Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

The anti-Semitic, chauvinistic side of Alfred Nobel

TJI Pick
Print this

Published: 16 July 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

For 15 years, the man behind the Nobel Prize exchanged letters with his Viennese mistress, a flower girl called Sofie Hess

ALFRED NOBEL’S LETTERS to his Viennese mistress between 1877 and 1896 reveal the chauvinism and anti-Semitism of the Swedish tycoon behind the prestigious prize that bears his name.

Some 221 letters from Nobel to Sofie Hess, and 41 of her letters to him, were recently published for the first time in English in A Nobel Affair: The Correspondence Between Alfred Nobel and Sofie Hess (University of Toronto Press).

The letters were written in German and sent from various locations across Europe – mostly places where Nobel was staying while conducting business for his explosives company and other areas in which he had interests, and spa towns where Hess was staying for various treatments and therapies (and for which Nobel footed the bill).

After Nobel’s death in 1896, the Nobel Foundation purchased the letters from Hess for the respectable sum of 12,000 Hungarian florins (some $300,000). In return, Hess agreed to the foundation’s demand not to publish anything about her relations with Nobel. It was only in 1976 that the Swedish National Archives finally granted access to the letters – and even then only to scholars. Erika Rummel, an esteemed writer and historian, has translated and annotated the entire correspondence.

FULL STORY Alfred Nobel's letters reveal his anti-Semitic, chauvinistic side (Haaretz)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site