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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 8, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta 3g THE IETHBRIDGE HERALD Wednesday, September B, 1971 It's been a decade of doubt since death of Hammarskjold By AUTHl'Il I.. GAVSIION UNITED NATION'S (AP) Just JO yi'ars inid- nigllt on Hie moonlil Sunday right of Si'pl. 17, a ohnri- trcd DC-lili of llic Na- tions crushed in Ihc bushJand miles west c.f Ndola Airport, at the end of flight from K i n s h ;l s ii, The Congo. Dag Ilammarskjold's mission of peace for The Congo had ended in disaster. Ills appoint- ment wilh Moise self- styled president of ihe breaka- way province of Kalanga, had become arendczvniis witli deatJi. Tho r n pp (I y shinned the world. It did more than end the reign ot a strong erai. It also forced Hie major powers soberly to reassess poli- cies that had pushed the United Nations nearly to breaking- point. Precise cause of the crash of Hairjnarskjnld's plane, the Al- bertina, baffled the exuerts of many lands. There were suggestions that the disaster was caused by any- thing ranging from sabotage to suicide to assassination. Cut none was proved. SUSPICION URMAINS Today, suspicion lingers on. Some of the secretary-general's old associates are still search- inp for evidence they are sure exists. Andrew W. Cc.rdior, formerly of the party. Now he sits next to rre at the dinner table. I have to nKiko friends ivilh him. Tiie only value of a life is its contest for others. Therefore, lime incredibly grccil Is ivhat I have been given and liow mean- ingless what 1 have to 'sacri- fice.'" POSSHIILITIES What all Uiis meant is open to .spcciilatinii. As for (lie crash, there arc three possible explan- ations: 1. Pure accident, either through mechanical failure or pilol error This was the conclu- sion readied by a special inves- tigating commission set up by liie Khodesians, then managing n while-ruled federation sympa- thetic to Tshombe's bid for inde- pendence. Sabotage, attack or SOUIP oilier form of action inside or outside the Albertina. These possibilities were not ruled out by a UN commission which re- turned what amounted to an "cpen verdict." .1. Hammarskjold's own deep- ening depression or despair arising out of the pressures be- setting him had begun affecting the cool poise ar.d judgment that had carried him through past crises. In terms ol secu- rilj and politically, the circum- 1 stances in which he set out to meoL Tshombe seemed fool- hardy to some. Complicating any cool ap- praisal of these- three possibili- Lies is the factor ot predispnsi- Hammarsk.jold's chief executive (jon ,Vould shake the aide, still thinks it would have Of UKISC backed been easy for gunmen to have I and who therefore felt shot down the Alberlina when it began its landing approach. Others, including Dag's nephew Knul. Hammarskiold, UN' troops had no business in Katanga, that Hammarskjold was the victim of an accident. The British and French, among think mercenaries may have set others, were quick lo acccpl the out to kidnap the secretary-gen- j rthodesian findings as fair and era] and his 15 companions by j balanced. luring or forcing the plane to Equally, there were others land at a field away from I w-0uld not yield in their be- NMola. In the process, according to their theory, the Albertina crashed. Since Dag Hammarskjold died a martyr on the battlefield lief that Hammarskjold was murdered because they felt the pro-Katargans, mercenaries and anti-UN elements wanted him dead. of peace, there was not much J The Conge's baptism of inde- conflict over his methods. Yet, nondence was marked by blcod- with the living Ha-m.marskjold it I shed, massacre and hunger. was not always so. Some of the nch became richer. Hammarskjold had come to j Most cf the poor longed for the symbolize to many popular material blessings of their for- longing for reason, order and mer maslers. peace in the affairs of men. But I POLITICAL NIGHTMARE there were dangers in this sym- bolism. The moral authority he set out to exercise in the name of the smaller peoples thrust him beyond the role of interna- Thc gaudy te.rm of Patrice Lumumba as the country's first preirJer, and his later murder in Katangan captivity, bore its own grim testimony about The tional civil sen ant and into Congo's political merry-go- fierce conflict periodically with j round. The k i d n a pp i n g of the big powers. Thus he was Tshombe produced the improba- portraycd variously as a Ham- blc spectacle of Kalangans call- let a Macliiavelli a ing for UN intervention. A 29- Frankenstein year-old president Toward the end, the 55-year- old Swede had become deeply aware of his own sense if mis- sion, seeing himself as the serv- ant of God. Mobutu announced Kinshasa he had given the So- viet ambassador and all Com- munist diplomats 48 hours in v. hich to quit the country In his diary, published posthu- Fcr more than a year the mously, he observed: "In the i Congo province of Katanga, eld days death was always one I under Ihe strong influence of British, French, Tielgian and South African investors, had been agitating lo secede wilh its Ivugc copper, uranium and other mineral resources. Then a band of soldiers of for Affreux as they eami lo be. called, "The Frighlfuls' organizing Tshomlre' forces for a slop-at-nolhing das for statehood. And the da; L'animarskjnld flew in fron New York, Sept. 13, 1961, bittc fighting flared between the mer nonaries and UN troops, whicl included a Canadian conlingenl plunging the world body into Ih most serious crisis of its cxis ence Hammarskjold it was Ih worst of times. London feared a UN nresenc in Kalanga would be only stage away from an inirusjo into neighboring Rhodesia, the a colony. France suspectcc something similar might happei in Algeria, and indeed, once nearly bad the secrelary-gen crsl an-ested in Tunisia. The Soviet Union also was fu r i o u s with Hammarskjold Through his intervention tin progress of their great hope Liunumba. was checked, foilini Moscow's hopes of commandini the heartland of Africa. Then premier Nikita Khrushchev the General Assembly in I960 called for a three-man secretar Communist, Westerner and a broke relations Dag. NO TIME FOR INACTION In accepting a UN role in The Congo, Hammarskjold look th risk of plunging into unchartec lerritory because he saw nc other alternative. He was ready lo stake his reputation, his ol fice, Ihe world body itself and as it turned out, his life on the attempt to pacify The Congo. He knew Ihe risk of doing nothing was greater still. With out UN1 intervention, there wa imminent peril lhal the black- white struggle through Africa would become enmeshee in the global East-West conflict It was to avert that entangle- ment lhal he dared to acl. The trail of mysteries lhat led Hammarskjold and his team I their death near Ndola seemed lo begin with a meeting on Sat urday, Sept. 16, with British dip- lomat Lord Lansdowne. authorities have sai< publicly Landsdowne suggested Ndola as the site for Hammar skjolri's meeting with Tshombe Lwisdownc has insisted the idea came from Hammarskjold. authorities have said Lansdovne warned Hammar skjold Ihe struggle (or Katangan statehood would go on indefi nitely, from Rhodesian territory even UN troops scored wha seemed to be a decisive victory The British have never con firmed this. pledged food an< medical aid lo Katangans so long as these would be needed Simultaneously Tshombe issued a proclamation ordering "all RUNNING FOR COVER Youilis who iMk port in Ilin Spanish (icsla dive for safely over Ilio hull ring barrier their way. Nolicdy sloyod around to orgus poinl. running of Ibe bulls nt o Toro Inrns his oltenlion out total war" against Ihe forces ar.d said his price for a truce would be a total UN pull on I. The tidy life of Dag Ilammar- skjoki moved on Sunday, Kupl. 17, to fiasco with all Ihe inevita- bility of a Greek tragedy. He rose soon after dawn, packed a briefcase, had break- fast. A methodical man, lie nev- ertheless left behind several personal articles. One was his wallet, containing some highly important political papers that have yet to b? revealed. BRITON FLEW