Monthly Archives: June 2013

Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Pavel Fabry, December 17, 1955, Geneva

Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (28)
(Pavel Fabry is front and center – click on photo to enlarge)

To understand the character of Vlado Fabry, it’s important to know the character of his father – Dr. Pavel Fabry, who was imprisoned and tortured by Nazis and Communists for his opposition. When Pavel escaped from the Czechoslovak prison hospital, with the help of his friends, they dressed him as a nun and hid him inside a beer barrel on a train headed to Switzerland. In Geneva, Simone Baridon (a close friend of my mother-in-law) was with Olga Fabry the day Pavel arrived, and she remembers her bravery that day, when Olga said “Daddy is crossing the border now.”

This is the C.V. of Dr. Pavel Fabry that was written in English, and the following document was written in German – this was my first attempt at translating German, so it’s a little awkward, but the story of Pavel is still very compelling.

Pavel Svetozar FABRY, LLD, was born on January 14th, 1891 of an old family of industrialists and businessmen. After graduating in business administration, he studied law, attaining the degree of Doctor of Law; passed the bar examinations; and successfully completed the examinations required to qualify for judgeship.
During World-War-I, Mr. Fabry served as officer in an artillery division as well as in the service of the Army’s Judge Advocate-General. He became the first Secretary of the Provisional National Council established to prepare the liberation of Slovakia and the orderly transfer of its administration to the Czechoslovak Government. After the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, he was appointed Prefect (chief Government official) for the Eastern part of Slovakia.
When the Communist armies of the Hungarian Government of Bela Kun attacked Slovakia in 1919, Mr. Fabry was named High Commissioner Plenipotentiary for the defense of Eastern Slovakia. In this function he was entrusted with the co-ordination of the civil administration with the military actions of the Czechoslovak Army and of the Allied Military Command of General Mittelhauser. His determined and successful effort to prevent Eastern Slovakia to fall under the domination of Communist Armies – the victorious results of which contributed to the fall of the Communist regime in Hungary – drew on Mr. Fabry the wrath of the Communist leaders; they declared him the “mortal enemy of the people”, led violent press campaigns against him and attacked him overtly and covertly continually and at every opportunity.
After the consolidation of the administrative and political situation of Slovakia, Mr. Fabry left the Government service and returned to his private practice as barrister. He specialized in corporation law and his assistance was instrumental in the founding and expansion of a number of industrial enterprises. He became Chairman or one of the Directors of Trade Associations of several industrial sectors, particularly those concerned with the production of sugar, alcohol, malt and beer. He was elected Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Federation of Industries, and played the leading role in several other organizations. He also was accredited as Counsel to the International Arbitration Tribunal in Paris.
Among civic functions, Mr. Fabry devoted his services particularly to Church, acting as Inspector (lay-head) of his local parish and as member of the Executive Committee of the Lutheran Church of Czechoslovakia. His appointment as delegate to the World Council of Churches’ meeting in Amsterdam in 1948 prompted his arrest by the Communist Government.
Although Mr. Fabry never stood for political office nor for any political party function, he was well known for his democratic and liberal convictions, and for the defense of these principles whenever his activities gave him the opportunity to do so. He earned himself a reputation in this respect which brought him the enmity of the adversaries of democracy from both the right and the left. He became one of the first Slovaks to be sent to a concentration camp following the establishment of a Pro-German fascist regime in 1939. His release could later be arranged and he was able to take active part in the underground resistance movement against the occupant; for this activity the German secret police (Gestapo) ordered his pursuit and execution in 1945, but he was able to escape the death sentence. In spite of his resistance record (or perhaps because of it), Mr. Fabry was among those arrested by the Russian ARmy, on the instigation of the Communist Party which could not forget his anti-Communist activities dating back all the way to 1919. Due to pressure of public opinion Mr. Fabry’s imprisonment at that time was very short; but when Communist seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, they did not miss the opportunity to settle accounts with him. He was removed from all his offices, his property was confiscated, he was imprisoned and subjected to a third degree cross-examination taking six months. No confessions of an admission which could have served as a basis for the formulation of an accusation could, however, be elicited from Mr. Fabry, and he managed to escape from the prison hospital where he was recovering from injuries inflicted during the examination. He succeeded to reach Switzerland in January 1949, where he has continued in his economic activities as member of the Board of Directors, and later President, of an enterprise for the development of new technologies in the field of bottling and food conservation. He was also active in assisting refugees and was appointed as member of the Czechoslovak National Council-in-exile.

