Tag Archives: UNEF

Letter to Beirut

On November 4, 1959, while Vlado was working in Beirut as Legal and Political Adviser to the UNEF in the Middle East, there was a fight between four Egyptian and six Israeli jets at the border of the two countries. Here is a letter from Vlado’s father, Pavel, written the following day, which has a news clipping in German referencing this event. I can’t properly translate the Slovak, but it shows Pavel’s usual sense of humor, in the format of a mock newspaper front page – especially the magazine image he altered to look like Vlado, with his nose in a book at the beach, surrounded by women trying to get his attention, ha! He was so funny. I’ve included a couple photos of Pavel, showing what he looked like around this time.

Vlado at work with the United Nations

A special thanks to Anna Bergman (Justice for Dag Hammarskjold on Facebook), who has been helping me identify the people in the photos of Vlado at work, which has been a challenge. Though many are still untitled, it’s made me realize just how much information I haven’t included, so I have added what I have to this collection of photos today. Click on images to enlarge.

Vlado inoculation Indonesia
Beginning with his mission to Indonesia (1948-1951), here is the bearded Vlado, grinning as he waits his turn for inoculations.

Vlado inoculation reverse
Here is the reverse of the photo, with a Slovak note written in Vlado’s script.

Vlado Round Table Conference ID 1949
Vlado’s identification card for the 1949 Round Table Conference on Indonesia.

King Throstle Beard Indonesia
The only notes on this photo is “Fabry” and a photo copyright that says “Indonesia”.

Vlado and Jan Van Wyck British Togoland April 56
The next set of photos are from his time in British Togoland (January-August 1956), as U.N. Observer – he was there to help when the people voted to join the Gold Coast. This is a titled U.N. photo from the personal collection, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory.
Here, at work with hurricane lamps on the terrace of their quarters in Jasikan, Buem-Krachi district, are U.N. observers Vladimir FABRY [incorrectly identified as on the left.TB] and Jan Van WYCK, both of whom are U.N. staff members.”

Vlado British Togoland April 56
Another titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory. Here, led by an interpreter, U.N. observer Vladimir FABRY is crossing the Wawa river on his way from Papase to Manida with registration assistant N.S.K. JAWUZOH.”

Vlado and R West Skinn British Togoland May 56
Titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE IN BRITISH TOGOLAND, HO, British Togoland, May 1956.
The plebiscite held in British Togoland on 9 May resulted in a vote of 93,365 in favor of uniting the U.N. Trust Territory with the neighboring Gold Coast. 67,442 voters, including majorities in two southern districts, supported the alternative continuation under U.N. trusteeship pending final determination of the territory’s status.
Observer [incorrectly labled W. Fabry.TB] and U.K. Registrations Officer R. WEST-SKINN walking thru [sic] bush and cocoa plantations on their way to village of Dumevi (Akan district).”

Vlado, Bokhari, Van Wyck Jasikan
Vlado wrote a note on the back of this in Slovak, which says: “The terrace in Jasikan, with Van Wyck and Bokhari.” Bokhari is at left, Vlado is forward right, with a cigarette in his hand – he smoked about two packs a day, but I’m not judging, I love the horrid things, too – but not quite as much as he did.

Patras Bokhari was a very important person in the UN, who was also a fantastic speech writer. Here is a link to his first press conference as Under-Secretary of the United Nations – he calls himself “the poor man’s Hammarskjold”, but he tells a great story about their January 1955 trip to Peking to convince Chou En-lai to release American fliers held prisoner; who had been shot down and were being held for investigation for “violation of Chinese territorial air”. When those airmen were eventually released, it was because of the devoted diplomacy of Hammarskjold, no thanks to meddlers like John Foster Dulles – Hammarskjold said of him “the special characteristics of Mr. Dulles have made it extremely difficult for me to maintain even in the most modest way the contact which I need with Washington on the Peking issue.”

