My husband Victor is the nephew of Vlado Fabry, the only child of Vlado’s sister Olinka. When Olinka passed away in 2009, we discovered a trove of papers and photos stuffed in old suitcases in the house in New York; we packed them up and brought them to Washington state, and since then I have made it my mission to share the family story with the world. The photo above shows one of these suitcases, which was originally owned by Ivan S. Kerno – Slovak lawyer and family friend, who was Assistant to Secretary-General Trygve Lie and was head of the United Nations Legal Department. We have many letters from Ivan Kerno, but here is one from Garden City, Long Island, New York, from 1946, the year Vlado joined the Legal Department of the United Nations; addressed to Vlado’s father, Pavel Fabry, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, to our family home that is still illegally occupied by the Russian Federation, since the coup d’etat of 1948.
Tag Archives: Slovak
Letters from Vlado in New York, 1946
Here are two letters in Slovak from Vlado in New York, written in July and August of 1946, shortly after his arrival in the States. At this time, the United Nations Headquarters were located in Lake Success, NY, in the Sperry Gyroscope Company factory. The first letter, written to his sister Olinka in Lausanne, Switzerland, is on onion skin paper and is not getting any younger; it is hard to decipher because Vlado wrote on both sides of the paper, but, for those determined to know what he was up to and wrote, it is not impossible to translate! Ďakujem for the help!
No more accommodation for Putin and his mafia – get out of our house!!
No more accommodating dictators – stop letting Putin and Lukashenko get away with torture, kidnapping, murder! No more! Do the right thing, Slovakia – think of Vaclav Havel, and of all the Czech and Slovak heroes that fought for your freedom! Stand up for Alexei Navalny and Roman Protasevich, for the people of Belarus and Russia, for the hundreds of political prisoners who have risked their lives, for you and for me! Let love and integrity be your motivation, not fear!
First Czechoslovak Republic: Fabry archive,1918-1920
The following documents and photos are from November 1918 to December 1920, they are in Hungarian and I am not able to translate them – I will return later to transcribe some of these. I hope to give a clearer picture of why Pavel Fabry, and his family, were the target of retaliation and revenge by Hungary and Russia, and why Russia still occupies our home in Bratislava – the house belongs to the city of Bratislava now, my husband and I donated it!
For historical context, the First Czechoslovak Republic began on 28 October 1918, and the boundaries and government were established with the Czechoslovak Constitution of 29 February 1920. The Treaty of Trianon was signed on 4 June 1920, and Saris County became part of newly formed Czechoslovakia; Saris was formerly known as Saros, a County of the Kingdom of Hungary, and had been since the 13th century – Pavel was Governor of Presov and prefect of Saris at its very beginning! In connection, this pdf text from the University of Presov was sent to me by a very helpful family relative last year(thank you!!): “Eastern Slovakia in 19th and 20th centuries in relation of the centre and periphery“; she wrote that “it describes the installation and the very beginning of [Pavel’s] governance in Presov.”
Fabry Family Home in Bratislava
Our grandfather Pavel “Tata/Tatusko” Fabry, sharing his love of photography with his son, Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry; circa 1920s.
Baby Vlado held by unidentified person, with “Maminka”, our grandmother Olga Fabry-Palka. Vlado was born on 23 November 1920, in Liptovský svätý mikuláš, Czechoslovakia.
Baby Vlado – those ears!
Vlado having a nap.
Vlado’s only sibling, sister Olga “Olinka”, arrives home; she was born 5 October 1927, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. Their mother, Olga Fabry-Palka, on far right, dressed in black; brother Vlado is on the left, wearing knee socks and black buckled shoes. This photo, and the rest that follow, show the home our family built in Bratislava – it was seized by the Communists in the coup d’état of 1948, handed over as a gift to Russia, and has ever since been occupied as their embassy. You can see recent photos of our home by searching for “Russian Embassy Bratislava”.
Olinka and Vlado with a nanny.
Maminka, Vlado and Olinka playing in the garden.
Olinka with Tatusko.
Admiring the long stemmed roses that Maminka planted.
This photo, and the two following, were taken around 1930.
Olinka with a friend, Maminka in background.
Mother and daughter, so happy!
