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Trygve Lie

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Trygve Lie

Trygve Lie
1st Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
2 February 1946 – 10 November 1952
Preceded by Gladwyn Jebb (acting)
Succeeded by Dag Hammarskjöld
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
19 November 1940 – 2 February 1946
Preceded by Halvdan Koht
Succeeded by Halvard Lange
Personal details
Born Trygve Halvdan Lie
(1896-07-16)16 July 1896
Oslo, Norway, United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway
Died 30 December 1968(1968-12-30) (aged 72)
Geilo, Norway
Nationality Norwegian
Political party Norwegian Labour Party
Children Sissel, Guri, Mette
Religion Lutheran/Church of Norway

Trygve Halvdan Lie (Norwegian pronunciation:   ( ); 16 July 1896 – 30 December 1968) was a Norwegian politician, labour leader, government official and author. He served as Norwegian Foreign minister during the critical years of the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. From 1946 to 1952 he was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. Lie earned a reputation as a pragmatic, determined politician.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
    • United Nations career 2.1
    • After the United Nations 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Awards and honors 4
  • Selected works 5
  • References 6
  • Other sources 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Lie was born in Kristiania on 16 July 1896. His father, carpenter Martin Lie, left the family to emigrate to the United States in 1902, never to be heard from again. Trygve grew up in simple circumstances with his mother Hulda and a six-year-old si ster. His mother ran a boarding house and café in Grorud near Oslo.[2]

Lie joined the Labour Party in 1911 and was named as the party's national secretary soon after receiving his law degree from the University of Oslo in 1919. Lie was editor-in-chief for Det 20de Aarhundre ('The 20th Century') from 1919 to 1921. From 1922 to 1935 he was a legal consultant for the Workers' National Trade Union (named Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions from 1957). He chaired the Norwegian Workers' Confederation of Sports from 1931 to 1935.[3]

Political career

In local politics he served as a member of the executive committee of Aker municipality council from 1922 to 1931. He was elected to the Norwegian Parliament from Akershus in 1937. He was appointed Minister of Justice when a Labour Party government was formed by Johan Nygaardsvold in 1935. Lie was later appointed Minister of Trade (July to October 1939) and Minister of Supplies (October 1939 to 1941).

A socialist from an early age,[2] Lie once met Vladimir Lenin while on a Labour Party visit to Moscow[4] and gave permission for Leon Trotsky to settle in Norway after he was exiled from the Soviet Union. However, because of pressure from Joseph Stalin, he forced Trotsky to leave the country.[5]

In 1940, when Norway was invaded by Nazi Germany, Lie ordered all Norwegian ships to sail to Allied ports. In 1941 Lie was named as Foreign Minister of the Norwegian government-in-exile, and he remained in this position till 1946.[6]

United Nations career

Lie led the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945 and was a leader in drafting the provisions of the United Nations Security Council. He was the leader of the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations general assembly in 1946. On 1 February 1946, he was elected as the first Secretary General of the United Nations as a result of a compromise between the major powers, having missed being elected President of the first General Assembly by only a small margin.

As Secretary General, Lie supported the foundations of Israel and Indonesia. His passionate support for Israel included passing secret military and diplomatic information to Israeli officials.[7] He worked for the withdrawal of Soviet forces in Iran and a ceasefire to fighting in Kashmir. He attracted the ire of the Soviet Union when he helped gather support for the defence of South Korea after it was invaded[8] in 1950 and later worked to end the Soviet boycott of UN meetings, though his involvement had little to do with the eventual return of the Soviet Union to the UN. He was opposed to Spain's entry into the United Nations because of his opposition to Francisco Franco's government.[9]

He also sought to have the People's Republic of China recognized by the United Nations[8] after the Nationalist government was exiled to Taiwan, arguing that the People's Republic was the only government that could fulfill the membership obligations in full.

He has been criticized for his failures to facilitate negotiation in the Berlin Blockade, as well as his failure to bring about a swifter end to the Korean War. His critics argue that he was under the influence of a select few in the UN Secretariat. He has also been criticized for his arrogance and stubbornness.

