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The first UN General Assembly opened today in 1946

On the Sunday before the second general assembly of the UN, Pierre Berton explored what went on inside the New York City building


 

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THERE is something very nostalgic about the green little park of Flushing Meadows on Long Island, where in 1939 the world had its final fling at a gigantic exhibition optimistically labelled “The World of Tomorrow,” and where in a squat, windowless building which once housed the New York City exhibit the delegates of 57 nations today are doing their best to shape a real world of the future.

On the Sunday before the second general assembly of the U. N. opened, I happened upon a Mr. Arthur Rosenberg, a white-haired resident of nearby Flushing, and his wife, sunning themselves on a bench in the park. Mr. Rosenberg remembers the World’s Fair very well, for it took place on his front doorstep and he bought his tickets in books of 100 so he could visit it every day.

Not far from the General Assembly Hall the General Motors building once stood. In this building in 1939 was an exhibit that impressed Mr. Rosenberg more than anything else he saw at the World’s Fair. The exhibit showed what the world might be like 50 years hence.

“The way they was telling it,” Mr. Rosenberg explained “it was going to be—well, something like this park here—green and peaceful, with lots of fresh air and open spaces.”

Mr. Rosenberg hasn’t got around to seeing the United Nations yet, but whether the world of the future will actually be green and peaceful as in his vision depends to a great degree on what goes on inside the old New York City building at Flushing and the former war instruments factory at Lake Success 10 miles away. The General Assembly’s 57-nation plenary session meets at Flushing. The Big Power veto-ridden Security Council has its home at Lake Success. More and more. Flushing Meadows is looming larger and larger as the hope of the world of tomorrow.

The U. N. building at Flushing is a long low structure of concrete block with a portico of square fluted pillars. After the Fair it remained a shell of a building housing a combination skating and roller rink. It cost almost two million dollars to convert it into a seat of World Parliament and to put the surrounding grounds into shape.

The core of the building is an amphitheatre, the size of a first-class movie house, surrounded by two floors of offices—main floor for delegates and U. N. staff, mezzanine for the press. All partitions are built of whitewashed cinder blocks which give the hallways a sterilized atmosphere. The glass brick windows have been walled up in the interests of insulation and the inability to look out into the green world outside gives one an imprisoned feeling akin to claustrophobia which increases as the session drags on until, at the end of the day, one emerges molelike, blinking in the bright autumn sunlight and gratefully inhaling the fresh rural air.

In the amphitheatre the biggest show on earth is being acted out and on the opening day in September the entire world, through the medium of the press, had a seat in the stalls. There were more newspapermen on hand than delegates—650 accredited correspondents representing every paper from the Palestine Hamashkif and the Greek Rizopastis to the Flushing Sunday Times and Women’s Wear Daily. Here was Elmer Davis in grey suit and black bow tie looking incredibly sage as a pundit should; Louise Yim, correspondent for Korea’s Donga, in a gay flowered mauve kimono; Lem Thom, the Chinese News Agency’s slangy correspondent in a flashy sports jacket; and the first correspondent from Germany to cover the U. N.: one Aaron Pechenick of Munich’s Daily Jewish Voice. But there were few European journalists and nobody over from England—the dollar shortage had kept them home.

Balcony Seat

You need a daily ticket for a reserved seat to get into the press gallery. A pretty Chinese or French usherette takes you to your seat. (On the first day my neighbor was a coal-black French-speaking correspondent from Haiti.) With each press chair goes a “walkie talkie” interpretation set, the size of a pocketbook. You clamp on earphones and “tune in” either the speaker or a French or English translation. At Lake Success, in the committee rooms, the interpretation sets aren’t movable but you can get Chinese, Russian and Spanish translations as well as English and French. In one committee meeting I heard the Chinese delegate’s beautiful Harvard English translated back into Chinese for the benefit of nobody, apparently, but the delegate himself.

The press seats are flanked by two tiers of soundproofed booths. Behind the blue glass you can dimly see the snouts of the television and movie cameras and the men with the microphones. At the other end of the hall on a raised dais sit the President and Secretary General, behind what looks like a judge’s bench. Over their heads is a gigantic map of the world done in beige and blue, the color scheme of the whole room. The Russians protested against this map because North America seemed to be almost in the exact centre, but even a casual observer can remark that Russia, too, looks pretty big and pretty central. A huge blue velvet curtain, sprayed with fire-resistant material, covers the rest of the wall. In front of the President’s bench are the speaker’s rostrum and several long tables for secretaries, verbatim reporters and messengers.