Vlado British Togoland
This is a titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, British Togoland, April 1956.
Headed by the United Nations Plebiscite Commissioner, a team of U.N. observers is in British Togoland in preparation for the plebiscite to be held on May 9, in the Trust Territory.
This picture shows U.N. observer Vladimir FABRY making his way through a kapok forest neat Dumevi, in the Akan district.”

Vlado British Togoland II
One last titled U.N. photo, which says:
“PLEBISCITE FOR BRITISH TOGOLAND, April 1956.
In preparation for the plebiscite to be held in this Trust Territory on May 9, registers of voters have been on display for a period to permit claims and objections. In the town of Ahamansu in the Jessikan district the British registration officer, Mr. R. WEST-SKINN, hears a man who allegedly could not establish residence in the township. Mr. West-Skinn’s assistant, Mr. LARTEY, stands behind him, and at the left is United Nations observer Vladimir FABRY.”

Vlado on the Volta
This photo is titled “Volta” – obviously, the Volta river.

Vlado British Togoland 3
Titled in Slovak “…Togoland…15/2 [1956]”.

Vlado British Togoland 2
Untitled, found in the British Togoland collection. Those are his “quarters” behind him.

Vlado British Togoland
When you have no running water, and only a limited supply of it every day, you take advantage of a good rain shower – what a happy guy! Titled “Jasikan”.

Togoland Congress Office
Untitled, a U.N. observer gathers people together outside the Togoland Congress Office for a photo.

Jasikan
Jasikan registration
Another from Jasikan, British Togoland, February 1, 1956. I’ve included the Slovak notes from the reverse of one, which suggests the photos have something to do with registration for the election.

British Togoland - Gold Coast 1956
Untitled, in the British Togoland collection. Could this be election day?

Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (43)
Untitled, Egypt.

Vlado in Egypt
Untitled, Egypt.

Vlado UNEF VI
This photo – and the six others that follow it – are all untitled, but it’s a possibilty that this was one of the meetings between the UNEF and the UAR.

Vlado UNEF V

Vlado UN 5

Vlado UN 7

Vlado UNEF IV

Vlado UNEF III

Vlado UNEF II

Vlado UNEF
Untitled, Egypt. Vlado is exiting the tent, far right.

Vlado in Egypt III
The two sphinxes – untitled.

Vlado in Africa untitled
Really, there are no photos from Vlado’s time in the Congo but a few. Here is an untitled photo, possibly Congo, with him arriving on a Sabena plane.

Vlado and Dag Hammarskjold Last Picture
This photo, and the following photo, were sent to Vlado’s sister Olinka by Sheila Dean Marshall in her condolence letter; which Sheila collected from the DAILY EXPRESS in London, and are stamped on the back with the copyright. This is one of the last photos taken of Hammarskjold and Vlado before they boarded the DC-6 on September 17, 1961, headed to Ndola on what would become their final peace mission. This was the first version of the photo I found.

Vlado and Hammarskjold full image
Here is the full expanded photo, which includes Sture Linner at left, reading. Found this much later. On the back, Sheila writes “Vlado before they took off in the aeroplane.”

Vlado untitled
Untitled photo, possibly from his time with UNEF.

Unknown flight
Unknown flight reverse
Photo of unknown flight – I’ve included the Slovak notes from the reverse. Help with Slovak translation is always appreciated.

Vlado UN 4
This photo and the next are both untitled, taken at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Vlado UN 3

Vlado at work
This last photo is untitled as well. I wonder why Vlado’s secretary is typing on top of a duvet? The old typewriters were so loud, maybe it muffled all the noise. I like the photo of Vlado at his desk – I have his copy of the Petit Larousse by my own desk.

More Photos from UNEF Gaza and the Suez Canal Clearance Project

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

Vlado in Egypt

Vlado in Egypt III

Vlado UNEF

Vlado UNEF IV

Vlado UNEF III

Vlado UNEF II

Vlado UNEF V

Vlado UNEF VI

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 III

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 II

Suez Canal Clearance 1957 IV

Suez Canal Clearance 1957

Bon Anniversaire, Vlado!