The following C.V. is addressed to the “Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Geneva”:

Curriculum Vitae (Lebenslauf)

Before the Persecution

I come from an old industrial family. My ancestors in 1603 – Matheus Fabry – from the Geneva area, Satigny Place Moulin Fabry, after the then Upper Hungary present Slovakia immigrated and in the free royal town of Nemecka Lupca – German Luptschau – in the county Liptov, Circle Liptovsky Svaty Mikulas established a tannery. This industrial tradition has remained in the family, according to the chronicles of General Hradsky.
My father Josef was a prosperous merchant and industrialist. Also Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and president of several trade and finance companies. Board member of some industry and financial companies. Maternally I am also descended of Industrial and Estate-owning family.
We were 10 siblings – seven are behind the Iron Curtain still alive, some of them in prison, some of them forcefully resettled.
The parents sought to give us a good education with University studies, but all children had to complete some studies in trade.
I attended Hungarian schools, because we did not have a middle school in their mother tongue.
My parents tradition and my studies gave me the future direction of my C.V.
I have allowed for easier overview and orientation in the supplements a special list of 1. Personal Data, 2. Vocational activities, 3. the International profession – Law practice, 4. The national economy – Professional activity, 5. Of the public, political, religious, social and charitable activities, as well as a line up of assets and income up to the time of the persecution, submitted, which discuss my work and resume enough.
[I don’t include the list in this post.-T]