FIRST Hammarskjold then had a final meeting with Lansdowne who, through London, was set ting up arrangements for Ihe Ndola peace parley. Later Lans- downe was to reveal he bad of- fered to travel aboard Ihe Al- bertina, secretly. Hammar- skjold said no He suggested Lansdcrwne go ahead in a UN plane lo ensure all was ready Tor the meeting. When he was satisfied, he was lo fly on from Ndola to Salisbury, Rhodesia, anc' so keep out of the way of Uie negotiators. The British minister soon afterwards look off and, flying hi a straight line to Ndola, landed safely after about four hcurs. Around lunchtime, Ilanrmar- skjold received Tshombe's reply to his offe.- of a meeting lo ar- range an unconditional cease- fire. The Katangan leader con- ditionally accepted it. His terms angered Hammarskjold. He sent a message saying Ihey were unacceptable. Then he added that "the secretary-gen- eral cannot agree to meet Tshombe unless Uu's prelimi- nary agreement (for an uncon- ditional ceasefire) is accepted He got no answer lo merely an explanation lhat Tshombe was already planning his joumev lo Ndola. Here then, around sundbu-n on Sept. 17, 1961, in Kinshasa, was of the world's key off lo fly perilous miles to patch up a pcaco wilh the prelender- presidenl of an unrecognized rump territory in central Af- rica. And he wasn'l even sure Tslmmoe would agree lo see him on the terms he had sircllcd out. The Albartina was a damaged plane. It had no escort. Ham- marskjold flew unnecessarily at night. A false flight plan was filed. He was cut o' radio con- tact will] his base. His pilot ac- knowledged before takeoff a flight by dead reckoning in- volved the risk of navigational error. He headed for a zone con- trolled bj "The Frightfuls" he had once described as "scum." Taken together these were circumstances lhat seemed likely to cut Hammar- skjolds chances of survival sub- stantially. Ndola. Rhodesia is '170 miles from Kinshasa, a four-hour flight. More than hours after departure the DC CB flew over cartwheeled to ruin minutes later miles away. SAW FLASHES IN SKY Charcoal burners in the area said they saw what seemed to be two planes in the air. Police on patrol reported they saw Flashes in the sky. Airport con- trollers both in Ndola and Salis- k n e w the Alberlina was overdue. Lansdowne reportc-1 ic tried but failed lo make radio contact with Hammar- skjold. Yet the search for the missing aircraft began only in midmorning next day. It took the Rhodesian search- ers more fJiui 15 hours to find .he wreckage just beyond their doorsteps. They found only one person Harry .lulien he died soon afterwards, 'hysicians said he could possi- bly have been saved if hn had not been expcsed so long to the niming Rhodesian sun. had lived for a vhile in the carnage having, it seemed, managed lo crawl away from the blaze. Since the Rhociesian and nvestigations, new explanations [fammarskinld's rleaUi lnve merged. Fact or fantasy, Ihpy .till engage the attention of his ricnds when Ihey meet. Hut nn irm proof has yet been pro- duced to warrant Ihc reopening T inquiries. K n u t llamnr.arskjold. today icad of lhal family, broke a ong silence on Ihe affair by aying in an interview be shares ho view lhat the circumstances if his uncle's death have still lie je satisfactorily explained. Andre fordicr. mm bead nf Columbia t.'nivrrsily's School if nlcrnational Affairs, also main, ains the real canst of Ihr rr.'ish [ill is a mystery IfN aiilhorilies from Itiur lo imc have called in l'i heck vari s versions iliril ave reached them. Only on< tiling is .sure. In iho absence of more pre- j ise informalion about w h .1 ent on lhal tragic nighl. Ihe mysterious deflth of Dag Ham- arskjold will gn on puzzling icople tor years lo come. EATON'S New Low Price on 19" Viking Colour TV Set Automatic !int conlvol, fine tuning. AH you do is (ouch 2 buttons. One gives a perfectly luned picture, the other proper colour shades. Has rapid-on sound and picture, front speaker, tuner controls. Walnut vinyl finish. Buy now at this good sale price. 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