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Civil servant or Politician: Dag Hammarskjöld’s role in the Swedish Government in the Forties
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2005 (English)In: Sveriges Riksbank Economic Review, ISSN 1144-0863, no 3, 33-49 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]






















It used to be said that the history of Sweden is that of its monarchs and

contemporary history still tends to follow a modified version of this

notion: the history of Sweden is that of its politicians. It is a view that is

very much to the fore in assessments of how Swedish policy has been

formed during the long period of social democratic hegemony.

It is evident not least in discussions of how the crisis policy in the

Thirties was arrived at and how post-war economic policy emerged. As I

have pointed out elsewhere,




works by Erik Lundberg, Leif Lewin and

Assar Lindbeck continue to be the foundation on which most historical

accounts of this period are built. They all focus on politicians and assign

the active role to members of the cabinet, primarily Ernst Wigforss.




But how were the decisions prepared? What part was played by the

government institutions and drafting bodies?

In my opinion, the political role the Riksbank and ministerial officials

played in the construction of Swedish policy is seriously underestimated.


Dag Hammarskjöld was undersecretary in the Finance Ministry in

the period 1936–45 and thereby immediately under the finance minister,

Ernst Wigforss. From 1941 to 1948, moreover, he chaired the Riksbank’s

board of governors. For a revaluation of the part played by government

institutions in the practical construction of economic policy, it is relevant,

in connection with the recollections of Hammarskjöld’s contributions




See Appelqvist, Ö., (2000),

Bruten Brygga. Gunnar Myrdal och Sveriges ekonomiska efterkrigspolitik








This applies to surveys of political as well as economic history; there is no mention of Hammarskjöld in

Möller, T., (2003),



Svensk politisk historia 1890–1975 or in Schön, L., (2001),

Sveriges ekonomiska








Compare this with the excellent institutional analyses of French and German fiscal history that have been

made under the auspices of CHEFF, the French institute for studies in fiscal history, perhaps above all the

studies of the respective importance of the Banque de France and the Commissariat du Plan for the evolution

of French post-war economic policy. See in particular Margairaz, M., (1991),



L’Ètat, les finances et

l’économie. Histoire d’une conversion 1932–1952




that are being presented to mark the hundredth anniversary of his birth

in July 2005, to look at Hammarskjöld’s political role in a number of

important situations, something that research to date has largely failed

to do


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Sveriges Riksbank , 2005. no 3, 33-49 p.
Keyword [en]
Dag Hammarsskjöld
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-48202OAI: diva2:374413
Available from: 2010-12-03 Created: 2010-12-03Bibliographically approved

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