The main part of the floor is given over to the men who have starring roles in the drama. The delegates sit in chocolate-colored theatre chairs at curved walnut tables, the leader of the delegation next to the aisle and the alternate delegates sitting in a second row behind. A large placard on each table identifies the country. The delegations are seated alphabetically—the alphabet starting point being drawn by lot, which this year placed the U. S. on one side of the hall and the Russians in dramatic opposition on the other. Advisers and friends of the delegates sit on the flanks of the main floor and the public at the rear.

All these people make up as colorful a group as you could hope to thrust together within the confines of four cinder-brick walls and yet they are for the most part a singularly drab-looking crew—little grey men, most of them, in single-breasted suits of sombre grey or dark navy blue or black, with ties so ultraconservative that it almost seems as if they were leaning backward to appear as inconsequential as possible. The flashiest man in the room in western dress, that first day, was Mayor O’Dwyer of New York, in light grey.

But, nevertheless, a good deal of romance lurked behind the sallow masklike faces of the round-shouldered little diplomats whose unhappy task it is to carry the world on their backs. There, opening his brief case, sat sandy-haired, acid-tongued Hector McNeil, whose father was a Clydeside shipwright, shoulder to shoulder with suave Sir Alexander Cadogan, the son of a belted earl. There, across the way, was Dr. Oscar Lange, a bland, moonfaced former University of Chicago professor, who gave up his U. S. citizenship to become Polish Foreign Minister. Son of a Polish textile tycoon he speaks eight languages including Chinese. There were shaggy, fierce-eyed Andrei Vishinsky, the tough old revolutionist who looks more like a retired auto magnate, and venerable Joseph Bech of Luxemburg who watched the old League of Nations falter and die. A few tables away sat pudgy, heavyjowled Faris Bey El Khouri of Syria, Christian Prime Minister of a Moslem state, who has served under three flags, languished in many a Turkish jail, plotted as a member of a secret society against the Star and Crescent. Poet and politician, El Khouri looks more like a chubby-cheeked greengrocer and wore the loudest tie in the room—fat stripes of blue and silver.

Resplendent Arabs

Trygve Lie, son of an Oslo carpenter, whom one correspondent dubbed “a Viking God of Fat,” hoisted his tremendous bulk (220 pounds) onto the president’s bench. Next to him sat a slight little man with a mane of white hair, a benevolent look and a soft, doleful voice. This was Dr. Oswaldo Aranha of Brazil, President of the Assembly, and to look at him you would never guess that he is a saddle-wise ex-Gaucho who has fought in five revolutions, has one heel shot away and a bullet in his shoulder. Romance comes wrapped in plain packages at the U. N.

The centre of the assembly hall offered a splash of picture-postcard romance where Ibn Saud’s five hawk-beaked men of the desert sat resplendent in their galabias of silk and camels’ hair threaded with gold. Their leader looked as if he might have stepped off a camel the moment before, but he had discarded his desert sandals and wore western shoes and loud socks under his robes. This was His Royal Highness Emir Feisal el Saud, second son of Ibn Saud, the old Wolf of the Desert, and one of his 125 wives, tall, jet-bearded and fiercely handsome. He speaks no English and wore no western clothes at the session, although it was rumored he sometimes slipped from his kingly suite at the Waldorf in faultless evening dress and saw the town incognito. His colleagues were more westernized and later in the session some of them reverted to occidental clothing, slipping a galabia back on over a double-breasted pearl grey suit when Feisal gave his address in the opening debate. “The glamour,” one Jewish correspondent remarked bitterly, “is only robe-deep.”

The rest of the color was provided by the women—not by Mrs. Roosevelt, who wore black, hut by Mme. Fadhil Jamali, the Saskatchewan-born wife of Iraq’s Moslem Foreign Minister, in a delicate pink flowered dress, and by Mrs. Vijaya Lakasmi Pandit, the handsome, clear-eyed leader of the Indian delegation, who wore a long succession of floor-length saris, pearl and grey and mauve, with incredible poise, and gave no hint that she had once spent three terms in British jails.

