In memory of Dag Hammarskjold on his birthday, a photo of the meditation ring from his summer house, at Backåkra. This was sent to me by my dearest friend in Sweden, tack så mycket!
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.”
On March 30 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Stockholm, Sweden for the annual Dag Hammarskjold lecture. With sincere thanks and appreciation for his strong leadership in the Hammarskjold investigation, I am posting his remarks here in full (link here). It is very touching to know that he thinks of Hammarskjold every day, and that he has done so for 60 years, since he was a young boy in Korea.
“I thank the Government and people of Sweden for a very warm welcome.
It is a singular honour to be in this magnificent and legendary City Hall … among this most distinguished audience … to deliver a lecture named for a towering hero of humanity.
Dag Hammarskjöld was Swede through and through, but he also belonged to the world.
I feel both privileged and humbled to be serving in the role he once filled so masterfully.
I also feel blessed to be serving the United Nations. During the Korean War, the United Nations was our lifeline. We survived on food from UNICEF. We were schooled with textbooks from UNESCO. We were protected by the troops of many nations serving under the UN’s blue flag.
Sweden was among the nations that responded to the call of the Security Council for Member States to support Korea in 1950.
More than 1,000 Swedish doctors and nurses served in the Swedish Red Cross Field Hospital, and treated 19,100 UN personnel and 2400 Koreans. I greatly appreciate this strong show of international solidarity.
Following the war, Sweden continued to help promote peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula through its involvement in maintaining the armistice as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.
Every day, I think of Dag Hammarskjöld in the course of my duties as Secretary-General. But you may be surprised to know, I did so even as a boy.
Sixty years ago, I was a sixth grader in rural Korea. It was 1956, and people in Hungary were facing a violent suppression of their aspirations.
We wondered: What could we do? How could we best express support from our far-off corner of the world?
Then it came to us. We will write to Dag Hammarskjöld!
As the student chair, I read the letter to my entire school at an assembly.
“Dear Mr. Secretary-General,” we pleaded, “help the people of Hungary so they can have freedom and democracy.”
I did not know Dag Hammarskjöld. Yet, half a world away, more than half a century ago, I sensed both his power as a world leader, and his approachability as a servant of humankind.
He did not simply preach these qualities. He lived them with passion and compassion.
Hammarskjöld reached people’s hearts, because he strived to understand people’s minds – their hopes and dreams and fears and aspirations.
He did so through the arts – music and poetry, literature, sculpture and photography.
He did it through spirituality and quiet contemplation.
Above all, he pursued it through his lifelong mission — an active life devoted to “selfless service”.
In October 2006, in addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations upon my election as Secretary-General, I shared the story of a boy who had once sent a letter to Dag Hammarskjold. I expressed the wish that I would not receive such letters from children around the world.
Sadly, today, I do receive the appeals that I once sent as a schoolboy. It is I who must do what Hammarskjöld did: defend the values enshrined in the UN Charter; direct our dedicated staff; and steer the Member States towards our common goals.
The world is changing—dramatically, rapidly.
We are more connected than ever before. More people than ever live in cities.
New economic powers are rising. There are more than three times as many members of the United Nations as there were in Hammarskjöld’s day.
New threats have emerged—climate change above all.
And the human family has a new profile: more than half the earth’s people are under the age of 25.
Our shared challenge is to shape this new world for the better—to build a landscape of opportunity and peace, while conquering persistent injustices, from hatred to hunger.
Around the world, we are being tested in old ways that Hammarskjöld would have recognized — and in new ways for which his example can remain our guide.
Massive displacement – the most since the Second World War.
Atrocious crimes that defy all norms of humanity.
At such times, the United Nations relies on its strongest supporters to step up, speak out and stay true.
Swedes have lived and breathed the United Nations for almost 70 years. In few countries is support for the United Nations so entwined with its own national identity.
More than 80,000 Swedes have served in UN peacekeeping missions. Most recently, Swedish troops have deployed to Mali, and I welcome your efforts to increase the number of Swedish police who take part in our operations.
Swedes continue to support UN efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts through mediation and other peaceful means, continuing the noble tradition of Folke Bernadotte, Gunnar Jarring, Olof Rydbeck and Olof Palme.
I especially welcome Sweden’s support for Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and the network of women mediators. Sweden was the first country to appoint a female Permanent Representative to the United Nations — Ms. Agda Rössel, in 1958. Today, your feminist foreign policy is bringing new voices to the table.
At a time when humanitarian needs are escalating and the funding gap is widening, you remain the world’s leading donor on a per capita basis. Even with the increased spending needed to address the needs of refugees, you have admirably maintained your commitment to development aid.
Sweden has consistently upheld human rights and universal values, including as one of the largest donors to the United Nations Democracy Fund.
And your commitment to people is equalled by your care for the planet – from the 1972 Stockholm conference on the environment, to the work of people like Bert Bolin who served as the first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to your commitment to be one of the world’s first fossil free countries. You are also helping to mobilize action to safeguard the health of our oceans – a pressing yet often neglected challenge.
I see Sweden’s contributions every day, from my encounters with young Swedish staff members in Haiti or South Sudan — to the outstanding commitment of the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, who I am privileged to have serving by my side.
I am also grateful for the efforts of Sweden’s Royal Family. King Carl XVI Gustaf is a champion of climate action; Queen Silvia is an advocate of children’s rights; and I am especially pleased that Crown Princess Victoria has just agreed to be one of our Sustainable Development Goal Advocates — and I welcome her enthusiastic engagement.
All of this leads me to one conclusion: Sweden is a superpower of solidarity, dialogue and cooperation.
In the process, you are showing that leadership in the United Nations and the European Union are mutually reinforcing – as you excel at one, you advance the other — and benefit from both.
The world needs Sweden’s global citizenship more than ever. Today I would like to highlight four areas where your contributions are crucial and where I would like for us to work together to be even more ambitious: first, addressing the refugee challenge; second, advancing a more sustainable world; third, enhancing peace and security; and fourth, ensuring the strongest possible United Nations.
Let me start with one of the leading trends of our time: human mobility.
Sweden — like many countries today — is facing the challenge of refugees and migration.
Sweden — like few countries today — is setting an example of generosity and values-led action. You have accepted more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe. You should be very proud of this.
I have just come from a visit through the Middle East. I met with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
At least one out of four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.
I heard moving tales of horror, suffering and loss.
Dag Hammarskjöld famously said that the United Nations “was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell.”
These refugees have fled hell. They need our help in a spirit of shared global responsibility.
I know there are tensions and difficulties with receiving great numbers of refugees. But I have been deeply moved by the many stories of Swedish hospitality and goodwill.
My message to Sweden is to keep striving for solidarity. Recognize the economic dynamism that migrants and refugees make possible. Take a stand against negative and nativist narratives. Lead the way to more understanding guided by the universal values set out in the UN Charter.
As Jan Eliasson has said, “Sweden is a part of the global community – but the world is also part of Sweden. An open and tolerant Sweden is a richer Sweden. Building strong and fair communities is a contribution to international peace and security.”
I completely agree. Making the most of the blessing of diversity is the winning strategy of the 21st century.
That leads me to the second area where we need Sweden’s leadership – building a sustainable world.
Around the continent, and around the world, I have urged leaders and citizens to avoid the siren songs of those who sow fear, hate and division.
This cannot be a world of “us and them” — it must be a world of “we the peoples”.
That is the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the SDGs. This is a 15-year blueprint to end global poverty approved by world leaders last September. It embodies a commitment to leave no one behind. In many respects, it is a global Declaration of Interdependence.
I know Sweden is very familiar with the SDGs and the principles underlying it. That is because you were at the forefront in shaping it and in bringing peace, development and human rights together under one umbrella.
Sweden also understood something else from the start — that while promises read well on paper, it takes political action to deliver on the ground. I want to commend Prime Minister Löfven for convening a high-level support group of world leaders to sustain the political momentum for implementation.