On 1 November 1950, over objections from the Soviet Union, the UN General Assembly voted by 46 votes to 5 (and 8 abstentions) to extend Lie's term of office.[10] The vote was a consequence of an impasse in the Security Council in which the US refused to accept any candidate except Lie while the Soviet Union refused to consider Lie due to his involvement in the Korean War. The Soviet Union subsequently refused to acknowledge Lie as Secretary General and, having been accused by Joseph McCarthy of hiring "disloyal" Americans – an allegation that he attributed to the pressing need for civil servants following the establishment of the UN – Lie resigned on 10 November 1952.[11]

Some scholars rank him at the bottom of all UN secretary-generals; one who "presided over a long list of diplomatic failures, tarnished the UN, and accomplished very little".[12] On the other hand, it can be argued that Trygve Lie built the United Nations organisation from nothing, including establishing a physical presence in a huge office building in New York, after having started in a sort of "gypsy camp" on Long Island. In addition to this he had to deal with a number of post-World War II conflicts and conflicts with roots in the creation of the Iron Curtain.

After the United Nations

Lie remained active in Norwegian politics after his resignation from the UN. He was the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus, Chairman of the Board of Energy, Minister of Industry,[13] and Minister of Trade and Shipping. He wrote a number of books, including In the Cause of Peace, an account of his years at the UN.[6]

Personal life

He married Hjørdis Jørgensen (1900-1960), in 1921. The couple had three daughters, Sissel, Guri, and Mette. Lie died on 30 December 1968 of a heart attack in Geilo, Norway. He was 72 years old.[8]

Awards and honors

Trygve Lie was awarded a large number of Norwegian and foreign orders. Among these, the Norwegian highest civilian award Order of Dannebrog (1954) and Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav (1953), Czechoslovak OWL (1948). He was awarded numerous honorary doctorates by universities throughout the U.S. and Europe. Trygve Lie was the holder of a number of other orders, decorations and other honors.

Trygve Lie′s space is located in Furuset center in Oslo. In the square stands the bronze statue of Trygve Lie, created by the Norwegian artist Nicolaus Widerberg which was erected in 1994. Trygve Lie Gallery and Trygve Lie Plaza are both located in New York City.

Selected works

  • Den nye arbeidstvistlov, 1933
  • De forente nasjoner, 1949
  • Syv år for freden, 1954 (published in English as In the Cause of Peace: Seven Years With the United Nations)
  • Internasjonal politikk, 1955
  • Leve eller dø. Norge i krig, 1955
  • Med England i ildlinjen 1940–42, 1956
  • Hjemover, 1958
  • Oslo–Moskva–London, 1968


  1. ^ (Trygve Lie Gallery)About Trygve Lie
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ (LoveToKnow, Corp)Trygve Halvdan Lie
  4. ^
  5. ^ Deutscher, Isaac (2004), The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-1940, pp. 274-282
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ )Trygve Lie and the Cold War: The UN Secretary-General Pursues Peace, 1946-1953 (James Barros. Trygve Lie and the Cold War
  10. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 492, 1 November 1950
  11. ^ Official U.N.S.G.biography
  12. ^
  13. ^

Other sources

  • Gaglione, Anthony (2001) The United Nations under Trygve Lie, 1945-1953 (The Scarecrow Press, Inc.) ISBN 978-0-8108-3698-3
  • Barros, James (1989) Trygve Lie and the Cold War: The UN Secretary-General Pursues Peace, 1946-1953 (Northern Illinois Univ Press) ISBN 978-0-87580-148-3

External links

  • Trygve Lie archives on UN archives website.
  • About Trygve Lie (Trygve Lie Gallery)
  • Trygve Lie Gallery in New York City
  • Trygve Lie Plaza in New York City
  • Trygve Lie Symposium
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Gladwyn Jebb
United Nations Secretary-General
Succeeded by
Dag Hammarskjöld
Political offices
Preceded by
Arne Sunde
Norwegian Minister of Justice and the Police
Succeeded by
Terje Wold
Preceded by
Alfred Martin Madsen
Norwegian Minister of Trade
July 1939–October 1939
Succeeded by
Anders Frihagen
Preceded by
position created
Norwegian Minister of Supplies
October 1939–1941
Succeeded by
Arne Sunde
Preceded by
Halvdan Koht
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
(acting 1940–1941)
Succeeded by
Halvard Lange
Preceded by
Carl Platou
County Governor of Oslo and Akershus
Succeeded by
John Lyng
Preceded by
Kjell Holler
Norwegian Minister of Industry
July 1963–August 1963
Succeeded by
Kaare Meland
Preceded by
Kaare Meland
Norwegian Minister of Industry
September 1963–1964
Succeeded by
Karl Trasti
Preceded by
Erik Himle
Norwegian Minister of Trade and Shipping
Succeeded by
Kåre Willoch
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