There was an air of crowded confusion about the U. N. opening. Thousands of members of the public, encouraged by large signs around the city to “put the yoU in United Nations” and by the theatre magazine Cue (which had proclaimed ecstatically that the U. N. would “star” the world’s greatest no man, Gromyko), turned up at the gates and were turned hack.

Things were jovial on the assembly hall floor. Close to 100 photographers threaded their way between the tables. Twenty-four of them sat on their haunches, shoulder to shoulder in front of the U. S. delegation, flashed their bulbs, then bolted in a covey for the Russian table across the hall. They all wore blood-red identification ribbons in their lapels. A good many cameramen were reported to have complained about the choice of red, which they felt might have some sinister political significance and the New York Times went as far as to report that the only really happy man to receive his ribbon was it late-comer from the Daily Worker.

Audrey Langston, the English girl whose job it is to make things easier for photographers, looks perpetually harassed. “Gromyko is my biggest problem,” she told me. “You ask him to pose and he always refuses. But you sneak up on him when he’s reading or something and snap his picture and he won’t complain or run away. Oh, I watch that man like a hawk.”

Everyone on opening day was waiting for George Marshall to have his say. The U. S. had succeeded into manoeuvring itself into it first-day speech and this became known in the press as “taking the offensive.” Actually, there was considerable manoeuvring by some delegations so speeches would he well timed. Canada, for example, wasn’t anxious to speak on the same day as the U. S. because the Marshall speech would overshadow her in the newspapers. Britain objected to a proposed Saturday night session, with the result that Hector McNeil’s address was given Monday morning in good lime for the home editions.

Anticlimax

It is difficult to see why there should have been an air of expectancy about the Marshall speech. The week before the Assembly opened the U. S. press had begun to speculate with some accuracy on what Marshall would say and the New York Times forecast the speech almost perfectly, point by point, on the previous morning. The day before delegates and press were all given advanced mimeographed copies of the speech, so that by the time Marshall walked to the rostrum everyone concerned knew exactly what he would say and how he would say it.

Marshall looks smaller and greyer than his pictures and his publicity indicate. His method of delivery is quite colorless—“a good Presbyterian sermon” as a correspondent remarked later. He read his text carefully (“stonily,” one newspaper reported) and to an onlooker it was sometimes difficult to understand why he bothered to read it at all. As he read you could hear the rustle of a thousand mimeographed pages turning in unison. He was talking solely for the newsreels, it seemed. When the speech was over the clapping war between the Eastern and Western blocs began. The Western bloc clapped, the Slav bloc remained silent. This refusal to applaud, by one or other of the two main groups into which the General Assembly is split, was a feature of the entire session.

It was embarrassing to read the accounts of the Marshall speech that evening in the New York press. The Assembly was “stunned, silent and even frightened,” the Post reported. Vishinsky was “visibly shaken,” cried the Mirror. The impression given was that the speech had come as a bolt from the blue. The newspapers also referred to the Secretary as “tall and silver-haired” and used adjectives such as “bristling,” “dramatic” and “hard-hitting” to describe the speech and its delivery. Actually the visible reaction was nil. The Russians sat stolidly and unshaken in their seats as they always do and the rest of the Assembly applauded politely a speech which almost everyone had read the night before. It was a highly undramatic performance.

Translated Mood, Too

The Vishinsky speech offered a complete contrast. The Russians don’t issue advances of their speeches, thus the suspense was immeasurably heightened. Vishinsky was as bombastic as Marshall was colorless and the English interpretation followed every shade of his oratory, biting at the words with such force and venom that many listeners thought the interpreter was a Soviet sympathizer. Actually he was a former Pole named George Sherry, whose sympathies if anything lie on the other side of the political fence. Sherry, who actually stabbed the air with his finger as he sat in the glass-walled translator’s booth a few paces from the speaker, was merely doing his job well. (About one in 100 applicants for interpreters’ jobs actually end up working for U. N. They take a stiff three-month course, must speak three languages idiomatically perfect without accent, think fast and furiously, talk like an orator, read up on the U. N. and he able to listen to a speaker’s next sentence while translating the last one. There are 48 interpreters, 11 of them women. They average $5,400 a year and some old hands get as high as $8,000.)

When Vishinsky was through there was such a general exodus from the assembly hall that the next speaker had difficulty elbowing his way to the rostrum. There was a short foot race to the delegate’s bar which two Russian generals won by a length. I am able to report that they ordered beer and Scotch and soda.

