Tag Archives: Albertina

56 Years Ago Today

In memory of the 16 who died in Ndola, here is some of the collection from my mother-in-law, Olga Fabry, who carefully saved all the documents and mementos I share here. Vlado was only 40 years old when he died, a man who was very much loved by his family and friends, and my thoughts are with all the relatives around the world who remember their family on this day. The struggle against racism and white supremacy continues for us, let us not forget their example of courage to resist, and to fight for justice.

Program from the first wreath laying ceremony at UN Headquarters, one year after the crash, 17 September 1962:



Invitation from Acting Secretary-General, U Thant, to Madame Fabry:

Letter and commemorative UN stamps from U Thant to Olga Fabry:


Signatures from UN staff were collected from all over the world to fill this two-volume set of books in memory of Vladimir Fabry:

Signatures from UN Headquarters in New York include Ralph Bunche, and his wife Ruth:


Signatures from Geneva Headquarters and a message from John A. Olver:

Telegrams from friends in every country:

Among them, a message of sympathy from the King of Sweden relayed through Ralph Bunche:

And a cable from Jozef Lettrich:

UN cables express the loss of a dear friend and highly valued colleague:


Newspaper clippings from 1961 and 1962, the first one with a photo of Olga Fabry and her mother at the funeral in Geneva, Switzerland:







The investigation will coming up for review in the General Assembly, and for those who think we should give up and be quiet about it already after all these years, Dag Hammarskjold said it best: “Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions.”

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United for Justice

Today, my thoughts return to the status of the Hammarskjold investigation, and to all the relatives around the world who are waiting for the truth to unfold. Last week, on November 19, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the resolution which “urges all member states…to release any relevant records in their possession and to provide to the Secretary-General relevant information related to the death of Dag Hammarskjold.”

There were 74 co-sponsors to the resolution, including Zambia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Haiti, South Africa, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Germany, and France. Every nationality of those who died in 1961 has been represented, with one very notable exception: The United States. It is for this very reason I write today, I will not be silent in my support, because American citizens died for peace, and they and Vlado deserve the respect of their country.

In a statement made by Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog, who introduced the resolution to the President of the UN General Assembly, he said “The pursuit of bringing clarity to the circumstances of the incident is particularly important to the families of all 16 victims – some of whom are present today – but also to the UN as an organization and it should remain so also for all of us as we try to come together to continue the work left unfinished by his premature death.”

It was a little more than a year ago that I was first contacted by one of the relatives, who has been instrumental in gathering us all over the world, and uniting us together to send group letters and emails to UN members in support of this investigation. Many have also written personally to UN members and heads of state to make our appeal, myself included, and I am thankful to those who were kind to respond. It gave me a lot of hope to receive a letter in reply from Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Annika Soder, dated November 20, 2014, the day after the new Swedish Government decided to take the initiative to table the resolution to support the Hammarskjold investigation.

What has not been fully appreciated by the public, and is not being reported in the news anywhere, is the quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts of all the relatives that have united for justice, and who have been paying close attention to the progress of the investigation. It’s not just my family and a handful of others that are speaking up – there are a total 105 relatives that are committed in standing together in support, so we cannot be dismissed as just a few conspiracy theorists. There are relatives to represent every person who died in the crash, with the only exception being Alice Lalande of Canada; though many people, not only the relatives, did all they could to find family that could speak up on her behalf.

I haven’t written much about the investigation recently, but I want to express today how extremely proud I am to belong to this group of dedicated and courageous people, and to be able to give them my support here, it is truly an honor.

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.

Vlado and Don and Marty and the Czech Ambassador

It’s been a while since we’ve heard Vlado’s “voice”, so here are a few letters between him and his friends, Don and Marty Davies, from 1955. Their fondness for Vlado is obvious, but it was Marty who wrote these wonderful letters. We don’t get to learn exactly what happened to the Davies car, but there was an accident on the road to La Berarde; and Vlado was being a know-it-all about the altitude of Col d’Izoard with Don, which prompted a “scolding” from Marty. Vlado refers in one letter to a dispute with a Czech Ambassador in Washington about his passport renewal, and I have included scans of the documents in regards to that. Also included are the condolence letters from Don and Marty to Vlado’s mother and sister, from September 1961.

