Modernity’s Mutable Angel of Life and Death
Part II : Killing Millions
Every living creature was susceptible to the horrific effects caused by the chemical weapons used during the First World War, hence protective measures needed to be enforced on both soldier and donkey alike.
“Death is Death, no matter how it is inflicted.”
– Fritz Haber
The Angel of Death Passes Over Flanders Field
April 22, 1915
Western Battle Front
Haber was as nervous as he was excited standing in his fur overcoat with his trademark cigar fixed in the corner of his mouth. He raised his arm slowly, about to give the signal to release the “secret weapon”. Operation: Disinfectant was about to commence.
For nearly three weeks he hovered in the trenches on the Western Front, waiting for the best possible weather conditions but the only constant associated with Springtime in the Low Countries was consistently bad weather accompanied by ever changing winds. This particular spring day, however, was not only clear with excellent visibility, the winds were sailing exactly where Haber needed them to go – North by Northwest.
With a large wave of his arm, while saying the words, “Gott Strafe England.”, “God Punish England.” Haber could hear the closest of the 5,730 canister valves being opened followed by the high thin pitch of wild hissing. Within moments a vast thick cloud colored in a sickly shade of greenish yellow made its lugubrious way towards the conglomeration of British, French, and Algerian troops.
The cloud’s heaviness was evident by the way it was temporarily halted as it reached the other side’s trenches before slowly dripping downwards into the man-made furroughs as if actively searching for prey. Leaves and grass instantly withered and turned metallic grey upon making initial contact with this thick deadly man-made fog.
Curiously, the enemy showed no signs of activity at first but then screams could be heard. Screams of pain racked agony.
Canadian troops were stationed nearby but the landscape was raised where their trenches were, giving them a clear view of the nightmare that was about to take place. They too looked on with amused curiosity when the greenish yellow cloud first appeared but ran in a state of frenzied panic when they bore witness to the horror that was unfolding not so far away.
Men were choking to death as if being strangled from inside. Their faces turned black while saliva, mucous, puss and vomit freely flowed from their mouths. Many dropped dead instantaneously, those who didn’t could be seen ferociously trying to tear off their shirt or collar in a futile attempt to gasp for air despite being internally drowned from their lungs being flooded with torrents of mucous, blood, and phlegm.
The sight was so horrific that some of the Canadian soldiers could not stop running even after being some distance away. Overcome with terror, many ran for their lives until they reached the streets of Ypres striking wild fear in the hearts of the few residents who had decided to remain in the war-ravaged Belgian village.
Fritz Haber watched grinning from ear to ear, thoroughly pleased. Operation: Disinfectant was a success.
Long range view of Operation: Disinfectant
When lethal gas was first executed as a weapon of warfare during the First World War in April of 1915, over one hundred and fifty tons of compressed chlorine gas were released by the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary upon the battle field and trenches sided by the Allied Forces of Great Britain, France, Canada, and Algeria. This initial “test run” that was designed and overseen by German chemist Fritz Haber killed more than 5,000 men that spring afternoon and injured countless others.
The man who had created this latest version of Hell on Earth insisted to his military commanders that gas warfare would accelerate bringing an end to the war. Haber could not have been more wrong.
With lightning fast reaction the Allies developed their own gas weapons as well as came up with effective gas mask protection to quickly catch up with the temporary lead the Central Powers had over them, bringing the pulse of War to a massive military stalemate as before. The Great War would stagger on for another 3 and ½ years with millions more lives of soldiers on either side of the battle field along with the lives of a vast number of civilians being lost.
Gas warfare did not hasten the 20th century’s first global conflict to its completion, rather it perpetuated the military stalemate by making either army unable to advance with each side barely gaining any advantage whenever one would surprise attack the other with their chemical weapon of choice.
The aspect to the Great War that chemical weapons did accelerate and did so with brilliant efficiency was increase the overall sense of terror which accompanied any and all warfare associated with this conflict, since it was everyone’s worst nightmare to die by drowning in one’s own bodily fluids while standing on the dry, scorched soil of the blood soaked battle field.
The Scientist who Hailed from Prussia
One of History’s greatest statesmen and military leaders was Prussian general, Otto von Bismarck.
