Haber, Fritz


Haber, Fritz
(1868-1934)
   chemist; awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen. Born in Breslau (now Wroclaw), he studied chemistry to better assist his father's dyestuff firm. His aptitude led, however, to a doctorate from Berlin's Technische Hochschule in 1891. Although he eventually returned to his father's business, abitter separation ensued. Upon publishing research in 1896 on hydrocarbons, he joined the faculty of Karlsruhe's Technische Hochschule. Publications in electrochemistry (1898) and thermodynamics (1905) won him promotion to full professor.
   Marked by a sense of Prussian duty, Haber applied his skill to solving Ger-many's raw-material shortages. His first innovation was the fabrication of am-monia; later used in World War I, it provided an alternative to imported saltpeter. Exploiting his finding commercially, he formed a partnership with Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik (BASF) and was soon mass-producing am-monia. He was appointed director in 1912 of Berlin's new Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and was asked to lead the chemical division of Walther Rathenau's* War Raw Materials Office in 1914. Thereafter his institute, dubbed Buro Haber, served as home to numerous scientific luminaries who managed to tackle Germany's nitrate shortage. With Haber's assistance, Rath-enau persuaded Carl Bosch* of BASF to join the effort. The resulting Haber-Bosch nitrate plant at Leuna was a triumph of scientific and technical ingenuity; by 1918 it produced 90,000 tons of synthetic nitrate. Buro Haber also engaged in poison-gas experiments with both chlorine and phosgene. Refusing to ponder the terror of gas warfare, Haber simply hoped that such weapons would break the military stalemate.
   The Allies deemed Haber the chief villain in Germany's development of poi-son gas. Included among 893 alleged war criminals, he had anticipated such charges; disguising himself, he fled to Switzerland in 1919. When in November 1919 Stockholm's Nobel Prize Committee disclosed his selection for the chem-istry award, the scientific world was outraged; two French winners announced their refusal to accept prizes if Haber were honored. But when the Allies pre-sented a reduced list of war criminals in 1920, his name had been removed. Returning home, he again devoted himself to Germany's economic woes. With an eye on Allied reparation* demands, he became a leader in the development of the Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft (Emergency Association of German Science) and gave years of futile effort to extracting gold from sea water. His major achievements came in his role as director of the Kaiser Wil-helm Institute. In 1920 he initiated the Haber Colloquium, a seminar that at-tracted scientists from all over Europe to the institute; by 1929 half of its sixty members were non-Germans. When his tenure ended in 1933, the institute was credited with more than seven hundred scientific publications.
   In 1933 the Nazi government honored all those deemed war criminals in 1919; however, Haber, of Jewish ancestry, "father of gas warfare," was excluded. With great anxiety, he resigned his institute and university posts in April 1933. According to Max von Laue,* there was no other director "for whom the Institute was so much a part of himself" (Hermann). Recognizing that his revered status would not protect him, he soon went to Cambridge to work with William Pope. When he died in January 1934, Germans were forbidden to mourn him.
   REFERENCES:Borkin, Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben; DSB, vol. 5; Haber, Poi-sonous Cloud; Heilbron, Dilemmas of an Upright Man; Hermann, New Physics.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • HABER, FRITZ — (1868–1934), German physical chemist and Nobel laureate. Haber was born in Breslau, the son of a prosperous chemical and dye merchant and an alderman of the city. After a period in industry and business, he went in 1893 to the Technische… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Haber, Fritz — born Dec. 9, 1868, Breslau, Silesia, Prussia died Jan. 29, 1934, Basel, Switz. German physical chemist. After early research in electrochemistry and thermodynamics, he developed, with his brother in law Carl Bosch (1874–1940), the Haber Bosch… …   Universalium

  • Haber , Fritz — (1868–1934) German physical chemist Haber, the son of a merchant, was born at Breslau, now Wrocław in Poland. He was educated at Berlin, Heidelberg, Charlottenburg, and Jena, and in 1894 he became an assistant in physical chemistry at the… …   Scientists

  • Haber, Fritz — (1868–1934)    German chemist and Nobel laureate, 1918. Haber developed a process for synthesizing ammonia from hydrogen and nitrogen by combining them under pressure, using iron as a catalyst. The Haber process, as it was called, was adapted for …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Haber,Fritz — Ha·ber (häʹbər), Fritz. 1868 1934. German chemist. He won a 1918 Nobel Prize for the synthetic production of ammonia. * * * …   Universalium

  • Haber, Fritz — ► (1868 1934) Químico alemán. Fue premio Nobel de Química en 1918, compartido con Bosch, por idear un proceso para la obtención del amoniaco. * * * (9 dic. 1868, Breslau, Silesia, Prusia–29 ene. 1934, Basilea, Suiza). Fisicoquímico alemán.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Haber, Fritz — (1868 1934)    German physical chemist. Born in Breslau, he became director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Research Institute for Chemistry in 1911. He gained the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

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  • Fritz Haber — Fritz Haber, 1918 Fritz Haber (* 9. Dezember 1868 in Breslau; † 29. Januar 1934 in Basel) war ein deutscher Chemiker und Pionier der chemischen Kriegsführung. Haber erhielt 1919 den Nobelpreis für Chemie des Jahres 1918 „für die Synthese von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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