But first, a few photos of the Davies in Geneva – at the UN Palais and Parc de Eaux Vives – and one with Maminka.
Don and Marty Davies Geneva

Don and Marty Davies Parc de Eaux Vives II

Don and Marty Davies Parc de Eaux Vives

21/II/1955

Dear Don and Marty,

you might remember the little Indian chappie called Radhakrishnan who was precis-writer for the GOC and UNCI (if you still remember what that stood for!) – he used his savings from various currency operations etc to make a trip to New York and was taken by Foster to see the Empire State Building. Asked for his impression, he said simply: “It reminds me of sex.” Poor Foster speculated for a while about the symbolic implications of that comment and finally asked point blank for an explanation – which was “but everything reminds me of sex.” Mutatis mutandis (and there’s quite a bit of mutatis, I hasten to add) I’m in the same predicament – everything seems to remind me of the Davieses. To start with – a year ago was the momentous date when I tried to introduce you to the noble sport of skiing and found a response enthusiastic beyond all my expectations; also, last weekend I spend at Mrs Cornwall’s Lodge in North Creek,- although this time both days were perfectly sunny and there was no need to have recourse to crossword-puzzles; going up I was caught speeding practically at the same spot as when we drove up to make our concerted attack on Mt. Marcy:- happily I was able to talk myself out of it; and so on ad infinitum. In other words, I miss you.

I started the New Year with a rather successful party, featuring the traditional roasted pig without the corresponding (also traditional) stinked-in apartment,- but things started going wrong thereafter. I tried to cold-shoulder an infected throat, hoping that the infection will get disgusted and leave if I don’t pay any attention to it, and ended up with a bad bronchitis which kept me at home for two weeks. It may have lasted longer but for the fact that at the end of two weeks came the weekend when I was assigned by the Appalachian Mountain Club to lead a 15-mile crosscountry excursion, my first leading assignment and so I decided to do my duty, fever or no fever. It turned out to be a blizzard day, and breaking tracks through two feet of new snow with a fifty pound rucksack on my back proved to be just the right medicine for my bug,- they took flight in absolute panick even before we finished the trip. I hope I discouraged them permanently from trying to return.

Your postcard from Garmisch had the foreseeable effect, it made me turn a proper green with envy and spoiled my working efficiency for the rest of the day while I was mulling over in my mind the more pleasant alternatives to my enforced location behind a steel grey desk in a steel grey room under a steel grey sky. Would also be interested to know how you made out in Vienna – bit of home territory for me, you know-, whether it was able to shower on you a sample of its old-time Gemuetlichkeit. Don’t take all your vacation time now – I am still hoping that I may get some assignment to Europe this year, and this time I would like to spend a bit more time with you than last year.

My office activities got somewhat expanded into related channels. I was elected representative on the staff committee, i.e. made a shop steward in our trade union,- I have the smallest unit in terms of number of staff but the only one who represents three Under-Secretaries; and I got stuck with the chairmanship of the UN Ski-Club..- Lonely Hearts Club would probably be really a better name, we have 97 girls and 14 men as members (not to speak of some married couples),-some of the girls quite charming little things [but] I still have a lot of troubles chasing after my bachelor-friends and trying them to induce to come as guests on our weekend excursions. I am probably getting to be known as a hopeless lecher, arriving every weekend to a ski-lodge with a carfull (up to six) of different girls. Good thing I have my visa in the bag, I would never have gotten through the investigation after this.

Remember me to your father, please,- you don’t know how wonderfully comforting it felt to know there are kind and thoughtfull people who not only are willing to help us, but will go out of there way in doing so and in taking the initiative themselves. In your words of the understatement of the year: Nice guy, really. God bless him.

With best wishes to you all-
Vlado

***********************************************************************

25 May 1955

Dearest Vlado —

Don’t you suppose you could take Mr. Hammarskjold aside and explain that a very important mission takes you to Europe practically immediately, it is a mission in the best interests of the UN, peace and the fellowship of mankind. You know, the usual sort of stuff. You will be happy to report to him personally of your findings and recommendations. This is by way of telling you our time is up, almost. Plans of this moment are for our departure the twenty-second of June for –guess?? Algiers. Don is going to be something called Public Affairs Officer, much better than visa-stamping, but Algiers is not Paris. Since the French insist the problem there is an internal one which does not concern the UN I fear we can’t expect to see you there. I’m so sad. Paris is heavenly even if it is gray and rainy all the time. It is a divine, divine city and I don’t want to leave.