Fritz Haber came from an area of Germany whose people were known for their sense of discipline and military-like daily regimen due to their regional army being one of the most well reputed in the world – Prussia.
Much like the residents of modern day Israel, throughout the 19th century all Prussian men were required to do one year of compulsory military service upon reaching the age of 18. This Fritz Haber did with enthusiastic vigor, but unlike the rest of the academics around his age, Haber’s required military service began and ended without a promotion or raising of rank. Fritz was convinced the only reason why he didn’t advance within the Prussian Army was because of his Jewish heritage.
With the intent of not letting his Jewish background get in the way of any prospects involving either his academic career or future interactions with the military, Haber was baptized a Lutheran soon after completing his military service.
For Fritz, being a Jew was a surface association in name only, not by creed, regimented practice, nor lifestyle. A sentiment that would be in fundamental opposition with the world around him in his later years. As he saw it, he was a German first and foremost, in particular, a Prussian. So when War broke out in the summer of 1914, Haber did what any good Prussian would do – the man devoted every waking minute to the War effort to ensure victory for the Fatherland.
This is reflected in the quote he is remembered most for saying:
“During Peace time a scientist belongs to the world, but during War time, he belongs to his country.”
– Fritz Haber
Many within his field could not have wholeheartedly disagreed more with Haber’s stance on Science’s role in times of War, such as his good friend Albert Einstein, who said on numerous occasions during both World Wars that his only allegiance was to being a Pacifist.
As the First World War raged more and more, so too did Haber’s zealotry for his country. Despite it being clearly obvious how much his patriotic drive was dividing him between long standing colleagues like Einstein and even his own spouse, Fritz Haber’s fervor for the Fatherland was undeterred.
Haber’s blinding sense of nationalism can be seen in his natal chart:
In Part I, it was mentioned how the two signs of the Zodiac which have the greatest propensity for displaying patriotic behavior are Cancer and Sagittarius.
Along with being born with his Sun in Sagittarius Fritz Haber also had his natal Saturn conjunct his Sagittarian Sun. This planetary interaction fits succinctly with a person whose mother died while giving birth to him and he perceiving his very existence was to blame for his mother’s death, as seen from the perspective of his father.
As discussed in Part I, Haber’s Sun Saturn conjunction was a factor which for the duration of his life drove him to always be “proving” himself to others. This was initially displayed by his being a constant workaholic but this motivational force was triggered into overdrive with the arrival of War.
The Peace Loving Moon Opposed by a War Mongering Neptune
Ironically, Fritz Haber was born with his Moon, the astrological representation of a person’s internalized emotions, being placed in the Peace-loving sign of Libra. But that one feature unto itself changes dramatically when observing Haber’s Moon is in opposition with his natal Neptune placed in the sign of War, Aries.
Neptune’s influences have been likened to the capabilities of a blind person. Even though their eyes do not function, their other senses become heightened to compensate for the blind person’s inability to see. With Neptune placed in the sign ruled by the ancient god of War, Aries, Haber’s nagging inadequacies of self brought about by his Sun Saturn conjunction had found a unifying rallying point when his country declared War in 1914. A rallying point to which he devoted all of his Sagittarian energies towards, which in turn caused his sight to be blinded whenever dealing with the realities which were placed directly in front of him.
And what stood directly in front of Fritz Haber’s far sighted view of the laurels of German victory was the person closest to him who opposed his efforts more than anyone else – his wife Clara.
Clara Immerwahr Haber
Clara Immerwahr Haber was a formidable force of intellect unto herself and was born under her husband’s polar opposite sign of Gemini. Like her husband, she too was scientifically brilliant and a chemist, being the first woman in Germany to be awarded a doctorate degree in the field of Chemistry. Like Fritz, she too was born Jewish but converted to Christianity taking the same stance as her husband, that her heritage could not get in the way of her academic career. Clara did not foresee what actually would get in the way of her promising path in academia was being a wife to Fritz Haber and mother to his child.
Clara declined Fritz’s first proposal of marriage wanting to maintain her independence both financially and through the discoveries she made in her own scientific research but succumbed to Haber’s impassioned request for her hand a second time when she ran into him at a scientific conference a few years later.
