Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm 1833. When he was five years old, his father who was an inventor and entrepreneur went bankrupt the year when Alfred was born. He moved to St. Petersburg to set up an engineering workshop. When Alfred was nine years old, mother and his brothers Robert and Ludvig joined father in St. Petersburg, where they later got another brother, Emil.
The four brothers Nobel received an excellent and thorough education in Russia. They all showed technical skill and anticipated a future within technique and enterprise. Alfred Nobel could talk and read five languages when he was seventeen years old.
Both Alfred Nobel and his father were greatly interested in explosives. Alfred started to experiment with the dangerous nitroglycerine to make it safer to handle. During the 1860th Alfred Nobel took out a patent for both dynamite and a detonator, the Nobel Igniter. Both products made detonations safer and easier to control.
The inventions were implemented by Alfred Nobel to be manufactured in many countries. He was spending a great deal of his time travelling in Europe and also to the USA. He was called to be ”The richest vagabond in Europe” as he seldom stayed a longer period at the same place.
During 1870 Alfred Nobel settled down in Paris which became his permanent residence for 17 years between his journeys around the world. After a serious conflict with the French authorities he moved to San Remo in Italy. He set up a laboratory for powder trials and started with test shooting out into the Mediterranean. A lot of protests from the inhabitants around made it clear that this was a bad idea and Alfred Nobel started to look for other possible places where he could experiment with powder and carry out test shootings without any problem. He found the solution at AB Bofors-Gullspång in Karlskoga, Sweden. There was a company for sale where guns were manufactured. Alfred Nobel bought the company in 1894 and modernized the workshops, built a laboratory and employed people. During the summer seasons he worked with his company in Karlskoga and lived at the manor in Björkborn.
1896 Alfred Nobel died in San Remo, Italy. When his famous will was opened in Stockholm, he had appointed the 26-year old engineer and assistant Ragnar Sohlman and the engineer and associate Rudolf Lilljequist as executors of the will. Alfred Nobel had great confidence in both and wished that they together should work for the establishment of his will. They were assisted by the lawyer Carl Lindhagen in Stockholm, who was an expert on French legislation. Together they worked to implement the last will of Alfred Nobel.
Karlskoga and Björkborn became the focus of attention when it had to be decided where Alfred Nobel really had his residence. Many complicated legal negotiations took place. Did he live in Paris, where he still had his magnificent home or did he live in San Remo, where he possessed a beautiful villa? Finally, it was agreed by the law-courts that he had his residence and domicile in Karlskoga due to the fact that Nobel, according to tradition, had his three Russian Orlov-stallions stabled there. But it was of still greater importance that he had bought AB Bofors-Gullspång, was seriously committed in the operation of the company and its economy and was chairman of the company. He restored the manor of Björkborn and started a laboratory. He had far-reaching plans for his establishment in Karlskoga.
As it was considered that Alfred Nobel had lived in Karlskoga and the will was interpreted in accordance with Swedish law and the executors of the will could continue to finalize the will accordingly. If the will had been interpreted according to French law, it probably would have been failed out of formal reasons.
The young Ragnar Sohlman was the most active person during this process to carry out the last will of Alfred Nobel. He met unprecedented problems. The will was questioned for his vague written content. The institutions, Alfred Nobel had appointed to carry out the prize award, showed an unresponsive attitude towards this task. It was merely the Stortinget in Norway who was positive from the very beginning. Sohlman travelled all around Europe and negotiated with relatives, with banks and courts and last but not least with the distributing institutions in Sweden. Against all odds but with important support from Alfred Nobel’s nephew Emanuel Nobel they succeeded to realize the will. The first Nobel prize was awarded in 1901.
Ragnar Sohlman stayed in Karlskoga, for many years as managing director of the new formed company, AB Nobelkrut. Later on he was Head of the National Board of Trade and Director at the Nobel Foundation. He died in 1948.
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