Tag Archives: Dr. Pavel Fabry

It begins with a book…

Last August, I took another look through the family collection of books about Czechoslovakia. What I found was a copy of “HISTORY OF MODERN SLOVAKIA” by Jozef Lettrich, which had, sadly, been overlooked in a damp corner of the house.
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But in spite of mold damage, I put it in a mylar sleeve and kept it nearby, because the book mentioned Pavel Fabry (Vladimir Fabry’s father) as one of the first to be imprisoned in a concentration camp on March 30, 1939, in the state prison of Ilava, Slovakia.
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I recognized the book immediately, since I had seen at least a half dozen photostatic copies in my archive from page 144, underlined in the same places, which Pavel must have referred to in his case for reparations in Germany.
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From Chapter Two, “Under the Swastika”, pages 143-144:

“When prisons were no longer adequate, the Slovak Government issued an order on March 24, 1939, “concerning the imprisonment of the enemies of the Slovak State.” […] This order authorized the Minister of Interior to “arrange for the jailing of persons whose past and present activities give reason to fear that they would continue to obstruct the building of the Slovak State.” The Minister of the Interior was further authorized to create “a camp for the detention of such persons in which prisoners would be compelled to perform physical labor.” Vojtech Tuka lost no time in transforming the old state prison in Ilava into a “security camp,” the first concentration camp in Slovak history. The Ilava prison thus became the home of Slovak democrats–of authors, priests, teachers, newspapermen and statesmen, as well as of simple farmers, workmen and students. The first inmates of this camp, brought there on March 30, 1939, were: Anton Štefánek, Ján Ursíny, František Zimák, Ján Pocisk, Ferdinand Benda, Karol Hušek, Ján Paulíny-Toth, Jozef Rudinský, Pavel Fábry, Andrej Djuračka, František Třešnák, Hana Styková, Vinco Mihalus and Jozef Lettrich, three Members of Parliament, two Senators, three journalists, the Chairman of the Slovak National Party, and an actress from the Slovak National Theater. Others soon followed. In the few years of existence of the Slovak State more than 3,000 persons were to pass through the gates of the Ilava concentration camp. Some remained a few days, some for months, and others for several years. They were all sent to Ilava without trial , without judgement, without indictment, merely upon a denunciation and by administrative order of the Ministry of Interior. Tuka, on April 15, 1939, made the following characteristic statement, “Those who spread alarming rumors and false reports are obstructing our way. We have made arrangements to handle all of them in Ilava. Many of them are there now and many others will follow them there. It is your duty to denounce these instigators to the police and the Hlinka Guards, and the Slovak Government will take care of them.”

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I now have another copy of this book, in very good condition, signed and inscribed by Jozef Lettrich on the title page. It was only after this that I looked at the title page of the copy I found, and it was also inscribed.
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Title page from second copy.
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From the copy that belonged to Pavel Fabry.

When I finally started to read it, it dawned on me that this book was written by the same Jozef Lettrich that was in prison with Pavel, and that I had letters from Lettrich – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in Czechoslovakia, who was an exile living in the United States. So I went back to the boxes. I was amazed by how this one book began to illuminate what I had missed before: letters to and from Milan Hodza – Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia; Jan Pauliny-Toth – lawyer and politician; Peter Pridavok – Chairman of the Slovak National Council in London; Juraj Slavik – Czechoslovak Ambassador to the United States; General Lev Prchala; Emil Stodola, and Kornel Filo. Pavel Fabry was seeking reparations for many of these people and others in Berlin, as their lawyer, so I have some of their testimonies, in Slovak, German and French.

But then I found two letters from Franz Karmasin, one of them signed. Franz Karmasin was state secretary for the German Minority, under President of Slovakia and Catholic Priest Jozef Tiso: an anti-semite who collaborated with Hitler and was key in making the Slovak State the first Nazi ally in the Final Solution, deporting tens of thousands of Jewish people to their extermination – he was hanged after WWII; Karmasin was also senticed to death but escaped prosecution and was living in exile in Munich. From what I was able to translate, Karmasin seems to be arguing against something Pavel said about him – and he begins his first letter in praising Pavel on his son Vlado – The Hague and Nuremberg are also mentioned. There were no letters from Pavel to Karmasin. I’ve transcribed the letters here for others to translate.

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Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München 8
Trogerstaße 32

München, den 8-7. 1959

Herrn
Dr. Paul Fabry

14 Chemin Thury
Geneve

Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Fabry!

