Fritz Haber began studying chemistry in Berlin in 1886. He did his military service, continued his studies in Heidelberg and Zurich, and received his doctorate in 1881 in Berlin with a thesis on organic chemistry. As early as 1904, he was working on ammonia synthesis, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918. Together with Carl Bosch, he developed the Haber-Bosch process from 1909, which was patented a year later. Applications included the production of explosives and fertilizers.
He is regarded as a scientist who is as controversial as he is brilliant, as he also played a key role in the development of poison gas weapons during the First World War. The use of poison gas in violation of international law was instigated by Haber himself. He was commissioned by the Supreme Army Command to carry out the ammonia synthesis process on an industrial scale, and from 1914 he worked as head of the “Central Office for Chemical Affairs” in the German War Ministry. Thus, on April 22, 1915, he personally supervised the first German gas attack near Ypres.