In the beginning of their marriage, Clara maintained her well-earned reputation by continuing to give lectures in the latest developments within the field of Chemistry but ceased doing so upon learning the general academic consensus which presumed her lecture material was entirely of her husband’s making and overall direction.
Clara was aware Fritz was a workaholic but nothing could prepare her when war broke out in Germany. Not only was her husband never home, Clara was stunned to discover his energies were all being spent in the creation of chemical warfare.
Being a noted promoter of women’s rights and a pronounced pacifist, the astrological polar opposition between Clara and Fritz had manifested to include a stark chasm between their core principles as well. Clara saw no other choice than to publicly denounce her husband’s efforts for Germany’s War Department. She accused Fritz of perverting the ideals of Science which she was quoted as stating that in her opinion was,
“…a sign of barbarity, corrupting the very discipline which ought to bring new insights into life.”
Her public protests incensed Fritz, but this in turn only made him concentrate his energies for the War effort with an even greater intensity.
Despite not communicating for nearly a month due to being on the battle lines of the Western Front, Fritz finally contacted Clara announcing that not only was Operation: Disinfectant a success but he had finally gotten his long overdue promotion within Kaiser Wilhelm’s army with his efforts earning him the rank of Captain. And for that, he told his wife they were throwing a dinner party in his honor at their home when he returned.
The date for the festivities was set for the evening of May 1st, 1915.
Clara was beside herself. It was bad enough “Captain Haber” had to repeat telling every newly arriving guest the gruesome details of overseeing the deaths of some 5,000 men but even worse, those whom he bragged to enthusiastically approved of his actions and congratulated him for such fine patriotic work being so well done!
In the middle of the celebratory dinner, Clara had a break down. In front of all their guests she directly confronted Fritz asking how he could live with himself knowing thousands had suffered and died so horribly by his own hand. Clara then threw her gauntlet of expertise down before all who were present. She wasn’t like everyone else attending the party, i.e. people with no knowledge of scientific matters. She too was a scientist and one with an advanced degree in Chemistry at that. No one else present at the party may have been aware but she was fully cognizant of the unthinkable effects concentrated amounts of chlorine gas had on the human body and knowing that, she could not fathom that her husband had allowed that to end so many innocent human lives.
Indignant and thoroughly embarrassed, Fritz rose to his feet and before all present called his wife’s accusations “treasonous”, further stating he believed he was married to a traitor of the state causing Clara to storm off to her bedroom.
Guests were still hastening to leave the ill-fated party when a gunshot rang out from the back of the house.
Clara Haber had taken her husband’s pistol, walked into their back garden and shot herself in the heart. The Habers’ 13 year old son Hermann was the first to reach her as his mother lay dying in a pool of her own blood. She was 44 years old.
Fritz left his son to deal with arranging his mother’s funeral since he was scheduled to oversee administering Operation: Disinfectant to the Russian troops on the Eastern Front and promptly left early the following morning.
Fritz Haber seen above with pointed arm as he directs German soldiers on the Eastern Front where to position the many canisters of chlorine gas to be used against Russian troops.
Fritz would remarry a little over two years later to yet another Jewish woman who had converted to Christianity named Charlotte Nathan in 1917. His wedding picture below shows him proudly wearing his military uniform and helmet as a captain in Kaiser Wilhelm’s army.
Wedding photo of army Captain Fritz Haber marrying his 2nd wife, Charlotte Nathan in November of 1917.
Clara’s suicide can be interpreted through Haber’s birth chart with his natal Venus, the planet of Love positioned in Scorpio directly opposed by Pluto, the planet of death, placed in the sign when Clara’s death took place of Taurus.
Fritz Haber oversaw numerous gas attacks on both of Germany’s battle fronts. It was his devotion to making sure his weapons of war were being properly utilized for maximum killing potential that forced him to miss a major award ceremony in his honor.
Ironically, in the last year of the Great War, its Angel of Death was awarded the highest accolade in his field when Fritz Haber was bestowed 1918’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his earlier work in ammonia synthesis which served humanity to continue feeding the world’s populace.
It’s still said no other bestowment of this most highly esteemed of intellectual awards had been more controversial within the Prize’s entire history than that which was given to Fritz Haber.
