Tag Archives: family history

Štvorlístok

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

First Four-Leaf Clover of 2015

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

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

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Letters from Sumitro

From 1949 to 1951, Vlado was working for the United Nations in Indonesia, during the time of independence from the Dutch. Due to the complications of being a political exile from Czechoslovakia, Vlado had only a temporary passport – until October 1952, when he finally received his UN Laissez-Passer. Here is one alternative ID, a ‘Tourist Introduction Card’ from the Government of India:
India Tourist Card
India Tourist Card II
Sumitro Djojohadikusumo (not to be confused with General Sumitro)was the only Indonesian with a doctorate in economics after independence in 1949, and had been Deputy Head of the Indonesian delegation to the UN Security Council, so he and Vlado were colleagues. While going through the 1951 box of papers again, I found two letters – one for Vlado’s sister and one for his mother, with Indonesian letterhead, handwritten and signed by Sumitro. It shouldn’t surprise me that Sumitro came to be friends with Vlado and his family, and that their example of kindness moved him to open his heart to others, but I had no idea how fond he was of Vlado’s sister!
Sumitro letter Olinka

Stockholm, June 15, 1951

Merea Guerida,

Enfant-terrible? Non, – enfant cherie with eyes as lovely as ever to remember and a voice as sweet as ever can be: sweet, soft and gentle –

You asked me (“a penny?”), when I wrote those words in my brochure what I referred to: a general truth, people in Indonesia or personal reflections? I think it was a combination of all three. You see, I have long learned to see situations of Indonesia always as an integral part of a general trend, the strive for betterment, the urge of mankind for improvement and progress, although many times specimens of mankind itself seem to turn the clock back more or less deliberately. Nonetheless, all of us individually have our responsibility as to the fate of others —

Sumitro letter Olinka II

Then, general truth has particular significance only if one can attach to it, personal reflections. I told you that evening (la ultima noche) alongside the lake looking towards Geneva, against the background of mountains and twinkling stars, the lesson I learned from you and your parents. I do not exaggerate – your brother I think can tell you how much under control, reserved and reticent I usually am when meeting people – but how strikingly touched I was, when I met with such generous welcome and kindheartedness from all of you. And I compared my own attitude in the recent past, shying away from gatherings and from people (- though many of them were out for quick profits and complaints, maybe you remember I told you.) My time in Geneve taught me that only through kindness and understanding can you make people understand. Needless to say that my time in Geneva is inextricably connected with the shining, lovely personality of Olga Irene. (remember again, I do not exaggerate, wherever you are concerned.) Now, Carisima[sp?], till next time, for I hope you will continue writing me from time to time, for never shall I forget….

Ever Yours,
Sumitro

Here is the letter he wrote to Mrs. Fabry, with an apology regarding Vlado’s sister:
Sumitro letter Mrs Fabry

Dear Mrs Fabry,

Having arrived in Stockholm yesterday I hasten to send you and the other members of your family, my greetings and best wishes. By this time Dr Vladimir, your son must already be with you and I do hope that all of you will have a lovely time together. I think back of my sojourn in Geneva with more than a great deal of pleasure and gratitude towards you all.

Sumitro letter Mrs Fabry II

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you my profound apologies for the fact that Olga came home so late that Monday-evening. I have no justifiable excuse really and should have been wiser at my age — With kindest personal regards and all my best wishes for you, Dr Pavel Fabry, Vladimir and Olga,

Sincerely yours,
Sumitro

I wonder if Sumitro got a scolding at the door from Maminka? He didn’t sound very sorry about coming home late in his letter to Olga!

