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Anniversary of Prof. K Haber's Death

Nature volume 135, pages 176177 (02 February 1935) | Download Citation



TUESDAY, January 29, was the anniversary of the death in Switzerland of Prof. Fritz Haber, and a memorial ceremony at which certain of his distinguished German scientific friends were to speak had been arranged by the Kaiser Wilhelm-Gesellschaft in co-operation with the German Chemical Society and the German Physical Society. It was to have been held in the Harnackhaus, than which no more appropriate surroundings could have been found, and a pleasant impression had been made among Haber's friends that these three great German scientific societies were prepared to honour so soon the memory of one of their greatest members, though he had been among those men of science who had given up their positions through the political changes in Germany. The Prussian Minister of Education, however, in a letter dated January 17, addressed to the rectors and teaching staff of the universities, has expressed surprise and disapproval of this proposed memorial. According to this circular, Prof. Haber was dismissed on October 1, 1933, on account of a proposal which could only be regarded as showing his opposition to the measures taken by the National-Socialistic State. The ceremony seemed to the Minister to constitute a challenge to the State, particularly since such memorials were to be held in honour only of the Very greatest’ Germans. The circular consequently concludes by forbidding all officials and all other members of staffs or institutions under the Ministry from attending the ceremony. It is difficult for scientific workers outside Germany to understand why a Minister of State should prohibit the commemoration of the great services rendered to that country and to the world by Haber, or what must be the feelings of the members of the societies concerned with the organisation of the proposed ceremony. Chemists and physicists throughout the scientific world acknowledge Haber's work as epoch-making, and Germany should be proud to cherish his memory. Truly in his case the Prussian Minister of Education now makes it clear that, officially, “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and in his own house”.

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