My only hope of getting you over here before we leave is to tell you we’re making the grand tour south to Marseille, to make you so envious you can’t bear the thought of our doing the Route d’Ete via the Col d’Isere, Col du Galibier, Col Izoard so we can see Briancon and Barcelonnette and you’ll come over to drive south with us. Oh, I know, I know, this isn’t by any means the route to Marseille. We’re going to Vienne for dinner and theatre in the amphi—-. What else can you do in an amphitheatre except theatre? And then we do the mountains. Suddenly, unexpectedly inexplicably Don has taken a fancy to mountains. He like them. Does this sound reasonable to you? Me, neither. I’ve just wound up ten pages to the family which sort of explains the typing, I’m typed out but I’m hoping that with sufficient warning of what is in the wind you will take a plane this way. Not only has Don taken a fancy to mountains, he is also fancying sightseeing. This is not to be believed. He drags ME sightseeing. For an entire year I’ve been apologizing at the same time I’ve been insisting on seeing things. Don used to go wash the car while I did churches or chateaux. Now he has the bug and it has bitten him badly. Won’t you come? Can’t you come? Don’t you think your family would like to see you?

We had such a nice visit with your family one evening ages ages back. I was then going to write you immediately to tell you how well he looked and how full of beans and plans he seemed. Goodness he is such a cutey. We’ve both got pretty sweet fathers. I’d be willing to bet he is all hot and bothered about the possibilities in Czechoslovakia now that Austria has been released. My poor darling of a Pop, though, just when he was getting all set to come to Europe for a long holiday, had a stroke. The news cut my heart in shreds simply because I couldn’t visualize Daddy as a cripple. I didn’t count on the incredible spirit which moves the old boy. Nothing is impossible. At his age, with his heart he has stunned the doctors. Instead of spending the entire summer in California as they has thought necessary, they leave for home the middle of June with Pop back on his feet, navigating, weakly, true, but determined that this will not stop him. The subject of a trip to Europe has been brought up again….He belongs to a tougher breed than any of his children.

Italy was great fun. Another time I’ll forget the existence of Rome which is a dull and singularly unattractive city and just concentrate all travel in the north of Italy. Those wondrous hill towns, each more delightful than the next….The news of the move to Algiers was here on our return. Fine thing to come home to.

Love, m.a.

*******************************************************************

Hotel St. George
Alger
6 July 1955

Dearest Vlado —

Don has had his scolding; it is now your turn. The two of you were acting like a couple of children. This has absolutely nothing to do with the incident on the road to La Berarde. It was an “accident” in the real sense of the word, unexpected, unavoidable, unpremeditated. Pfft, we forget about it.

But, Vlado, what earthly difference does the precise altitude of the Col d’Izoard make? What great importance does St. Andre’s location on or not on a lake make? There are times when exactitude is frightfully important and insistence upon upmost precision may mean the difference between life and death. But, when Don reads from a travel folder that the Col d’Izoard is blank number of meters high and you flatly contradict him, he can only think that you think he is a stupid oaf because you know the Col is at least blank plus X. I know your reaction because it is one I’ve had to discipline myself to overcome. Fourteen years of discipline because I don’t want to contradict Don and be rude or hurt his feelings. I’ve had to learn that if I disagree or know Don’s position is not right, I must find a way around answering him that will not be contradicting him. Often it means keeping my own counsel if the matter has no great significance; at other times the subject has to be tossed around indirectly until Don sees by himself. Flattery works much better than insult and contradiction often sounds like insult. Contradiction makes conversation impossible….I could watch Don hedging his ideas to protect himself from being pounced upon, hedging them in such a way as to be completely meaningless and thus making himself look exactly the way you made him feel……..Therefore the sullen clouds.

I know now why three squabbling children used to get on Mother’s nerves — yes it is, no it isn’t, it is too, it isn’t either, you’re crazy, I am not, you are too and on and on ad nauseum. And that’s the end of the scolding. Let’s forget it too.

I’ve been told no mountain-climbing here before October, so, unless you can be persuaded to postpone your next summer holiday until Fall, we probably wont see you again till we get home on leave….Thank you for Moustiers Ste. Marie and the very thoughtful call to Marseille. Without you we would have known neither.
Love, marty

****************************************************************

23.IX.1955

Dear Don and Marty,

time flies,- it just knocks my breath out when I stop to think that it is three months since I waved you good-bye at the Roches Blanches in Cassis,- it still seems like last week. I better start recapitulating what I did since to realize how much time I let go by before writing you.