Like Father, Like Son

Curve of Longing For Family
One thing I really admire about Pavel Fabry, is how affectionate he was in the letters he wrote to his family. Here is a little sketch of Pavel’s, with him in a hospital bed, a graph behind him that says in Slovak “Curve of Longing For Family”. The doctors are saying they have no cure for this “curve”, and Professor Fabry says he thinks a “Javaensis-Genevensis” tincture is what he needs. This was likely drawn during the late 40’s – early 50’s – when Vlado was working for Independence in Indonesia, Olinka and Maminka were refugees in Switzerland, and Pavel was in a hospital recovering from torture in a concentration camp, in the now former Czechoslovakia. Pavel’s sense of humor here shows he was living life on his terms, that he followed his convictions, and that he was willing to endure suffering for a just cause – a true romantic.

Fall in Love and Lose Weight
Then there are times when I am a little annoyed with him, like with this undated letter, sent to Vlado around the time he was working on the Suez Canal Clearance project in 1957, most likely before the project was finished. Pavel is telling him that he has to lose weight in two weeks, before their family vacation together (which would end with Vlado coming down with Hepatitis, and the weight loss that came with his illness). Then he says with all the tempting food of the Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians and Indians in the desert, that he would have to ride a horse at full gallop all day just to keep fit. He gives Vlado the advice to fall in love to lose weight, but not too happily, so he doesn’t fall apart at the end of it. Really, as if Vlado didn’t have enough to worry about, he has his father telling him he is too fat and needs to go on a diet! He is right though, that falling in love is great for weight loss, but he must have thought Vlado had some kind of superpowers to find a girl to fall in love with on the spot!

If Vlado was a romantic, it was because Pavel set quite an example for him. Romance was never far from Pavel’s mind, as can be seen in this little boudoir sketch (click to enlarge):
Pavel boudoir sketch
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?

Sometimes, thoughts of love and food were in competition, like in his surreal sketch of a fish woman:
Pavel La Peche

Keeping to the subject of romance, in another post, we read the love letters of Vlado and Mary Liz, with the last letter written in September 1957. There are no more love letters written by Vlado after that, but I found a portion of a Mr. America magazine, from January 1958, with a cover banner that reads “USE YOUR SEX URGE FOR BUILDING A HANDSOME BODY”:
Mr. America Jan. '58

Who knows if Vlado was trying to control his “urge”, or what, but romance may have been distracting him from larger goals in his life. I think Pavel was not much different than Maminka, in that he wanted Vlado to find a nice girl to marry – but I also think he took vicarious pleasure in hearing about Vlado’s carefree romantic life as a bachelor.

Vlado left some heart-sick women in his wake, as is shown in this last letter from 1959, written by a woman who wasn’t over Vlado at all, and whose impending marriage brought to mind funerals and drowning. This letter is more a distress call than anything else, which makes it a very funny read!

March 4, 1959

Dear Vlado,

Now it looks as if I may be in NY at last, but for the most unexpected of reasons – on a honeymoon! Probably, April 12-25.

I’ve been so interested to notice in how many ways marriage is like death! First, probably the only reason so barbarous a rite as a wedding has lasted so long in our streamlined society is probably the same reason the funeral has – i.e. sociologists say that all the transactions involved in planning a funeral take the bereaved’s mind out of the depths & the same goes for the bride, bereaved of her freedom!

Marrying is also like drowning in that you suddenly relive your past – at least your past loves & all my former boyfriends have come parading their images across my minds eye – & I must say, Vlado, that as I go through my card file, choosing addresses to send announcements to, each card brings up a little doubt, but the most difficult card to process was yours! Isn’t that funny, because I had dated other boys a lot more than you & I was just as inflamed over them.

It’s just that when I think of me settling down to air force protocol (he’s in for 10 more years!) I think of your verve; & when I think of those forever churning conversation on the base about TDY’s, PFR’s, ER reports etc., I dream of the day you, Otto & I went to the woods and captured those flagstones in such a unique way!

When I ask my 3 F’s (friends, family, fiance) what they would think of my sort of going to NY to get my trousseau & choose my silver pattern & all, they retort “and get that Czech at the U.N. out of your system? You’d never come back.” I shall always wonder if I couldn’t have made you come crawling & writhing out of your shell (if there’d been time) like a tortoise does when the Indians tie him above the fire so he will squirm into the soup pot! But my fiance says I’d better marry him without travelling to NY, because regrets are better than despair….

