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Eivind Berggrav

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Eivind Josef Berggrav (25 October 1884 – January 14, 1959) was a Norwegian Lutheran bishop, primarily known as Primate of the Church of Norway (Norwegian:Preses i Bispemøtet i Den norske kirke) and remembered for his unyielding resistance against the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II.[1]


Berggrav was born in Stavanger, Norway. He studied theology and became a priest in the Church of Norway and subsequently bishop, first in the Diocese of Hålogaland from 1928 to 1937 and secondly in the Diocese of Oslo from 1937 to 1951.

His father, Otto Jensen was Norwegian National Minister of Education and Church Affairs and later bishop of the Diocese of Hamar and dean in the Diocese of Kristiania.

His son Dag Berggrav became an important civil servant and sports administrator.[2]


Berggrav is celebrated for his leadership in the Church of Norway's resistance to the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II, even though he was under isolated house arrest during most of the war. During the shock of the German invasion of Norway, Berggrav did not immediately publicly oppose the occupation, but instead initially appealed to Norwegian Christians to "refrain from any interference" and to refuse to "mix themselves up in the war by sabotage or in any other way." However, as it became increasingly clear that the occupying Nazi powers would not honor their promise to allow Norwegians freedom of religion and the preservation of their structures of government, Berggrav was a leader in forming the Christian Council for Joint Deliberation, and when the Church of Norway was ordered by the Nazis to alter its liturgical practices, Bishop Berggrav refused to comply.

On 9 April 1942, Berggrav was arrested. Along with four other members of the Christian Council, he was initially imprisoned in the Bredtvet concentration camp,[3] but he was later moved to an isolated location in the forests north of Oslo where he was placed in solitary confinement, and allowed to see no one but his Nazi guards. From this prison he orchestrated the mass resignation of almost all of the priests of the Church of Norway in protest against the Nazi tyranny. Since all the clergy of the Church of Norway were also civil servants at the time, this shunning of the orders of the Nazi government sent a powerful message to the people that tyrants would not be obeyed - no matter what the price.[4]

In December 1944 Berggrav was featured on the cover of TIME magazine, becoming one of the relatively few protestant religious figures to have been thus honored.[5] Berggrav was also an important figure in 20th-century ecumenical movements, including the Universal Church movement and the World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches.

Berggrav was the author of a large numbers of books which were all written in the Norwegian language. The Norwegian Church in Its International Setting, Man and State, and With God in the Darkness, and Other Papers Illustrating the Norwegian Church Conflict have been translated into English. Berggrav's life and memory are commemorated on the Calendar of Saints by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on 14th of January.[6]

Selected Works

  • Spenningens Land (1937)
  • Kirkens ordning i Norge (1945)
  • Tider Og Tekster (1947)
  • Es Sehnen sich die Kirchen (1953)
  • Marie Treschow: En Livsskisse (1955)
  • Forgjeves for Fred. Vinteren 1939-40. Forsok Og Samtaler I Norden, Berlin Og London (posthumous 1960)


Other Sources

  • Godal, Odd Eivind Berggrav: Leader of Christian resistance (SCM Press. 1949)
  • Johnson, Alex and Harriet L. Overholt Johnson . Kjell Jordheim, translator. Eivind Berggrav, God's Man of Suspense (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960)
  • Robertson, Edwin Hanton Bishop of the Resistance: A Life of Eivind Berggrav, Bishop of Oslo, Norway ( Concordia Publishing House, 2001)
  • Molland, Einar Fra Hans Nielsen Hauge til Eivind Berggrav. Hovedlinjer i Norges kirkehistorie i det 19. og 20. århundre ( Oslo: Gyldendal, 1968)

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Religious titles
Preceded by
Johan Støren
Bishop of Diocese of Nord-Hålogaland
Succeeded by
Sigurd Johan Normann
Preceded by
Johan P. Lunde
Bishop of Oslo
Succeeded by
Johannes Smemo
cs:Eivind Berggrav

no:Eivind Berggrav

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