I had a lovely week with mother, Olga and a friend of hers in the Dolomites – each early morning I popped off for a climb while the ladies were resting and picking wild-flowers, and by the time the clouds started gathering in the afternoon, I was back and off we went to the next place. I stopped for a few days of skiing in Cervinia,- went up the Breithorn /4200m/ on skis in shorts, and was roasting through my seventh skin with a tan which even now is still around. Was joined by some friends, fellow-climbers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, in Chamonix for a week’s climbing in the Aiguilles, interspersed with afternoon picknicks in the valley in which Olga and another girl joined up. And then the vacation was over with a blow and back through an empty Paris bereft of your presence and on to New York. Stops in Iceland and Gander, with temperatures near freezing and icy gales, a cold /non-pressurized/ plane, and the shock of landing in New York on the hottest day of the year, and being left standing in our warm clothing and weighted down by assorted luggage on the blazing hot concrete apron in the middle of the relentless afternoon sun. Struggling with heat and humidity through a rather erraticly[sic] unpleasant summer, to be relieved only by the blow and deluge of hurricanes. Apartment hunting /my South-African landlords decided not to have any babies for a while and gave up their “maternity ward” apartment, forcing me to look for a new one/ – but found a very nice place /apt.14-D, 2, Beekman Place, N.Y.22/ a stone’s throw from the office, high up, with unencumbered view over the East River, with the green of the UN garden right under me, bookcases lining not only the living-room and study, but also the bedroom up to the ceiling, and plenty of air,- and I managed to push the price down to 125 a month which is still within my means. A couple of weekends at the shore and one in the White Mountains, and then I took up rock-climbing again and am now hard on it, climbing every weekend. Am spending most of the evenings getting acquainted with the book supply,- see very few people.

Soon after my arrival in New York I was called by my former neighbour from Riverdale, who has taken over /together with three other associates/ the controlling interest in the Muldrow Aerial Survey Corp., a well-established company producing geological maps, surveys, etc. He offered me a job as the manager of their subsidiary company in Calgary /a Canadian corporation/, at a salary of $1.000 monthly, 2% of the sales /another $1.000 monthly/ and expense account including car, club memberships, etc. It was a very tempting offer – it would have meant considerably higher earnings /some 500 $ more monthly after taxes, taking into account that some of my present expenses e.g. car would have been borne by the company/, and a chance to get into private business a few stories about the ground-floor level. However, after a lot of thinking, I refused the offer. Immigration told me that as an employee of a Canadian corporation, I could not maintain my american residence for purposes of acquiring citizenship; the higher earnings seemed more than outbalanced by the lesser security of the job /I had my permanent contract here confirmed, and I have a promotion “in the works”/; the prospect of spending my working day in selling was rather dismal when compared with the pleasure and stimulation that my present job gives me; and last but not least, the prospect of exchanging my independent private life for one where I would have to keep up with the Joneses, backslap prospective customers and be a gregarious “regular” fellow seemed gloomy indeed. So I guess I shall remain an international civil servant for some time to come – offers like that are not falling from heaven each day.

To end this long egotistic tirade – I just had received a registered letter from the Czech Ambassador in Washington asking me to set a date at which it would be convenient to discuss with him personally the question of renewal of my passport /a similar letter was also sent to other emigrees in UN employ/. This is one of the occasions where I wish I was not an international civil servant bound by the rules of diplomatic curtesy[sic] towards an official of one of the Member-governments, so that I could answer the letter in a language appropriate to the occassion!

Before I close, there are two things I want to do. First, to apologize for my behaviour at the Route des Alpes,- I am sincerely sorry to have so stupidly spoiled such a nice trip, and my only and true excuse is that I did not realize what I was doing. My thanks to Marty for opening my eyes. Secondly, to inquire after the health of Mlle. Fregate and about the status of her doctor’s bills – did the insurance company pay up?- Because if not, my offer to cover them still stands, and I will feel much better with a slimmer bank account and a quieter conscience than the other way around. So please let me know.

All the best and lots of love – Vlado

*************************************************************

These four documents were paper-clipped together. Click to enlarge.