These two photos are undated, but it looks like Vlado got what he wanted for his birthday! I’m so glad that these photos were saved, but some of them have curled from improper storage. The American Library Association(ALA) website has advice here, for those of you wondering how to safely flatten your old photos.
Bambi! This was Vlado and Olinka’s pet deer – Olinka told us the story about their deer, that it jumped the fence and crashed the neighbor’s wedding party, eating all the cake – and then the police were chasing it all over town!
Olinka and friend.
Pavel Fabry very likely colorized these photos with his set of Caran d’Ache pencils, some of which we are still using! Dated July 1927.
Vlado and his sister had pretty much the same haircut for a while, but this is Vlado on the stairs.
Marked on back “rodina Fabry v Bratislava” – Fabry family in Bratislava. I recognize Olga Fabry-Palka and her mother, but I am unable to identify the others at this time. The next few photos, showing guests visiting the house, are unmarked – help with identification is appreciated!
Here is one of Vlado, the hat and beard don’t disguise!
Pavel, Vlado, Olga, and Olinka, and a chocolate cake, in the dining room.
Vlado with unidentified guests, waiting for cake!
The family all together!
There are more photos, but first, here are important documents which tell the story of our family and home in Bratislava:
Drafts of Pavel Fabry’s Curriculum Vitae, 11 September 1952, printed here:
“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.”
And this, from the September 25, 1961 Congressional Record: “Extension of Remarks of Hon. William W. Scranton of Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives”:
“Mr. SCRANTON. Mr. Speaker, in the tragic air crash in which the world lost the life of Dag Hammarskjold, we also suffered the loss of the life of Dr. Vladimir Fabry, the legal adviser to the United Nations operations in the Congo.
In the following statement by John C. Sciranka, a prominent American Slovak journalist, many of Dr. Fabry’s and his esteemed father’s attributes and good deeds are described. Dr. Fabry’s death is a great loss not only for all Slovaks, but for the whole free world.
Mr Sciranka’s statement follows:
Governor Fabry (Dr. Fabry’s father) was born in Turciansky sv. Martin, known as the cultural center of Slovakia. The Communists dropped the prefix svaty (saint) and call the city only Martin.
The late assistant to Secretary General Hammarskjold, Dr. Vladimir Fabry, inherited his legal talents from his father who studied law in the law school at Banska Stavnica, Budapest, and Berlin. The old Governor before the creation of Czechoslovakia fought for the rights of the Slovak nation during the Austro-Hungarian regime and was imprisoned on several occasions. His first experience as an agitator for Slovak independence proved costly during his student days when he was arrested for advocating freedom for his nation. Later the military officials arrested him on August 7, 1914, for advocating a higher institute of education for the Slovakian youth in Moravia. This act kept him away from the front and held him back as clerk of the Bratislava court.
He was well equipped to aid the founders of the first Republic of Czechoslovakia, which was created on American soil under the guidance and aid of the late President Woodrow Wilson. After the creation of the new republic he was made Governor (zupan) of the County of Saris, from which came the first Slovak pioneers to this city and county. Here he was confronted with the notorious Communist Bela Kun, who made desperate efforts to get control of Czechoslovakia. This successful career of elder Governor Fabry was followed by elevation as federal commissioner of the city of Kosice in eastern Slovakia.
But soon he resigned this post and opened a law office in Bratislava, with a branch office in Paris and Switzerland. The Governor’s experience at the international court gave a good start to his son Vladimir, who followed in the footsteps of his father. During World War II the elder Fabry was imprisoned by the Nazi regime and young Vladimir was an underground resistance fighter.
Dr. Vladimir Fabry, 40-year-old legal adviser to Secretary Dag Hammarskjold with the United Nations operation in Congo, who perished in the air tragedy, was born in Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas Slovakia. He received his doctor’s degree in law and political science from the Slovak University in Bratislava in 1942 and was admitted to the bar the following year. He was called to the United Nations Secretariat in 1946 by his famous countryman and statesman, Dr. Ivan Kerno, who died last winter in New York City after a successful career as international lawyer and diplomat and who served with the United Nations since its inception. Dr. Vladimir Fabry helped to organize postwar Czechoslovakia. His family left the country after the Communist putsch in February 1948. His sister Olga is also in the service of the United Nations in New York City [as a Librarian.-T]. His father, the former Governor, died during a visit to Berlin before his 70th birthday, which the family was planning to celebrate on January 14, 1961, in Geneva.
