The story of Fritz Haber: brown and white pages of science

Not far off 100 years from the day or the beginning of the First World War. War that turned the ordinary world and has become a bit of a milestone in the development of our civilization, spurring progress. A lot of things that have become common only just over 25 years, during the second World War, there have been used with the prefix "first time". Planes, tanks, submarines, poisons, gas masks, depth charges. On one of the moderates "war workers" I wanted to tell. Therefore, as the assessment of its role in the history deserves at least a long scratching their heads and judgment.

Fritz Haber

The outstanding German scientist Fritz Haber was born in December 9, 1868 in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), the son of the Jewish merchant. In other words, 100% Jewish. It's not a bad thing, but below it will become clear why I dwell on this. As a child, did not get a very bad education, including traditional languages. Chemical education in Berlin and Heidelberg (at Bunsen and Lieberman). After receiving his doctorate for a long time could not find a deal to their liking. In 1891-1894 he changed a lot of places, he worked on the distillery, later in the fertilizer factory, the textile companies and even sales agent for dyes produced in the factory of his father. His real career began in the Technical High School in Karlsruhe, where he settled in 1894 by an assistant. There he took up the newest area itself — physical chemistry. To obtain a position as a privat-docent, he conducted research on the decomposition and combustion of hydrocarbons. A couple of years he became a doctor of chemistry. In 1901, Haber married his employee Clara Immervald.

Fritz Haber

While staying at the Karlsruhe Institute from 1894 to 1911, he and Carl Bosch developed the Haber-Bosch process, in which ammonia appears from hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen (in the criteria for high temperature and high pressure in the presence of catalyst).

In 1918, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work. By the way, fully deserved, because the mass production of fertilizers on the basis of the synthesized ammonia is now more than 100 million tons in year. Half the world's population eats food grown with the use of fertilizers purchased by Haber-Bosch process.

And in 1932 he became an honorary member of the Academy of the USSR.

This snow-white. Very crisp white. And now I let myself to go to black.

Fritz was one quirk. To quote him: "During peace time a scientist belongs to the world, but during the war, he owned his own country." We could not agree more. And, since 1907, gathering a team, which also included future winners Nobelevki James Franck, Gustav Hertz, and Otto Hahn, he begins to work on the development of chemical weapons. What naturally, could not lead to a natural Outcome: mustard gas and other pleasures.

In addition, this band of absorbent invented the gas mask, the descendants of which are used to this day. In his works on the effects produced by poison gas, Haber noted that long exposure to low concentrations of man always has the same effect (death), and that exposure to high concentrations, but for non-long time. He defined a common mathematical relationship between the gas concentration and the necessary exposure time. This relationship is understandable as "rule Haber."

Started the first global war. And Haber absolutely devoted himself to the creation of CWA, the benefit of being disturbed, and even on the contrary, is strongly encouraged. The Hague Convention — not for geniuses. The only obstacle to the freedom of creativity was his wife — a very good chemist at the time. Some sources say that she was present with Haber and by April 22, 1915 and our eyes followed the first use of chlorine. Some deny it. But the result was her protest, marked on May 15 with a pistol. Sassy lady, do not say anything here, one can only regret the fact. It was necessary, on Excellent, do not shoot at you. A Haber went to the Eastern Front to personally see the use of poison gas against the Russian.

In the gas attack carried out against the Russian, Haber, the first time used a supplement to chlorine gas phosgene, which Unlike chlorine, then came through the available remedies. As a result of the gas attack was poisoned by 34 officers and 7,140 fighter (other sources were poisoned by some 9,000 people), of which 4 officers and 290 fighter died. Haber was convinced that the use of gas guns in the war more humane than the use of conventional, because it leads to a short period of the war itself. Yet over the period of the First World War, of gas killed 92 000 fighter and more than 1.3 million were maimed soldier. At the end of the First World War, the Allies impose Germany's list of the 900 war criminals, among them Fritz Haber.

