Letters of Olinka: October 1961

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and here is a letter of great desperation written by Vlado’s sister, Olga Fabry – who was still a stateless political refugee at the time of his death – asking Constantin Stavropoulos to help her obtain a professional position at the U. N. Library in Geneva. With both her father and her brother gone, she suddenly had to financially support her mother and herself, and that meant being bold and asking every important person she knew for help. This letter was translated from French:

Oct. 10, 1961

Cher Costi,

Allow me to thank you again for your presence at Vlado’s funeral and for your lovely speech to the church. Your presence was a great comfort to my mother so painfully struck by the cruel loss of her beloved son.

Maman has been admirable until now, but the much dreaded reaction unfortunately has already started to manifest itself. It’s a bit too much for her and for me, especially since Christmas, when Papa died, we had only Vladko for our support. Vladko was our support, notre soutient, our everything, in this world in which we are already deprived of homeland and family. Now we have also lost Vladko, so tragically, so brutally and it seems the ravine of misery and despair appears to engulf us slowly…. Mother is even more saddened and upset since she was always so opposed to his mission in Congo, especially so soon after the death of my father.

Even in New York in the Spring, you were out, I think, she asked M. Schachter could Vladko return as soon as possible. She has been very worried and unhappy ever since Vladko has been in Congo, as if she had a presentiment… She showed me now the copies of letters she wrote to you and Mr. Schachter when Vladko was sent to Congo; he knew nothing of these letter, but she had felt something, and she wanted to do everything for him to return… alas, he left his life there.

Now we have, in our present so heavy, such desperation to take care of our future.

After talks with the Head of Naturalization in Geneva, I obtained a promise of Swiss naturalization on the condition of having employment at the United Nations in Geneva.

I went to see the director of the Library of the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Breycha Vauthier, who told me of a professional vacancy in the library. He told me he would like very much that I take this position, because I have already worked in the Library of the United Nations in Geneva, I know the languages and that New York always sends someone who is not proficient, who does not know the languages and of which one wants to get rid of.

As I have already worked temporarily on several occasion in the Library, I have already a good experience and thorough knowledge of the functioning of the U.N. Library in Geneva. I’ve even done my diploma work. In addition, my experience in the United States where I am “Head Librarian”, my development from below can only speak in favor of my professional competence. In New York I hold a professional position and my salary is equivalent to that of P II in the United Nations.

Mr. Breycha told me he would write to Mr. Palthey in New York to recommend me from the professional point of view; the professional positions, as you know perhaps, are decided in New York. Mr. Marx told me that he would write to New York to recommend me, so to speak from a point of view of moral obligation of the United Nations to my mother and to Vlado.

If difficulties arise, if there are problems to vanquish, it must be overcome. It must make an exception this time, even if the United Nations have never done it before. Vlado, as you said yourself in your speeches, has rendered outstanding service to the United Nations, and everyone knows how and how much he worked, all that he has so generously given: his brilliant intellect, his intelligence of the heart, his multiple talents, his devotion, and ultimately the sacrifice of his life so young, all to the United Nations.

My mother may have only a few years left to live and I would like to make her life easier as much as possible and make it impossible for her not to suffer any more injustice or human wickedness. She would like to see me continue in some way not so nobly traced by her son and I would like to work in the institution and for its ideals for which Vladko sacrificed his young life.

Decisions for professional positions are taken in New York. Dear Costi, I pray you especially to do EVERYTHING for me to get this professional position in the Library of the U. N. in Geneva, I ask you on behalf of my poor mother so painfully affected and on behalf of our beloved Vladko of which you were a friend. I beg you to continue your friendship with Vladko and also for my mother and me and not abandon us in our hours so difficult to endure.

My thanks go out to you with all my heart for all your help and I ask you to receive, from my mother and me, our best wishes and memories.

Olga Fabry

Here is Olga’s diploma from the Ecole de Bibliothécaires, signed 8 March 1957.
Olga Fabry Diploma 1
Olga Fabry Diploma 2

I have not found the letter that Olga sent to Sture Linner, Head of UN Civilian Operations in the Congo, but he found the time to respond her request – even asking Ralph Bunch for his assistance!
Sture Linner letter to Olga 19 Oct 1961

UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION IN THE CONGO

19 October 1961

Dear Miss Fabry,

You and your Mother have been in my thoughts very much indeed all this dreadful time. I was so sorry not to be able to find you again on the eve of my departure, but I trust there will sooner or later be an opportunity for me to pass through Geneva and I shall then certainly be very happy to look you up.

I do wish with all my heart that you and your Mother may find strength to endure all the strain from which you must be suffering. Already from our brief encounter, I am convinced that you have the fortitude of character that will carry through even this ordeal.

As to your request for me to help you to obtain an assignment as a Librarian with the UN in Geneva, I took it up with Ambassador Spinelli during our trip from Geneva to Stockholm after you had first mentioned to me your wishes in this respect. Mr. Spinelli promised to do everything he could to obtain some such post for you, and I got the impression that the prospects were quite bright. On receipt of your letter, I have cabled Dr. Bunche in New York, quoting what you say and also reporting on my conversation with Mr. Spinelli. I am sure you realize that a decision on this matter is beyond my competence, but I trust that with a double approach thus having been made, to Mr. Spinelli and to Headquarters in New York, the matter will be settled to your satisfaction.

Please give your Mother my warmest regards.

Sincerely,

Sture Linner

Here also is the response from Stavropoulos, which I did not translate, but he offers some of the same encouragement as Linner:
Costi letter to Olga 26 October 1961

Because of Olga’s intelligence and determination to survive, she was able to find work and take care of herself and her mother, and would eventually spend many years as Librarian at the U.N. Foundation Library in New York, as a citizen of the United States.

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