Who was Trygve Lie?
Trygve Lie was a Norwegian politician who holds the distinction of becoming the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was also the foreign minister of Norway during the Norwegian government in exile in London from 1940 to 1945. He had a difficult childhood; his father, a carpenter by profession, abandoned the family, when Trygve Lie was only a child and it was his mother who raised him by running an enterprise of her own. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Oslo. He had joined the Labour Party at the age of 16 and was made the party’s national secretary soon after his graduation. He served as a legal consultant for the Workers' National Trade Union for several years and later on became a member of the parliament. He served in different capacities, such as, Minister of Justice, Minister of Trade, and Minister of Supplies before he was named as Foreign Minister of the Norwegian government-in-exile after the country was invaded by Germany during the Second World War. Following the end of the Second World War, he became the first secretary general of the United Nations and over the course of his tenure that lasted six years he tackled several crises in different parts of the world. He went back to Norwegian politics after the end of his UN tenure.
Childhood & Early Life
Trygve Lie was born on 16 July 1896, in Kristania (present day Oslo,) in Norway, to Martin Lie and his wife Hulda. His father was a carpenter by trade while his mother ran a boarding house and cage. He had a sister.
In 1902, his father abandoned the family and emigrated to the United States. He and his sister were raised by their mother singlehandedly.He joined the Labour Party in 1916 while he was still in his teens. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Oslo in 1919. Soon after his graduation, he was named Labour Party’s national secretary.
From 1919 to 1921, he was editor-in-chief for ‘Det 20de Aarhundre’ ('The 20th Century'), a periodical published by the Norwegian Labour Party.
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In 1922, TrygveLie became the legal advisor for the Workers’ National Trade Union and remained its advisor till 1935.
In 1922, he was made a member of the executive committee of Aker municipality council. He served in this capacity till 1931.
After the Labour Party came to power in Norway, Lie was appointed as the Minister of Justice in 1935 in the government headed by Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold.
In 1937, he became a member of the Norwegian Parliament after he won the election from Akershus.
In 1939, he became the Minister of Trade but served in that capacity for four months. In the same year, he was made the Minister of Supplies, a position he would hold for two years. In 1941, following the invasion of Norway by Nazi Germany, the Norwegian government in exile that operated from London named Lie as their foreign minister.
In 1945, Lie was the leader of the delegation from Norway at the United Nations conference that was held in San Francisco in the United States and was one of the key figures who was responsible for creating the provisions laid out in the United Nations Security Council. In 1946, he was elected as the first Secretary General of the United Nations. As Secretary General, he was involved in evacuating Soviet soldiers from the Northern part of Iran.
From 1947 onwards, Lie dealt with the unrest created by the proclamation of Israel as a separate state and the war that followed in Palestine. The following year he mediated in relation to the conflict in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, however no solution could be reached.
Lie was instrumental in starting a ’20 year peace program’ in 1950, however his attempts to induct China into the UN and the resistance against the Soviet Union’s opposition to Taiwan’s presence in the UN made his position untenable. He sent the armed forces of the UN to Republic of Korea during the Korean War and that was something that further alienated him from the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union derecognised him as the Secretary General of the UN and the United States Senator Joseph McCarthy accused him of giving jobs to American communists at the UN. Due to his rising troubles with the two super powers, Lie resigned from his post on 10 November 1952.
Subsequently, he spent the rest of his life by remaining active in Norwegian politics. He served as the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus. He also served as the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Mining and Shipping.
As the first Secretary General of the United Nations, Lie worked hard to turn the organisation into a respectable force in the world of diplomacy and built the sprawling building in New York even though when he started out the organisation operated from a tiny property.
Awards & Achievements
In 1966, Trygve Lie was bestowed with Norway’s highest civilian honour, ‘Medal for Outstanding Civic Service’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1921, he married Hjørdis Jørgensen. They had three daughters named Sissel, Guri and Mette. His wife died in 1960.
Trygve Lie died of a heart attack on 30 December 1968, in Geilo, Norway, at the age of 72.