Russian trenches at the time of the German gas attack near Baranovichi

Apparently, not all went well, even Haber was awarded the rank of captain Kaiser — a rare event for the scientist, whose age did not allow him to enter military service. And in 1916, Haber headed the Military Department of Chemistry in Germany. As a manager and organizer of the military-chemical industry in Germany, Haber carried severally responsible for the "introduction" in the military affairs of chemical weapons. Responding to his critics, including those in their own environment, Haber said that such a fate at least some new kind of weapon, and that the use of poisonous gases fundamentally no different from the introduction of bombs or shells.

But the war was over. And when the question of the award of a Nobel Prize in 1919, Haber was among the applicants. Many "fans" of his awards in the field of chemistry raised unthinkable op, but when the Swedish Committee who listened? And finally, for the synthesis of the Haber-Bosch Nobelevka was presented. For sure, right. Nourished by a cheap fertilizer more than gassed, so they decided. And the fact that nitrogen is used in the manufacture of gunpowder — well, and Nobel state is not on the soap together a … In general, given.
"Discoveries Haber — said in his speech at the presentation AG Ekstrand, a member of the Swedish royal academy — would be very necessary for agriculture and welfare of mankind."

In 1920, on the advice of Haber's band for the production of chemical weapons, the dismantling of which achieved the United Kingdom and France, have been converted to create a chemical antiseptic that has not been banned Versailles contract. The necessary research and development were presented Haber and his institute. In the middle of substances developed in those days Gaberovskim institution, and who later became a sad recognizable gas "Zyklon B".

"Zyklon B" (German Zyklon B) — the title of a commercial product of chemical industry in Germany, which was used for the mass destruction of people in the gas chambers of the death camps. "Zyklon B" is impregnated with cyanide granulki inert porous media (diatomaceous earth, sawdust upressovannye). Also contains 5% odorizing agent (ethyl ester of bromoacetic acid), since hydrocyanic acid is very weak odor. In the aftermath of World War II is widely used in Germany as an insecticide. During the second World War Zyklon B "required the Army and the Third Reich concentration camps for disinfection measures. Above 95% "Zyklon B"
comes in the camp really been used for the destruction of bedbugs as disease vectors.

For the first time for the mass destruction of people, "Zyklon B" was applied in September 1941 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, on the initiative of the first deputy camp commandant Karl Fritzsche, to destroy 900 Russian prisoners of war. The camp commandant Rudolf Hoess approved the initiative Fritzsche, and then specifically in Auschwitz (and later, and not only in Auschwitz), this gas was used to kill people in the gas chambers. In the main, the Jews.

But Haber know about it will not. But his son from his first wife, Herman, who immigrated during the second World War in the U.S. knew who invented the deadly gas that killed millions of people. As well as known by many in the United States. In 1946, the German as his mother commits suicide.

In 1933, after Hitler came to power, Haber's position has become more precarious than because he was a Jew (not by profession, but by birth.) One of the first actions of the Nazi government was legislating civilian Code does not allow the Jews in the service of academic and government institutions. Because Haber was in German service during World War II, it was made for an exception, but on April 7 of that year, he had to lay off 12 of its own staff of Jews. Haber was very upset because of the dismissal of their own colleagues nationality and soon he sent a letter of resignation.

"For more than 40 years of service I picked up their employees for their mental development and the like, not on the basis of the origin of their grandparents — he wrote — and I do not want the last years of my life to change this principle." His resignation was accepted on April 30, 1933.

Haber moved to the UK in Cambridge. But to work there he did not work out. Ernest Rutherford gave him a uniform baiting, which resulted in a heart attack. Then the chemist and the future first president of Israel Chaim Weizmann offered Gabery work in the Palestinian research institute in Rehovot, Daniel Siff (later renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science). And in January 1934, Haber sails away to Palestine.

OH died at age 65, January 29, 1934, in time rest stop in Basel (Switzerland).

Epitaph to all that is written can serve Haber said that "the welfare and prosperity of mankind requires the cooperation of all nations that complement each other and the natural wealth of scientific expertise." Sounds more than peculiar.

And life is full of contradictions, and the activities of the All-known figure of the same science and industry provides much food for thought and can serve as serves as a lesson to future generations of scientists.

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