You have realized these goals are crucial for your own country’s progress — and, once again, the Prime Minister has led the way in mobilizing ministers to drive progress. You understand a sustainable world will be a safer, more prosperous and equitable world.
As Hammarskjöld said and as we all know, there will be no development without peace.
This is the third area where we can build on the Hammarskjöld legacy.
In Syria, the cessation of hostilities has now held, by and large, for more than a month. This has given us greater humanitarian access and opened up space for diplomacy. Talks are making progress and will resume in 10 days. These are being led by my Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, another distinguished peacemaker with strong Swedish roots.
We are also moving towards a cease-fire and peace talks in Yemen, where civilians have borne the brunt of Coalition aerial attacks and other violence.
From South Sudan to Mali and Afghanistan, we must resolve the conflicts that are causing so much displacement and destruction.
We must also do more to heed a long-known lesson: prevention saves lives and money.
We are now taking forward the recommendations of recent reviews of UN peace operations and peacebuilding that highlighted the need for greater emphasis on prevention.
Our Human Rights up Front initiative is a further effort to identify, and act on, the earliest signs of exclusion and other violations.
Earlier this month, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council – a major institutional reform that has fortified this key UN pillar. One of the architects of the Council was none other than Jan Eliasson, who served as President of the General Assembly session that brought it into being.
The terrorism and violent extremism we are seeing today is a direct assault on human rights. There can never be any justification for such acts. To tackle this challenge, we need to examine the underlying drivers. That means addressing discrimination, ensuring good governance, and providing access to education, social services and employment opportunities. In launching a plan of action to prevent violent extremism, we must also avoid responses that violate human rights and thereby feed the problem we are trying to solve.
Ending impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern is a crucial part of our work for peace. With the International Criminal Court, international and UN-assisted tribunals and courts, and other mechanisms, the world has entered an age of accountability. Prosecutions may still take a long time; not all perpetrators have been brought to trial; but the trend is unmistakable: more justice for societies and more support for the victims.
The conviction last week of Radovan Karadizc for genocide in Srebrenica, as well as for crimes against humanity and war crimes, was a further welcome step in this direction. Our goal is a reckoning for the crimes of the past — and a deterrent to the crimes of the future.
Across our agenda, the United Nations must lead by example, and that means ensuring we are fit for the 21st century. That is the fourth and final area where I believe we must continue to make greater progress.
As I said on my first day in office, we reform the United Nations because we believe in its future — and I will continue to act on that conviction until my last day in office.
I publicly issued my financial disclosure statement on day one, the first Secretary-General to do so. I have strengthened results-based management and linked senior appointments to performance. I have streamlined and harmonized UN contracts, and am very proud of the many glass ceilings that have been broken at the United Nations.
I have appointed more women to senior positions than at any time in UN history. We have been strengthened by the contributions of dynamic Swedish leaders such as Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who served as my first Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and Ann Marie Orler, the first woman to serve as “top cop” of the United Nations — leading more than 10,000 UN Police worldwide.
But I also know reform is never-ending. My team and I feel a strong sense of duty to work from within to transform the Organization – and to face our failings when we fall short.
There is nothing more outrageous — there is no greater violation of trust — than sexual exploitation and abuse by those who have been sent to a country to protect innocent people.
I am sickened and shamed that the unspeakable acts of a few have tainted the valiant work of many thousands, and caused some to see the UN’s blue helmet as a symbol of fear.
As I told the Security Council earlier this month, to all the victims and their families, I profoundly apologize.
Any abuse of power by peacekeepers betrays the very people they have been sent to protect. It also betrays the values of the United Nations.
Under my leadership, we are taking unprecedented action.
We are improving oversight so that troops with known histories of abuses will never be deployed.
We are strengthening investigations so that individuals or entire contingents that commit abuses will be sent home.
We are naming names and withholding payments. We are establishing a trust fund to better support victims.
Last year, I relieved one Special Representative of his command – and I have appointed a special coordinator to deepen our work to protect people and uphold the highest standards of professionalism.
My message to all UN peacekeeping leaders is clear: report allegations immediately, and act decisively.
Of course, the United Nations does not have criminal jurisdiction over troops, so my message to the countries that contribute forces is equally clear: Promptly investigate the allegations. Quickly punish the perpetrators. Hold your personnel accountable.
Zero tolerance must be the rule.
Sexual exploitation and abuse have no place – least of all in the United Nations which stands for the rights of women and children.
In all of our work, Dag Hammarskjöld remains a touchstone for courageous, principled action.
When I visited his gravesite in Uppsala on the 50th anniversary of his death, I laid a wreath in honour of his life and reflected on the timeless example of his service. It is in recognition of that devotion that the medal we give to the families of fallen peacekeepers is named in his honour.
Hammarskjöld was a private person who lived the most public of lives.
We know, for example, that he carried a UN Charter with him at all times.
We also know some of his innermost thoughts, as set out in “Markings”, his own personal code of conduct.
But there is one thing about Hammarksjöld that remains a mystery: the circumstances leading to his death — and the deaths of those who accompanied him.
We are doing everything to find out what happened.
Last year, a UN panel considered new information, including by interviewing eyewitnesses who had not been interviewed before in official inquiries. The Panel concluded that some of the new information was sufficient to warrant further consideration of whether aerial attack or other interference may have caused the crash.
I want to use this platform today to urge Member States with intelligence or other material in their archives to provide that information without delay. We must do everything to finally establish the facts and get to the bottom of this tragedy once and for all.
Dag Hammarskjold often met with United Nations staff. In 1958, the gathering began with a song that he had asked the UN choir to learn — one of his favorite Swedish folk tunes.
It inspired a poem that concludes by asking: “Will the day ever come when joy is great and sorrow is small?”
Hammarskjold reminded the staff that the United Nations is tasked to inch the world closer to such a day.
But then he added an even deeper personal observation. He noted that whenever we are carrying out a duty “well fulfilled and worth our while”, we can already see joy as great and sorrow as being small.
I see those twin messages rooted in the Swedish character: to both work for a better world and to find ultimate meaning and reward in doing so.
That is the Swedish mission, the Swedish purpose. In so many ways, you are more than a country, you are an example. You are a champion and a role model.
Together, let us continue to build a world of greater joy and lesser sorrow.
Together, let us strive to narrow the gap between the world as it is, and the world as we know it can be.
Tack så mycket. Thank you very much.”
Today, my thoughts return to the status of the Hammarskjold investigation, and to all the relatives around the world who are waiting for the truth to unfold. Last week, on November 19, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution which “urges all member states…to release any relevant records in their possession and to provide to the Secretary-General relevant information related to the death of Dag Hammarskjold.”
There were 74 co-sponsors to the resolution, including Zambia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Haiti, South Africa, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Germany, and France. Every nationality of those who died in 1961 has been represented, with one very notable exception: The United States. It is for this very reason I write today, I will not be silent in my support, because American citizens died for peace, and they and Vlado deserve the respect of their country.
In a statement made by Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog, who introduced the resolution to the President of the UN General Assembly, he said “The pursuit of bringing clarity to the circumstances of the incident is particularly important to the families of all 16 victims – some of whom are present today – but also to the UN as an organization and it should remain so also for all of us as we try to come together to continue the work left unfinished by his premature death.”
It was a little more than a year ago that I was first contacted by one of the relatives, who has been instrumental in gathering us all over the world, and uniting us together to send group letters and emails to UN members in support of this investigation. Many have also written personally to UN members and heads of state to make our appeal, myself included, and I am thankful to those who were kind to respond. It gave me a lot of hope to receive a letter in reply from Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Annika Soder, dated November 20, 2014, the day after the new Swedish Government decided to take the initiative to table the resolution to support the Hammarskjold investigation.