Happy Birthday Vlado

This is my early birthday gift to Vlado, who was born 23 November 1920. Above is a special birthday drawing from Vlado’s father, one of my favorites, showing the United Nations building rising above the clouds.

Much of my impression of Vlado comes from looking at photos, so I thought I should publish more of them, to show how much he loved life. Enjoy!

Vlado the Hero 1942
Vlado the Hero, circa 1942

Vlado in mountains 5
Mountain climbing is a nice diversion from studying law – get this poor kid in a suit some proper climbing gear!

Vlado in mountains 4
Vlado is serene in the Tatra mountains.

Vlado in mountains 3
Bearded in the mountains of New Zealand.

Vlado in mountains 2
Picking Narcissus is the Swiss Alps.

Vlado in mountains
On a hike with a bouquet of flowers!

Vlado dans la plage
Dans la plage avec un livre.

Vlado with monkey Ghana 1956
Making friends with monkeys in Ghana.

Vlado and Tatulo
On a cruise with Tatulo.

Vlado and Maminka 2

Vlado and Maminka
In the mountains with Maminka.

Vlado and Olinka
Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride with Olinka in the Czechoslovakian countryside.

Vlado UN 7
Vlado loved his work with the United Nations. Is this Major General Amin Hilmey II with Vlado?

Vlado UN 6

Vlado UN 5
I am still trying to figure out who the people are in these photos, but Vlado looks pretty happy to be there. This may have been in Gaza, having something to do with the UNEF.

Vlado UN 4

Vlado UN 3
At work at the United Nations in New York.

Vlado UN 2
Steamy in Indonesia.

Vlado UN
Taking the ‘bus’ in Egypt.

Vlado pret a manger 2
Food was another great pleasure in life – here is Vlado enjoying a typically elegant Swiss breakfast in Geneva…

Vlado pret a manger
…et pret a manger dans les montagnes.

Fabry Family
He came from a family that enjoyed life, and enjoyed spending time together. The woman dressed in black is Vlado’s beloved grandmother.

Fabry Family 2
Here are the Fabrys looking fabulous on the promenade – is this Cannes?

Vlado Buick 2
And last of all, a collection of photos featuring Vlado’s Buick, which he loaned out to all his friends whenever they were in Geneva – causing a few disagreements over who used it more than others!

Vlado Buick 3

Vlado Buick 4

Vlado Buick

Like Father, Like Son

Curve of Longing For Family
One thing I really admire about Pavel Fabry, is how affectionate he was in the letters he wrote to his family. Here is a little sketch of Pavel’s, with him in a hospital bed, a graph behind him that says in Slovak “Curve of Longing For Family”. The doctors are saying they have no cure for this “curve”, and Professor Fabry says he thinks a “Javaensis-Genevensis” tincture is what he needs. This was likely drawn during the late 40’s – early 50’s – when Vlado was working for Independence in Indonesia, Olinka and Maminka were refugees in Switzerland, and Pavel was in a hospital recovering from torture in a concentration camp, in the now former Czechoslovakia. Pavel’s sense of humor here shows he was living life on his terms, that he followed his convictions, and that he was willing to endure suffering for a just cause – a true romantic.

Fall in Love and Lose Weight
Then there are times when I am a little annoyed with him, like with this undated letter, sent to Vlado around the time he was working on the Suez Canal Clearance project in 1957, most likely before the project was finished. Pavel is telling him that he has to lose weight in two weeks, before their family vacation together (which would end with Vlado coming down with Hepatitis, and the weight loss that came with his illness). Then he says with all the tempting food of the Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians and Indians in the desert, that he would have to ride a horse at full gallop all day just to keep fit. He gives Vlado the advice to fall in love to lose weight, but not too happily, so he doesn’t fall apart at the end of it. Really, as if Vlado didn’t have enough to worry about, he has his father telling him he is too fat and needs to go on a diet! He is right though, that falling in love is great for weight loss, but he must have thought Vlado had some kind of superpowers to find a girl to fall in love with on the spot!

