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Fritz Haber

The father of chemical warfare

Max von Laue

" Haber will go down as [...] the man who by this means won bread from air and achieved a triumph in the service of his nation and all of humanity."

14. Long-term impact

13. Post world war and his death

12. The greatest period of Haber`s life

11. Haber`s further career

10. Trapped in a Mysagynistic society

9. Clara Immerwahr

7. Changing religion

6. Working with his father

5. After University

4. Adult life

3. Education

2. Judaism

8. First job

1. Childhood



Dreams of a German Jew

  • Born 9.12.1868 in Breslau
  • Jewish upper middle class family
  • Siegfried and Paula were cousins
  • Siegfried Haber- Tradesman for color and chemicals
  • Mother died after giving birth
  • Father was devastated
  • Fritz was given away



  • Father remarried and had three daughters
  • Stepmother was very affectionate
  • Father could never fully accept him
  • Fritz hated Breslau
  • He was enthusiastic and funny


  • German unification 1871 Judaism changed
  • Judaism wasn`t a burden
  • National identity
  • Germany = strong industrial society
  • Some anti-jewish campaigns
  • All doors seemed open
  • St. Elisabeth School in Breslau
  • Suffered from anxiety
  • Desire to go to university
  • Wanted to study chemistry
  • Siegfried disapproved, prefered him to take over the family business
  • Siegfrieds cousin convinced him


Tried becoming an officer, passed initial test but was rejected


Military service in Preslau

1891 -1894


Received doctorate from Carl Liebermann

Went to university in Heidelberg and Berlin(didn`t like it)

1886 -1891


Richard Abegg

Adult life

  • Richard Abegg introduced him to physical chemistry
  • Both applied to the leading teacher
  • Only Abegg was accepted
  • Felt unseen by his teachers
  • Had bigger dreams than a profession

After University

  • Had no concrete plans
  • Father arranged appointments with his business partners
  • Got an impression of modern capitalism
  • Went to university again in Zurich
  • Left after one semester

Working with his father

  • Returned to Breslau to work with his father
  • Disagreed on everything
  • Fritz convinced Siegfried to buy chemicals against cholera
  • Cholera breakout was smaller then expected- the chemicals were useless
  • Siegfried was furious- threw him out
Changing religion
  • Moved to Jena
  • Got baptised by the leading church
  • Wanted to become more "german"
  • Turned his back on his father
  • His father was deeply hurt
  • Strong loyalty towards his fatherland

First Job

  • 1894 Fritz Haber got a job as an assistant at the Karlsruhe University
  • He was very ambitous but didn`t take criticism well
  • Felt unneeded in Karlsruhe
  • Knew what people said about him through Richard Abegg
  • Abegg (teacher) introduced him to Clara Immerwahr

Clara Immerwahr

visited University lectures

educated by private tutors

became the first woman having gotten a doctor in chemistry in Germany

gratuated Gymnasium

both grew up in Breslau

Trapped in a misogynistic society

  • marriage in August 1901
  • Fritz continues his research
  • provocation of a crisis
  • became a professor's wife
  • couldn't persue her intellectual passions

Haber's further career

  • continued to work at university
  • wasn't an ,,ordentlicher'' professor
  • nitrogen crisis
  • invented the Haber-Bosch process in 1909
  • duty to the German Reich

the first gas attacks from the Germans in Ypres

suicide of Clara in May 1915

gas warfare as a symbol of union

testing of toxic chemicals mid-December

beginning of the development of gas weapons

nitrate shortage two months into war in September 1914

World War I and the use of chemical warfare

The greatest period of Haber's life

Post-world war and his death

-rising of national socialism in Germany -boyott of Jewish businesses-Haber didn't want to leave -left Berlin on August 3rd

-fear of warcrime procecution-won Nobel Prize in 1918 -fall of the Reichsmark -idea to save the economy -plans fail

-physical collapse in Switzerland -exile in England -death on January 29th 1934

1. saved millions of lifes with the extraction of ammonia2. revolutionized chemical warfare3. indirectly helped to kill millions of people

Long-term impact

Thank you!

https://www.stoccolmaaroma.it/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Fritz-Haber.jpgBuch: Master Mind by Daniel Charles






Photos in chronological order: