Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld

Dag Hammarskjöld in 1959
2nd Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
10 April 1953  18 September 1961
Preceded by Trygve Lie
Succeeded by U Thant
Personal details
Born Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld
(1905-07-29)29 July 1905
Jönköping, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
(now Jönköping, Sweden)
Died 18 September 1961(1961-09-18) (aged 56)
Ndola, Rhodesia and Nyasaland
(now Ndola, Zambia)
Nationality Swedish
Alma mater Uppsala University
Stockholm University
Religion Lutheran/Church of Sweden

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld (Swedish: [dɑːɡ ²hamarˌɧœld]; 29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author, who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. At the age of 56 years and 255 days, Hammarskjöld was the youngest to have held the post. Additionally, he is one of only four people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize[1] and was the only United Nations Secretary-General to die while in office. He was killed in a Douglas DC-6 airplane crash en route to cease-fire negotiations. Hammarskjöld has been referred to as one of the two best secretaries-general,[2] and his appointment has been mentioned as the most notable success for the UN.[3] US president John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld "the greatest statesman of our century."[4]

Early life and education

Hammarskjöld's birth house in Jönköping.

Dag Hammarskjöld was born in Jönköping to the noble family Hammarskjöld (alternatively spelt Hammarskiöld or Hammarsköld). His family was ennobled in 1610 due to deeds of the warrior Peder Mikaelsson (after 1610) Hammarskiöld (approximately 1560 - 12 April 1646), an officer in the cavalry who fought for both sides in the War against Sigismund, where he took the name Hammarskiöld at his ennobling. Dag Hammarskjöd spent most of his childhood in Uppsala. His home there, which he considered his childhood home, was Uppsala Castle. The fourth and youngest son of Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, Prime Minister of Sweden from 1914 to 1917,[5] and Agnes Hammarskjöld (née Almquist), Hammarskjöld's ancestors had served the Monarchy of Sweden since the 17th century.

Hammarskjöld studied first at Katedralskolan and then at Uppsala University. By 1930, he had obtained Licentiate of Philosophy and Master of Laws degrees. Before he finished his law degree he had already obtained a job as Assistant Secretary of the Unemployment Committee.[6]


From 1930 to 1934, Hammarskjöld was Secretary of a governmental committee on unemployment. During this time he wrote his economics thesis, "Konjunkturspridningen" ("The Spread of the Business Cycle"), and received a doctorate from Stockholm University.[6] In 1936, he became secretary of the Sveriges Riksbank and was soon promoted. From 1941 to 1948, he served as chairman of the bank.

Hammarskjöld quickly developed a successful career as a Swedish public servant. He was secretary of the Riksbank (the central bank of Sweden) 1935–1941, state secretary in the Ministry of Finance 1936–1945, governor of the Riksbank 1941–1948, Swedish delegate to the OEEC (Organization for European Economic Cooperation) 1947–1953, cabinet secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1949–1951 and minister without portfolio in Tage Erlander's government 1951–1953.[6]

He helped coordinate government plans to alleviate the economic problems of the post-World War II period and was a delegate to the Paris conference that established the Marshall Plan. In 1950, he became head of the Swedish delegation to UNISCAN. Although Hammarskjöld served in a cabinet dominated by the Social Democrats, he never officially joined any political party.

In 1951, Hammarskjöld was vice chairman of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in Paris. He became the chairman of the Swedish delegation to the General Assembly in New York in 1952. On 20 December 1954, he was elected to take his father's vacated seat in the Swedish Academy.

United Nations Secretary-General

Hammarskjöld outside the UN headquarters at New York City in 1953.

When Trygve Lie resigned from his post as UN Secretary-General in 1953, the United Nations Security Council recommended Hammarskjöld to succeed him. It came as a surprise to Hammarskjöld.[7] Seen as a competent technocrat without political views, he was selected on 31 March by a majority of 10 out of 11 Security Council members. The UN General Assembly elected him in the 7–10 April session by 57 votes out of 60. In 1957, he was re-elected.

