Theater of Cruelty

This fall comes the UN report on Dag Hammarskjöld's death

AIRCRAFT / A nearly 60 year old and possible criminal case is set in motion. Are we getting closer to an answer to the questions about Hammarskjöld's plane crash?


In September 1961 crashed the plane to the then UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, in the border area between Congo and present Zambia. The Swedish government appointed diplomat Mathias Mossberg to assist UN investigator Mohamed Othman in ensuring that relevant national archival material was submitted.

Mossberg is an experienced "digger" – known from the Swedish submarine hearings in 2001, where accusations were directed at Soviet submarines, something many doubted. The renowned Swedish-Norwegian peace scientist Ola Tunander participated with Mossberg and comes out with a book on just this.

In the Hammarskjöld case, Mossberg has this summer sent his share of the work to the UN's Othman – who will then collect his material and hand it over to UN Secretary-General António Guterres these days.


Ny Tid meets Mossberg on the phone while he is on summer vacation outside Gothenburg.

"Surely every state ensures that speculation abounds?" We ask. "And has there been a lot of secrecy from the British, American, Belgian and South African side in this matter?"

"Precisely, and my request to the Swedish government is therefore that all material about Hammarskjöld be released," says Mossberg.

In other words, there is no substance that should be kept away from the public. In addition, Mossberg urges the government to encourage researchers and journalists to continue working on the matter. There may still be important information out there.

For one year, the experienced diplomat has dug into Swedish archives
with the highest authority.

For a year, the experienced diplomat has dug into Swedish archives with the highest authority. He cannot complain of good help from archivists and librarians, but this has been a one-man job: He has not had a resource-rich secretariat to rely on. And since archival material does not call for discovery, it must be excavated and read.

Hundreds of documents

The Norwegian-Swedish researcher in the Hammarskjöld case, Hans Kristian Simensen, was refused access to some of the archive material this summer, and the rejection created headlines about Swedish secrecy in The New York Times.


«It is unfortunate if an impression is created that Sweden does not show transparency in this matter» believes Mossberg. Så far it isdid not make his impression. There may always be reasons not to release documents, but in this case there may be others causes than disclosures related to death: intelligence channels, agent names, and so on. Therefore, it is necessary that certain people can gain special access to access and ensure that sensitive information is hidden, as Mossberg was given.


For Hammarskjöld has been in the wind this summer. At the Sundance film festival there was a lot of excitement in the screening of the film Cold Case Hammarskjöld. Mads Brügger received a directorial award, while the film itself was described by international press as anything but a reliable documentary.

Ben Kenigsberg calls Brügger a "prankumentary" in his New York Times movie review, describing him as "a man who does not choose to separate fact from fiction." To call him a documentary would then stretch the term well.

Slates filmmaker Joshua Keating sums up many more than himself when he concludes: "Of all the nye the questions this movie asks are perhaps the most difficult question to answer: What was the point? ”

It goes without saying that the researcher behind the book Who Killed Hammar shield (2011), Susan Williams at London University, who got the Hammarskjöld case rolling again, keeps a good distance from Mads Brügger and his games. Do we others have to wait for Mossberg and Othman's findings and maybe read Williams again? For it is big politics at its most challenging, confusing and exciting when she asks: "Who killed Dag Hammarskjöld?"

John Y. Jones
John Y. Jones
Cand. Philol, freelance journalist affiliated with MODERN TIMES

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