I am sorry if this seems a ghoulish question. However, German scientist Fritz Haber (1860-1934), winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and co-inventor of the Haber-Bosch process to make nitrates for fertilisers and explosives, during World War I helped the German war effort by inventing poison gas. He continued to work in that field after the War, inventing the poisonous gas Zyklon B, intended for pest control but later used by the Nazis in World War II to gas Jews to death.

Despite Haber's service to his country in war time, once Hitler came to power Haber was driven out of his job and into exile, dying in 1934. Haber was Jewish by race, although he did not practice Judaism.

A sad story that becomes sadder. According to his Wikipedia article relatives of his such as nieces and nephews and their children died in concentration camps during Hitler's genocidal attempted 'final solution' to the 'Jewish Problem'. However, it does not say, and other information I have found on the internet is vague as to whether they died of hunger or maltreatment or whether, ultimate cruel irony, did any of them die in the gas chambers?

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    It seems they may well have done. In Daniel Charles' book Master mind : the rise and fall of Fritz Haber he states: "Members of Fritz Haber's extended family, children of his sisters and cousins, were hauled to those camps and killed, poisoned by the fruit of their famous relative's research" (p246), but the book gives no further details. Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


That is indeed quite probably the case.

Fritz Jacob Haber was for example

Half brother of Elsbeth (Else) Caroline Freyhahn; Helene Weigert and Frieda Glücksmann

While Frieda Glücksmann died in Jerusalem 1946, her daughter Hilda

Hildegard Kuttner (Glücksmann) died March 02, 1943 (38), Oświęcim (Auschwitz)

And on Yad Vashem this is confirmed.

The date is instructive as the calendar records this data:

Main page > History > Auschwitz Calendar > 1942

  • Beginning of the year – Start of mass extermination of Jews in the gas chambers.
  • March – Start of deportation to Auschwitz of 69,000 Jews from France and 27,000 Jews from Slovakia.
  • 1 March – Auschwitz II-Birkenau starts functioning.


September 17, 1941 - Beginning of general deportation of German Jews.

Taken together the dates suggest that not the general deportation of 'German Jews' was the most likely cause of death. Those 'German Jews' were in contrast to those from other countries not intended to be put to death immediately, but to be shipped to Lithuania as a temporary measure. Since local commanders did not get the order from Himmler to spare them — at least long enough so that they could write home describing their wonderful working conditions in the East — most of those arriving early were simply shot in mass executions. So many German speaking Jews disappearing quickly and en masse were then still considered some kind of possible publicity problem.

The time suggests more that the industrialised gassing was the ctual cause of death, after still surviving 'German Jews' were sent into extermination camps…

Dieter Freyhahn, son of half-sister Caroline, died 1945 in concentration camp Dachau.

One problem with HCN gas was that it was odorless and colorless. As a consequence, some people unknowingly exposed to HCN gas died. To prevent accidental exposure, Haber and his team added cyanogen chloride, a benign chemical that gave the gas a foul odor. The foul-smelling preparation of Zyklon was called Zyklon A. In 1920, the inventors of Zyklon A moved to another institute, although Haber still retained an association. There, they developed Zyklon B, later used by the Nazis to kill more than a million Jews in concentration camps, primarily Auschwitz and Treblinka. (The Nazis removed the cyanogen chloride so that those being gassed wouldn’t know what was coming.) Several of Fritz Haber’s relatives died there, including the daughter of his half sister, Frieda (Hilde Glucksmann), her husband, and their two children.
— Paul A. Offit: "Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong", National Geographic Books, 2017.

The same information is repeated in
— Dietrich Stoltzenberg: "Fritz Haber: Chemist, Nobel Laureate, German, Jew", Plunkett Lake Press, 2019 .

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