Fritz Haber: Chemist, Nobel Laureate, German, Jew

by Dietrich Stoltzenberg

Publisher: Plunkett Lake Press

Publication Date: November 28, 2015

ISBN: 1230000816298

Binding: Kobo eBook

Availability: eBook

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This biography of Fritz Haber, now abridged by the author and translated into English, illuminates the life of one of the most gifted yet controversial figures of the twentieth century. Haber, a brilliant physical chemist, carried out pioneering research in electrochemistry and thermodynamics and won the Nobel Prize for his synthesis of ammonia, a process essential for synthetic fertilizer — and for the explosives Germany needed in World War I.

An ardent patriot, Haber also developed chemical weapons. Believing them to be no worse than other types of warfare, he directed the first true gas attack in military history from the front lines in Ypres, Belgium, in 1915. His nationalism also spurred his failed attempt to extract gold from seawater, in hopes of paying off Germany’s huge war reparations.

Yet Haber, a Jew by birth, was exiled from his homeland in 1933 by the Nazis, and died the following year never knowing the full dire effects of his work, as Zyklon B, a gas studied in his institute around 1920, was used to murder prisoners in concentration camps, including members of Haber’s own family.

With the help of previously unpublished documents and sources, Dietrich Stoltzenberg explores Haber’s personal life, the breakdown of his two marriages, his efforts to develop industrial and political support for scientific study in Germany, his directorship of the Kaiser Wilhelm (now Max Planck) Institute, his ethical struggles in times of war, and more.

“A much needed and fine new biography of Haber” — Oren Harman, ***The New Republic***

“This exhaustive biography, first published in Germany in 1996, captures Haber’s complexity well. Based on diligent research, it offers significant detail on Haber’s professional life for both specialists and generalists... Stoltzenberg’s work is perhaps as rich a biography as can be written on Haber’s achievements... This is an excellent biography... [based on] extensive primary research...