In the 1950’s, when the Stockholm neighborhood Norrmalm was still called Klara, and life in the narrow alleyways was determined by tin and type foundries, stamp sellers, basket makers, groceries and pet shops instead of today’s shopping arcades and chain stores, you would have seen this man pass by the Brunkeburg Tunnel each day. What would have caught your eye was the way he was dressed. He would always wear a fur hat as well as two jackets or coats. The shoes were stuck inside galoshes and his ears stuffed with cotton balls.
This slightly eccentric exterior hid one of the country’s most erudite personalities. Ernst Herman Törnberg (1873-1961), also called the “Socrates of Klara” by the neighborhood residents, was a merchant by training but worked as a journalist, researching Swedish migratory movements on several trips through Europe and the USA. Eventually, he gained such a wealth of knowledge of social sciences that the Reichstag provided him with grants for his research. In 1939 the University of Uppsala awarded him an honorary PhD in philosophy. in Stockholm he would spend his days in the Royal Library to expand his already enormous knowledge base and to pass it on to others in lectures.
Where he stands today, it is quite easy to overlook him. And most of those who do spot him have no idea who this little bronze man is. The sculpture by Swedish artist Ulf Diderik Sucksdorff (1932-1989) serves as a monument to the eccentric philosopher, who actually owed his extravagant dress style to various phobias. Thörnberg was terrified of thunderstorms, appreciating galoshes most of all for their ability to act as lightning rods. The great man also lived in fear of bacteria and he hated noise, hence the cotton balls, which, looking closely, you will spot on the sculpture too.
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