The Science of Existence (74-2-1) Fritz Haber

 Fritz Haber

During peace time, a scientist belongs to the world, but during war time, he belongs to his country. ~ Fritz Haber

German chemist Fritz Haber invented the Haber process in 1909, allowing nitrogen fixation by reaction of nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas, catalyzed by enriched iron or ruthenium; a process used industrially to produce ammonia. The Haber process was an important step for the industrial production of both fertilizers and explosives.

For his role in creating chemical weapons in World War I, Haber is considered the father of chemical warfare: developing and deploying chlorine and other poisonous gases on the enemy. Haber personally supervised the first gas attacks. The Kaiser promoted him to captain; a rare gift for a scientist too old to enlist.

Haber’s wife of almost 2 decades, also a chemist, committed suicide over his enthusiasm for his work. His son would later commit suicide, in shame over his father’s accomplishments.

To further his career prospects, Haber, born into a Hasidic family, renounced Judaism and became a Lutheran.

It did him no good when the Nazis came to power. Haber fled Germany in 1933 but left a legacy. Haber developed the gas Zyklon B, which was later used to exterminate Jews in the Nazi death camps.