Les Vacances de Monsieur Fabry

Couldn’t wait to share the treasure I found this summer, film footage of Vlado with his family in Switzerland. It may not be the best home movie ever made, but it gives me a lot of happiness to see these charming people all come to life, and to see Vlado skiing.

To Dag With Love

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View from above Ralph Bunche Park.

It was a beautiful week in New York City for my visit to the UN Archives. Every morning, I took the 7 to Grand Central Station, walked down 42nd Street, crossing 2nd Avenue – also known as Yitzak Rabin Way, and then on towards 1st Avenue, where the Headquarters of the United Nations rise up along the edge of the East River. I slowed my pace through Ralph Bunche Park, which is mostly concrete, but the small fenced-in area of plants and flowers attracted a couple of American Robins, who were busy hunting for breakfast. I spent my time between 42nd and 47th Avenue – the location of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza – walking past security guards outside the US Department of State and Foreign Missions, and the House of Uganda, feeling very much at the center of the universe with all the languages being spoken around me. I’m sure I was noticed with amusement by a few, I was the only lady with UN blue hair!

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Dashing diplomats, at the entrance of the UN.

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Taking a rest in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

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The Gazebo

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There was a farmer’s market my first day at DH Plaza.

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Fun public art – the giant Hello Kitty Time After Time Capsule, designed by Japanese artist Sebastian Masuda.

After my morning walk, I made my way to the UN archives, where the staff were waiting to help me get started. The archives are open to everyone, it’s a free service, and I had a really positive experience there – I even met someone who worked with Vlado’s sister, Olga – who was a librarian at the Dag Hammarskjold Library – that made me very happy. Here was my desk the first day:

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Of course, since it was my first visit to an archive, I requested too much, and had to narrow down and prioritize quickly what I wanted to look at after the first day. To me, it was all very interesting, but I would have needed to spend a month in there, 8 hours a day, just to see everything I requested, and I had only three days!

The hard work was a pleasure, but it gave me an appetite. Fortunately, there were plenty of great choices for lunch in the neighborhood. One day, I had a Maine lobster roll from a food truck across the street from UN Headquarters, and if I hadn’t been so eager to get back to the work, I would have tried out the Nigerian food truck on the next block, too.

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Also had a nice lunch here – a “Dag Burger with Cheese” at Dag’s Patio Cafe in DH Plaza.

By the end of my visit, I came to appreciate that it is the personal letters of these people that interest me the most, and how lucky I am to have so much of Vlado’s correspondence. I went to the archives out of curiosity, with no expectations, but with hope that I would find something special, something that other eyes had missed.

And I was rewarded for my efforts – with a love letter written to Dag.

When I found it, I immediately thought of Susan Williams’ discovery in the Royal Library of Sweden in Stockholm, the intriguing newspaper clipping she found inside Dag’s wallet that said ‘and when Nefertiti murmurs, “Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool,” the Bible seems a long way off.’

The writer is very forward in her intentions, and though it embarrasses me to admit it, I couldn’t help but see a bit of myself in her admiration for his character, her wish to do something good because of him. I can’t deny the romantic tone of my writing, that I fell in love with both Vlado and Dag in the course of my research, and that love for them gave me the courage to write some of the things I did, so I feel this letter was meant to be found by me. The last page, with her signature, will be transcribed, to protect her identity. From the same file, I’m also including transcriptions of a letter of introduction from the Ambassador to Spain Jose Felix de Lequerica, and a small note from the Secretary-General’s private secretary, Miss Aase Alm, which came before he received her letter.

From the United Nations Archives in New York, S-0846-0004-08, Operational Records of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, 1953-1961.

“Mision permanente de Espana
en las Nacions Unidas

New York, September 14, 1959

Miss Aase Alm
Private Secretary to the
Secretary General of the
United Nations.
New York, N.Y.

