Chemical Warfare — An Anniversary

With the current controversy in Syria over the use of chemical weapons it is fitting to note that the first effective use of poisonous gases in warfare was 102 years ago today.  (It had been tried without success in Poland the previous January.)

On 22nd April 1915, the Germans opened 6,000 cylinders of chlorine gas at Ypres. In very short order, more than 1,000 French and Algerian troops were dead and another 4,000 were wounded. The genie was literally out of the bottle and we haven’t looked back since.

Both the wife and son of the man who created the gas, Fritz Haber, committed suicide in shame. Undeterred, he would go on to help develop Zyklon-B, the Nazi’s death-camp gas, before himself falling foul of the Nazi’s anti-Jewish racial laws.

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