This stationary is a memento from our bi-family conclave to plan the bash (it will be April 11 at the ——City Community Christian Church – I dare you to come & stand up when the preacher asks “If there be anyone who denies that they should be married…”). His family is from Texarkana, long time friends of my folks, but we conclaved on neutral ground – in Fayetteville!

I do hope some sort of wife won’t open this letter, although I’m sure she would be understanding; otherwise she couldn’t have married you! But just in case I wish there was something I could say which would make me sure you’d know who sent the letter, so I wouldn’t have to sign my name, but I have a strong suspicion that you’ve taken many a girl hiking in the rain, driven her to help her pack on Bank Street – & even many admirers have sent you wooden pigs & sustenance pills when you were in Africa! So I’ll just have to say,

so long,

———–

Letters From Vlado: 1953

Fabry Archive - Selected Photographs (104)
Vlado on a pic-nick with his mother and sister

To give balance to the glowing eulogies of Vlado, I offer two charming letters that he wrote from 1953.
The first is written from New York, 3 March:

Guapa mia,
I think it’s something like two months since I wrote you a decent full letter, and you would have the undeniable right to be quite angry if I hadn’t warned you about my extremely bad writing habits. Even so, please divide your anger equitably between me and my office, for we are both solidarly and undivisibly[sic] guilty for the long delay in my letter-writing. My Committee met from January 5 to February 22, and it was more of a mad-house than ever. I enjoyed the work very much, and so I did probably more than would have really be required of me, with the end result of spending and average of 70 hours a week in my office. Add to this the time one has to spend on various official parties and other quasi-mandatory occasions, the time for dressing, eating, household chores and – unfortunately – a bit of time that one unavoidably spends sleeping, and there remains just enough left to do the minimum of reading to keep in touch with financial events and other news that one cannot afford to miss. Apart from the lack of time, my mind was too preoccupied and too tired out to write a decent letter anyhow. You are not the only one who had to bear up with me during these last two months – my own parents didn’t hear much from me either, and I had to refuse nearly all private social engagements and pleasures. At one point I got so tired, after having worked until 3 or 4 in the morning for several days in a row, that I bumped with my face right against the steel edge of my car’s roof – and then was so preoccupied that I did not notice that I had hurt myself until the blood covered my left eye and I suddenly realized that something is wrong with my driving. But don’t worry, my beauty – sic! – is not affected – at the emergency ward of a hospital where I stopped I was given a thorough stitching, and they did such a nice job that there is practically no scar left.
The last two weekends I was catching up a bit on my body’s craving for exercise – I had worked all weekends since Christmas and so had not been out on the fresh air except for the 10 or 20 meters from the door to the car – and went skiing. Of course, to go skiing here is not so easy as in Geneva – Stowe, which is the nearest place with good trails and good snow, is 600 km away, so one has to spend most of Friday night and Sunday night driving. There are no wide open slopes either, just trails through woods where one has swing it around like in a slalom. The trails are of course of varying steepness and difficulty, from easy softly sloping ones for beginners to steep twisters, and towards the evening when they get iced up from the hundreds of skiers who hurtle through them. some of these trails can be a real challenge even for experts. Both weekends I had a carful of friends with me, to save on transportation expenses, and last weekend we rented an entire floor of a house, complete with a large living room with a big fireplace, and with kitchen, and the girls cooked our breakfast and dinner so that we did not spend too much money.
To correct the impression that all of my life was only work I must add that I also managed to go to two balls, one Latin American affair given by the Brazilian government and the Pan-American Union, with two orchestras flown in from Rio, and an excellent gay atmosphere, and one extremely fashionable “high class” American ball, which was much more stuffy but very interesting because it was “the” exclusive ball of society. Last week I resumed accepting dinner invitations – which I had to refuse while the Committee was meeting because I would have never found the time to go, and yesterday I gave myself a little bachelor-dinner party for fourteen guests. It was a bit of a problem to fit in everything in my small apartment, and I didn’t start shopping and preparing for the party until five in the afternoon because I was tied up in the office, so that when my first guests came I was still out getting ice and they had to wait for a few minutes before I came back and let them into the apartment. I couldn’t of course give them anything as fancy as your little Chinamen-eggs, but while they were having drinks and in-between keeping up conversation I managed to prepare some hors-d’oeuvres salad with tongue, ham and salmon, and while they were eating that I cooked my lobster-dish, something like a langouste cardinal, which I had learned how to do while visiting some friends near Boston last year, and then we all swarmed over the fondue pot and everybody dunked into it right in the kitchen-cupboard and was delighted at the extravagant delicacy. So you see, it’s much easier to satisfy guests here, you don’t have to go into so much trouble and formality. Around two in the morning I called for volunteers for dishwashing, and in less than half-hour all the hundreds of dishes, glasses and silverware – which I had rented for the occasion – were stacked away and I could compliment my guests out and go to bed.
Well, I think that’s about all the news for now. I am looking forward to a bit more varied life now, want to see some plays and do more skiing – and in reverting to the nice things I will be thinking more of you.
Love,
Vlado

