DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD, U.N. Secretary-General, dies in a plane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the war-torn Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on this date. Hammarskjöld, despite holding a position of public prominence as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 until his death in 1961, managed to withhold even the most minor details of his personal life from the world. Even his posthumously published journal, Markings, shies away from any mention of his private life. Possibly asexual, probably homosexual, Hammarskjöld was unable to accept his sexuality and lived an unhappy, frustrated life of sexual abstinence, suffering slurs from political figures and the international media. But though he couldn’t resolve his own internal conflicts, he was masterful at settling external conflicts as he worked to solve disputes in Palestine, Vietnam, Egypt, and the Congo, demonstrating one of the classic, same-sex archetypes of the mediator.

Just last year a group of international jurists was commissioned to reinvestigate the 1961 death of U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, one of the Cold War’s most enduring mysteries. A statement released just last Wednesday by a committee of former officials and academics said the team would reexamine the case with an eye toward trying to getting an answer to the question of what happened to Hammarskjold, whose death cut short the career of a man many consider the U.N.’s most effective leader.

British lawmaker and former trade unionist David Lea, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that “the whole truth, in significant respects, has yet to be told.” Hammarskjold’s plane went down over the thick forests of Northern Rhodesia, now known as Zambia, on the night of Sept. 17, 1961. Hammarskjold was one of 15 people to die as a result of the crash.