A Split Second That Changed the World

A Split Second That Changed the World

“Those who invoke history will certainly be heard by history.  And they will have to accept its verdict.”

Dag Hammarskjold, second Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Described as the greatest statesman of his century by John F. Kennedy and recipient of a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize, Dag Hammarskjold lived a life fully dedicated to public service.  He was known for meeting as many UN workers as possible, shaking hands with everyone.  He also made it a point to eat in the cafeteria with everyone else.  

Tireless in working toward solutions in the most difficult situations, Hammarskjold intervened in the Suez Crisis, tried to negotiate between Israel and the Arab States, and died while trying to bring a resolution to the Congo Crisis.

Hammarskjold’s death occurred on 18 September 1961, when his plane crashed just outside of Ndola in what is now Zambia.  Hammarskjold had been active in attempting to bring a resolution to the Congo Crisis and was pursuing a possible peace treaty at the time of the crash.  

The wreckage of Hammarskjold’s plane near Ndola, in what is now Zambia.

Rumors and questions have continued to circle around Hammarskjold’s death.  Eyewitnesses report seeing other airplanes in the vicinity, and declassified documents since have made the situation even more muddy.  Even the American former-president Harry Truman got into the act, saying, “[Hammarskjold] was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said *when they killed him*.”

Hammarskjold is buried at the Old Cemetery in Uppsala, Sweden.  He has numerous buildings and a charitable organization named in his honor.




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