During the time of Persecution

In order to make aspects of the persecution more understandable, it is necessary to strip some events even before this time:
As evident from the personal data, I had at the end of WWI, as a military lawyer for the military commander in Budapest, opportunity to observe the infiltration of communism and drew all my future consequences therefrom.
As can also be seen from the personnel records, I was appointed as High Commissioner Plenipotentiary for the military command of eastern Slovakia. At that time, the Kremlin gave directives to the members of the Comintern, to create all the conditions you can imagine out of the Ruhr against an eastern power, as potential factor for war. Therefore, the then Hungarian Communist leader Bela Kun was commissioned to warlike attack of Slovakia, since at the same time Poland was to be attacked by Moscow military, the objective was, from Poland as an Industry and Agricultural country, and from Slovakia and Hungary as Agricultural states, to form a political unity under Communist leadership. This should then be as the basis for conquest of East and Central Germany, and then the Ruhr territories served.
These efforts have been, in spite of fierce fighting in Poland and Slovakia, thwarted under great bloodshed. Unfortunately at Yalta was Communism facilitated, by Stalin’s perfidy, clumsy (plumpen) breach of contract, and betrayal to conquer these areas.
In negotiating the boundaries demarcating the then Bratislava, I had a sharp conflict with Bela Kun. The then Secretary of the way, was none other than the present ruler of Hungary, Mathius (Matyas) Rakosi, who could not forget me and my actions against the Communist terror gangs. Since that time, I was attacked during the entire years until WWII, at every opportunity, both in newspapers and at public rallies of the Communist Party. The communist leader Vietor asserts in his “Faklya in 1952” [Not included here.-T] that the failure of the plans of the Communist International was partly due to my vigorous defense activities. The statement that my work was supported by the Communists after the seizure of power in 1948, settled bitterly with my arrest, as will be further mentioned. The second point I would list is represented by the German-friendly setting:
As can be seen from the personnel data, the Slovak Intelligentsia before WWII was eager to visit the great German culture as close neighbors, and study them in the country of origin. Therefore, each family was trying to get their children educated in the German Universities, as well as other German institutions. So I spent the semester of 1910/11 at the University of Berlin. Of course, religion played a significant role with cultural trends, since a third of Slovaks were Augsberg Confession Protestant and wanted nothing more than to visit the land of Luther and his faith.
The great and unique education of that time has influenced my whole future life, and has quite clearly had an impact in my subsequent work in business and public. So I led as President of Industry Associations that all protocols and negotiations were bilingual, though barely 20% of all industrialists in Slovakia were of German language and nationality. The leading representatives of German diplomacy and economy were in my home, and were frequent preferred guests on my extensive hunting grounds.
It is therefore understandable, that the persecution under the Nazi Regime of Germany has hit me doubly hard. I will mention only in passing that I spent many years on my annual holiday in Germany, specifically in Reichenhall, in the Kurhaus Hotel Axelmannstein of the Seethaler family. However, I also observed at that time the undemocratic developement of the Nazis in Munich at Reichenhall, and practiced my objective critique so that I was advised to disappear from Reichenhall. I then had to follow with the establishment of the Slovak state by Hitler, immediately carried out by the exponents of the Nazi Organization.
After these explanatory notes I will venture to list my persecution during the Nazi Regime chronologically:
Even though I with the then Prime Minister Dr. Tiso and his staff maintained very friendly relations in the then state of Slovak autonomy, I was, after the creation (on Hitler’s orders) of the so-called Independent Slovak State, on command (einschreitung ?) of Nazi Franz Karmasin‘s leadership, arrested and taken by the Hlinka Guard (Slovak SS) — locked military barracks (Kasernen eingesperrt). There I was subjected to torture and abuse of the second degree. When this became public knowledge, it upset the leadership of the Slovak State, and after several days I was released.
But a week later, in late March, I was re-arrested again on the orders of Nazi Leadership (Karmasin), and transferred to the prison fortress Illava, to be held prisoner there under menschenwurdigsten (?) circumstances. I was put in the basement of this prison fortress, where the primitive central heating had long been out of operation. Days and nights, we had to spend in indescribable cold, with nothing to protect us but a few ragged horse blankets. In preparation for these inhumanities, specially chosen prisoners, I also among them, were tortured in the infamous “Koks-oder Schreckenskeller” (Coke – Kokshaufen – or Horror Cellar). They threw us in the Kokshaufen (?), covered us with a rug, so you do not see the wounds, and I, along with the Editor-in-Chief of the Newspaper Union Korman, were beaten throughout the night in the most barbarous ways. During this ordeal, my stomach and liver were so much affected that there later became ulcers on the lining of my stomach. On my way to Illava prison the transport had to be stopped, because I was vomiting blood. In spite of terrible pain, the provisional prison doctor denied me his help, with the remark that he would not because of my fall out with authorities. During the visits, however, my fellow prisoners reported of my fate, and it was an energetic intervention. There was an inspection and a physician, Dr. Pikova, took me into the prison hospital. My condition deteriorated, however, living in a dangerous manner, and I had alarmingly high blood pressure and a low temperature of 31-32 degrees celcius.
At last, I was transferred to the surgical ward of the hospital in Bratislava by Professors Carsky and Razus, and taken into treatment. In surgery they did not consider my weakened condition. For weeks I hovered between life and death. Of course, it did not look favorable that during the whole time I was heavily guarded by police inside the hospital, and had not the slightest possibility of speaking with anyone other than the doctors. After many long weeks I was finally allowed to transfer to my Villa again, of course, only under intense surveillance, day and night, in the hall of the Villa, and apart from my wife and my children no one was allowed to come in contact with me.
I had scarcely gained some new strength, when the newly appointed German Ambassador [Manfried Freiherr von] Killinger demanded the immediate surrender of my Villa and the entire facility. Killinger was already notorious when he came to Slovakia, and his crimes were well known. I refused him the provision, never concealing my general convictions, even then, though I was a sick man.
