Säveltäjä propagandan välineenä

Erik Bergmanin toiminta kansallissosialistisessa Saksassa 1937–1943


  • Juha Torvinen


A composer as a propaganda tool: Erik Bergman in National Socialist Germany 1937–1943

This article examines the work of composer Erik Bergman (1911–2006) in National Socialist Germany. The topic has not been studied before. Bergman made four trips to Germany between 1937 and 1943. He initially studied composition privately with the composer Heinz Tiessen (1887–1971). In 1943 he was awarded a scholarship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to study at the Berlin State Music Academy (Staatliche akademische Hochschule für Musik Berlin). He was the only student from the Nordic countries in the academy. In addition to his studies, Bergman worked as a music journalist for Deutsche Europasender propaganda-radio and reported on his experiences for the Finnish magazine Hufvudstadsbladet. Scholarship status and work as a journalist meant in practice that Bergman was politically instrumentalized and became a tool of Nazi propaganda.

Bergman studied in National Socialist Germany for many reasons. During the war, the possible destinations for a Finn were limited for political reasons. Finland had long cultural ties with Germany, and it was common among Finnish intellectuals to regard Hitler’s reign as an anomaly in the long and valuable history of German cultural influence. Furthermore, even after the acts of the National Socialist reign of terror, Germany was still a musical powerhouse. Bergman was not a Nazi sympathiser. But like many of his German and Finnish colleagues, he tacitly accepted the Nazi atrocities at least until the summer of 1943. After the war, Bergman recalled his years in Germany with an emphasis on his own apoliticism. The article concludes with an analysis of the latent politics of Bergman’s ‘apoliticism’ and its significance both for his time in Germany and for his modernist turn in the 1950s.





Torvinen, J. (2024). Säveltäjä propagandan välineenä: Erik Bergmanin toiminta kansallissosialistisessa Saksassa 1937–1943. Musiikki, 54(2). https://doi.org/10.51816/musiikki.146664