Hammarskjöld began his term by establishing his own secretariat of 4,000 administrators and setting up regulations that defined their responsibilities. He was also actively engaged in smaller projects relating to the UN working environment. For example, he planned and supervised every detail in the creation of a "meditation room" at the UN headquarters. This is a place dedicated to silence, where people can withdraw into themselves, regardless of their faith, creed, or religion.[8]

During his term, Hammarskjöld tried to smooth relations between Israel and the Arab states. Other highlights include a 1955 visit to China to negotiate the release of 11 captured US pilots who had served in the Korean War,[5] the 1956 establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force, and his intervention in the 1956 Suez Crisis. He is given credit by some historians for allowing participation of the Holy See within the United Nations that year.[9]

In 1960, the former Belgian Congo and then newly independent Congo asked for UN aid in defusing the Congo Crisis. Hammarskjöld made four trips to Congo, but his efforts toward the decolonisation of Africa were considered insufficient by the Soviet Union; in September 1960, the Soviet government denounced his decision to send a UN emergency force to keep the peace. They demanded his resignation and the replacement of the office of Secretary-General by a three-man directorate with a built-in veto, the "troika." The objective was, citing the memoirs of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, to "equally represent interests of three groups of countries: capitalist, socialist and recently independent."[10][11]


Flight path of Hammarskjöld's aircraft (pink line) and the decoy (black line), September 1961
Hammarskjöld's grave in Uppsala

In September 1961, Hammarskjöld learned about fighting between "non-combatant" UN forces and Moise Tshombe's Katangese troops. Hammarskjöld was en route to negotiate a cease-fire on 18 September when his Douglas DC-6 airliner SE-BDY crashed with no survivors near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Hammarskjöld and 15 others perished in the crash, whose circumstances are still unclear. There is some evidence that suggests the plane was shot down.[12][13][14]

Göran Björkdahl (a Swedish aid worker) wrote in 2011 that he believed Dag Hammarskjöld's 1961 death was a murder committed, in part, to benefit mining companies like Union Minière, after Hammarskjöld had made the UN intervene in the Katanga crisis. Björkdahl based his assertion on interviews with witnesses of the plane crash, near the border of the DRC with Zambia, and on archival documents.[15][16] Former U.S. President Harry Truman commented that Hammarskjöld "was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said 'when they killed him'."[17]

On 16 March 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed members to an Independent Panel of Experts which would examine new information related to Hammarskjöld's death. The three-member panel, led by Mohamed Chande Othman, the chief justice of Tanzania, also included Kerryn Macaulay (Australia's representative to ICAO) and Henrik Larsen (a ballistics expert from the Danish National Police).[18] The panel's 99-page report, released 6 July 2015, assigned "moderate" value to nine new eyewitness accounts and transcripts of radio transmissions. Those accounts suggested that Hammarskjöld's plane was already on fire as it landed, and that other jet aircraft and intelligence agents were nearby.[19]

Spirituality and Markings

In 1953, soon after his appointment as United Nations Secretary-General, Hammarskjöld was interviewed on radio by Edward R. Murrow. In this talk Hammarskjöld declared: "But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics [Meister Eckhart and Jan van Ruysbroek] for whom 'self-surrender' had been the way to self-realization, and who in 'singleness of mind' and 'inwardness' had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbours made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it."[20]

Hammarskjöld's only book, Vägmärken (Markings), was published in 1963. A collection of his diary reflections, the book starts in 1925, when he was 20 years old, and ends the month before his death in 1961.[21] This diary was found in his New York house, after his death, along with an undated letter addressed to then Swedish Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Leif Belfrage. In this letter, Hammarskjöld wrote: "These entries provide the only true 'profile' that can be drawn ... If you find them worth publishing, you have my permission to do so". The foreword is written by W.H. Auden, a friend of Hammarskjöld's.[22]

Markings was described by the late theologian, Henry P. Van Dusen, as "the noblest self-disclosure of spiritual struggle and triumph, perhaps the greatest testament of personal faith written ... in the heat of professional life and amidst the most exacting responsibilities for world peace and order."[23] Hammarskjöld wrote, for example, "We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. He who wills adventure will experience it – according to the measure of his courage. He who wills sacrifice will be sacrificed – according to the measure of his purity of heart."[24]

Markings is characterised by Hammarskjöld's intermingling of prose and haiku poetry in a manner exemplified by the 17th-century Japanese poet Basho in his Narrow Roads to the Deep North.[25] In his foreword to Markings, the English poet W. H. Auden quotes Hammarskjöld as stating: "In our age, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action."[26]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates the life of Hammarskjöld as a renewer of society, on the anniversary of his death, 18 September.