If Vlado was a romantic, it was because Pavel set quite an example for him. Romance was never far from Pavel’s mind, as can be seen in this little boudoir sketch (click to enlarge):
Pavel boudoir sketch
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?

Sometimes, thoughts of love and food were in competition, like in his surreal sketch of a fish woman:
Pavel La Peche

Keeping to the subject of romance, in another post, we read the love letters of Vlado and Mary Liz, with the last letter written in September 1957. There are no more love letters written by Vlado after that, but I found a portion of a Mr. America magazine, from January 1958, with a cover banner that reads “USE YOUR SEX URGE FOR BUILDING A HANDSOME BODY”:
Mr. America Jan. '58

Who knows if Vlado was trying to control his “urge”, or what, but romance may have been distracting him from larger goals in his life. I think Pavel was not much different than Maminka, in that he wanted Vlado to find a nice girl to marry – but I also think he took vicarious pleasure in hearing about Vlado’s carefree romantic life as a bachelor.

Vlado left some heart-sick women in his wake, as is shown in this last letter from 1959, written by a woman who wasn’t over Vlado at all, and whose impending marriage brought to mind funerals and drowning. This letter is more a distress call than anything else, which makes it a very funny read!

March 4, 1959

Dear Vlado,

Now it looks as if I may be in NY at last, but for the most unexpected of reasons – on a honeymoon! Probably, April 12-25.

I’ve been so interested to notice in how many ways marriage is like death! First, probably the only reason so barbarous a rite as a wedding has lasted so long in our streamlined society is probably the same reason the funeral has – i.e. sociologists say that all the transactions involved in planning a funeral take the bereaved’s mind out of the depths & the same goes for the bride, bereaved of her freedom!

Marrying is also like drowning in that you suddenly relive your past – at least your past loves & all my former boyfriends have come parading their images across my minds eye – & I must say, Vlado, that as I go through my card file, choosing addresses to send announcements to, each card brings up a little doubt, but the most difficult card to process was yours! Isn’t that funny, because I had dated other boys a lot more than you & I was just as inflamed over them.

It’s just that when I think of me settling down to air force protocol (he’s in for 10 more years!) I think of your verve; & when I think of those forever churning conversation on the base about TDY’s, PFR’s, ER reports etc., I dream of the day you, Otto & I went to the woods and captured those flagstones in such a unique way!

When I ask my 3 F’s (friends, family, fiance) what they would think of my sort of going to NY to get my trousseau & choose my silver pattern & all, they retort “and get that Czech at the U.N. out of your system? You’d never come back.” I shall always wonder if I couldn’t have made you come crawling & writhing out of your shell (if there’d been time) like a tortoise does when the Indians tie him above the fire so he will squirm into the soup pot! But my fiance says I’d better marry him without travelling to NY, because regrets are better than despair….

This stationary is a memento from our bi-family conclave to plan the bash (it will be April 11 at the ——City Community Christian Church – I dare you to come & stand up when the preacher asks “If there be anyone who denies that they should be married…”). His family is from Texarkana, long time friends of my folks, but we conclaved on neutral ground – in Fayetteville!

I do hope some sort of wife won’t open this letter, although I’m sure she would be understanding; otherwise she couldn’t have married you! But just in case I wish there was something I could say which would make me sure you’d know who sent the letter, so I wouldn’t have to sign my name, but I have a strong suspicion that you’ve taken many a girl hiking in the rain, driven her to help her pack on Bank Street – & even many admirers have sent you wooden pigs & sustenance pills when you were in Africa! So I’ll just have to say,

so long,

———–

United Nations Charter Article 98

Here is what appears to be the first draft of Article 98 of the UN Charter, labelled with the initials “VF” for Vladimir Fabry. All the notations are in Vlado’s script. It was a little confusing to see “first draft”, because according to the UN Librarians (Thank you, Ask DAG!), Article 98 was adopted at the same time as the rest on 25 June 1945. Perhaps this was a first draft of a revision?

