An Exemplary Battle of Culture: Åsmund Sveen’s Literary Involvement in the Norwegian Nazi Party

This article aims to explore the function of occasional poetry in the propaganda of the Norwegian World War II collaborationist party Nasjonal Samling (‘National Unity’). Specifically, it does so through a close reading of a poem by the author and propagandist Åsmund Sveen (1910–1963). As a point of departure, this article claims that in terms of an ideology of art, the Nazis promoted the idea of a national renaissance, supported by the widespread belief in the necessity of restoring a lost golden age of Norway. I argue that this idea of a renaissance is connected to rhetoric in Sveen’s poem that has two aspects: first, his text encourages readers and listeners to work for cultural rebirth, while second, the poem provides an example of this rebirth in its own right. Employing a contextual and rhetorical perspective, this article attempts to show how imaginative literature might assume a special function within political propaganda. The central claim is that literature has the opportunity to define norms of cultural creation while simultaneously supplying examples of these cultural norms.

Nøkkelord: Nazism, rhetoric, nationalism, cultural rebirth, Åsmund Sveen