Unsere gestrige Aussprache hat mich sehr stark an Aussprachen in der Heimat erinnert. Ich glaube, diese angenehme Atmosphäre gibt es nur jenseits der Karpaten. Ich bitte, es nicht als Anmassung zu betrachten, wenn ich Sie zu Ihrem prächtigen Sohn beglückwünsche. Er hat großen Eindruck auf mich gemacht und ich freue mich wirklich von ganzem Herzen, dass die slowakische Sache so einen hervorragenden Vertreter ihrer Interessen besitzt.
In der Kanzlei habe ich mir dann den sehr dicken Akt “Dr. Fabry” vorgenommen. Ich war froh, dass ich dies erst nachher getan habe, ich wäre sonst kaum zu der Besprechung gekommen. Ich habe sehr stark den Eindruck, dass Sie in der Darstellung und Beurteilung der Situation der Deutschen Volksgruppe in der Slowakei sich weniger von Tatsachen, als vielmehr von Gefühlen leiten liessen. Ich kann es verstehen, umsomehr, als die Grenzen zwischen Reichsdeutschen und Volksdeutschen von Aussen her nicht immer sichtbar waren und vor allem die Situation der Volksgruppe und der Volksgruppenführung nicht für eine öffentliche Diskussion geeignet war. Aber in Ihren Ausführungen sind Sie doch etwas hart, ich darf Ihnen das in aller fahrens mit Ihnen und Ihrem Herrn Sohn über diese Dinge diskutieren, jetzt ist nicht der geeignete Zeitpunkt dazu. Ich will Ihren nur zu bedenken geben, dass der deutsche evangelische Bischof Scherer, für dessen Ernennung ich mich übrigens sehr stark eingesetzt habe und fast alle evangelischen u. katholischen Pfarrer Mitglieder der Deutschen Partei waren und dass die Deutsche Partei bei den Nürnberger Verfahren ausgeklammert wurde, obwohl man den Aliierten bestimmt nicht Unkenntnis der Lage vorwerfen konnte. Auch das Dokumentenmaterial, wenn man es vollinhaltlich zur Kenntnis nimmt, spricht eine andere Sprache als Ihre Darstellungen. Die Offenheit, mit der wir gestern gesprochen haben, verpflichtet mich, Ihnen das zu schreiben.
Die Zusatzerklärung habe ich lt. Durchschlag an das Regierungspräsidium, an Dr. Virgano, Herrn Minister Dr. Tiso und Herrn Birkner geschickt. Ich bin gespannt, wie sich die Angelegenheit weiter entwickeln wird.

Hochachtungsvoll!

(Karmasin)

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Copy

Dipl. Ing. Franz Karmasin
München 8
Trogerstaße 32

München, den. 8.7.1959

An das
Regierungspräsidium
Köln
Zeughausstr. 2-4

Sehr geehrte Herren!

Betr.: Dr. Paul Fabry

Ich habe die verschiedenen Schriftstücke im Falle Dr. Paul Fabry, soweit sie mir zur Verfügung stehen, nochmals durchgesehen und darf meine seinerzeitige Darstellung wie folgt ergänzen:

Ich habe dargelegt, dass die Behauptung, Dr. Fabry sei durch die Gestapo verhaften worden, falsch sei, da sich auf dem Gebiete der Slowakei keine Gestapo befunden hat. Dagegen hatten z.Zt. der Besetzung des slowakischen Staatsgebietes rechts der Waag während der Tschechenkrise durch deutsche Truppen Organe des Sicherheitsdienst Dienst gemacht. Ich glaube mich erinnern zu können – ohne es allerdings beschwören zu können -, dass durch die deutschen militärischen Kommandostellen Angehörige der Hlinkagarde (HG) und der Freiwilligen Schutzstaffel (FS) diesen Organen als Hilfskräfte zugeteilt wurden. Inwieweit sich diese im Zuge der revolutionären Ereignisse Übergriffe zuschulden kommen ließen, entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis, vor allem aber meiner und meiner Mitarbeiter Verantwortung. Sie unterstanden, falls sie sich in die Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht oder des SD begeben hatten, nicht mehr der Befehlsgewalt der Volksgruppe.

Zu dieser Ergänzung fühle ich mich verpflichtet einerseits, weil Aussenstehende die Unterschiede zwischen SD und Gestapo nicht ganz klar waren, andererseits weil mir im Interesse meiner ehemaligen Mitarbeiter selbst sehr viel an der Klärung dieser Angelegenheit liegt. Ich bitte, die Ergänzung in diesem sinne zur Kenntnis zu nehmen.

Hochachtungsvoll!

(Karmasin)

Letter from Ambassador C.D. Jackson to Dr. Pavel Fabry

On Sunday, I watched the documentary of the McCarthy hearings, “Point of Order”, for the first time, and it is a chilling piece of political theater, composed of the 36 days of televised hearings on ABC.McCarthy was obsessed with an imaginary number of Communists and spies in the State Department, and everywhere else – a number that always changed. Because of his crazy methods and complete lack of evidence, he was censured by the United States Senate. After listening to the drone of McCarthy’s voice for an hour and a half, I wondered if he wasn’t drunk through those entire hearings. He died on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48, from acute hepatitis complicated by alcoholism.

In my American public schools, I learned that history was boring and irrelevant – perhaps it was because all of my history teachers were primarily athletic coaches – but history is a thrilling adventure, and a mirror to reflect our times. How can you not be interested in all the great and horrible details?
In connection to the time of the Army-McCarthy Hearings(April 22-June 17, 1954), I present here a letter from Ambassador C.D. Jackson to Dr. Pavel Fabry, dated February 11, 1954. On this date, Jackson was working as Special Assistant to the President for International Affairs under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and this letter was sent from Berlin during the Berlin Four Power Conference; the Conference was held from January 25 – February 18, 1954. Jackson was a busy man and had a long list of important jobs, including Deputy Chief at the Psychological Warfare Division from 1944-1945, Managing Director of Time-Life International from 1945-49, President of the anti-Communist Free Europe Committee in 1951-52, presidential speech writer for Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign, adviser to the President on psychological warfare from February 1953 to March 1954, U.S. Delegate to the Ninth General Assembly at the UN in 1954, and other illustrious titles.
(click images to enlarge)

C.D. Jackson letter to Pavel Fabry
Dr. Pavel Fabry drew wonderful pictures that he sent in letters to his friends and family, so I can guess that is what he sent to Mr. Jackson. I offer you one of the finest examples of his work from my collection, “You go slowly but surely”, showing the Palais des Nations in Geneva, which he made for his daughter, Olga:
Fabry Archive - Drawings (22)
I have this one framed and hung in my office, to inspire me.
I’m curious if Jackson really did keep and frame what Pavel sent to him, and I wonder what it looked like – there is no copy of it here that I can find. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, in Abilene, Kansas, has the collection of Jackson’s letters from 1931-1967, so if anyone has the letter and drawing from Pavel, they do.