Before going to the Congo in February, Dr. Fabry had been for a year and a half the legal and political adviser with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East. In 1948, he was appointed legal officer with the Security Council’s Good Offices Committee on the Indonesian question. He later helped prepare legal studies for a Jordan Valley development proposal. He also participated in the organization of the International Atomic Energy Agency. After serving with the staff that conducted the United Nations Togaland plebiscite in 1956, he was detailed to the Suez Canal clearance operation, winning a commendation for his service.
Dr. Vladimir Fabry became a U.S. citizen 2 years ago. He was proud of his Slovak heritage, considering the fact that his father served his clerkship with such famous Slovak statesmen as Paul Mudron, Andrew Halasa, Jan Vanovic, and Jan Rumann, who played important roles in modern Slovak history.
American Slovaks mourn his tragic death and they find consolation only in the fact that he worked with, and died for the preservation of world peace and democracy with such great a leader as the late Dag Hammarskjold.”
The C.V. of Pavel Fabry from 17 December 1955, which I translated a while back; the letterhead on this first page is from the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Geneva.
This is the C.V. of our grandmother Olga Fabry, which I have not yet translated. The following statement was made on her behalf, from 30 November 1956:
“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.”
The first page of Pavel’s C.V., 1955.
This is my translation of the last three pages of Pavel’s C.V., pages 11-13, with photos included to compare and help improve the translation:
“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 Mátyás Rákosi 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.”
Credentials for Pavel Fabry to attend the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam, as a representative of the Evangelical church in Slovakia, signed by the bishop of the general church, dated 22 March 1948.
This is a photocopy of a photostatic copy, a statement written by the General Secretary and the Assistant General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Geneva, dated 25 March 1948:
“To whom it may concern: This is to certify that Dr. Pavel FABRY, Czechoslovakian, born 14.1.1891[14 January] at Turčiansky Sv Martin, has been appointed as participant in the First General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, to be held in Amsterdam, Holland, from August 22nd to September 4th 1948.
We shall appreciate any courtesy on the part of Dutch and other consular authorities shown to participants in order to facilitate their coming to Amsterdam.”
From what I am able to translate, these next two documents seem to be asking Pavel to ‘voluntarily’ give up a lot of money or else, dated 1 March and 1 April 1948:
Attacks against Pavel Fabry were made in the communist newspaper PRAVDA, all clippings are from 1948, one is dated by hand 26th of August:
From 4 October 1948, this letter was written to Olinka, who was a student in 1947 at St. George’s School, Clarens, Switzerland:
“[…]We had Czech visitors a few days ago, a Mr. and Mrs. Debnar [sp?] from Bratislava, and we were deeply distressed to hear from him that Mr. Fabry had been taken off to a camp. Very, very much sympathy to you all[…]”
This is a letter from Vlado to Constantin Stavropoulos, written while he was on assignment for the United Nations in Indonesia, dated 10 October 1948. Vlado was asking for help in getting another assignment, so he could be closer to his family who needed him. I am appreciating more and more the emotional strain Vlado was under while writing this. Trygve Lie was the Secretary-General of the United Nations at this time.
“It’s more than a month now, that I received your cable that there is a possibility of an assigment for me in the Palestine commision, and that you will write me more about it – but I didn’t hear about the assignment anything since. The news which here and there trickle through from Paris or Geneva are not too good. They seem to indicate that I am not welcome there, not only as official, but not even as a visitor and that I should wander around or hide myself as a criminal. It looks as if the administration of my department /and from what they say, the administration of the whole organization as well/ would consider me as an outcast, who in addition to his other sins adds a really unforgivable one – that he behaves and expects treatment as if he would not be an outcast /at least that is what I understood from a letter written to my mother, that I should have voluntarily resigned a long time ago/. Excuse my bitterness – but I am simply not able to understand the attitude which is still taken against me – neither from the legal point of view of my rights and obligations under my existing contract, neither from a moral and ethical point of view which an organization representing such high aims to the outside must surely have towards itself. Sometimes I am [wondering], if the best would not be to let it come to a showdown and have it over once and for ever – it really is getting and obsession under which I have to live and to work all the time, specially since the UN employment means not only mine, but also my mothers and sisters /and maybe my fathers/ security and status. But exactly this consideration of my family’s dependence on it make me cautious and give me patience to try to get along without too much push. But, on the other hand, my cautiousness and fear to risk too much put me in the position of a beggar for favour, which is ipso facto a very bad one -/people who don’t care, or at least don’t show that they care, achieve things so much easier/- and which in addition I do not know how to act properly.[…]”
Further evidence comes from Washington state, U.S.A., from the Spokane Daily Chronicle 19 September 1961, “Crash Victim Known in City”:
“Vladimir Fabry, killed in the plane crash that claimed the life of Dag Hammarskjold yesterday in Northern Rhodesia, visited Spokane three years ago.