What makes Article 98 so significant, is that it gave Dag Hammarskjold the authority to go on his final peace mission to Ndola. Holding this document in my hands for the first time, recognizing its role in the destiny of Vlado and his colleagues, I recalled this quote from Hammarskjold:

“Destiny is something not to be desired and not to be avoided – a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.”

UN Article 98 first draft

UN Article 98 first draft i

UN Article 98 first draft p.ii

UN Article 98 first draft p.iii

UN Article 98 first draft p.66

In regards to Article 98, here are a few excerpts from Dag Hammarskjold’s address to Oxford University, 30 May 1961, “The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact”:

“To sum up, the Charter laid down these essential legal principles for an international civil service:

» It was to be an international body, recruited primarily for efficiency, competence and integrity, but on as wide a geographical basis as possible;

» It was to be headed by a Secretary-General who carried constitutionally the responsibility to the other principal organs for the Secretariat’s work;

» And finally, Article 98 entitled the General Assembly and the Security Council to entrust the Secretary-General with tasks going beyond the verba formalia of Article 97 – with its emphasis on the administrative function – thus opening the door to a measure of political responsibility which is distinct from the authority explicitly accorded to the Secretary-General under Article 99 but in keeping with the spirit of that Article.

This last-mentioned development concerning the Secretary-General, with its obvious consequences for the Secretariat as such, takes us beyond the concept of a non-political civil service into an area where the official, in the exercise of his functions, may be forced to take stands of a politically controversial nature.”

[…]

“In Article 98 it is, thus, provided not only that the Secretary-General “shall act in that capacity” in meetings of the organs, but that he “shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs.” This latter provision was not in the Covenant of the League. It has substantial significance in the Charter, for it entitles the General Assembly and the Security Council to entrust the Secretary-General with tasks involving the execution of political decisions, even when this would bring him – and with him the Secretariat and its members – into the arena of possible political conflict. The organs are, of course, not required to delegate such tasks to the Secretary-General but it is clear that they may do so. Moreover, it may be said that in doing so the General Assembly and the Security Council are in no way in conflict with the spirit of the Charter – even if some might like to give the word “chief administrative officer” in Article 97 a normative and limitative significance – since the Charter itself gives to the Secretary-General an explicit political role.”

[…]

“A simple solution for the dilemmas thus posed for the Secretary-General might seem to be for him to refer the problem to the political organ for it to resolve the question. Under a national parliamentary regime, this would often be the obvious course of action for the executive to take. Indeed, this is what the Secretary-General must also do whenever it is feasible. But the serious problems arise precisely because it is so often not possible for the organs themselves to resolve the controversial issue faced by the Secretary-General. When brought down to specific cases involving a clash of interests and positions, the required majority in the Security Council or General Assembly may not be available for any particular solution. This will frequently be evident in advance of a meeting and the Member States will conclude that it would be futile for the organs to attempt to reach a decision and consequently that the problem has to be left to the Secretary-General to solve on one basis or another, on his own risk but with as faithful an interpretation of the instructions, rights and obligations of the Organization as possible in view of international law and the decisions already taken.

It might be said that in this situation the Secretary-General should refuse to implement the resolution, since implementation would offend one or another group of Member States and open him up to the charge that he had abandoned the political neutrality and impartiality essential to his office. The only way to avoid such criticism, it is said, is for the Secretary-General to refrain from execution of the original resolution until the organs have decided the issue by the required majority (and, in the case of the Security Council, with the unanimous concurrence of the permanent members) or, maybe, has found another way to pass responsibility over onto governments.