A speech before the General Assembly, even a little three-page speech such as the one given by Canada’s Mr. St. Laurent, is the result of exhaustive work and the product of many hands. Mr. St. Laurent’s speech, took more than a week to prepare. It: was written first by advisers to the delegation, discussed and worked over at meeting after meeting, draughted four or five times, scrapped twice and completely rewritten and edited in its final form by the Minister himself. Old-time U. N. observers said they could detect about 15 hands in the Marshall speech, hut it was pretty well agreed that portions of the Vishinsky speech and more especially Hector McNeil’s colorful address were written by the men who delivered them. (McNeil was at his best when he departed from his 22-page text.)

The Smoke-filled Room

These three speeches formed the core of the general debate. The remainder of the 38 speeches given during the five days of the debate were to a large degree so much padding. Most of them followed an easily definable pattern. Each delegate invariably reported that his people were “peace-loving” and “freedom-loving,” that war was madness and that the U. N. was a disappointment. After this preamble followed the national and sectional peeves. While the delegates spoke, people wandered in and out of the assembly or press gallery, read official papers, chatted among themselves or perhaps followed the text of the speech as it was being read.

Most of the real work in those early days was handled by the 14-man steering committee composed of the president of the assembly, the seven vice-presidents, and the presidents of the six committees. The steering committee met in a small smoke-filled room off the delegates’ lounge. (Dr. Aranha, a chain smoker, broke the No Smoking rule there.) The delegates sat down at a semicircular table in the presence of about 50 newspapermen to thresh out the agenda items which would follow the opening debate, items which included the controversial Palestine, Greek and Korean questions. Russia’s prim-lipped Andrei Gromyko attended these sessions, speaking English in a rich, somewhat fruity bass-baritone, looking vacant-eyed and inexpressibly bored most of the time.

“Look at old Grom,” the man next to me whispered at one point. “You can always tell when something’s brewing—he’s looking primmer and primmer.” Sure enough, a few moments later Gromyko announced in English that he had an objection to make to certain agenda items, then proceeded to launch into the objection in Russian. There is no simultaneous interpretation equipment in this committee room, so after the Russian was finished an interpreter, who had been writing down notes and key words, repeated the entire speech in French, then another gave it in English. While the French was going on there was a steadily rising hum of conversation which the President attempted, in vain, to quell with his gavel. During the English translation Gromyko frequently stopped the interpreter and corrected him in English.

Gromyko, because of the secrecy which surrounds him, is one of the most-talked-about men at the U. N. You can’t make an appointment to interview him, hut you can sometimes talk to him on the fly in the corridors. Usually interviews with Gromyko go something like this:

Reporter (padding up alongside Gromyko): Mr. Gromyko, what did you think of Mrs. Pandit’s speech?

(Long pause while Gromyko mulls over the question.)

Gromyko: Very interesting.

(Exit Gromyko)

At the end of the general debate and the adoption of the agenda items recommended by the steering committee, the general assembly divided itself into eight 57-member committees and moved out to the committee rooms at Lake Success ten miles away. Until the new U. N. site is completed on the East River between 42nd and 48th Streets (cranes are busy tearing down the grubby red brick packinghouses now) the organization will continue its disembodied existence on Long Island. Flushing is used strictly for the full-dress meetings of the general assembly where debates on the committee proposals take place. Lake Success, besides supplying the committee rooms, is a year-round proposition because the security council meets here. It is a vast sprawling building with a maddening interior which resembles an old-fashioned maze. The committees themselves—of which the political committee is considered the most spectacular and the most newsworthy—sit down at huge oval-shaped tables of bleached mahogany in rooms which look like radio studios and have accommodation for about 100 onlookers and an equal number of newspapermen.

It takes close to 3,000 people, working behind the scenes, to maintain the U. N. organization. Employees come from 51 different nations and get along fine with each other. The workers keep their own citizenship and get a special U. N. visa on their passport which allows them to remain in the U. S. for one month following termination of employment. A good many of them marry each other—a French translator had just married an English girl interpreter when I arrived.

Most of U. N.’s employees are passionately in favor of the U. N. charter and strong believers in the One World concept, tarnished and dusty as it now is. It came as a rude shock to them when two insurance companies, Metropolitan Life and New York Life, who financed U. N. housing projects at Flushing and Manhattan, announced they would reserve the right to refuse certain tenants. The staff committee, sensing a racial bar, sent a strongly worded condemnation to the secretariat, pointing out that this violated the charter and urging that all staff members boycott the project. Unfortunately, One World still being a limited concept, and the housing situation being what it is, the companies have remained intractable and tenants are beginning to trickle in.