People's views

Eponymous structures

Other commemorations

Memorial at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City



  1. "Nobel Prize Facts".
  2. "Next U.N. secretary general - The Japan Times". This article names Kofi Annan as the other one.
  3. "How Not to Select the Best UN Secretary-General". 28 October 2015.
  4. 1 2 Linnér S (2007). "Dag Hammarskjöld and the Congo crisis, 1960–61" (PDF). Uppsala University. p. Page 28.
  5. 1 2 Sze, Szeming (December 1986). Working for the United Nations: 1948-1968 (Digital ed.). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. p. 20. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "Biography, at Dag Hammerskjoldse". Daghammarskjold.se. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  7. Sheldon, Richard (1987). Hammarskjöld. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. p. 28. ISBN 0-87754-529-4.
  8. Mary Cherif; Nathalie Leroy; Anna Banchieri; Armando Da Silva. "The Meditation Room in the UN Headquarters". UN.org. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  9. "Holy See's Presence in the International Organizations". Vatican.va. 22 April 2002. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  10. Archived 22 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. "Dag Hammarskjöld – biography". Daghammarskjold.se. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  12. Borger, Julian (17 August 2011). "Dag Hammarskjöld: evidence suggests UN chief's plane was shot down". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  13. Borger, Julian (4 April 2014). "Dag Hammarskjöld's plane may have been shot down, ambassador warned". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  14. Susan Williams, Who Killed Hammarskjold? 2011, Hurst Publishers, 2014, Oxford University Press
  15. Bjorkdahl, Goran (17 August 2011). "Dag Hammarskjöld: I have no doubt Dag Hammarskjold's plane was brought down". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  16. Bjorkdahl, Goran (February 2013). "EYEWITNESSES: The Hammarskjold Plane Crash. International Peacekeeping, Vol.20, No.1, February 2013,pp.98-115". Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  17. Jamie Doward, "Spy messages could finally solve mystery of UN chief’s death crash", The Guardian 13 December 2014.
  18. "UN announces members of panel probing new information on Dag Hammarskjöld death". UN News Centre. 16 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  19. Associated Press (6 July 2015). "Panel: Possible Aerial Attack on Hammarskjold Plane in 1961". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2015. Over the years, there have been multiple claims that the plane was shot down, and that Hammarskjöld was actually killed in an assassination plot involving some combination of the CIA, a Belgian Mining Company, a South African paramilitary unit, and British intelligence, because he was pushing for the Congo’s independence, which would have hurt the interests of any of those forces. Adding fuel to the theories was a copy of a secret government document that surfaced in South Africa 18 years ago, which suggested that the CIA, MI5, and the South African government were in on Hammarskjöld ’s death. They presented statements from CIA director Allen Dulles, saying “Dag is becoming troublesome … and should be removed.”
  20. Henry P Van Dusen. Dag Hammarskjold: A Biographical Interpretation of Markings Faber and Faber London 1967 p 47.
  21. Hartman, Thom (3 March 2005). Markings - the spiritual diary of Dag Hammarskjöld. BuzzFlash.
  22. Auden, with Leif Sjoberg, translated the book into English. Hammarskjold, Dag (1964). Markings. New York: Ballantine Books.
  23. Henry P Van Dusen. Dag Hammarskjold: A Biographical Interpretation of Markings Faber and Faber London 1967 p 5
  24. Dag Hammarskjold: Markings Leif Sjoberg and WH Auden (trans) Faber and Faber London 1964 p 63.
  25. Dag Hammarskjold: Markings Leif Sjoberg and WH Auden (trans) Faber and Faber London 1964 p149
  26. WH Auden Foreword to Dag Hammarskjold: Markings Leif Sjoberg and WH Auden (trans) Faber and Faber London 1964 p 23.
  27. Carleton Through the Years. Accessed 2011-03-31
  28. Mary Cherif; Nathalie Leroy; Anna Banchieri; Armando Da Silva. "Dag Hammarskjöld: The Un Years". UN.org. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  29. "UPI Audio: Year (1961) in Review". UPI. 2013-08-22. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  30. TIME magazine
  31. "Other people's faith in you, their pastor | The Christian Century". The Christian Century. Retrieved 2016-05-28.
  32. Alec Russell (13 May 2011). "The road to redemption". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  33. "Hammarskjold House | About". Stanford.edu. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  34. "Event Area North" (PDF). Messe Berlin. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
  35. "Neighborhood News". New York magazine. March 14, 2011.
  36. "Convening thinkers and doers: Sweden's Dag Hammarskjold Foundation". Interenvironment.org. 25 November 1975. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  37. United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 3802. S/PV/3802 22 July 1997. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  38. "Colgate University : P-CON Fellowships and Awards". Colgate.edu. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  39. Mary Cherif; Nathalie Leroy; Anna Banchieri; Armando Da Silva. "Selection of stamps commemorating the life of Dag Hammarskjöld". UN.org. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  40. "Sveriges Riksbank/Riksbanken – Sweden's new banknotes and coins". Riksbank.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  41. "Sweden's New Bank Notes". unknown. Retrieved 2015-01-08.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dag Hammarskjöld.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Dag Hammarskjöld
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Hjalmar Hammarskjöld
Swedish Academy,
Seat No.17

Succeeded by
Erik Lindegren
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Trygve Lie
United Nations Secretary-General
Succeeded by
U Thant
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.