Fritz Haber

Fritz Haber, 1918

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Haber was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), into a Hasidic family. His was one of the oldest families of that town. Haber later converted from strict Judaism to Christianity. His mother died during childbirth. His father was a well-known merchant in the town. From 1886 until 1891, he studied at the University of Heidelberg under Robert Bunsen, at the University of Berlin (today the Humboldt University of Berlin) in the group of A. W. Hofmann, and at the Technical College of Charlottenburg (today the Technical University of Berlin) under Carl Liebermann. He married Clara Immerwahr during 1901. Clara was also a chemist and an opponent of Haber’s work in chemical warfare. Following an argument with Haber over the subject, she committed suicide. Their son, Hermann, born in 1902, would later also commit suicide because of his shame over his father’s chemical warfare work. Before starting his own academic career, he worked at his father’s chemical business and in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich with Georg Lunge.

Fritz Haber (9 December 1868 – 29 January 1934) was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development for synthesizing ammonia, important for fertilizers and explosives. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid. He has also been described as the „father of chemical warfare“ for his work developing and deploying chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I.

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