The Flag Merry-Go-Round

Nationalism, that bugaboo of all One Worlders, is still a touchy business at Flushing. Take the business of the flags, for example. There were originally 52 of these flags arranged in a circle in front of the U. N. building on the spot where Grover Whalen’s perisphere, the famous trademark of the World of Tomorrow, once stood. The flags that formed this new U. N. trademark were evenly spaced so that no one emblem stood out from another. Then at the first assembly three more nations entered U. N. No matter where the extra flags were placed, unless the entire circle was torn up and replanted afresh (at a cost of $200 per flagpole), certain nations would stand out more prominently. A compromise was finally reached: the extra flagpoles—there are five now—are lined up in the centre and every day all the flags are hauled down and each flag rotated to the next pole, moving counterclockwise around the circle day by day and ending up in the centre. This is a tedious business but it preserves at least the fiction of an equality of nations that isn’t always apparent on the floor of the general assembly.

The flags are frequently replaced. If a flag fades even slightly, an outraged delegate is sure to protest that his national emblem is not the true color. Now the U. N. keeps a heavy stock of flags on hand.

The cost of running the U. N. came to $19 millions in 1946, $28 millions in 1947 and was estimated at $39 millions for next year, although this will probably be pared. Canada’s share is 3.2% or roughly $1,120,000—about nine cents per person per year, which most people consider a cheap price to pay for peace providing we get our money’s worth. In addition it will cost close to $100,000 to maintain the Canadian delegation at New York during the tenure of the general assembly session, which may continue into December.

There are 70 members of the Canadian delegation and staff, who occupy the entire ninth floor of the Biltmore Hotel. Besides the offices there is also a lounge (equipped with a Gauguin print and a bottle of Tom Collins mix), an information room furnished with all Canadian newspapers plus a mimeographed daily summary of Canadian news, and a conference room where plans are hatched and new members briefed. Some other delegations are spread over two or more hotels. The Russians occupy an expansive Long Island estate not far from Lake success.

Mr. St. Laurent’s Day

Most of the men who represent their nations at the U. N. work 16 hours a day at the business of being a delegate. The plenary sessions or committee meetings can go on as late as 2 a.m. and even if they don’t there’s plenty to be done. Mr. St. Laurent, who can be considered a fairly typical delegate, spent this sort of a day on Monday, Sept. 22, for example:

He rose at 7.45 a.m., breakfasted in his room on orange juice, cornflakes, toast and coffee, read the Times and Herald Tribune thoroughly, pored over an advance text of Hector McNeil’s speech, then read a sheaf of official papers while other delegates and secretaries popped in and out of his room. Sharp at nine he strode across the hall into the conference room and talked policy for an hour with his shirt-sleeved associates. He looked in briefly at the press conference in progress next door, then climbed into one of the eight cars at the disposal of the delegation and went into a huddle with two advisers during the 25-minute ride to Flushing. Brief case in arm he took his seat in the assembly next to the Byelo-Russian delegation when the plenary session opened at 11 a.m. He listened to all the speeches, making marginal notes on his advance copies and conferring in whispers with his associates, but he missed the Turkey speech because of a long-distance call from Ottawa.

Mr. St. Laurent lunched at one in the U. N. cafeteria, conferring over his chicken salad, pie and coffee with Hon. J. L. Ilsley, Canada’s number two delegate. After lunch, Mr. St. Laurent drove swiftly back to town just in time for Mayor LaGuardia’s funeral at St. John the Divine, then hurried back to Flushing in time for the Yugoslav speech. At the end of the day’s debate he chatted in the corridor with Trygve Lie, then drove back to the Biltmore where another stack of papers awaited him. He seized some dinner at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central station across the street, then returned to more papers—mainly statements which fellow delegates proposed to make at committees to which they were attached. No sooner was this done than the minister headed for Essex House where the United Kingdom was holding a reception for senior delegates. This over, Mr. St. Laurent returned, glanced wearily at more papers and went to bed.

