All photos courtesy of the Archive for the History of the Max Planck Society, Berlin-Dahlem (Germany)
This is the earliest available
image of Fritz Haber. It's a portrait of a motherless child.
His mother Paula died a few days after he was born. His
father Siegfried remarried when Fritz was seven years old.
1891, at the age of 22, Fritz Haber graduated from Berlin's
university. He was an adequate yet undistinguished student,
and after graduation he had difficulty for a time gaining a foothold in
the academic world.
Clara Immerwahr, who married
Fritz Haber in 1900, is a fascinating historical figure in her own
right. Like Haber, she grew up within the Jewish community of
Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). She became the first woman to
obtain a doctoral degree in chemistry from Breslau's university.
When she married Haber and joined him in Karlsruhe, where he'd obtained
an teaching job, she was forced by circumstances to abandon her
Fritz Haber's successful synthesis of ammonia in 1909,
capturing nitrogen from the air, brought him fame and wealth. In
1911, he moved to Berlin to head the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for
Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry. In Berlin, he came
friends with Albert Einstein.
When war broke out,
Fritz Haber became a central figure in Germany's war effort. He was the
driving force behind Germany's use of poison gases on the
battlefield. Here, we see him in uniform, pointing toward
an array of artillery shells.
Haber's wife Clara had long been unhappy in her
marriage. In 1915, just a few days after Haber orchestrated
Germany's first poison gas attack, she killed herself with her
husband's military handgun. In 1917, Fritz Haber married Charlotte
Nathan, the business manager of a social club where he was a member.
This photograph shows Haber and Nathan, together with Haber's son
Hermann (left), immediately after the marriage ceremony.
Fritz Haber in 1928, on the
occasion of his 60th birthday.