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Walizka Hammarskjolda

Igor Piotrowski

Hammarskjöld's Suitcase

In the Autumn 2011 fell the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, the General Secretary of the UNO. His last mission was the attempt to establish a durable peace in Kongo, torn apart by a civil war. The suitcase mentioned in the title is his personal luggage, which survived the catastrophe of the plane. It contained, among the other things, Rilke’s poems, Buber’s work and a pocketbook edition of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms. A copy of Thomas à Kempis On the Imitation of Christ, which was left in the pocket of the jacket in the house in which the politician was staying. This luggage symbolically presages the reading of the Swedish diplomat’s biography as that of a mystic and an ascete, whose climax came after his memoirs or a sort of spiritual diary, the Vägmärken (Markings) was published in 1963 (and in English in 1964). In this article the author undertakes to reconstruct the main features of Hammarskjöld’s spirituality in the context of the way of functioning of similar texts and the idea of imitatio Christi in general. The most important of them is the tension between the escape from the world and the ideal of activity in the reality, between the piety and the mundane element understood in a particular way. In the text the issue of Polish reception of Hammarskjöld’s records: the thrilling story of their translation by Jan Zieja, biographical essay by Janusz Pasierb and the diary written in Sweden by a Polish Benedictine monk Ludwik Mycielski.