Fabry, U.S. legal adviser to the United Nations in the Congo is a close friend of Teckla M Carlson, N1727 Atlantic, and he and his sister, Olga, also a UN employee, were her house guests in 1958.
A travel agent, Mrs. Carlson first met Fabry in 1949 at Geneva after he had succeeded in having his father released from a concentration camp. The Spokane woman said they have exchanged letters since that time.”
By Marc Dragul - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Vaclav Havel, 17 November 1989, honoring Jan Opletal and others who died in the Prague protests of 1939. This was the start of the Velvet Revolution, which ended on 29 December 1989 with Vaclav Havel elected as President of Czechoslovakia, the end of 41 years of Communist rule.
Before continuing with the next documents and photos from 1990 to 2002, here is a copy of a letter dated 14 April 1948, from Dr. Ivan Kerno, who was Assistant to the Secretary-General Trygve Lie at the United Nations, and head of the legal department, giving his commendation of Vlado’s work. Dr. Kerno was instrumental in Vlado getting his position at the U.N., and was a good friend to the family.
Dr. Kerno’s son, Ivan, who was also a lawyer, would later help Vlado’s sister Olga in 1990, as they were both seeking restitution, and needed someone to investigate the status of their houses in Prague and Bratislava. This fax from Prague is addressed to Mr. Krno, dated 20 November 1990, from lawyer Dr. Jaroslav Sodomka. Dr. Sodomka writes that the Fabry house was “taken in 1951-52[the dates are handwritten over an area that looks whited-out] and later donated to the USSR (1955)[the date and parentheses are also handwritten over a whited-out area].”
“[…]As for Mrs. Burgett I shall also get the remaining extracts; here the problem is clear, be it under the small restitution law or under the rehabilitation law, the house will not be restituted as it became property of the USSR and the Czechoslovak government – probably the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – will have to provide the compensation.”
In response to this fax, Ivan Kerno writes to Sodomka, 7 December 1990:
“[…]please do not take any action with the authorities in connection with her house. She wants a restitution of her house, namely, to receive possession of the house, and is not interested in receiving a monetary compensation.
I have read in the New York Times this morning that the Czechoslovakian government has announced that it will compensate persons who have been politically persecuted or jailed under the former regime. This is a clear indication that the present government considers the actions of the former Communist government to have been illegal. It is also a definite precedent for the restitution of family homes which were illegally taken by the previous government and handed over to a foreign government.[…]”
This map shows our property in Bratislava, outlined in red:
From 3 January 1991, Sodomka once again writes to confirm that the house was confiscated in 1951, and donated to USSR in 1955:
“[…]As for your client Fabry, I think that it would be appropriate to address the demand for the restitution directly to the Chairman of the Slovak Government as it was the Slovak Government which has donated the house in 1955 to the USSR Government. This matter also is not touched by the small Restitution Law, the confiscation took place already in 1951 but I think that it would be appropriate to start to speak already now with the Slovak Government.[…]”
Olga Fabry returned to Czechoslovakia with her husband in June 1992, for the first time since her exile, to see the house. This next letter is dated 27 April 1992, and is addressed to Consul General Mr. Vladimir Michajlovic Polakov, Russian Consulate General, Bratislava:
I would like to request an appointment with you on June 17th or 18th 1992 whichever would be convenient.
