The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961)

Dag Hammarskjold, the youngest son of Swedish prime minister and Hague tribunal member Hjalmar Hammarskjold and the grandson of Social Gospel clergy, quickly developed a reputation as one of the leading students of his generation, completing four degrees (humanities, history, law, and economics) at Uppsala University by the time he was thirty. From 1930 to 1934, while completing his doctoral work in economics, he served as secretary to a Swedish governmental commission on unemployment. After a brief stint as secretary for the Bank of Sweden, that nation's most influential financial institution, Hammarskjold joined the Swedish Ministry of Finance in 1935 and remained there until 1945. For part of that time (1941-1948), he also headed the Bank of Sweden. During this period, Hammaskjold coined the term "planned economy" and with brother Bo, then under -secretary in the Ministry of Social Welfare, drafted the legislation that helped create the modern Swedish welfare state.

In 1946, Hammarskjold began a long career advising the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on financial affairs, rising through the ranks to reach the position of deputy foreign minister in 1951. In the immediate postwar period, Hammarskjold developed a reputation as a shrewd financial negotiator for the influence he exerted on the economic reconstruction of postwar Europe, the organization of the Marshall Plan, and the Executive Committee of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation.

Hammarskjold's involvement with the United Nations began in 1949 when he served as a Swedish delegate to the association. During his second term as a delegate (1951-53) he was elected secretary-general for a five-year term. He was re-elected in 1957. Among Hammarskjold's major accomplishments were his successful negotiations leading to the 1955 release of American soldiers captured by the Chinese during the Korean War and the mobilization of the first United Nations Emergency Force during the Suez Crisis of 1956. Hammarskjold also played a prominent role in defusing tensions in Lebanon and Jordan and helped organize two UN international conferences on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

By 1960, however, Hammarskjold was preoccupied with the emerging nations of Asia and Africa, particularly the newly-independent Congo where the government faced a military mutiny, secession of one of its provinces, and Belgian troop intervention. (Prior to its to becoming independent in 1960, the Congo had been a Belgian colony.) Between July 1960 and September 1961, Hammarskjold traveled to the Congo four times in connection with UN operations there. He died in a plane crash while on the fourth trip. Hammarskjold was posthumously awarded the 1961 Nobel Peace Prize. His journal, Markings, first published in 1964, has become a classic of modern contemplative literature.

Source: "Dag Hammarskjöld РBiography." Nobel e-museum. Internet on-line. Available From

Published by the Model Editions Partnership

Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .

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