Science in the First World War

1916

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Photo: Fritz Haber (right) in the laboratory with Ladislaus Farkas, Archives of the Max Planck Society.

Fritz Haber directed his Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Berlin-Dahlem to focus fully on military research into war gas from the very first year of the war. The institute reported directly to the Supreme Army Command from 1916. Haber himself became known as the father of gas warfare, which was to have a lasting impact on the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes in Berlin, where the workforce amounted to as many as 1500 staff. The KWI for Chemistry was also involved in the work, and scientists at the KWI for Experimental Therapy were working on the refinement of vaccines to protect German soldiers against typhoid and cholera. Most of the KWIs endeavoured, however, to continue their pre-war work, especially the institutes outside Germany, though this proved difficult.

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