I plan to be in Bratislava at that time and would like to discuss with you matters pertaining to the villa that my parents built, where I was born and grew up and which now houses your Consulate.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would be kind enough to let me know in writing when I can see you. Thank you.
Olga Burgett nee Fabry”
This is an undated letter from the Russian embassy in Bratislava(our house), the postal cancellation is hard to decipher but appears to be from June 5 1992, and there is a written note to “HOLD Away or on Vacation”. This may have arrived while Olga and her husband were already in Czechoslovakia – finding this waiting back home in New York, I can only imagine how she must have felt! This contradicts what Lawyer Sodomka told her, but it confirms Pavel’s testimony: the house was taken in 1948.
“Dear Mrs. Burgett,
With reference to your letter dated 27.04.1992 we inform you that at your request you have the opportunity to survey the villa while your stay in Bratislava. But we attract your attention to the fact that all the matters, pertaining to the right of property for the villa you should discuss with C.S.F.R. Foreign Office. Since 1948 the villa is the property of the Russian Federation and houses now Gen. cosulate[sic] of Russia.
Secretary of the Gen. consulate of Russia in Bratislava
These photos were taken in June 1992, during Olga’s visit. The roses Maminka planted were still growing strong.
These two are undated, unmarked.
Lastly, the most recent photos I have, dated 25 July 2002, and the roses were still blooming.
When you search for images of the “Russian Embassy Bratislava”, you see the roses have all been removed now, and there is a new tiered fountain, but if you can ignore the flag of Russia and the gilded emblem of the federation hanging off the balustrade, it still looks like our house!
And now, because love is the reason I tell this story for my family, I leave you with my favorite photos of Pavel and Olga Fabry, who did so much good out of love!
Letters from Fraňo Tiso
Who was Fraňo Tiso? When I first posted the image of his postcard to Vlado here, back in March of 2013, I was frankly too horrified to consider that he could be any relation to Jozef Tiso, that there were probably lots of people with the last name of Tiso. But considering the political connections that Vlado and Pavel had, that Fraňo was the former Slovak Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and that I also have letters from Fraňo to Pavel concerning his communication with Franz Karmasin (letters from Karmasin posted here), this Fraňo was very likely the cousin of Jozef Tiso; he is mentioned briefly in James Mace Ward’s “Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia” (published 2013, Cornell University Press); from chapter 7, “Sacred Convictions, 1939-44”, page 206:
“Although still pro-German, [Jozef] Tiso also wanted greater independence, a desire that led to a sharp foreign policy turn: détente with the Soviet Union. In addition to general issues of sovereignty, the economics of German domination increasingly troubled him. His idea of the state was for “national” property to come into Slovak hands. Instead, German-held shares in Slovakia’s industry exploded to over half in 1942. The Reich meanwhile consumed around three-quarters of Slovak exports, paying in devalued credits instead of hard cash. Seeking relief from such economic dependence and exploitation, Ďurčanský as foreign minister looked east. Diplomatic ties with the Communist state offered markets, an ally for revising the Vienna Award, and the prestige of Great Power recognition. Despite a lifetime of anti-bolshevism, Tiso supported the strategy. He later claimed to have welcomed the 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact, expecting it to facilitate the solution of “European questions” on the basis of the ethnic principle. In his first presidential address, he proposed Slovakia as “a mediator…between…the Slavic and German worlds.” Soon, he was courting “extensive economic relations” with the Soviets not only by exchanging ambassadors (sending to Moscow his cousin Fraňo) but even by congratulating Stalin on the anniversary of the October Revolution.”
More about Fraňo and Jozef Tiso is mentioned in David S. Wyman’s book “The World Reacts to the Holocaust” (published 1996, Johns Hopkins University Press):
“The fate of the Jewish population had been given more attention in Slovakia than in the Czech lands, mainly because of the involvement and complicity of the clero-fascist Slovak regime, headed by the Catholic priest-president Dr. Jozef Tiso. The role played by the Catholic clergy in Slovakia during World War II conformed with the antireligious propaganda of the Communist Party.