There is so much attention paid to the press at U. N. that the newsman gets a tremendous sense of importance. Advance copies of most major speeches are available, verbatim reports and condensed reports are run off continually while the assembly is still sitting and television receivers picture the entire performance in the press bar. There is a whole hallway of radio studios for direct broadcast anywhere, an on-the-spot service that enabled one quick-thinking radioman to collar the French chef from the cafeteria and interview him on delegates’ eating habits when an Iranian princess failed to appear for a broadcast.

Pundits All

The Canadians held a press conference every morning at 9.30 a.m. at the Biltmore. Other delegations held similar conferences for their own newspapermen or anyone else who cared to attend. Nowhere does the Informed Source, the Official Observer, or the Source Close to the Delegation operate with more thoroughness than at the United Nations. These shadowy figures, familiar to every newspaper reader, turn out to be living, breathing men of flesh and blood who conduct the press conferences, tell all, but refuse to he quoted by name. Most of the press conferences that I attended started out with a government information officer saying something like this: “Now, gentlemen, everything that Mr.—tells you here is to be used solely as background information. You can if you wish attribute it to an unofficial source or an unnamed member of the delegation.” At. the end of these conferences the pundits (and almost everybody is a pundit at the U. N.) would run to their typewriters and start off their stories with such phrases as “I am able to reveal that—” or “A highly placed source close to the delegation revealed to me today,” or else they simply reported what developed at the conference, attributing the information to nobody but themselves.

At one conference a reporter asked a spokesman if he didn’t think it would he a good idea if Mrs. Roosevelt replied to the Vishinsky speech. The Informed Source hummed and hawed and said well maybe it would. The reporter then wrote a dispatch forecasting that Mrs. Roosevelt would he chosen. Luckily, he turned out to be right. The day before the session opened we were told at a conference that Dr. Evatt of Australia was certain to he new president of the Assembly. The pundits made their forecasts on this basis. Next morning the Assembly promptly elected Dr. Aranha.

There are some less innocuous aspects of the press conference system of reporting. The opinions of one Informed Source, which are usually nothing more or less than the Government line (you can, if you wish, call it propaganda) tend to become the personal property of a dozen or more newsmen. Thus a large section of the press ends up by reflecting a feeling, in its news columns, which seems to come from a wide variety of minds, but actually springs from one source. It may he remembered that in March, 1939, Chamberlain told a press conference that there was absolutely no danger of war, but refused to allow himself to be quoted. The result was that a large section of the British press gave the totally false impression that, everything was rosy. The same thing is going on, to a lesser degree, at the United Nations.

A good deal of private business goes on in the corridors outside the assembly hall at Flushing and in the delegates’ lounge where the cinder brick walls are painted in pastel colors and the furnishings include two enormous eight-sectional chesterfields and a bar. Photographers may roam at will in the lounge as long as they don’t take pictures at the bar. In early days almost all U. N. pictures seemed to be taken at the bar and the U. N., fearful that the public might gain the impression that a delegate’s life was a grand drinking spree, imposed the ban. Actually delegates don’t drink a great deal. The biggest bar sales are made in fruit juice. The bar sells 18 to 25 gallons a day to men and women who have gone without it for six or seven years. At the first Assembly the delegates’ bar got in four cases of vodka in the interests of international friendship, but it turned out to he a slow mover. Delegates, including the Russians, seem to prefer Scotch and soda. Gus Erengerth, the burly Norwegian in charge of the bar, solved the problem by inventing a One World cocktail which, because of its name, has become a great favorite, its components are vodka, Danish sherry heering, California lemon juice.

The delegates’ lounge at Flushing and its counterpart at Lake Success are both pictures of amiability. There have never been any scenes, any cold-shouldering, any recriminations, any rebuffs. Before Hector McNeil strode into the assembly hall to deliver a sulphuric blast at Andrei Vishinsky, he sat on the arm of t he Russian’s chair with his hand on Vishinsky’s shoulder, chatting pleasantly. This amity has been the subject of long observation by Mrs. Marguerite Langjaer, a Russian-born American, who is married to a Dane, and speaks six languages. Mrs. Langjaer occupies a desk in the lounge, acts as a sort of clearinghouse and information centre for delegates, and watches the world mill past her to the bar.

“All the fighting goes on in there,” Mrs. Langjaer told me, waving her arm toward the assembly hall. “In here—everything is moht peaceful. You know, having been so much together all these months, I think they are all really very, very fond of each other.”

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