The following day an order was issued by the Nazi leadership to have me expelled from Bratislava in the night, and confiscate the Villa with everything. My one daughter was not even allowed to take her school books. I was expelled to a village in Wagtal with security guards, and I menschenunwudigsten (?) this treatment, I was almost always delivered by drunken guardsmen. After a few months, I was taken to another location, which was repeated several times, because many people had taken note of my unimaginably cruel treatment, and protested every time.
I had lodged an appeal against the expulsion, whereupon Killinger promptly dismissed the appeal and made my deportation into a life sentence. The carrying out was taken on by Presidialchef des Prasidiums (?) Dr. Koso, whereupon I was removed from the bar association and could not practice my profession. At the same time they also pointed out my son from Bratislava, stripping him of the right to University studies (weiterzustudieren). My law firm was confiscated. Together with the decision number 171/1940 a fine of 2 Million Crowns was imposed on me, and my cars and private plane were confiscated to deprive me of any possible movement or escape.
The then representative of the NSDAP (Nazi Party), Harold Steinacker, directed a criminal complaint against me for alleged criticism of Nazi leadership, and attempted to bring an action in the District Court of Trencin.
The President of the District Court, however, Dr. Sebak, was my devoted friend, because I had helped him during the war and supported him, so that he achieved the presidency of the District Court. With great skill, he was therefore able to thwart the arrest on the grounds of my parlous state of health, and to sabotage the sentencing, until my re-arrest and committal to a military prison.
At the outbreak of the uprising in Slovakia, I was together with Councillor Orsag and Colonel Black and was arrested by the Gestapo, brought to a military prison and charged again with accusations. The sustained maltreatment and prison stays, however, had deteriorated my health so that, in spite of the refusal of the prison commander Minari, the doctor summoned me in hospital medical care, also for the reason that the prison was repeatedly bombed.
When the prisoners demanded that they grant us protection in a bomb-proof cellar during the attacks, the commander said the prison had no bomb shelter; but he was willing to build one, when the prisoners would give him money. Since I was the only wealthy one among them, he demanded that sum from me, which my family had to hand over to him. The plans for the shelter had made another political prisoner, who was an architect. The construction, however, was never carried out, and some of the prisoners had to pay with their lives in the next bombing. The commander has simply embezzled the money.
From the hospital, I managed to regain freedom with the help of doctors, and put myself in the care of a private sanatorium in Smokovec in the Tatras, and after that to Mikulas.
At that time, the front was already in Dukla and the evacuation of businesses was ordered in Slovakia. The Slovak government met with the German army leaders on agreement what categories and what quantities of industrial equipment and supplies, as well as food stuffs, must be evacuated, and what proportion of the population must be left for livelihood opportunities.
There were sharp measures arranged against anyone that would violate these proposals (proporzen). Unfortunately, agreed commanders behaved “intrinsically Faust” and took everything that was available. Even the most minimal stocks of sugar, which were reserved for the population, should be “saved” for Switzerland, generally considered, however, to be a “rescue fund” created for known and unknown Nazi-Grossen (Nazi-Greats).
The sugar industry was outraged, and the chief of central supply, Dr. Vondruska, was himself powerless against these groups. With the sugar industry representatives, he intervened even with me, as a long-time lawyer of the sugar industry. There was no other way out, other than by rapid distribution to the consumers, to save this situation. The workers – the railway workers – all day and night helped with zeal, and also to cover that the allotment price of 106 Million measures had been taken.
Also with other inventories, which were reserved for the security of the population, there were similar practices.
I emphasize that only a portion of the distribution determined inventory was saved, the majority was evacuated by unconstitutional agreement – where it happened, no one knows but the participants.
Finally, in the middle of February, they wanted to evacuate the whole population of Liptov Mikulas district, including older people and those who were suspect, i.e. once we were already arrested and released we were to be deported immediately.
I was asked to intervene as delegate for the highest of ecclesiastical dignitaries, because 20 degree (gradige) cold prevailed, and there were large snow drifts, and also the district and the city had been shut down for 3 months from any traffic, without light, because the Front had been here in the country for weeks.
The commander Schuhmacher was inclined to postpone the evacuation, but demanded that in order for the soldiers to buy different things, necessary funds should be provided. But that very night. I had obtained the postponement with considerable financial sacrifice – and for my person, also. After the Front had changed in the following days, the population was rescued. However, I had all the proscribed people brought to safety at once.
For this, defending the Convention and actively deporting the shifted district humanely, I was arrested by the Gestapo in Ruzomberok and sentences to death, and also my son in absentia.
After that night, the Front had to retreat, and I was freed by the underground movement just hours before the execution, and hidden in an abandoned bunker. After reconquest the next day, the whole town was searched for me by several departments. Finally, they emptied out my apartment [His law office, I am sure, since there are other documents giving details of that seizure.-T] of all the things which, up till then, I was able to save in Bratislava, they loaded up seven trucks with it and drove away, not without first breaking open my safe, where I kept money for the guidance of industries and large estates in the amount of 2 1/2 Million Crowns. A directory contains all the stolen values, according to the insert more than 5 Million – officially confirmed. Insert submitted. [Not included here.-T]
At the end of hostilities, in the awareness that these persecutions and abuse to me was not the German people, but a power-hungry clique had done this, I have done everything to love my fellow Germans in Slovakia, to mitigate those innocent who were often subjected to reprisals. The Slovak people would never have handed over his fellow Germans to be expelled, but the higher command out of Potsdam and the pressure of the so-called Russian Liberators could not be avoided. Nevertheless, I managed that the major part of the reported families from Slovakia, from the Paprad camp, not be sent into the Soviet zone, as was already prepared, but were transferred to the Western zones and also to Austria.
In this manner, I managed to at least partially reimburse you for those times in Germany and Berlin University, in which I received the scientific foundations I have always considered to be invaluable.

