Fritz Haber was born December 9, 1868 in Breslau, Germany, and lived until January 29, 1934. He is well known for inventing two things: a process to turn air into nitrogen fertilizer and chemical warfare. However, it should be noted that a number of other advances were made under his direction at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin and his fortnightly discussions helped to make Germany a center for science that was world renowned.<\p>

Haber's discovery of the process to create liquid ammonia was completed in the interest of pure science, but was quickly put to use in an applied aspect. During World War I, Germany used this process to continue the production of ammunition and for making fertilizer, as access to the guano deposits in Chile had been cut off. This contribution alone is thought to have allowed Germany to continue fighting for a number of years. In 1918, Haber was awarded the Nobel Prize for this process.

World War I was also responsible for Haber's second claim to fame: chemical warfare. The war had deadlocked into trench warfare, and Haber pushed for a chemical solution to the problem. On April 22, 1915 at Ypres, Haber organized the release of chlorine gas upon Allied troops. Unfortunately for Germany, soon after this first battle the Allies developed gas masks, and their own chemical weapons. Trench warfare remained, the Allies wanted Haber indicted for war crimes and Haber's wife, Clara, killed herself shortly after Haber's return, for reasons unknown.

After the great war, Haber attempted to find a solution to his country's war debt by extracting gold from ocean water. He failed, but his research did eventually lead to the process for the extraction of bromide. During this period of his life he is best known for his exemplary leadership of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. Through his efforts and direction, Germany became one of the forerunners of modern thought, specifically in the areas of chemistry and physics. This all ended, however, with the Nazi's rise to power. In 1933 they demanded that all scientist of Jewish decent leave the institution. Despite his Jewish background, Haber was permitted to stay due to his participation in WWI. However, he felt he could not abide by such a ruling and stepped down from his post, soon leaving for a position in Cambridge. However, due to illness he left England and died on the way to Switzerland, January 29, 1935. In an interesting side note, the only people who attended his memorial were women. Forbidden by the Nazi government to attend, his fellow scientists sent their wives.

information culled from:
http://www.nobel.se/chemistry/laureates/1918/haber-bio.html
http://www.woodrow.org/teachers/chemistry/institutes/1992/Haber.html
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2002/jul/fritzhaber/
http://www.fhi-berlin.mpg.de/history/history.html

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