskeller” (Coke – Kokshaufen – or Horror Cellar). They threw us in the Kokshaufen (?), covered us with a rug, so you do not see the wounds, and I, along with the Editor-in-Chief of the Newspaper Union Korman, were beaten throughout the night in the most barbarous ways. During this ordeal, my stomach and liver were so much affected that there later became ulcers on the lining of my stomach. On my way to Illava prison the transport had to be stopped, because I was vomiting blood. In spite of terrible pain, the provisional prison doctor denied me his help, with the remark that he would not because of my fall out with authorities. During the visits, however, my fellow prisoners reported of my fate, and it was an energetic intervention. There was an inspection and a physician, Dr. Pikova, took me into the prison hospital. My condition deteriorated, however, living in a dangerous manner, and I had alarmingly high blood pressure and a low temperature of 31-32 degrees celcius.
At last, I was transferred to the surgical ward of the hospital in Bratislava by Professors Carsky and Razus, and taken into treatment. In surgery they did not consider my weakened condition. For weeks I hovered between life and death. Of course, it did not look favorable that during the whole time I was heavily guarded by police inside the hospital, and had not the slightest possibility of speaking with anyone other than the doctors. After many long weeks I was finally allowed to transfer to my Villa again, of course, only under intense surveillance, day and night, in the hall of the Villa, and apart from my wife and my children no one was allowed to come in contact with me.
I had scarcely gained some new strength, when the newly appointed German Ambassador [Manfried Freiherr von] Killinger demanded the immediate surrender of my Villa and the entire facility. Killinger was already notorious when he came to Slovakia, and his crimes were well known. I refused him the provision, never concealing my general convictions, even then, though I was a sick man.
The following day an order was issued by the Nazi leadership to have me expelled from Bratislava in the night, and confiscate the Villa with everything. My one daughter was not even allowed to take her school books. I was expelled to a village in Wagtal with security guards, and I menschenunwudigsten (?) this treatment, I was almost always delivered by drunken guardsmen. After a few months, I was taken to another location, which was repeated several times, because many people had taken note of my unimaginably cruel treatment, and protested every time.
I had lodged an appeal against the expulsion, whereupon Killinger promptly dismissed the appeal and made my deportation into a life sentence. The carrying out was taken on by Presidialchef des Prasidiums (?) Dr. Koso, whereupon I was removed from the bar association and could not practice my profession. At the same time they also pointed out my son from Bratislava, stripping him of the right to University studies (weiterzustudieren). My law firm was confiscated. Together with the decision number 171/1940 a fine of 2 Million Crowns was imposed on me, and my cars and private plane were confiscated to deprive me of any possible movement or escape.
The then representative of the NSDAP (Nazi Party), Harold Steinacker, directed a criminal complaint against me for alleged criticism of Nazi leadership, and attempted to bring an action in the District Court of Trencin.
The President of the District Court, however, Dr. Sebak, was my devoted friend, because I had helped him during the war and supported him, so that he achieved the presidency of the District Court. With great skill, he was therefore able to thwart the arrest on the grounds of my parlous state of health, and to sabotage the sentencing, until my re-arrest and committal to a military prison.
At the outbreak of the uprising in Slovakia, I was together with Councillor Orsag and Colonel Black and was arrested by the Gestapo, brought to a military prison and charged again with accusations. The sustained maltreatment and prison stays, however, had deteriorated my health so that, in spite of the refusal of the prison commander Minari, the doctor summoned me in hospital medical care, also for the reason that the prison was repeatedly bombed.
When the prisoners demanded that they grant us protection in a bomb-proof cellar during the attacks, the commander said the prison had no bomb shelter; but he was willing to build one, when the prisoners would give him money. Since I was the only wealthy one among them, he demanded that sum from me, which my family had to hand over to him. The plans for the shelter had made another political prisoner, who was an architect. The construction, however, was never carried out, and some of the prisoners had to pay with their lives in the next bombing. The commander has simply embezzled the money.