After the Persecution Today

As the so-called Russian Liberation Army in Slovakia – consuming (raubend) more than liberating – invaded our city, I was immediately arrested and led into the basement of the NKVD, where I found quite a few others arrested. The public, especially the workers in awareness that I freed from deportation a few days before, chose to stand up and with the deputation of workers demanded the immediate release from liability. But the commander of the NKVD also had the deputation arrested and had me lead them into the cellar. The workers union had accumulated in front of the Villa and vigorously demanded the release from liability, whereupon the commander turned to the High command in Kosice, whereupon we were released – seven and a few, but the rest were to be deported to Siberia. The NKVD commander later said I was arrested on the basis of the request of the Hungarian Communists, because I, as High Commissioner in 1919, acted so harshly (so schroff) against the troops of Bela Kun. And he said that if I was released now, I would not be spared Siberia.
The public had reacted sharply. I immediately became an honorary citizen of the circle and an honorary member of the National Committee, elected unanimously, and I was given the two highest honors.
The spontaneous demonstrations of the public gave me the strength to forcefully intervene against many attacks, and also to help my fellow Germans and give confirmation that they behaved decently during the Hitler era, and to stifle all individual personal attacks of vengeance in the bud. As I have already mentioned, I was able to help the internees that they not go to the Soviet zone, as was planned, but were sent to West Germany and Austria. I was a daily visitor to collection centers and in prisons, to help where help was justified.
My parlous state of health has not allowed me to carry my work further. The law firm I have has only a limited representation of associates, and these are only my best performing workers.
After the Communist coup performed by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister [Valerian] Zorin for the Communists, the time is broken up with invoices to settle for my work against Communism as High Commissioner in 1919. And on the instructions of the insulted Rakosi I was first of all relieved of all my functions and representatives, and subjected to all possible harassment, interrogations, etc. When I went to the delegation, as elected President of the Financial and Economic Committee of the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, in Amsterdam, and was asked for my passport, I was arrested on the pretext of excessive imaginary charges. My whole fortune was taken, all accounts were confiscated and my Villa locked with furnishings, clothes, supplies, and everything, since it was the Consul-General of Russia; and on the same evening I was arrested as a “National Gift”, the nation was taken over, and in the night the Russians transferred the land register.
And so, my health still shattered by the persecution these Nazi monsters caused, they transferred me to the locked section of the hospital to make interrogations there. After seven months detention [In another document it says only 6 months, which I will include here, after this testimony.-T] the workers and employees of some companies succeeded to liberate me in the night on January 21-22, 1949, and led me to a kamion near the border. I had foreseen that the police would know about my escape during the night, and that’s why I escaped (uberschreitete ?) to the Hungarian border with Austria, and again by the Austrian border, since I was immediately searched with many dogs.
I managed with the help of my friends to leave the Soviet zone disguised, and made it to Switzerland where I anticipated my wife and daughter. [I have an audio recording of Olga Fabry, Pavel’s daughter, where she says that her father escaped from the prison hospital dressed as a nun, and made it across the Swiss border by train, hiding inside a beer barrel.-T]
The Swiss authorities immediately received me as a political refugee and assured me of asylum, and issued all the necessary travel documents.
To this day I am constantly witness to the most amiable concessions by the Swiss authorities.
In my description of illness, my activity in Switzerland is already cited.
Accustomed to the work of life, and since my health no longer permits regular employment, I have adopted the assistance of refugees. Since Geneva was the center of the most important refugee organizations, I was flooded with requests by the refugees of Western Europe.
I took part on the board of the Refugee Committee in Zurich and Austria, after most refugees came from Slovakia to Austria, and I had to check very carefully if there were any refugees that had been disguised. I was then elected as President of the Refugee Committee, but on the advice of the doctors treating me I had to adjust this activity, because through this work my health did not improve. Nevertheless, I succeeded in helping assist 1200 refugees in the decisive path of new existence.
Otherwise, I remain active in the Church organizations. All this human activity I naturally consider to be honorary work, and for this and for travel I never asked for a centime.
Since I am more than 62 years old, all my attempts to find international employment failed, because regulations prohibit taking on an employee at my age. It was the same case with domestic institutions.
My profession as a lawyer I can exercise nowhere, since at my age nostrification of law diplomas was not permitted. To start a business or involvement I lacked the necessary capital – since I have lost everything after my arrests by the Communists, what had remained from the persecution.
And so I expect at least the compensation for my damages in accordance with the provisions applicable to political refugees.

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Vlado: United States Citizen

With the help of the 1951 UN Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNHCR), Vlado Fabry was eventually able to become a United States Citizen on August 31, 1959, but not without troubles along the way. For one thing, it took a while before he had work at the UN in New York that kept him in the US for the required consecutive time period – he was called all over the world. But there was also trouble from the new Czechoslovak Government, who invalidated Vlado’s passport and asked the Secretary General to dismiss Vlado from the UN.
This undated Annex was found with the naturalization papers:

Annex A
To application to file petition for naturalization
Page 2, question No. 6

I am not aware of ever having committed any crime or offense, in the United States or in any other country, except for minor traffic law violations. However, in October 1940, after having organized a mass walk-out of Slovak protestant students from a Nazi-sponsored organization called the Academic Hlinka Guard, I was arrested and without formal charge, trial or hearings of any kind condemned to deportation. On 27 January 1945, I was sentenced to death by the “Sicherheitsdienst”(Gestapo) for obstructing the German war effort and participation in the Slovak liberation movement against German occupation forces. After the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia, I was charged with “anti-state activities” for having expressed anti-Communist opinions and advocating freedom of private enterprise while employed as an official of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Commerce in 1945-6. As far as I know no formal trial was held on these charges, as I refused to return to Czechoslovakia when my passport was withdrawn and the Secretary-General did not deem it fit to comply with the request of the Czechoslovak Government for my dismissal from the United Nations service.

Vlado had to return to the US from his mission in Indonesia with an invalid passport, and he gives his account in this document dated August 22, 1951, addressed to Miss Alice Ehrenfeld:

Admission to the United States.

