Dag Hammarskjold, Custodian of the Brushfire Peace

By Joseph P. Lash | Go to book overview
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". . . but he would have wanted every living person to do something now--at once--to establish and ratify the pure ideas for which he lived. Can you tell me what we must do for UN?"

An artist friend of Hammarskjold's on hearing of his death, September 18, 1961

The early months of 1961 were among the most difficult of Dag Hammarskjold's incumbency. The Soviet attack on him reached levels of brutality and vituperation that shocked the world. The long hours that he had worked without a break since the beginning of the Congo crisis began to exact a toll. He became edgy and moody.

"For God's sake, get the meeting adjourned," he begged a friendly delegate in a note as the speeches droned on one night in the Congo Advisory Committee. He told a Middle East diplomat, with whom he had often crossed swords, that he could stand up against the political cannonading of the Russians, but he didn't know whether he had enough strength to stand up against their vulgarity. A worried Andy Cordier signaled Per Lind in Stockholm that he hoped he was coming over as a member of the Swedish delegation to the resumed session of the Assembly and would stay with Dag as he always did when he was in New York. As a particularly interminable and squalid procedural wrangle drew to a close in the First


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