Axel Bergstedt

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Axel Bergstedt (born 1962) is a German conductor and composer, convicted of the murder of his wife in 1996.[1] He currently lives in Brazil.[2]



Bergstedt had a successful musical career in Germany, having made the compositions of the children's musical Ronia.

In 1994, after an argument, he killed his wife with an ax and buried her body in the garden of their house in Rahlstedt.[3] He told the police that she was missing; the investigation, however, led to the discovery of the corpse. Brought to jury, he was sentenced to imprisonment for eight years,[3] in 1996.[4] Bergstedt, who was considered the "good man of Bern" by the local community, was discovered to have struck his wife Heike (then 29 years old) eight times with an ax after throwing her to the ground and suffocating her. The couple had two daughters (Juliane and Rebecca, then eight and three years old, respectively).[5] To corroborate the farce that he had created, Bergstedt told police that his wife had escaped with 300,000 marks from the Bach-Orchesters box office where he acted - accusing her of being a thief, as well as a bad mother - since the children were not aware of the crime he had committed, shortly before Christmas.[4]

In 2001, he obtained an exit permission to visit his parents. However, he fled and, not being found, was wanted by Interpol. He was then imprisoned in Cariacica, Espirito Santo, Brazil.[3] For almost a year Bergstedt had been on the international wanted list, and had disguised himself as a Lutheran pastor, preaching in Brazil.[5] There, he had remarried and appeared to lead a normal life; after being detained for more than a year, he was finally extradited in 2003.[6] He was found by the German police of the Fahnder des Landeskriminalamts (Office of Criminal Investigation), who, after monitoring him as a pastor and preaching in Brazil, were finally handed over to the local authorities. After legal proceedings, he was deported in a Lufthansa flight back to the Holstenglacis Detention Center (in the Neustadt district of Hamburg) on February 28 of that year to fulfill the rest of the sentence, after being photographed and fingerprinted again; the investigators could not ascertain how he managed to escape to Brazil.[1][4][7][8][9]


He was arrested in 2016, accused of pedophilia. The conductor was keeping pages on the Internet associating pornography and religion; he updated the pages using computers of the church where he was working. Brazilian police also found videos and other material from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Bergstedt paid a R$ 5000,00 bail and awaited the judgement in freedom.[10][11][12]


He lived in front of the old cathedral of Ratzeburg, a well known Lutheran church. It is a center of church music, and conductor and organist Neithard Bethke became the beloved teacher of the young Bergstedt. Famous musicians like Peter Hurford and Helen Donath or the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields came to the cathedral, invited by Neithard Bethke. Later Bergstedt studied church music and conducting in Hamburg with conductor Klauspeter Seibel and organist Heinz Wunderlich.

In 1985 he became the conductor of the Hamburger Bachorchester, dedicated to the church music of the 18th century, associated with a choir and children's choir. He is also the composer of the musical of Ronja Räubertochter, a book by Astrid Lindgren, with orchestra and 120 people on stage; it premiered in 1994 in Poland and Germany.

In 1995/1996 he had a well documented participation in the album The Time of the Oath by the German power metal band Helloween, released in 1996.[13][14] In 1998 he was playing a church organist who works in a prison in the German film Schlange auf dem Altar (The snake on the altar).[15]

In 1994 he was also invited for the first time to Brazil. After marrying a Brazilian woman he decided to live in Belo Horizonte and Vitoria, Brazil. In 2001 he started working on social projects there. In 2004 the Lutheran church of Brazil[16] invited him for a new project in Cariacica, a region of simple workers. He wrote many compositions and arrangements for the new project. Well known are his "Louva ao Senhor"[17] and "Aquecendo Corações", the Brazilian version of "Let our hearts burn", from his Aquecendo Corações CD.[18]

Another focus are translations of classical cantatas and oratorios as the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, which had its premiere in Portuguese in 2009 in Brasilia.[19] He is defending the point of view of the time of the Reformation, that protestant church music should preferably be executed in the national language.


  1. ^ a b "Brasilien liefert Straftäter Bergstedt aus". Die Welt. March 1, 2003
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Flüchtiger Häftling nach einem Jahr in Brasilien gefasst". Die Welt. 2002-01-26. Archived from the original on 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  4. ^ a b c Kristina Johrde (2003-01-03). "Ausgeliefert: Der Musiker, der seine Frau verscharrte". Hamburger Abendblatt. Archived from the original on 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  5. ^ a b Ingo Roersch (2002-01-26). "Interpol fasste Mörder - er hatte sich als Pastor getarnt : Endstation Brasilien (trad: Interpol prende assassino - ele se disfarçava de pastor - fim da linha no Brasil)". MOPO. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  6. ^ s/a (2003-03-01). "Brasilien liefert Straftäter Bergstedt aus". Die Welt. Archived from the original on 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  7. ^ Johrde, Kristina (March 1, 2003). "Ausgeliefert: Der Musiker, der seine Frau verscharrte". Hamburger Abendblatt
  8. ^ "Flüchtiger Häftling nach einem Jahr in Brasilien gefasst". Die Welt. January 26, 2002
  9. ^ Brazil. Supreme Federal Court. Questão de ordem na extradição n.º 832. (Portuguese) Published in February 13, 2002.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ "The Time of the Oath". Encyclopaedia Metallum. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Helloween – The Time Of The Oath (tracklist and versions)". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  15. ^ "Schlange auf dem Altar" em IMDb
  16. ^
  17. ^ Video Louva ao Senhor Compositions
  18. ^ Site Aquecendo corações
  19. ^ Christmas Oratório in Portuguese Wikipedia


  • (Book) Jonas, Onze de setembro Editora, Porto Alegre, 2006

External links[edit]