A Swedish stamp commemorating the winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the year 1918 – Fritz Haber
The Hubris of Patriotic Science
A final aspect to Fritz Haber’s natal chart must be mentioned – his conjunction of the planet Uranus with the asteroid Ixion in the sign of Cancer.
The planet Uranus rules over all of the Sciences as well as intellectual genius, especially when applied to the creations of invention. When Fritz Haber was born his individualized mental genius represented by his natal Uranus was next to the asteroid Ixion. Ixion was a mortal man in Greek myth who committed crimes such as murder and theft and felt no remorse for his deeds because, as he saw it, they were committed due to a sense of personal need.
Wherever the asteroid Ixion is located in any given person’s birth chart it represents the area of Life where we have an unknowing sense of Hubris. The asteroid indicates behavior that’s considered offensive to the Gods, which we are not aware of and most of the time don’t think we’re doing anything wrong in the first place.
Take Ixion’s astrological meaning, add it to Uranus and its association with Science and Invention and place the two together in the sign of Home, country, and patriotism, Cancer and the end result is Fritz Haber, mortal man, German, and man of Science.
Fritz Haber truly felt that any and all contributions from Science, (most especially his in particular) that were created for patriotic purpose was always a good thing. Questioning the essence of these contributions was tantamount in Haber’s mind to accusing the scientist who created them of being disloyal or unpatriotic.
Why Ixion wasn’t aware his actions had offended the gods was due to his perspective being thoroughly personal and stemming from an individualized need with no consideration given to anyone else.
For Fritz Haber, devoting his energies to the design of chemical warfare was all driven out of personal need. His Sun Saturn conjunction had made him question his own sense of self since birth and the war effort was the perfect outlet for him to prove his self-worth to both father and Fatherland, alike and most importantly to himself.
To question his actions was being, as he accused his own wife on the night she took her life, “treasonous”.
But with his Moon or emotional self being placed in Peace loving Libra, I firmly believe Haber at his core knew the difference between patriotism and zealotry. However Neptune’s natal positioning in the war mongering sign of Aries not only made him indifferent to others who opposed his actions, it literally blinded his overall judgement so that he was unaware of anyone harboring opinions which differed from his own.
Fritz Haber was chemical warfare’s most ardent supporter for reasons all of which were thoroughly false. He managed to convince Germany’s top military leaders to allow gas attacks on the battle field because he adamantly insisted chemical warfare would be the determining factor that would break the stalemate between the Allied and Central Forces and in effect would bring a swift end to the war. As was already stated, the war dragged on for another 3 ½ years.
Overall, Gas warfare was one of the most inefficient and temperamental weapons utilized during the Great War. A strong change of breeze could easily move the deadly gas away from the enemy and back over into the encampment of whomever originally released it. This occurred on more than one occasion with scores of German soldiers dying due to not being quick enough to grab their protective gear upon realizing they were in the midst of the gas they had just released.
Although less than 1% of those who died during the First World War did so from gas warfare, its effects were so gruesome and its scars and injuries so horrific and long lasting, that the presence of chemical weapons was completely absent during the global conflict which followed the Great War. Being himself temporarily blinded for months after a mustard gas attack while an infantry soldier on the Western Front, even Adolf Hitler maintained his end of the deal when both the Allied and Axis forces agreed to refrain from utilizing chemical weapons of any kind throughout the duration of the Second World War.
The United States was the last country to take arms during the Great War and did so towards the tail end of the conflict. The painting above is by the great American portrait artist, John Singer Sargent and realistically depicts one of the first scenes he encountered upon arriving in France as a newly enlisted young American soldier tossed into the battle field of the Western Front – lines of “Tommies” aka British soldiers where the blind were being led by the blind due to all of them losing their sight after a mustard gas attack. The piece entitled “Gassed” was painted by Singer Sargent in 1918 and is on display at the National World War I Memorial Museum in Kansas City.
Stupefyingly, even after witnessing first hand soldiers suffer horrible deaths from being gas attacked Fritz Haber brainwashed himself into believing that death by chemical warfare was “ethical and humane” by virtue of the minimal time it took to kill a person.
The scientist clearly did not take into consideration the excruciating physical pain experienced when a person is initially exposed to lethal gas that’s caused by internally drowning in their own phlegm and blood.