On your request, I herewith submit to you the information which you may need to deal with the question of my admission to the United States.
I was born on 23 November 1920 as a citizen of Czechoslovakia. I have been a member of the staff of the United Nations Secretariat since 15 June 1946, serving under an indeterminate (permanent) contract.
I entered the United States for the first time on 15 June 1946 and was admitted under Section 3, paragraph 7, of the Immigration Act for the duration of my status as an International Organizations Alien. In April 1948 I left the United States on an official mission, re-entered the country on 6 January 1949 and left again on 15 February 1949 to serve with the United Nations Commission for Indonesia. After completion of my duties there, I was instructed to return to Headquarters for service with the Legal Department of the Secretariat in New York.
As a consequence of my political convictions and activities, I became a displaced person after the communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in February 1948. The Czechoslovak Government has ceased to recognize the validity of my passport (No. Dipl. 2030/46).
I drew the attention of the competent officer in the Department to this fact when I was leaving on my mission assignment, and I received the assurance that there would be no difficulty regarding my re-admission to the United States. This assurance had been given, I understand, after consultation with the State Department.
I also explained my case to the United States Vice Consul in Djakarta, Indonesia, who was issuing my United States visa. He advised me that it was sufficient if I held my invalid passport as an identity paper, and that no difficulty would result from the fact that my visa was not stamped in a valid passport.
Upon arrival at Idlewild Airport, New York, on 20 August 1951 (7:30 A.M.), I was told by the immigration officer on duty that I could not enter the United States. I was then requested to sign an agreement according to which I was released on parole. My passport and the Alien Registration Form on which the United States visa was stamped were taken away from me with the remark that my office should undertake further steps to regularize my status and affect the release of my documents.

Here are some images of Vlado’s United Nations Laissez-Passer (UNLP), issued to him on October 6, 1952, and signed by the first UN Secretary General Trygve Lie:
Vlado UN passport cover
Vlado UN passport
Trygve Lie passport signature

By 1954, Vlado had long been stateless, with no place to call home. He writes to Marshall Williams, Administrative Officer, Bureau of Personnel at the UN, on May 18, 1954:

Request for permission to change visa status

1. I was notified by the United States Consulate-General in Zurich that a number on the DP immigration quota became available for me and that I should present myself at the consulate in Zurich before 27 May.

2. I should be grateful to receive permission to sign a waiver of United Nations privileges and immunities, which I understand to be a condition for the granting of a permanent residence visa. I trust that such permission will not be denied as it is essential for me, for the reasons indicated below, to acquire the right to establish a home somewhere. In view of the shortness of time given to me for appearance before the consular authorities, I should appreciate it if my request could be considered as urgent.

3. I should also like to apply for the permission to change my visa status without losing entitlement to tax reimbursement. The Report on Personnel Policy adopted by the Fifth Committee during the last session of the General Assembly states that the Secretary-General should be able to grant such permission in “exceptional and compelling circumstances”. In accordance with a statement made by the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on this subject, this provision relates to “certain officials of the Secretariat who had lost their nationality through no fault of their own and who might quite legitimately seek to acquire another”. I sincerely believe that these conditions are present in my case.

4. I have lost my nationality and I am unable to return to my country of origin because of substantiated fear of persecution on account of my political opinions and activities undertaken prior to my joining the United Nations. In the years 1945-1946, I was an active member of the Slovak Democratic Party which at that time was lawfully permitted and recognized as an instrument of the political will of the majority of the Slovak people; I also held the position of Assistant (Chef de Cabinet) to the Minister of Commerce. In accordance with my beliefs and official directives, I worked to the best of my ability on fostering the resumption of normal conditions under which trade could prosper, and on preventing the suppression by force of the right to enjoy private property and freedom of enterprise; such activity, lawful and constituting part of my official duties at the time it was undertaken, is considered criminal by the regime which since has come to power in my country. I was therefore compelled to become an expatriate, or else to make myself the object of grievous persecution. My fear of persecution is substantiated by the facts that members of my family and several of my friends had been arrested and interrogated regarding my activities; and that persons who held positions similar to mine, and did not escape abroad, were sentenced to long prison terms or maltreated to death.

5. Having thus without fault of my own lost my nationality, I consider myself legitimately entitled to seek to acquire the right to establish a permanent residence, a home, in another country. For although it is true that I have the right to stay in a country as long as I remain there in the United Nations service, I must provide for the possibility, which I hope shall not occur, that I might lose my present employment (and in any case, I shall need some place where I can reside after I reach the age limit). Moreover, being stateless and without the right to permanent residence anywhere, I am subject to many restrictions and deprivations.

6. I therefore firmly believe that I have compelling reasons for obtaining a visa status authorizing my permanent residence in the United States, and I hope that I shall be granted the permission to change my visa status without losing entitlement to tax reimbursement. I feel that it would be unjust if, having lost my nationality, I should be penalized for this misfortune by being made subject to financial burdens which I can ill afford.

