Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Sandifer)

  • Subject:
  • Election of Mr. Hammarskjold as Secretary General.

While Mr. Lie was waiting in my office today to go with Mr. Simmons, Chief of Protocol, to the White House, he referred to the election of Mr. Hammarskjold as Secretary General. He asked how we had discovered Mr. Hammarskjold. I expressed surprise and said that the first time we had had any inkling of Mr. Hammarskjold as a possible candidate was the time his name was suggested by Mr. Hoppenot in the course of the Security Council conversations. I said that so far as I knew, the suggestion came as a complete surprise to everyone here and we started scrambling around to find out who Mr. Hammarskjold was and what his qualifications were. Mr. Lie said that he had the impression that Ambassador Boheman or Ambassador Bonnet had originated the idea and he repeated the story we have heard elsewhere that the suggestion to them had originated with Mrs. Betty Jacob1 who claimed that Mr. Hammarskjold had the support of the Administration. I told him this sounded like one of the usual “figments” of Mrs. Jacob’s imagination and that while I could not profess to know anything about Mrs. Jacob’s activities in this particular case I felt confident myself that there was no foundation for any impression she may have tried to give that she had access to special or secret consideration of Mr. Hammarskjold among responsible officials in Washington. I could only repeat that Mr. Hammarskjold’s nomination came as a complete surprise to us and all of our information and ideas concerning him were developed after his name was brought forward in the Security Council.

Mr. Lie spoke in high terms of Mr. Hammarskjold’s qualifications and work but remarked that he might let the political functions of the Secretary General wither. He said that Mr. Hammarskjold was a Conservative in Swedish politics and if he were in the United States he would belong to the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

  1. Presumably Mrs. Philip E. Jacob, Deputy to the Director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.