Dag Hammarskjold


Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold was born July 29, 1905 and died Sept. 18, 1961. A Swedish statesman, he served as the second secretary-general of the United Nations from 1953-61. The son of a former prime minister of Sweden, Hammarskjold studied law and economics and taught for three years before entering the Swedish civil service. He soon acquired an international reputation as a monetary expert. In the years of economic readjustment following World War II, he represented Sweden at many international conferences.

In 1951 he joined the Swedish delegation to the United Nations, becoming its chairman in 1952. When Trygve Lie resigned as secretary-general in 1953, Hammarskjold was elected to the position. An active international peacemaker of great moral authority and sensitivity, he worked to resolve the Suez crisis of 1956 and the 1958 crisis in Lebanon and Jordan. In 1960, with the onset of the Congo crisis, he sent a UN-peacemaking force into that country (now Zaire), a move that was strongly attacked by the USSR. Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash while on a peace mission to Katanga in the Congo. He was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1961. His writings include Markings (1964), a book of personal reflections. In this book, he showed that "the longest journey is the journey inwards." Hammarskjold was not openly gay during his lifetime. Given the climate in which he worked, public knowledge of his sexual orientation would likely have reduced his effectiveness.

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