Here is Vlado’s passport, renewed and signed by Dag Hammarskjold:
Dag Hammarskjold passport signature

And finally, the sought after United States Certificate of Naturalization:
Vlado Certificate of Naturalization

How Lucy T. Briggs Met Vlado

In previous posts (here and here), I learned that Lucy T. Briggs gave the gift of “Bambi” to Vlado, and that she followed in the footsteps of her father, Career Ambassador Ellis O. Briggs, as a Foreign Service Officer. I wasn’t quite sure how they met, until I found this condolence letter recently, written to Mrs. Fabry, dated September 23, 1961:

Dear Mrs Fabry,
I was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of Vlado’s tragic loss. There are no words to express if fully, but I want you to understand that I am truly sorry, and pray that God is helping you to bear this heaviest of burdens.

I did not know Vlado very well, but I think we were friends. We met, of course, through Olga in Geneva, where I studied in 1950-51. Vlado took me skiing in Vermont the following year, one weekend, and I remember how patient he was with my slowness as a somewhat permanent beginner! Then, he and Olga came to Washington, about two or three years ago, and came to see me in Virginia where I was then living. At that time, Vlado was already moving up rapidly at the United Nations. You must indeed be very proud of him for having achieved so much in a short time, and in spite of difficulties which would have discouraged most men. The account of his accomplishments portrays a life of dedication to high principles and of tireless efforts to put them into practice. The United States is the richer for having claimed him as a citizen, and the poorer for having lost him in the battle which we are all fighting. But his spirit and his example will be with us always.

Forgive me if I have imposed on your sorrow with this long letter, but I wanted you to know my feelings.

With every good wish to you and Olga,
Very Sincerely,
Lucy T. Briggs

P.S. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Vlado and the Suez Canal

The United Nations Suez Canal Clearance Operation (UNSCO) was one of many missions that Vlado was involved with. Interesting items have been saved from this time, including a chart of the UN clearance operation schedule from January-April 1957; which shows the names of the tugs, salvage vessels and diver’s ships, with names like “Hermes and Wotan” and “Atlas”. It’s a very large chart, but I will post it here soon.
This is a photo of Vlado taking a camel to work:
Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (43)
Here are three letters written by Vlado from Ismaïlia, Egypt, during the clearance operation – the first letter was sent to his friend and flatmate in New York, William W. Crandall, March 27, 1957:

Dear Bill,
I am afraid I shall be late with my rent this month but I left early last week for what was supposed to be a two days inspection trip into forward positions and what eventually turned out to be nine days out in the dessert (my spelling shows to you what is uppermost on my mind after a week of field rations). (And no USArmy rations, either Yugoslav or Indian, and neither of them go for fancy stuff). Anyhow, I eventually caught up with the pouch again, and the cheque is enclosed. Next time I better start thinking of the rent by midmonth.

Most of my work here is on the problem of opening up the Suez Canal and I am thoroughly enjoying the technical side of it – I am getting to be quite an expert by now on sweeping wires, parbuckling, blowing up camels (although when I heard the term the first time I could not visualize anything else then the results of a faulty digestion of the local beasts of burden), patching and pumping, as well as on the even more complex problems of dredging maintenance, rehabilitation of workshops and floating equipment, signalling systems and traffic direction that must be solved before the Canal can be opened. Less pleasurable is the realization that notwithstanding all the efforts here and the good progress of the technical operations and negotiations on the local level, nothing will come out of it until the political issues are solved by the big boys. I also got caught up by some of the problems of the Emergency Forces, although that’s not really my job, and that was quite interesting too.

I hope all is well with you – I think a bit wistfully of New England snow, this being my second skiing season that I am missing, but basking in a reliably constant sun is not too bad either, at least now while it is not too hot. But there is not much one can do for exercise – specially so as the office hours are 8am to 10pm, Monday through Sunday – and I see myself coming back as fat and flabby as King Farouk (or even worse so unless I find some suitable partner willing to engage with me in the one kind of exercise that he was practicing quite assiduously).

With Best Wishes – Vlado Fabry

This next letter is to Mary Sheila Dean Marshall, dated March 2, 1957:

My dear Sheila,
If you should catch me off my guard and jump on me with the question “how long since you left New York”, I should quite sincerely answer that it was last week or so. I keep surprising myself each time i look at the calendar and realize how time has flown. One reason why all time conceptions become blurred may be our working hours arrangement – 8am (sic!) to 10pm, Monday through Sunday, not counting overtime -; with no weekends or even solitary Sundays to mark the full stop after another elapsed week one simply never knows that another week has begun.

This having been said I am a bit at a loss what else I can write without getting at loggerheads with the UN staff rules concerning unauthorized release of confidential information. I can’t write about my private life – not only is there none but even if I had any I’m sure it would be classified as “restricted”,- everything else seems to be, including memos telling us what to do about fleas and bedbugs and summaries of news clipped from local papers. There are flocks of correspondents swarming around and of course all of them know perfectly well what we are doing and what’s going on, but still both at UNEF HQ and at the Canal Clearance Group I have to pretend as if I was an invisible man whom they could not possibly have seen emerging from a plane or car. Maybe the story about the secrecy class of documents marked as “to be destroyed before reading” was not an invention at all.