The initial attempt to review the birth of the Slovak state was made by the pre-war minister of justice Ivan Dérer, in his Slovenský vývoj a ľudácká zrada, fakta, vzpomínky a úvahy (The Slovak state and the treachery of the L’udaks: Facts, memories, and thoughts). The first writer to set a novel against the backdrop of the years of Slovak independence was Dominik Tatarka in his Farská republika (The Parish republic). Tatarka depicted the misguided policy and the corrupt leadership that ultimately led to the wholesale deportation and destruction of the Jewish population. Other authors, such as Hela Volanská and Katerína Lazarová, portrayed the heroic stance of Jewish participants in the Slovak National Uprising. The History of Modern Slovakia, the first in-depth study to disclose the policy of the Nazi puppet regime and to describe at great length the persecution of Slovak Jewry, was published in New York in 1955 by Dr. Jozef Lettrich, a chairman of the Slovak National Council who had fled after the Communist coup. The role of the Hlinka Guard and the Jewish plight were analyzed by Imrich Staňek, himself a survivor, in the 1958 Zrada a pád: hlinkovští separatisté a tak zvaný Slovenský stát (Treachery and downfall: The Hlinka separatists and the so-called Slovak state), written from a strictly Marxist-Leninist viewpoint.
The capture of Adolf Eichmann in May 1960 by the Mossad and his subsequent trial in Jerusalem were widely covered in the national press and media. Eichmann, notorious for engineering the deportation of both Czech and Slovak Jewry, was of major interest to the local population. (He had commuted between Berlin and Prague, where he resided in the elegant, confiscated Rosenthal villa, in the Střešovice district.) The Czech and Slovak press sent special reporters to cover the proceedings of the trial. One of these reporters, the writer Ladislav Mňačko, later published a book portraying Eichmann’s satanic role in the Holocaust. The testimonies given at the trial by survivors appeared frequently in the press and in Věstník ŽNO, the weekly bulletin of the Jewish Religious Communities in Prague. Many of these related to the wholesale deportation of Slovak Jewry orchestrated by the [Jozef] Tiso regime. During one of the sessions of the trial Eichmann’s claim that “the Slovaks gave away their Jews as one spills sour beer,” from Life magazine’s interview with him, was quoted. Widely repeated in the international press, this assertion provoked reactions among leading Slovak figures in exile. The Munich-based Fraňo Tiso, in an effort to whitewash the Slovak wartime leadership, published an article in which he stressed the endeavors of the “moderate parish regime” to save Jews from deportation. In response, Edo Friš took up the topic in the article “In the Background was Heydrich,” published in the Bratislava weekly Kultúrny život. The controversy focused on the visit of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich to Bratislava on April 10, 1942. Friš challenged [Frano] Tiso’s claim that the reason for Heydrich’s visit was to pressure the Slovak government to continue implementing the Final Solution. Citing documents referred to in The Destruction of Slovak Jewry, published some months earlier, Friš stressed the initiative and involvement of the Slovak leaders in the mass deportation of Jews; the aim of Heydrich’s visit, Friš added, was to assist the Slovak government in formulating a fallacious reply to the Vatican’s March 14, 1942, protest against the deportation of Jews. This was the first discussion of this sensitive issue in more than a decade.”
Here is another perspective of Fraňo Tiso, from the article “Slovak Historians In Exile In North America, 1945-1992” (published 1996), written by M. Mark Stolarik, Chair of Slovak History and Culture, University of Ottawa, Canada:
“Finally, another émigré journalist briefly settled in the Dominion and produced a significant work of scholarship. He was Dr. Fraňo Tiso (1894-1974), the former Slovak Ambassador to the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1941. Tiso fled Slovakia in 1945 and settled in Canada in 1950. In spite of his advanced age, he studied at the University of Montreal and in 1956 earned a Ph.D. in history. He published a portion of his dissertation on “The Empire of Samo, 623-658” in 1960. In 1957 he moved to West Germany where he edited the newspaper Slobodné Slovensko until his death.”
Obviously, I am very unsettled that I have these letters, I don’t know what to make of them yet, but I am publishing them here because I want to know the truth about the Fabrys, even if it shatters my whole lovely narrative about them – this is about history and not fiction.