Haber’s sense of blind patriotism soon enough became mirrored in everyone else around him but with one exception:
He was now seen as the enemy.
The same year Haber was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918 was also when the Fatherland lost the Great War and had to pay dearly in reparations for its defeat. This in turn created the perfect atmosphere for a group of violent thugs who called themselves “Nazis” to take over German society and its government by blaming every slightest problem on a particular group of people they openly scapegoated.
A group of people whom Fritz Haber belonged to in name only – the Jews.
To the Nazis, it did not make an ounce of difference that Fritz Haber was a Nobel Laureate and a decorated war veteran who ended the world population crisis by single-handedly inventing liquid ammonia to come out of the air or even that he was now a Lutheran. All they knew or cared about was one thing.
He was a Jew.
Who a person had made themselves to be in the present time and what they had achieved in their own individual right didn’t matter to these people. It was all about where you came from and whether your people were the right kind.
In 1933, Fritz Haber had no choice but to flee the country he loved so dearly and accomplished so much for. The country that now considered him an enemy of the state. Upon leaving his beloved Fatherland, Fritz was stunned to discover no one in his profession wanted to work or even be associated with the morally bankrupt monster whom they now called “The Father of Chemical Warfare”.
He died of a heart attack not too long thereafter.
The Lasting Effect of Haber’s Hubris
Fritz Haber’s hubris left its mark on Humanity at large by interweaving the darkest of legacies back and forth between the man’s family and his people.
Fritz and his first wife Clara had one child together, their son, Hermann. It was mentioned how at age 13 Hermann was the one to find Clara after she shot herself in the chest. Eerily the Habers’ only child embodied a strong karmic imprint from both his parents. Like Fritz, Hermann would become a chemist after emigrating to the United States. Tragically in 1946, Hermann Haber would commit suicide and at the same age as his mother did 30 years earlier at 44 years old.
Hermann had 3 daughters, naming his eldest child Claire after his mother. Claire Haber would suffer the same fate as that of her father and her namesake when she, too, took her own life in 1948.
Fritz Haber’s most profound Twist of Fate
Part of Germany’s defeat in losing the First World War was having to pay huge financial reparations to the Allies. Acting as if his country’s massive debts were actually his own, Fritz Haber pushed his inventive mind to come up with as many alternatives as he could to make the most of the excess gas supplies as well as earn money to help pay off his country’s debts of defeat.
One of these gas alternatives created by Haber around 1927 was an industrial pesticide called Zyklon A, a powerful chlorine disinfectant that could be used in the de-lousing and cleansing of entire buildings. Because Zyklon A was lethal if breathed in at close range, Haber designed the gas to have a sweetly singed smell of “burnt almonds and marzipan” as a cautionary warning of the gas’ lethal properties.
After Haber had fled Germany, the Nazis raided his office at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and came across his instructions on how to make the pesticide along with test samples of the gas.
This same gas was produced by the Nazis in vast amounts to be used in extermination camps using Haber’s exact formula with one exception. The gas was slightly changed with the Nazi version renamed Zyklon B and was mass manufactured in a form that was odorless so the millions who perished on their way to the gas chambers would be left unaware they weren’t walking into a shower room but instead to imminent death.
A canister of the deadly gas Zyklon B initially created by Fritz Haber and used in the gas chambers of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The Prussian scientist will be forever linked with the people he tried to disassociate himself from not only because the majority of people who suffered from Nazi hatred were Jewish but also because the millions of victims who died in the gas chambers lost their lives through the implementation of a chemical gas initially created by Haber, himself.
And to put everything under a big picture perspective of the blackest karma, some of those same victims whose last moments in life were spent choking to death in a room filled with a lethal gas created by Fritz Haber were Haber’s actual relatives, including his niece and nephew and their two children.
The name of Fritz Haber may be forgotten in the present day but the tragic life of the man who acted as Modernity’s Angel of both Life and Death serves as a cautionary example for the world to mark and remember – Nothing and no one on this plane of existence should ever warrant blind allegiance from us if we wish to maintain our humanity as a societal whole and our very souls themselves as living beings on this planet.
*Brad Kronen’s book “Love in the Stars” published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Inc. is available for purchase at your local book seller or online at amazon.com at the link listed below.