Here is the letter from Czech Ambassador Dr. Karel Petrzelka:
Czech Ambassador dispute 1955 IV

A copy of Vlado’s reply to the Ambassador:
Czech Ambassador dispute 1955 III

Here is a letter to Administrative Officer of the UN Bureau of Personnel, Miss Mary McKenna, asking if there are any objections before he sends his reply. And in case you were wondering, Miss Mary McKenna is the famous Mary Liz, and this may have been their first introduction to each other.
Czech Ambassador dispute 1955 II

11 October

Miss Mary McKenna, Administrative Officer
Bureau of Personnel

V. Fabry

1. As I have informed you by telephone, I have received a letter from the Czech Ambassador in Washington suggesting that “in the matter of your passport it may be necessary to hold person to person negotiations on this question”, and offering three alternative dates on which I may visit his office.

2. I consider myself stateless and I am at present residing in the United States on an immigration visa obtained in accordance with provisions made for immigration of displaced persons; after fulfilling the required period of permanent residence in this country, I intend to apply for United States citizenship. For reasons which I trust are known to the Bureau of Personnel, I cannot in good conscience comply with the suggestion made by the Czech Ambassador.

3. On the other hand, I realize that the staff regulations, while not requiring me to give up my national sentiments or political and religious convictions, impose on me the duty to exercise the reserve and tact incumbent upon me by reason of my international status. Consequently, after consultation with my superiors, I decided to send a polite reply to the letter of the Czech Ambassador. The English translation of my reply would read as follows:

“Sir,
In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of 17 September 1955, I should like to inform you courteously that I do not intend to avail myself of your offer to hold person to person negotiations with regard to the granting of a passport, as this issue has become irrelevant(literal translation: as this question has lost its object)”.

I intend to send this reply on Friday, October 14th, unless directed otherwise by the Bureau of Personnel.

And a message to Vlado from Mary Liz McKenna: “The Office of Personnel has no objections to your letter to the Czech Ambassador but we do not, of course, accept the responsibility of approving it.”

Czech Ambassador dispute 1955

*******************************************************************
And now, the letters of condolence from Marty and Don:

1908 Belmont Road, N.W.
Washington 9, D.C.
27 September 1961

Nos tres cheres deux Olga,

This morning we laughed again at the mad escalade of Mt. Marcy in the company of Vlado. This evening at dinner we wept for the morning’s excruciating frivolity. Don returned from the office this evening to tell me that his worst suspicions had been confirmed; that the Fabry on the Hammarskjold plane was indeed Vlado.

How could it be, and, yet, how could it be otherwise, for so long as we have known dear Vlado he has been where the UN was having to handle difficult problems. The excitement, the intellectual challenge and the demand upon resources of courage both physical and moral — where else could Vlado be expected? Right there. And Don said this evening he felt that Vlado was merely a younger Hammarskjold, that everything which made Hammarskjold’s loss so irreparable could be repeated in Vlado’s case. Only Vlado, well, Vlado is a very dear and cherished person whom we were privileged to call a friend and whose family we have come to love as our own. Our sense of loss is that of a member of the family.

Our own desolation can be but very little in terms of your own. Vlado was so much more than son or brother; he was your guardian angel, bringing the family together as he did after it had been so painfully separated and then keeping it together with his enthusiasm, devotion and tender care.

Naturally, we are concerned for you both. Wont you let us have a word from you when you feel you can write. If it would suit your plans or your desires, we have heart and the room to take care of you here with us.

With all my devotion deeply saddened,

Marty

*******************************************************************

Sept. 27, 1961

Very dear friends,

It was not until today that I heard about the other members in Mr. Hammarskjold’s plane, and received confirmation of the identities. My first thought was for you. Where are you and what can we do to help?

I found late today that you both are in Geneva – or at least the telegram said “the family” is there.

We grieve for you and our hearts are with you in this difficult time. You must know, of course, that you have our affectionate sympathy.

Please let us know if we can be of assistance. If you plan to return to the United States perhaps we can be of some help in that way.

We would like to be with you now but since I am on post in Washington and will be assigned here for two more years, we cannot see you at least for a while if you are in Europe. But please let us know if there is anything we can do to ease your problems.

We both send our love. Bon courage.

