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Trygve Lie & the War

In response to:

The United Nations & Its Discontents from the March 15, 1990 issue

To the Editors:

The readers [of Brian Urquhart’s article, in the March 15 issue] might be interested to know the role my father, Trygve Lie, played during the war. Prior to 1940 he had served as Norwegian Minister of Justice, Minister of Commerce and Minister of Supply.

He has been given good credit for rescuing, in April 1940, the Norwegian merchant fleet of 30,000 men and 1,000 ships, from the Nazis to the allied cause. (See: Erling Mossige: Nortraship.) The commanding General of the Norwegian forces, Otto Ruge, wrote to my father on June 5, 1940: “Had it not been for you in the Government,…the country would have surrendered a long time ago.” Norway fought the Hitler invasion for 63 days, longer than any of the countries Hitler tried to occupy in 1940.

As Foreign Minister of Norway in London, he soon gained international prominence. On December 15, 1940, in a broadcast over BBC, he proposed an alliance of free democratic nations, including the United States, to be formed after allied victory. The idea was followed by an editorial in the London Times on December 16, and was widely discussed by the allied Foreign Ministers during their bimonthly meeting, and was also discussed by historians like Arnold J. Toynbee and statesmen like Philip Noel-Baker. The idea was a forerunner for NATO and the United Nations.

It is thus apparent that to the individuals who chose to elect him as the first Secretary General of the United Nations, he was indeed well-known and that they were well acquainted with his background.

Guri Lie Zeckendorf
New York City

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