Great Stories – Alfred Nobel

Posted on October 1, 2012 by Akashma Online News

by Marivel Guzman

Alfred Bernhard Nobel-Inventor of Dynamite
and known as the father of the peace movement

I starting to get into this habit, to visit the libraries and pick the first book I lay my eyes on. Today pick was “Dynamite and Peace,” by Ragnar Sohlman and Henrik Schuck. This is a very interesting story of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of the dynamite and explosives devises, whose inventions are the precursors of modern missiles, rifles, revolvers, and machine guns. He is also, considered the father of the peace moventment, and part of his statements were incorporate in the mission statement of the Legue of Nations, the precursors of the United Nations.

The story of his oil enterprise in partnership with his brothers are the most astonishing tales of European men with more money, they could spend in their lifetimes, and the striking contradictions of Nobel, a man of war and man of peace, all polished by his humanitarian and altruist soul.

I’m trying to understand Nobel, who tried to influence peace treaties in his lifetime. A man who was lonely and hungry for everything new; from traveling to inventing new things.

He is a riddle of a man who describes himself in one of his poems.


“You say, I m riddle-it may be, for all of us are riddles unexplained,”


Nobel was in a continuous struggle trying to balance his enormous oil enterprise wealth, and his war gadgets inventions, and at the same time trying to promote peace.

The next excerpt is from one of the letter between Bertha von Suttner, and Alfred Nobel- A file of the correspondence by Von Suttner and Nobel were found in a file in 1936, at the Library of the League of Nations by Irwin Avrams, he published in 1962, in a scholarly journal based on such correspondence.
Bertha von Suttner was an Austrian, journalist, novelist, feminist, radical pacifist, and the first woman to be a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1905.)

“When the Baroness tells Nobel that she has written an anti-war novel, Die Waffen nieder, (later translated as Lay Down Your Arms), he responds in his customary amusing way that he hopes to read it, but in case of universal peace. where would he place his new smokeless powder? (21/11/1889).” He is refering to dynamite invented by Nobel in 1860. Obviusly, by this simple conversation, it is safe to conclude, Nobel wasn’t interested in “universal peace.”

Enjoy the story of the inventor of the Nobel Prize -Alfred Bernhard Nobel. He was a peculiar millionaire, who dedicated his life to “war and peace.”

War and Peace

Nobel was a lonely man who used a great part of his day reading letters from stranger people asking for help- he was known for helping strangers, but such activity didn’t provide the closeness with humanity. You can perceive that longing for human contact in one letter he wrote to his sister.

“What a contrast between us! You live a warm and glowing life surrounded by loved ones, whom you care for, and who care for you. You are anchored in contentment. I drift about without rudder or compass, a wreck on the sea of life. I have no memories to cheer, or about myself to satisfy my vanity. I have no family to furnish the only kind of survival that concerns us, no friends for the wholesome development of my affections, or enemies for my malice.”

“Yet I am afflicted with a bent for self-criticism, whereby every blemish is revealed in all its unredeemed ugliness, and the veil is torn from all my deficiencies, leaving them in all their naked poverty.
Such a portrait is out of harmony in a home of joy and contentment, its proper place is the wastepaper basket, to which it will be consigned.”
Such a portrait is out of harmony in a home of joy and contentment, its proper place is the wastepaper basket, to which it will be consigned.”
Alfred N0bel’s letter to his sister in -law Edla, Ludwing Nobel’s wife.
Alfred Nobel Believes in religion;
“Religion without deeds is no religion.” He was known for giving money and advice to people around the world, people who wrote letters to him, without knowing him, but by only for his good heart.

Alfred Nobel and his religious views:

Letter to a Friend Swedish Pastor, Paris 1885:
“Our religious views differ possibly more in form than in substance, for we are both agreed that we should treat our neighbors as we would be treated by him. Indeed, I go a step further, for I feel a loathing for myself that I by no means feel for my neighbor. As far as my theoretic religious views are concerned, on the other hand, I admit that they diverge considerably from the regular path. It is just because these questions are so far beyond our range that I refuse to recognize their solution by human reason. In religious matters, to know what one must believe is as impossible as the squaring of the circle; but to distinguish what one cannot is by no means beyond the bounds of what is possible. This boundary I do not cross. Any reflective person must realize that we are surrounded by an eternal mystery and this is the basis for every true religion. What you see through the veil is nothing; what you believe you see is a matter of individual fantasy, and should, therefore, be confined within the limits of the individual point of view. But I m losing myself in the realms of metaphysics instead of, as was my intention, expressing my gratitude for your kind letter, and assuring you of my affection and my very special regard.”

Nobel was philanthropic by nature, and this letter was probably a response to a letter of thanks from a gift. For Nobel religion without a deed was no religion. Religion and love of mankind were for him as closely intertwined as was conceivably possible. The religion that did not express itself in deeds was revolting to him, and his opinion of Christian ethics was as high as his opinion of Christian dogma was low.

“If only you could understand,” he wrote in a German letter, “That one can help a human being without any ulterior motive! Among the Israelites, this suggested itself to only one person, Christ, and so strange was the idea that he was awarded the diploma of divinity.”

The ironic life of Alfred Nobel was, that being so connected with his human side, and being so attracted to altruism, he developed so many patents on explosives, nitroglycerin, explosive gelatine, specially dynamite, he knew was used in war.  His company was one of the first weapons manufacturers of firearms, rockets, projectiles, and detonators.

