The pacifist and philanthropist was also the father of modern explosives, and Karlskoga serves as a living example of Nobel’s global military-industrial heritage
Alfred Nobel’s last laboratory still exists, a stone’s throw from a large explosives plant created by his inventions and late business interests. Welcome to Karlskoga, a small town in the forests of central Sweden where the Nobel Peace Prize founder took home in 1894, two years before his death. AFP
The pacifist and philanthropist was also the father of modern explosives – and Karlskoga serves more than a century later as a living example of Nobel’s global military industrial heritage. The site extends over three square kilometers (1.15 square kilometers) near this city with 30,000 people halfway between the Swedish capital Stockholm and the Norwegian capital Oslo. AFP
“Nobel gunpowder ‘(NK) – or Nobel gunpowder in English – has been proudly manufactured here since 1898, the sound of howitz’s test shots ringing out as regularly as church bells all day.” The first powder was called NK01. Now we are at NK1420, says Hakan Svensson, marketing director at the place where his father and grandfather worked before him.
Nobel invented the explosive cap in 1865 and modernized high-explosives. He then invented dynamite in 1867 and worked until his dead days with what all of Europe’s armies dreamed of: a smoke-free gunpowder. AFP
Nobel was a globetrotter – he was nicknamed “the richest vagabond in the world” – who at different times in his life lived in Sweden, Russia, Germany, France, USA, Great Britain and Italy. To protect their patents and avoid having to transport dangerous nitroglycerin long distances, the inventor founded companies everywhere. AFP
His assistant and executor of his will, Ragnar Sohlman, took over the group after Nobel’s death and the company continued to be the beating heart of Sweden’s military-industrial complex from the 20th century. AFP
According to Ingrid Carlberg, author of a new biography, Nobel never saw a contradiction between his interests in pacifism and the arms industry. Svensson emphasizes the point. “I think we continue Alfred Nobel’s idea that we must have some form of military production to stabilize the world, to keep it safe,” says Svensson. AFP