What has not been fully appreciated by the public, and is not being reported in the news anywhere, is the quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts of all the relatives that have united for justice, and who have been paying close attention to the progress of the investigation. It’s not just my family and a handful of others that are speaking up – there are a total 105 relatives that are committed in standing together in support, so we cannot be dismissed as just a few conspiracy theorists. There are relatives to represent every person who died in the crash, with the only exception being Alice Lalande of Canada; though many people, not only the relatives, did all they could to find family that could speak up on her behalf.
I haven’t written much about the investigation recently, but I want to express today how extremely proud I am to belong to this group of dedicated and courageous people, and to be able to give them my support here, it is truly an honor.
From 1949 to 1951, Vlado was working for the United Nations in Indonesia, during the time of independence from the Dutch. Due to the complications of being a political exile from Czechoslovakia, Vlado had only a temporary passport – until October 1952, when he finally received his UN Laissez-Passer. Here is one alternative ID, a ‘Tourist Introduction Card’ from the Government of India:
Sumitro Djojohadikusumo (not to be confused with General Sumitro)was the only Indonesian with a doctorate in economics after independence in 1949, and had been Deputy Head of the Indonesian delegation to the UN Security Council, so he and Vlado were colleagues. While going through the 1951 box of papers again, I found two letters – one for Vlado’s sister and one for his mother, with Indonesian letterhead, handwritten and signed by Sumitro. It shouldn’t surprise me that Sumitro came to be friends with Vlado and his family, and that their example of kindness moved him to open his heart to others, but I had no idea how fond he was of Vlado’s sister!
Stockholm, June 15, 1951
Enfant-terrible? Non, – enfant cherie with eyes as lovely as ever to remember and a voice as sweet as ever can be: sweet, soft and gentle –
You asked me (“a penny?”), when I wrote those words in my brochure what I referred to: a general truth, people in Indonesia or personal reflections? I think it was a combination of all three. You see, I have long learned to see situations of Indonesia always as an integral part of a general trend, the strive for betterment, the urge of mankind for improvement and progress, although many times specimens of mankind itself seem to turn the clock back more or less deliberately. Nonetheless, all of us individually have our responsibility as to the fate of others —
Then, general truth has particular significance only if one can attach to it, personal reflections. I told you that evening (la ultima noche) alongside the lake looking towards Geneva, against the background of mountains and twinkling stars, the lesson I learned from you and your parents. I do not exaggerate – your brother I think can tell you how much under control, reserved and reticent I usually am when meeting people – but how strikingly touched I was, when I met with such generous welcome and kindheartedness from all of you. And I compared my own attitude in the recent past, shying away from gatherings and from people (- though many of them were out for quick profits and complaints, maybe you remember I told you.) My time in Geneve taught me that only through kindness and understanding can you make people understand. Needless to say that my time in Geneva is inextricably connected with the shining, lovely personality of Olga Irene. (remember again, I do not exaggerate, wherever you are concerned.) Now, Carisima[sp?], till next time, for I hope you will continue writing me from time to time, for never shall I forget….
Dear Mrs Fabry,
Having arrived in Stockholm yesterday I hasten to send you and the other members of your family, my greetings and best wishes. By this time Dr Vladimir, your son must already be with you and I do hope that all of you will have a lovely time together. I think back of my sojourn in Geneva with more than a great deal of pleasure and gratitude towards you all.
Also, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you my profound apologies for the fact that Olga came home so late that Monday-evening. I have no justifiable excuse really and should have been wiser at my age — With kindest personal regards and all my best wishes for you, Dr Pavel Fabry, Vladimir and Olga,
I wonder if Sumitro got a scolding at the door from Maminka? He didn’t sound very sorry about coming home late in his letter to Olga!
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas card, so here is one for you. I don’t know who the people pictured are, but they do look merry! This was sent to Vlado – United Nations Box 20 Grand Central Station – with no return address.
And now for the good news: The Resolution put forward by Sweden passed in the United Nations General Assembly today – and now there are 56 co-sponsors from around the world! Is someone trying to restore my faith in humanity? To all who have contributed in some part to this worthy effort, my thanks and gratitude!