  1. Patent number 15556. Improvement of the explosives and their use, especially in projectiles and torpedoes.
  2. Patent number 371. Regulation of the pressure in cannons.
  3. Patent number 926. Gun with projectile.
  4. Patent number 3674. Methods to counteract the recoil of a rifle.
  5. Patent number 5840. Improvement of explosive projectiles.
  6. Patent number 16919. Improved detonator/detonating composition. 1895. Patent number 12384. Improvement of gas seal around projectiles.
  7. Patent number 15294. Construction of fuzes for projectiles.
  8. Patent number 14000. Improvement of war rockets, means for maintaining or increasing the initial velocity.

He could be considered the father of war gadgets due to his numerous inventions in the field of explosives, projectiles, rockets, and gas delivery methods–With more than 100 patents recorded in the field of explosives and detonators.
It seems inconsistent that a man who devoted so much energy to warlike inventions, should, at the same time been a pronounced pacifist.
Nobel’s first invention, ‘dynamite’, was not intended for military purposes, but was essentially meant to be a scientific aid in industrial undertakings and mines, but by the time his correspondence with journalist Von Shuttner, he was already worry about his great invention if “universal peace” was achieved.
Alfred Nobel did not believe in disarmament but in the unity of an armed force that keeps the belligerent nations at bay.

I consider his approach to peace bigotry, because he was profiting from war, and even though he wanted to live in a world of peace, he dedicated his life to the war industry.

He is known as the father of the peace movement and in his letters to Bertha Von Suttner, he explains his position and alternatives for peace. None of which were aimed at the disarmament of nations, which in our modern time, will be the only solution to achieve peace. So I consider him to be the precursor of the armament race.

Letter to a Pacifist

On October 15, 1892, Nobel wrote to a Belgian Pacifist:
“I m gradually familiarizing myself with what has been done, and I have also got an intelligent diplomat to investigate the question (Aristarchi Bey- made his assistant)such specimens exist although they are rare. He has pointed out to me, and this is indeed the crux of the problem, that the reason the governments are not prepared to admit the principle of undertaking to attempt to settle disputes by arbitration, is that they fear thereby to damage their interest if a pacific solution should ultimately not be achieved.
Some governments believe, rightly or wrongly, that they can mobilize more speedily than others, and they are unwilling to sacrifice the great advantage over the enemy accruing from the extra time gained.

I m beginning to believe that the only true solution would be a convention under which all the governments would bind themselves to defend collectively any country that was attacked. Such a treaty might lead gradually to partial disarmament, which is indeed the only kind of disarmament possible, for there must be an armed force to maintain order.”


On the creation of the Nobel Prize

The Peace Prize is to be given “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for the fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses.” Final draft was signed, on 27 November 1895.

“I should like to allot part of my fortune to the formation of a prize fund to be distributed in every period of five years (we may say six times for it we have failed at the end of thirty years in reforming the present system we shall inevitably revert to barbarism.)

Bertha von Suttner, Austrian novelist, radical pacifist, and the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize

This prize would be awarded to the man or the woman who had done most to advance the idea of general peace in Europe. I do not refer to disarmament, which can be achieved only by very slow degrees. I do not even necessarily refer to compulsory arbitration between the nations, but what I have in view is that we should soon achieve the result-undoubtedly practical one-. That all states should bind themselves absolutely to take action against the first aggressor. Wars than will become impossible, and we should succeed in compelling even the most quarrelsome state either to have recourse to a tribunal or to remain quiet. If the Triple Alliance instead of comprising three states were to secure the adherence of all, secular peace would be insured for the world” Excerpt to a letter to the Belgian Pacifist Bertha Von Suttner, October 15, 1892.

“A thinker, a poet, a man bitter and good, unhappy and gay — given to superb flights of mind and to malicious suspicions, passionately in love with far horizons of human thoughts and profoundly distrustful of the pettiness of human folly, understanding everything and hoping for nothing, so you seemed to me. And twenty years have done nothing to efface that image,” written by Von Suttner, on October 29, 1895

He was virtuous no doubt, he knew 5 languages; Russian, Swedish, French, English, and German. He wrote some poetry when young, and intended to publish but death came first.

He becomes pacifist of some sort, and wrote some novels that were never finished or published; “In Lightest Africa”, “Sisters and Brothers”. Wrote Satiric comedy; “The Patent Bacillus”, and A Drama novel; A Victim of Imagination”, and a Tragedy: “Nemesis” …

In a passage of one of his unfinished novels he wrote:

“Christ preached the rights of mankind and universal brotherhood; his ministers and their hypocritical following practice every kind of torture and baseness that the human-animal can devise.”

Is there then no hope for humanity: “Yes” answers the philosopher, ” a ray of light pierces the terrible darkness of Europe; a more humane outlook is beginning to prevail in all classes. The magic glow of a world that is past illuminates our thought today, and we may take pride in the fact that our country raised the standard of civilization. I was our Columbus, our Galileo, our Leonard, our Bruno, our Campanella, our philosophers, poets, and artists, that first directed men to nobler ends than to burn their fellows and rot their intellects.”

Nobel Dynamite and Peace – The Nobel Foundation -Ragnar Sohlman and Henrik Schuck

The Journal – Society of Chemical Industry

Vol XVIII-1899

Nobel patents on explosives are imprinted and recognized.

His Company Nobel brothers – Oil and explosives.

He was a scientist inventor, most of his patents are related to explosives, gases, weapons and measurement devices.

Nobel has close to 150 patents registered in the European Patent Office, and 355 in different countries.


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