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Haber, Fritz


German chemist Fritz Haber, b. Dec. 9, 1868, d. Jan. 29, 1934, won the 1918 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his discovery of a method for synthesizing ammonia by combining atmospheric hydrogen and nitrogen under high pressures. Using this method, Germany was able to keep making explosives during World War I after the Allied blockade had cut access to Chilean nitrate deposits. Haber's work further opened the way for the manufacture of synthetic fertilizers as well, one of his long-term interests.

During the war Haber also played a major role in developing poison gases for the Central Powers. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry, under his direction from its foundation in 1911 (see physics, history of), became a leading research center, but because he was Jewish he was forced to leave both the institute and Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933.

John T. Blackmore
Further Reading:

Goran, Morris, The Story of Fritz Haber (1967).

James, Laylin K., ed., Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, 1901–1992 (1993).

Stern, Fritz, Einstein's German World (1999).

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