This second letter was written from Geneva, 26 December:

My dear one,
You must excuse my rather disorganized(and probably hardly legible)first letter – I wrote it between appointments in an effort to give you news of me as soon as possible. But this purpose was thwarted when I discovered that in addition to the airfield strike, also postal employees were on strike in France, so that sending the letter from Paris would have simply meant its getting lost in the piles of amassing mail which was being left uncollected. Really, France managed to get itself in a mess again – no president, no air traffic, no mail – and everything so expensive that I didn’t dare to buy anything. The theaters also were rather disappointing – a general air of decadence and negativity pervades the selection of plays, their direction and production, and to some extent also the performances of the players. If I didn’t have business to take care of, I would have probably left disgustedly the first night – as it was, I left disgustedly the third night.
The trains for Geneva were sold out, so I left through Basel and Lausanne, leaving Father behind for another day. In Lausanne, I had a big surprise – my mother walked suddenly through the carriage looking for a place to sit – she was at a wedding there, and neither of us knew that the other will be using the same train.
I had a very nice Christmas Eve, just the four of us, mother prepared a big Slovak Christmas dinner, and it was all very sentimental and mellow, each of us had shining eyes and tears ready at the slightest provocation. We all went together to church, and I even joined then in Confession and Partaking of the Cene, which I had not done for quite a few years. Yesterday I made another concession – visiting relatives and friends – but I managed to be carried away by the spirit enough to enjoy all of it. On Christmas Eve, we had phone calls from all over Europe, – Madrid, Stockholm, Munich, Zurich – friends wishing us Merry Christmas and welcoming me here, – it was all very sweet and comforting to know that there are still friends around who will go into so much trouble to make us feel good. I was also surprised at the number of people who sent us gifts and cards, many of whom I could hardly recall.
There is practically no snow anywhere, and skiing prospects look very gloomy. All the major roads across the Alps are still open – something nobody can ever recall having happened at Christmas. Even if there should be snow now, it would not have enough base to permit mountain-crossings, and so I will have to postpone skiing until at least the second week of January. In the meanwhile, I shall probably leave for the Cote d’Azur next Monday or Tuesday, and stay there for a week or so. I shall let you know what next.
I haven’t thanked you yet properly for your Christmas wishes (or rather, for Mona Lisa’s) – I had not seen the card when I was phoning you from the air-terminal, having eyes only for your picture, and there was no more room on my letter from Paris. How is dear ML, does she behave (and do you)???
I thought of you at Christmas time, and I shall be thinking of you when the New Year arrives (and quite often in-between, before and thereafter). I am wishing to you and to your mother all the very best for the coming year, and as a special little wish for myself I add that of being with you very, very often.
Love,
Vlado

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.

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: