Heinz Haber (May 15, 1913 in Mannheim – February 13, 1990 in Hamburg) was a German physicist and science writer who primarily became known for his TV programs and books about physics and environmental subjects. His lucid style of explaining hard science has frequently been imitated by later popular science presenters in Germany.
Heinz Haber was born in 1913. His father, Carl Haber, was director of "Süddeutsche Zucker AG", now known as Südzucker. His older Brother Fritz Haber was an Aerospace engineer.
He started studying physics in Leipzig, Heidelberg and Berlin 1932. In 1933, the year of its formation, he joined the Fliegersturm der SS, an organization that allowed him to learn flying as a fighter pilot. 1934 he interrupted his studies to volunteer in the German Airforce, Luftwaffe, partaking in several deployments. At the end of this part of his military service he was promoted to ltd. of the reserve. He continued his studies obtaining his doctorate, Haber voluntarily participated in World War II for the German Luftwaffe as a reconnaissance aviator in the 2. Staffel der (Nah-)Aufklärungsgruppe 41, which was active in the Invasion of Poland and later the eastern Front. He served the until he was shot down and wounded 1942, shortly after being promoted to captain. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class (1939) and 1st Class (1940) during his service. He returned to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik, where he headed a small Potsdam-based division constructing a diffraction spectrograph.
After the end of the war, Haber — as well as several other Germans involved in military research like Wernher von Braun — was targeted by the Operation Paperclip with the aim of denying scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and bringing researchers and scientists to the United States; Ultimately this operation resulted in a considerable contribution to the development of NASA. Haber at first stayed in the American occupied zone of Germany and lectured at Heidelberg. However, in 1946, he emigrated to the United States and joined the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Air Force Base. Together with fellow German Hubertus Strughold, he and his brother Dr. Fritz Haber (April 3, 1912 – August 21, 1998) made pioneering research into space medicine in the late 1940s. The brothers proposed parabolic flights for simulating weightlessness.
In 1952, he became associate physicist at UCLA; in the 1950s, Haber eventually became the chief scientific consultant to Walt Disney productions. He later co-hosted Disney’s Man in Space with von Braun. When the Eisenhower administration asked Disney to produce a show championing the civilian use of nuclear power, Heinz Haber was given the assignment. He hosted the Disney broadcast called Our Friend the Atom and wrote a popular children’s book with the same title, both of which explained nuclear fission and fusion in simple terms. General Dynamics, a manufacturer of nuclear reactors, sponsored Our Friend the Atom and the nuclear submarine ride at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.
In the 1960s and 1970s, he was known in Germany as a popular science spokesperson and wrote magazine columns and numerous books and presented his own TV programs like Professor Haber experimentiert, Das Mathematische Kabinett, Unser blauer Planet, Stirbt unser blauer Planet?, Professor Haber berichtet, and WAS IST WAS mit Professor Haber. He was founding editor of the German science magazine Bild der Wissenschaft from 1964 to 1990. His memorable experiments included one where the onset of a nuclear chain reaction was simulated with hundreds of mousetraps, each one having been loaded with two ping pong balls.
Heinz Haber had two children, Kai (born 1943) and Cathleen (born 1945), from his first marriage, and a third child, Marc (born 1969), from the second. His first wife Anneliese lived and son Kai lives in Tucson, Arizona, his second wife Irmgard in Hamburg, Germany.
Connection to War crimes
Haber was a member of several Nazi organizations, although not the NSDAP. Testimonies portray Haber as an avid supporter of Hitler and the Third Reich. He collaborated with Hubertus Strughold, who had at least knowledge of these[clarification needed] crimes. They share authorship and several years of work experience on the topic of low pressure experimentation. Haber also quoted data gathered in the deadly experiments without raising any ethical issues in his writings. During his lifetime he never spoke out against these methods of his peers even though the fact that they happened was public knowledge after the Nuremberg medical trials. His claiming to have had a long desire to emigrate to the USA in an interview for Operation Paperclip while also applying for a professorship in Germany is one of several indicators historians point to, labeling him as an adaptive opportunist.
- This image is a detail from a larger photograph, which may be seen at the article on Willy Ley.
- 2. Medien. Historiografien Populären Wissens (in German), Böhlau Verlag, 2014-12-31, p. 31, doi:10.7767/boehlau.9783205793267.28, ISBN 978-3-205-79326-7, retrieved 2020-12-13
- Lebenslauf Habers in Haber, Heinz: Über den Energieaustausch zwischen Translation und Rotation durch Stöße. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde. Sonderdruck aus der Physikalischen Zeitschrift 40/17 (1939)
- Heumann, Ina (31 December 2014). "Medien. Historiografien Populären Wissens". Gegenstücke (in German). Böhlau Verlag: 28–110. doi:10.7767/boehlau.9783205793267.28.
- Henry L. deZeng IV, Douglas G. Stankey (2017). "Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries, Section G–K" (PDF; 5,2 MB). p. 233. Retrieved 2020-12-13.
- James, Jeremiah; Steinhauser, Thomas; Hoffmann, Dieter; Bretislav, Friedrich (2011). One hundred years at the intersection of chemistry and physics: the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, 1911-2011. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 117, 127. ISBN 978-3110239539.
- Linda Hunt. (May 23, 1987). "NASA's Nazis". Literature of the Holocaust. http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/Holocaust/nasa-nazis.html. Linda Hunt. Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991).
- Buettner, K. J., & Haber, H. (1952). The aeropause. Science. 115: 656-657.
- Editor. (19 November 1951). Science: The Unfriendly Aeropause. Time. New York.
- White, C.S. & Benson, O.O. (1952). Physics and medicine of the upper atmosphere: a study of the aeropause. University of New Mexico Press, 1952.
- Haber, Fritz; Haber, Heinz (1950). "Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Journal of Aviation Medicine. 21 (5): 395–400. PMID 14778792. Summary of the article: Campbell, Mark R. (2009). "Classics in space medicine. Possible methods of producing the gravity-free state for medical research". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 80 (12): 1077. doi:10.3357/ASEM.26010.2009. PMID 20027862.
- Eric Schlosser. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) pg. 39.
- In Walt Disney's film Our Friend the Atom, Haber is the science presenter (see ). While explaining a chain reaction, the camera travels over a field of mousetraps, all ready to close and throw two ping pong balls in the process (see a resume in "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-12-28. Retrieved 2009-02-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)).
- Linda Hunt (1991), Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, New York: St. Martin's.
- Eric Schlosser (2001), Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Manfred Gross (2013), "Sterne, Menschen und Atome - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Heinz Haber" (German), Mannheim. Available at Karl-Friedrich-Gymnasium Mannheim, Stadtarchiv Mannheim - Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Planetarium Mannheim, Freundeskreis Planetarium Mannheim e.V.