Dear Miss Alm:

I have received today a letter from His Eminence Cardinal Spellman, introducing Miss ——, from Houston, Texas, and asking me to receive her. During the course of the conversation Miss —— told me that she wishes to present her compliments to Mr. Hammarskjold and speak to him about a personal matter. I have called her attention about the difficulty of such an interview, as I personally cannot arrange for this meeting not knowing myself the nature of same.

But in the view of the interest shown by Cardinal Spellman, I am giving this letter of introduction to Miss —— in the event that during your conversation with her you may be able to find something of interest to the Secretary-General and, at the same time, comply with the wishes of Miss ——.

Thanking you in advance for your kind attention, I remain

Very truly yours,

Jose Felix de Lequerica
Ambassador
Permanent Representative of Spain
to the United Nations.”

On this note from Miss Alm, two big exclamation points in red pencil were added to hers–in red pencil at the top of the love letter is written “Oh!”:

“I asked Miss —— to write to you, as you were too busy at the moment to receive her; explained at the same time that an appointment would be difficult unless she could give you some information what it would be about. I think you would want to see this because of the introductions from Spellman and de Lequerica!”

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Written on stationary from The Drake Hotel, Park Avenue at 56th Street, New York 22, N.Y.:

TELEPHONE: PLAZA 5-0600
[Ext. 421 written beneath]

Personal

Dear Mr. Hammarskjold;

I chose to meet you through the Spanish Ambassador because I thought that Spain’s more or less neutral position would eliminate any political implications. Even though I did not relate my specific reason for desiring to see you, His Eminence Cardinal Spellman very graciously assisted me by sending a letter of recommendation to H.E. Jose Felix de Lequerica.

Since meeting you through conventional channels is highly improbable, I shall proceed with all frankness and sincerity to reveal my reason for wanting to see you.

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These reasons are unknown to my friends, relatives, or even to my mother who has accompanied me to this city. People travel all over the world to see the many wonders and the beauty of nature, but God’s greatest creation is mankind, and a man of your goodness and wisdom is the most beautiful sight of all.

You know Dag, that although Cassanova was supposed to have been the greatest rogue lover of all time, none of his numerous lady loves ever followed him. Of course his base type of love can be compared to your love for humanity only in that yours is so much more superior on both counts.

How well you use your intellect and readily become a tool to God’s manipulations by carrying out your mission, the burden of your high office with dedication and inspiration.

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If you should perhaps have a few human imperfections, I’m sure they are heavily overshadowed by your better qualities. You undoubtedly derive much satisfaction by working and administrating for humanity and peace, yet high places are sometimes very lonely, demanding the impression of aloofness in order to appear impartial. To complete this impression, some of your close friends might do well to remain obscure. I would like to be a silent friend now and in your riper years after your work is done and you retire to ‘pasture’. And if I might someday in some small way be of any help to you, I would be very happy to make an effort to comply.

I plan to leave New York on Tuesday September 22nd and return to my home in Houston, Texas. I have been here since September 11th and trust that I will not have to wait much longer to meet you.

Please do not be embarrassed by my directness. My manner of writing is usually to the point as you can tell by a letter that I am enclosing here in reference to food surplus.

I realize that in polite society revelations such as I have made here are out of order and are kept more demurely, but time and circumstances do not permit this subtle cultivation of friendship. However, you may rest assured that at our meeting I shall conduct myself in the quiet, controlled dignity that becomes a respectable woman. Personally, I am much meeker and much more at loss for words.

With sincere esteem

Apartheid: “A Policy of Good Neighborliness”

Here are a few videos of Dr. Hendrick Verwoerd, who has been called the “Architect of apartheid” for the policies he put into practice during his time as Minister of Native Affairs and as Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa.