V snahe, v terajšej vážnej, pre vývin udalostí v Strednej Europe smerodatnej dobe, podniknúť všetko, čo by nášmu ujarmenému slov národu pre jeho budúcnosť zo štátotvorného stanoviska prospešné bolo a v snahe vyjasniť si mnohé nesprávné tvrdenia, ba i obvinenia vedúcich činiteľov počas trvania Slovenského štátu – stretli sa v Mníchove v dňoch 18. a 19. februára 1959 v Hoteli Bayerischer Hof členovia Exilu a to Frant. TISO, predseda Slov. Národnej Rady v Zahraničí, odb. pre Spolkovú Nem. Republiku so sídlom v Mníchove a Dr. Pavel FABRY, t.č. v Ženeve a vo voľnej, viac hodín trvajúcej rozprave prejednali všetky aspekty vážnejších udalostí, ktoré od roku 1918 na osud slov. národa vliv maly.
Uľahčila tento rozhovor tá okolnosť, že sa Dr Fabrymu podarilo zachrániť vážne, pôvodné dokumenty historického významu z rokov 1918 – 1920, poťažne z rokov 1944 – 1948., a ktoré v jeho, v práve chystanej knihe prejednávané budú.
V rámci tohoto rozhovoru oboznámil Dr Fábry, Frant. Tisu s niektorými vážnými dokladmi, pri čom váhu kládol na dokumenty jeho jednania ako Povereníka Slov. Národnej Rady v roku 1918 o zabezpečenia samobytosti Slov. národa.
Taktiež si držal za vážnu povinnosť oboznámiť Fr. Tisu s pôvodnou dokumentáciou zásahou nácistických orgánov z Nemecka, Gestapa a Sicherheitsdienstu ako i nem. nácistických Sekretariátov, ktoré náležite vyvracajú v konkretných prípadoch, menovite posledne sa javiacu tendenciu, akoby tieto zásahy smerujúce na osbné prenasledovania slovenských občanov, sihajúce na ích slobodu, na ích životy a mučenia, páchané boly iniciatívov vládz a jej orgánov v Slov. štáte, čo Fr. Tiso so zadosťučinením berie na vedomie a potvrdzuje niektorými konkretnými prípadmi, ako Dr. Fábry, a udalostiami, ako na príklad, že Prezident Tiso trikráť odmietol podpísať zákon o prenasledovaní židov a nikdy ho nepodpísal. Týmito vyjasneniami budú môcť byť na pravú mieru uvedené mnohé mýlne trdenia a mýlné stanoviská a uľahčiť cestu ku mnohému dorozumeniu.
Táto rozprava vedená bola v prvom rade prehlásením, že obaja súčastnení, ktorých v ích doterajšom konaní viedla vždy úprimná snaha, za v dobe daných okolností pomôcť svojmu rodu a berú za toto pred Bohom, národom a vlastným svedomím vždy a všade zodpovednosť.
Preto sa rozhodli, na základe v rozprave zistených okolností všetko potrebné podniknúť, aby vytýčený cieľ mohol byť uskutočnený, ktorého podrobností a postup pripravia do stretnutia najbližšej príležitosti.
Do tej doby overia tento záp-is svojím parafom a prosia Všemohúceho aby žehnal ďalšie kroky ích úsilia.
Dané v Mníchove, dňa 19. februára 1959.
Dr. Pavel Fabry parafuje:
Frant. Tiso parafuje:
Napísané v dvoch exemplároch parafom potvrdených.
München, 28.februára 1959
Veľavážený pán Advokát!
S priateľom ing.Filom som sa mohol v Bonne dobre porozprávať, čo – chvála Bohu – tiež prispelo k vzájomnému porozumeniu.
Bola v reči aj Vaša vec. V najbližších dňoch stretnem sa s pánom Birknerom / nie Brinker, ako ste ho Vy spomínali pri našom rozhovore / v Stuttgarte a dozviem sa, aké úzadie má jeho podanie a čo by sa dalo vo veci robiť. Poznám ho ako charakterného človeka, ktorý istotne nie je pod vplyvom Vami spomínaného človeka. Podanie muselo sa stať na zaklade nejakéko omylu alebo podfuku. On sám ho istotne nekoncipoval. Mám dobrú nádej, že aj táto vec príde do poriadku.