In spite of everything, I am thoroughly enjoying life and the feeling of being in the middle of it, and I feel smug and happy whenever I get a chance to stop and realize how I feel or that I feel anything at all. I don’t know whether others feel the same when they wake up to it, but judging by the grumbling about tiredness, food, vermin, roads, dust, sleeplessness, cold, heat, dirt and everything else that one constantly hears around, I may be a blissful idiot completely unaware of the black doom around me. Of course one does get a bit discouraged from time to time when after beating for hours against a stone wall one finds the efforts rewarded by a small crack, only to come back the next day and find that the wall is as solid again as it ever was, but that’s all part of the job and is more than compensated by the absolute bliss when things do move ahead. And there is always the net profit on top of it – the new experience, in particular what I was able to pick up about the salvage and navigational aids business when working on the Canal clearance problems.

With best wishes to Desa [Pavlu] and to all other friends – Love, Vlado

This last letter, dated April 7, 1957, is to Mary Liz (still don’t know her last name, but she worked for the UN), who had a sweet romance with Vlado:

My Dear One,
Sorry for the long pause in my writing. You were just about due for a letter when things started crackling in Gaza, and what with the SG’s [Secretary General Hammarskjold] visit and the rush to finish clearing not only the physical but also political obstacles standing in the way of normal traffic through the Canal, this is the first time I have a free evening since nearly a month. But I don’t regret having been caught up in the madhouse of hectic rush and strain, far from it, I feel grateful for the chance to have been right at the focal point of world history for a while – although I would be a hypocrite not to admit the sigh of relief when Stavropolous OK-ed my actions and took over the responsibility. I always boast to be able to sleep a log in any circumstances, but there was a night when I tossed around tense with worry despite the fact that I had worked 39 hours without a break and should have been tired enough. I was the only lawyer on the spot, events moved so quickly that there was no time to set opinions into code and send them to headquarters for approval, actions were taken on papers dictated right in the typewriter without a chance to reread and revise them, and for a while I was left with the nightmare of figuring out ex-pot all that could go wrong instead of having a chance to think it over in advance. But we muddled through somehow. I admit that there were days when I did not think of you at all, or at most with a quick flash of recollection swamped away before the image could get proper hold, but I am making up for it now – I literally woke up with you on my thoughts the last three mornings and you stayed with me whenever my mind lazied away from work through the day and evening.

Not much I can write about myself otherwise. I took an apartment (top floor, of course, to have an unobstructed view) with a big terrace and a contraption for beating out carpets on it that I planned to use for some chinning up exercises, but hardly made any use of it. Nor did I find time during the last month to go for my lunch-time swim and sunbath. I stayed in Cairo during the SG’s visit, but all the time could not find an hour for myself to look into a mosque or museum. And of course no time to read – although during the first month here I managed to pense books on Islam, on the pharaonic art and history, on 17th century philosophers, on Abelard, Graves’ Sargeant Lamb, Greens’ Heart of the Matter, Weller’s mediocre but for me interesting novel on “liberation” by the Russians, Dylan Thomas’ autobiography, Faulkner’s Unvanquished, a collection of Truman Capote and a few more.

Hope to get a letter from you soon – never thought I would ask anybody to write me just for writing’s sake, but your letters are very precious to me and it feels so good to read and reread them (I got three so far). Let me know how your leg feels – will you be ready for some hikes when I come back? By the way, I shall leave here around the 20th or 25th April for Europe, reach NY probably beginning June.

All my love – Vlado

And just one more extra – the footage of Hammarskjold’s visit to the Suez Canal in 1957, thanks to HammarskjoldProject on Youtube:

Last Photo of Vlado Fabry and Dag Hammarskjöld

In my first post, I uploaded a video from Youtube by HammarskjoldProject, showing the final images of Dag Hammarskjöld and the UN members boarding the plane that would crash near Ndola, September 18, 1961. I’ve spent a good deal of time looking at images of Vlado and his most distinctive features are his ears, his broad smile and his high cheekbones, which is how I recognized him in the video, climbing the stairs for the last time.
Here is one of the last known photos of Vlado and Hammarskjöld, taken by the Daily Express, which was sent with a condolence letter by Mary Sheila Dean Marshall from Ibadan, Nigeria. The photo is of the back of his head, but the ears are unmistakably Vlado’s. The letter, and the obituary of Marshall that galvanized me to begin my research about Vlado, is posted here.
Vlado and Dag Hammarskjold Last Picture

**Update: This photo was cropped. The expanded photo and more is included in later posts, found here and here.