Donald Davies

A Christmas Card and Good News

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas card, so here is one for you. I don’t know who the people pictured are, but they do look merry! This was sent to Vlado – United Nations Box 20 Grand Central Station – with no return address.
Christmas card to Vlado

And inside – a mysterious and amusing poem! From who??
Christmas poem to Vlado

Strange
silent
mono-one
with
leaping
liver
.
.
rule
yourself
epistolary
at-home
too
.
.
.
(Wednesday
nights)
.
.
.
.
or
send
me
a card
with
a spotted
Swiss
cow
.
.
.
.
.

And now for the good news: The Resolution put forward by Sweden passed in the United Nations General Assembly today – and now there are 56 co-sponsors from around the world! Is someone trying to restore my faith in humanity? To all who have contributed in some part to this worthy effort, my thanks and gratitude!

In Memory of Vlado: 28 September 1961

With deep respect for Dag Hammarskjold, and all those who died with him, here are the photos from Vladimir Fabry’s funeral in Geneva, 28 September 1961. I’ve also included a postcard photo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Geneva, the location of Vlado’s memorial service.

John A. Olver, who had been Chief Administrative Officer for the UNOC, and was asked to accompany his fallen friends on the the Pan-Am flight around the world (The first stop was Leopoldville, then Geneva, Malmo, Stockholm, Dublin, Montreal, and last, New York), gives his reflections of this day in his memoir “Under Fire With Dag Hammarskjold”; which is part of “Dag Hammarskjold Remembered: A Collection of Personal Memories”, edited by Mary-Lynn Hanley and Henning Melber:

“As morning light started to appear we arrived at the Mediterranean, and then flashed across that same sea I had crossed in the other direction so recently. By early morning the high mountains began to appear, and suddenly, or so it seemed, the great white tower of Mont Blanc speared upward below us. The view was unusually sharp and clear, and it occurred to me that Dag Hammarskjold, passionate mountain lover, would have enjoyed this moment. I glanced over at Knut [Hammarskjold].

“Yes,” he nodded, “Dag would have liked this.”

Now began the descent for Geneva, down the length of the long, blue lake with the tidy Swiss city waiting for us at the far end. The familiar bump of landing was felt again, and my watch confirmed that the leap from the heart of Africa to the heart of Europe had been accomplished with split-second timing: it was precisely eleven in the morning.

The plane was towed to a large hangar at one end of the airport, and we disembarked into a glorious Geneva day, to join the silent ranks of thousands of mourners. We were home again, yet somehow we felt lost and far away.

In the hangar, the authorities of the city and canton, long accustomed to important ceremonies yet personally affected by the loss of a world leader whom they had come to know well, had set up a small chapel where last respects could be paid to the Secretary-General and his companions. There was a catafalque upon which the Hammarskjold casket would rest, accompanied by a book in which mourners could inscribe their names. In a few minutes, the casket was in place, and a long procession, stretching far out along the side of the airfield, began to form and move slowly into the hangar and out again. We saw in the endless line the faces of family members, friends, and persons from all walks of life and from offices of the United Nations, and the many other international organizations, plus the diplomatic corps and representatives of the Swiss Government.”

Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva2
Pan-Am Geneva Sept.1961
Body of Vladimir Fabry Returned to Geneva1
Pan-Am funeral procession Geneva Sept. 1961
Funeral procession Geneva Sept. 1961
Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva postcard
Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva Sept. 1961
Vlado's funeral Geneva Lutheran Church
Vlado's casket Geneva Lutheran Church
2 Evangelical Lutheran Church Geneva Sept. 1961
Cimetiere Petit-Saconnex Sept. 1961

One of the most touching tokens of respect to the memory of Vlado, is a large, two-volume book set, embossed with the UN emblem, containing the collected signatures from every UN staff member around the world. Among the signatures of the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva, is this brief homage from John A. Olver:

“He perhaps came as close as humanly possible to being the ideal international civil servant. Certainly his example will endure lastingly in the Secretariat as an inspiration to us all.”

And from another Geneva staff member, whose signature I cannot decipher, there is this:

“I knew him to be a man of courage and of tenderness. It was a fine combination born of a fine mind and of an instinctive respect for his fellow man. When you see a young man growing in stature with the years and being consistently true to the things in which he believes, it leaves an impression that stays with you. Vladimir was just such a man. I shall remember him and be thankful in that memory.”

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.”