Prosím Vás pekne, pán Advokát, napíšte mi dôverne, kde a za akých okolností povedal pán súdruh Mikojan to, čo ste mi tu spomínali /47 – 24 – 32 – – 50 miliardov dol. / Stojím ešte stále pod dojmom počutého a jeho aspektov. Raz ma zalieva horúca vlna radosti a nádeje, po nej zasa pochybovania, či to vôbec bolo povedané pánom súdruhom Mikojanom, či je to vôbec pravda, či Vás niekto nepodviedol, alebo či to nepovedal vo forme a podstate celkom inej. Upokojte ma, prosím, udaním prameňa!
Rád by som počuť, že zdravie Vám a Vašim milým dobre slúzi.
V očakávaní Vašich zpráv pozdravujem Vás srdečne.
P.S. Mohli by ste mi napísať adresu p. syna?
München, 29. júna 1959
Veľavážený pán Doktor Fábry!
Keďže prem mojim odchodom do Pariza nemohol som sa stretnúť s p. št. sekretárom Karmasinom, aby som s ním pohovoril v zmysle toho, na čom sa dohodli pán Filo a Birkner, napísal som mu list a vysvetlil, že nemôže byť ani v jeho záujme, aby povstal proces a aby sa rozprestierali pred nepritaeľskou verejnosťou veci, ktoré najradšej zabudnúť treba.
Odpoveďou napísal mi p. št. sekr. Karmasin toto:
“Die Beilage in Angelegenheit Dr. Fabry habe ich erhalten. Ich bin an Dr. Fabry weder positiv noch negativ interessiert, ich war es auch nie. Nun hat aber Dr. Fabry behauptet, dass er über meine Veranlassung von der Gestapo verhaftet wurde. Das ist eine glatte Unwahreit und ich kann nun keine Erklärung adgeben, dass ich ihn tatsächlich verhaften liess. Ich habe im ganzen Leben niemenden verhaften lassen, also auch Dr. Fabry nicht, ganz abgesehen davon, dass ich gar nicht die Möglichkeit hatte, jemanden verhaften zu lassen. Es müsste also erst Dr. Fabry seine Behauptung widerrufen, dass er über meine Veranlassung verhaftet wurde, denn ich kann Ihnen nicht zustimmen, wenn Sie schreiben, dass mit einer Zurückziehung niemand zu Schaden kommen kann. Ich z. B. Schon! Denn wenn ich meine Erklärung zurückziehe, heisst das, dass ich Weisungsbefugnis an die Gestapo hatte, was nie und nimmer stimmt, und ich komme in Teufels Küche.
Ich lege bestimmt keinen Wert darauf, in einen Prozess verwickkelt zu werden und aus diesem Grunde zusätzlich noch in die Öffentlichkeit gezerrt zu werden, aber mit einer einseitigen Zustimmung von mir ist es nicht getan.
Ich halte es für das zweckmässigste, wenn die beteiligten Herren sich zu einer Aussprache zusammenfinden würden, damit man gemeinsam Mittel und Wege suchen kann, um die Angelegenheit zu bereinigen.”
Z listu vidno, že aj Vy ste spravili chybu, keď ste p.Karmasinovi imputovali čin, ktorý on nespáchal. Ale aj to vysvitá z listu, že sa neuzatvára pred pokojným riešením veci. Hodno by bolo, uskutočniť jeho návrh.
V Bonne som Vás hľadal! Už ste boli odcestovaný. S týmto v súvislosti rád by som Vás usistiť, že nijako sa Vám nenatískam ani vo veci vypísania otáznych statí z “Grenzbote”; ale mohol som očakávať, že mi dáte alebo Vy, alebo priateľ Filo na vedomie, že to už nie aktuálne. Bol by som si moj opravdu drahý a takmer na hodiny rozpočítaný čas ináč zariadil. Takto som odmietol 15 prednášok.
Nie je to však nešťastím. Som Vám rád napomoci aj v budúcnosti, len prosím o dodržanie dohovoreného; či už priamo medzi nami, alebo cestou tretej osoby dohovoreneho.
Byt chvála Pánu Bohu už mám! Dobrí priatelia mi ho sprostredkovali, začo som im hlboko povďačný!
Prosiac, aby ste Milostivej panej Manželke odovzdali úctivý rukybozk, pozdravujem Vás srdečne.