For the Secretary-General this course of action – or more precisely, non-action – may be tempting; it enables him to avoid criticism by refusing to act until other political organs resolve the dilemma. An easy refuge may thus appear to be available. But would such a refuge be compatible with the responsibility placed upon the Secretary-General by the Charter? Is he entitled to refuse to carry out the decision properly reached by the organs, on the ground that the specific implementation would be opposed to positions some Member States might wish to take, as indicated, perhaps, by an earlier minority vote? Of course the political organs may always instruct him to discontinue the implementation of a resolution, but when they do not so instruct him and the resolution remains in effect, is the Secretary-General legally and morally free to take no action, particularly in a matter considered to affect international peace and security? Should he, for example, have abandoned the operation in the Congo because almost any decision he made as to the composition of the Force or their role would have been contrary to the attitudes of some Members as reflected in debates, and maybe even in votes, although not in decisions.

The answers seem clear enough in law; the responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the Charter cannot be laid aside merely because the execution of decisions by him is likely to be politically controversial. The Secretary-General remains under the obligation to carry out the policies as adopted by the organs; the essential requirement is that he does this on the basis of his exclusively international responsibility and not in the interest of any particular State or groups of States.

This presents us with this crucial issue: is it possible for the Secretary-General to resolve controversial issues on a truly international basis without obtaining the formal decision of the organs? In my opinion and on the basis of my experience, the answer is in the affirmative; it is possible for the Secretary-General to carry out his tasks in controversial political situations with full regard to his exclusively international obligation under the Charter and without subservience to a particular national or ideological attitude. This is not to say that the Secretary-General is a kind of Delphic oracle who alone speaks for the international community. He has available for his task, varied means and resources.

Of primary importance in this respect are the principles and purposes of the Charter, which are the fundamental law accepted by and binding on all States.”

Response to Maminka’s Request

Journee des Nations Unies

In a previous post, “A Desperate Personal Demand For Help”, I posted correspondence written by Vlado’s mother to UN legal counselors Oscar Schachter and Constantin Stavropoulos, where she asks them to reconsider Vlado’s assignment to the Congo. Her need for Vlado was understandable – the stress of losing her husband suddenly, inheriting the legal cases he was unable to finish, and her own poor health, seemed too much to bear alone. What is also understandable, was Vlado’s need for adventure, and to be useful to the United Nations, and to the world. Even the death of his beloved father could not slow down his work, he was devoted to the peaceful goals of the Organization.

Here is the response to Madame Fabry’s letter from Constantin “Costi” Stavropoulos:

Stavropoulos letter to Madam Fabry 13 Feb 1961

THE LEGAL COUNSEL
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK

13 February 1961

Dear Madame,

I have received your letter of 2 February, and Mr. Schachter has communicated to me the letter you sent to him. We discussed all the questions that have been raised, and here are the results.

At the moment, it is absolutely essential that Vlado go to the Congo, even if it is only for three or four months. We had to recall the replacement person due to illness, and at the moment there is only Vlado who, among others, has the advantage of having the necessary experience of UNEF and also speaks French. Conversely, I can assure you that we will do everything possible so that he does not stay more than a few months.

However, I wish to point out that when Vlado leaves the Congo, he will be obliged, after a vacation, back in New York because we have no legal position in Geneva, and it would be impossible to create one, at least for the time being. Besides, even if there was a position, we consider that there would be incompatibility between his duties with the United Nations and the work that your husband could not finish. Vlado, for his part, has already raised this issue. I hope that, in collaboration with him, we can find a solution for him to deal with his father’s business.

Oscar and I have the friendliest of feelings for Vlado and also a lot of appreciation for his work. We want very much to do whatever we can to help in this situation, but the difficulties appear insurmountable. We deeply regret not being able to respond to your request at this time.

Please accept, dear Madame, the expression of our respectful regards.

Constantin Stavropoulos