The Anonymous Widower

Twisted Mind That Gave Us Chemical Warfare

The title of this post is the same as that of an article by Ben Macintyre,  in today’s copy of The Times.

It is subtitled.

Fritz Haber’s pacifist wife killed herself as he plotted Great War carnage…and he picked up a Nobel price.

Fritz Haber was a brilliant chemist, described in the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entrry.

Fritz Haber ( 9 December 1868 – 29 January 1934) was a German chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his invention of the Haber–Bosch process, a method used in industry to synthesise ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. This invention is of importance for the large-scale synthesis of fertilisers and explosives. The food production for half the world’s current population depends on this method for producing nitrogen fertilisers. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid.

This description is rather stained by the second paragraph.

Haber is also considered the “father of chemical warfare” for his years of pioneering work developing and weaponizing chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I, especially his actions during the Second Battle of Ypres.

Ben Macintyre feels strongly about Haber and finishes with this paragraph.

Rescinding Haber’s Nobel prize will not stop Assad from killing his own people with poison bombsbut it would be a profound symbolic expression of the moral revulsion over the misuse of science so dramatically demonstrated by Haber’s wife a century ago.

I don’t know whether Nobel prizes can be rescinded, but the article is a very informative read about the origins of chemical weapons.




April 14, 2018 - Posted by | World | , , , ,


  1. At the time Germany was at war and Haber was a loyal citizen. In the context of the appalling casualties in early trench warfare the use of non lethal chlorine to force men out of the trenches and to surrender. It also clogged the enemies rear with temporarily disabled men. Sadly as the war progressed the gases became more noxious – phosgene, mustard etc. – these cause agonising injuries and victims were often permanently damaged (including my great uncle, who died of respiratory problems just a few years after WWI).

    Subsequently even more toxic agents were developed – G series in the 1930’s, V series in the 1950’s and most recently the Soviet / Russian Novichok agents. It is sad that some of the greatest advances achieved by human ingenuity have been in developing ever more deadly methods of killing each other.

    Comment by Mark Clayton | April 14, 2018 | Reply

  2. The guy who split the atom says he regretted when he found it was being used as a weapon. I am sad and angry today; especially when I heard Teresa May saying the incident in Salisbury was part of the reason she went ahead with the bombing.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | April 14, 2018 | Reply

    • David Lammy is a respected Labour MP. He said this about drug gangs.

      In my travels in Eastern Europe, you often come across locals, who are very wary of the Russians.

      Comment by AnonW | April 14, 2018 | Reply

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