From the hospital, I managed to regain freedom with the help of doctors, and put myself in the care of a private sanatorium in Smokovec in the Tatras, and after that to Mikulas.
At that time, the front was already in Dukla and the evacuation of businesses was ordered in Slovakia. The Slovak government met with the German army leaders on agreement what categories and what quantities of industrial equipment and supplies, as well as food stuffs, must be evacuated, and what proportion of the population must be left for livelihood opportunities.
There were sharp measures arranged against anyone that would violate these proposals (proporzen). Unfortunately, agreed commanders behaved “intrinsically Faust” and took everything that was available. Even the most minimal stocks of sugar, which were reserved for the population, should be “saved” for Switzerland, generally considered, however, to be a “rescue fund” created for known and unknown Nazi-Grossen (Nazi-Greats).
The sugar industry was outraged, and the chief of central supply, Dr. Vondruska, was himself powerless against these groups. With the sugar industry representatives, he intervened even with me, as a long-time lawyer of the sugar industry. There was no other way out, other than by rapid distribution to the consumers, to save this situation. The workers – the railway workers – all day and night helped with zeal, and also to cover that the allotment price of 106 Million measures had been taken.
Also with other inventories, which were reserved for the security of the population, there were similar practices.
I emphasize that only a portion of the distribution determined inventory was saved, the majority was evacuated by unconstitutional agreement – where it happened, no one knows but the participants.
Finally, in the middle of February, they wanted to evacuate the whole population of Liptov Mikulas district, including older people and those who were suspect, i.e. once we were already arrested and released we were to be deported immediately.
I was asked to intervene as delegate for the highest of ecclesiastical dignitaries, because 20 degree (gradige) cold prevailed, and there were large snow drifts, and also the district and the city had been shut down for 3 months from any traffic, without light, because the Front had been here in the country for weeks.
The commander Schuhmacher was inclined to postpone the evacuation, but demanded that in order for the soldiers to buy different things, necessary funds should be provided. But that very night. I had obtained the postponement with considerable financial sacrifice – and for my person, also. After the Front had changed in the following days, the population was rescued. However, I had all the proscribed people brought to safety at once.
For this, defending the Convention and actively deporting the shifted district humanely, I was arrested by the Gestapo in Ruzomberok and sentences to death, and also my son in absentia.
After that night, the Front had to retreat, and I was freed by the underground movement just hours before the execution, and hidden in an abandoned bunker. After reconquest the next day, the whole town was searched for me by several departments. Finally, they emptied out my apartment [His law office, I am sure, since there are other documents giving details of that seizure.-T] of all the things which, up till then, I was able to save in Bratislava, they loaded up seven trucks with it and drove away, not without first breaking open my safe, where I kept money for the guidance of industries and large estates in the amount of 2 1/2 Million Crowns. A directory contains all the stolen values, according to the insert more than 5 Million – officially confirmed. Insert submitted. [Not included here.-T]
At the end of hostilities, in the awareness that these persecutions and abuse to me was not the German people, but a power-hungry clique had done this, I have done everything to love my fellow Germans in Slovakia, to mitigate those innocent who were often subjected to reprisals. The Slovak people would never have handed over his fellow Germans to be expelled, but the higher command out of Potsdam and the pressure of the so-called Russian Liberators could not be avoided. Nevertheless, I managed that the major part of the reported families from Slovakia, from the Paprad camp, not be sent into the Soviet zone, as was already prepared, but were transferred to the Western zones and also to Austria.
In this manner, I managed to at least partially reimburse you for those times in Germany and Berlin University, in which I received the scientific foundations I have always considered to be invaluable.
After the Persecution Today
As the so-called Russian Liberation Army in Slovakia – consuming (raubend) more than liberating – invaded our city, I was immediately arrested and led into the basement of the NKVD, where I found quite a few others arrested. The public, especially the workers in awareness that I freed from deportation a few days before, chose to stand up and with the deputation of workers demanded the immediate release from liability. But the commander of the NKVD also had the deputation arrested and had me lead them into the cellar. The workers union had accumulated in front of the Villa and vigorously demanded the release from liability, whereupon the commander turned to the High command in Kosice, whereupon we were released – seven and a few, but the rest were to be deported to Siberia. The NKVD commander later said I was arrested on the basis of the request of the Hungarian Communists, because I, as High Commissioner in 1919, acted so harshly (so schroff) against the troops of Bela Kun. And he said that if I was released now, I would not be spared Siberia.
The public had reacted sharply. I immediately became an honorary citizen of the circle and an honorary member of the National Committee, elected unanimously, and I was given the two highest honors.
The spontaneous demonstrations of the public gave me the strength to forcefully intervene against many attacks, and also to help my fellow Germans and give confirmation that they behaved decently during the Hitler era, and to stifle all individual personal attacks of vengeance in the bud. As I have already mentioned, I was able to help the internees that they not go to the Soviet zone, as was planned, but were sent to West Germany and Austria. I was a daily visitor to collection centers and in prisons, to help where help was justified.
My parlous state of health has not allowed me to carry my work further. The law firm I have has only a limited representation of associates, and these are only my best performing workers.
After the Communist coup performed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister [Valerian] Zorin for the Communists, the time is broken up with invoices to settle for my work against Communism as High Commissioner in 1919. And on the instructions of the insulted Rakosi I was first of all relieved of all my functions and representatives, and subjected to all possible harassment, interrogations, etc. When I went to the delegation, as elected President of the Financial and Economic Committee of the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Amsterdam, and was asked for my passport, I was arrested on the pretext of excessive imaginary charges. My whole fortune was taken, all accounts were confiscated and my Villa locked with furnishings, clothes, supplies, and everything, since it was the Consul-General of Russia; and on the same evening I was arrested as a “National Gift”, the nation was taken over, and in the night the Russians transferred the land register.
And so, my health still shattered by the persecution these Nazi monsters caused, they transferred me to the locked section of the hospital to make interrogations there. After seven months detention [In another document it says only 6 months, which I will include here, after this testimony.-T] the workers and employees of some companies succeeded to liberate me in the night on January 21-22, 1949, and led me to a kamion near the border. I had foreseen that the police would know about my escape during the night, and that’s why I escaped (uberschreitete ?) to the Hungarian border with Austria, and again by the Austrian border, since I was immediately searched with many dogs.
I managed with the help of my friends to leave the Soviet zone disguised, and made it to Switzerland where I anticipated my wife and daughter. [I have an audio recording of Olga Fabry, Pavel’s daughter, where she says that her father escaped from the prison hospital dressed as a nun, and made it across the Swiss border by train, hiding inside a beer barrel.-T]
The Swiss authorities immediately received me as a political refugee and assured me of asylum, and issued all the necessary travel documents.
To this day I am constantly witness to the most amiable concessions by the Swiss authorities.
In my description of illness, my activity in Switzerland is already cited.
Accustomed to the work of life, and since my health no longer permits regular employment, I have adopted the assistance of refugees. Since Geneva was the center of the most important refugee organizations, I was flooded with requests by the refugees of Western Europe.
I took part on the board of the Refugee Committee in Zurich and Austria, after most refugees came from Slovakia to Austria, and I had to check very carefully if there were any refugees that had been disguised. I was then elected as President of the Refugee Committee, but on the advice of the doctors treating me I had to adjust this activity, because through this work my health did not improve. Nevertheless, I succeeded in helping assist 1200 refugees in the decisive path of new existence.
Otherwise, I remain active in the Church organizations. All this human activity I naturally consider to be honorary work, and for this and for travel I never asked for a centime.
Since I am more than 62 years old, all my attempts to find international employment failed, because regulations prohibit taking on an employee at my age. It was the same case with domestic institutions.
My profession as a lawyer I can exercise nowhere, since at my age nostrification of law diplomas was not permitted. To start a business or involvement I lacked the necessary capital – since I have lost everything after my arrests by the Communists, what had remained from the persecution.
And so I expect at least the compensation for my damages in accordance with the provisions applicable to political refugees.