Recently, in a speech to the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Congress, Allister Sparks listed Verwoerd as one of the “really smart politicians” he had met in his 64 years as journalist in South Africa – but he also included his friend and colleague Helen Zille – an anti-apartheid activist and journalist, who put her life in danger to expose the cover-up of Steve Biko‘s death, calling her “the smartest political tactician of all.” I think the assumption by those upset with his inclusion of Verwoerd, is that they think he admires him personally, when he only called him “smart”. Verwoerd was smart, in that he knew how to manipulate public opinion for personal gain and to turn human rights backwards – when Dag Hammarskjold met with Verwoerd in January of 1961, Brian Urquhart wrote in his biography of him “He had felt that he had been speaking to Verwoerd across a gulf of three hundred years”. But to better understand why people are upset to even hear his name, you must hear Verwoerd in his own words.

“Our policy is one, which is called by an Afrikanns word “Apartheid”. And I’m afraid that has been misunderstood so often. It could just as easily, and, perhaps, much better be described as a policy of good neighborliness. Accepting that there are differences between people, and that while these differences exist, and you have to acknowledge them, at the same time you can live together, aide one another, but that can best be done when you act as good neighbors always do.”

“The Republic is the only sure and stable friend that the western nations have in Africa. We are here to stay, and we are here to aide all others in whatever they may need and can get from us. We have, for a very long time, developed in South Africa a nation of our own – friendly, prosperous, progressive. We hope that the rest of Africa will become likewise.[…] Of course there has been sensational journalism and conditioned reporting, which created the impression that there would be great difficulties ahead of us. We have no doubt at all this will pass. Certain restrictive measures had to be taken recently, mainly to insure to protection of the masses – of all races who seek peace and order. Therefore, a stable government will continue in South Africa.[…] Here the solution is sought by openly retaining the white man’s guiding hand; which elsewhere is the hidden guarantee of industrial development, and even good administration.”

In 1966, Hendrick Verwoerd was assassinated, stabbed in the chest and neck while at his desk in Parliament, but it wasn’t the first attempt made on his life. Six years earlier, at the Johannesburg agricultural show, he was shot in the head twice. This video shows that earlier attempt.

Štvorlístok

The four-leaf clover – Štvorlístok in Slovak – was the symbol of the Fabry family, and finding them and tucking them into books is something our family still does. Here is the first one of the year, a gift found by my husband, my biggest fan and number one supporter.

First Four-Leaf Clover of 2015

I’ve pressed it in my favorite book, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” – a man who shares first place with Socrates on my list of heroes. Here is an observation by Douglass that truly inspires me:

“Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in learning to spell words of three and four letters. Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master–to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.” These words sank deep into my heart, stirred up sentiments within that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. It was a new and special revelation, explaining dark and mysterious things, with which my youthful understanding had struggled, but struggled in vain. I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty–to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man. It was a grand achievement, and I prized it highly. From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. It was just what I wanted, and I got it at a time when I the least expected it. Whilst I was saddened by the thought of losing the aid of my kind mistress, I was gladdened by the invaluable instruction which, by the merest accident, I had gained from my master. Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read. The very decided manner with which he spoke, and strove to impress his wife with the evil consequences of giving me instruction, served to convince me that he was deeply sensible of the truths he was uttering. It gave me the best assurance that I might rely with the utmost confidence on the results which, he said, would flow from teaching me to read. What he most dreaded, that I most desired. What he most loved, that I most hated. That which to him was a great evil, to be carefully shunned, was to me a great good, to be diligently sought; and the argument which he so warmly urged, against my learning to read, only served to inspire me with a desire and determination to learn. In learning to read, I owe almost as much to the bitter opposition of my master, as to the kindly aid of my mistress. I acknowledge the benefit of both.”

Paying It Forward

Earlier this month, I was on my way to the library with a stack of UN Archives request forms, to take the final step of entering the data into the computer and sending it to the archivists in New York. I stopped to pick up coffee and chocolate at the little grocery and met a friend there, a poet, who has been following the news of the investigation about Dag Hammarskjold, so I showed him what I was doing. Then he asked me – What is the story to you? What are the lessons you have learned in all this? I’ve been thinking about that a lot, since I am at a crossroads with where I am going next, but I will try to answer.

What I have learned from Vlado is that love gives us the courage to take risks, and that we must take risks to make peace in this world. Vlado lost everything – his home, his country, his nationality, and he was separated from his friends and family for long periods of time. From the age of 25 until his death at age 40, his home, his family, his tribe was the United Nations, and his gave all his heart and mind to it. He worked hard, not only because of his personal integrity and strong ethic, but because he needed to belong to a tribe who encouraged him to take risks for peace. He was just so joyful in everything he did – even in his letters of complaints he seems to be enjoying himself – his pluck has inspired me to be happy in everything I do.

Hammarskjold wrote “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” It was out of gratitude for what was given to me, and a need for friends to share this story with, that made me start writing here, back in March 2013. Above all, this blog has been a goodwill effort towards the family members of all those who died in Ndola for peace, to the ideals of the United Nations, to the people of Africa and the world, and every single person that has contributed in some part in holding up the memory of Hammarskjold with their research, everything I’ve learned has come from their devotion to his memory. And to all the kind friends who have reached out to me in generosity – thank you for all that you’ve taught me, for inspiring me to keep writing and learning, and for this time when I’ve felt part of something bigger than myself.

Unicorn (7)

Periodic Reports of Vlado: 1953 and 1955

Time for a performance review! A couple of United Nations periodic reports for Vlado that I found, which give a little more detail into the work he was doing from the period of September 1951 to 15 June 1953, and from the period of June 1953 to April 1955. This first document quotes the Secretary of the Committee on Restrictive Business Practices: “His competence, accuracy and industry in the production of legal research was outstanding. He put in a backbreaking amount of overtime, and displayed good judgement, understanding and tact on all his assignments.”

Click image to enlarge.
Vlado UN Periodic Report 1952

This second document, dated 12-4-55, is what made me believe Vlado was one of the “lawyers deeply versed in international law”, mentioned in Roger Lipsey’s biography HAMMARSKJOLD: A LIFE (chap.10, para.4); who were working long hours through the night to add the provision to Article 98 “…and shall perform such other functions as are entrusted to him by these organs” – the provision gave Hammarskjold the entitlement to negotiate directly with Chinese officials in Peking, in January 1955, to release 17 American fliers that were being held for investigation.

Vlado UN Periodic Report 1955

I had wondered why I had a copy of Article 98 (in a previous post) that was labelled “First Draft” with the initials “VF/sf”, when that Article was originally adopted on 25 June 1945. While the mention of Vlado’s “application of Article 98 of the Charter” in this document still doesn’t confirm if my belief is correct, it does seems to point in that direction – that he was involved in another important event in the history of the United Nations.

“During the period in question Mr. Fabry has performed his duties in a most satisfactory manner, and has continued to justify the favourable comments made in his previous periodic report.

His work during this period has extended to a wide variety of questions covering such areas as technical assistance, restrictive business practices, UNWRA problems and financial questions. He has also dealt competently with a number of difficult problems of international law. In addition to handling current legal questions in the above named fields, he has prepared or assisted in the preparation of several comprehensive legal studies, as for example, in respect of the Jordan Valley Project, the organization of the proposed atomic energy agency, analysis of South African law, and the application of Article 98 of the Charter.

In all of his assignments Mr. Fabry’s work has been thorough and reliable, revealing mature judgement and a well-considered approach to both the legal and policy issues. The legal experience which he has acquired in the last three years as well as his previous work with the Indonesian Mission have enabled him to assume assignments of increasing difficulty and responsibility, and he can now be regarded as one of the most useful legal officers in the Division.

His attitude and conduct have been above reproach, and his relations with others both within the Department and outside have been entirely satisfactory.

Mr. Fabry has proved to be a valuable member of the Office of Legal Affairs.

Signed: Oscar Schachter, Supervisor

Signed: C.A. Stavropoulos”

“His attitude and conduct have been above reproach” – who wouldn’t save reviews like this!

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.