Bosch, Carl

(1874-1940)
   chemist and industrialist; helped create IG Far-ben.* Born in Cologne, he was a nephew of the industrialist Robert Bosch.* He studied metallurgy and engineering before taking a doctorate in chemistry at Leipzig. In 1909, as a promising young metallurgical engineer with BASF (Bad-ische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik), he was asked to devise a method for mass-producing ammonia, which Fritz Haber* had just synthesized. Given unlimited resources, he built a chemical plant at Oppau (near Ludwigshafen) and by 1913 was mass-producing Haber s ammonia. It was largely for this process that, eigh-teen years later, he was the first engineer awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
   Among BASF s stars, Bosch was elected to the company s board of directors. When Walther Rathenau* became head of the War Materials Department in the war s early stages, he asked Haber and Bosch to assist in the development of gunpowder. In an early prototype of the Manhattan Project, Bosch focused BASF on the extraction of saltpeter from ammonia, thereby saving the army from the embarrassment of running out of gunpowder. In 1916 he built a new factory in Leuna for the production of synthetic nitrate. (He later regretted pro-longing the war.)
   As new chairman of the BASF board, Bosch served as an industrial expert at Versailles.* In 1924 he persuaded the board to accept the proposal of Carl Duisberg,* head of Bayer, to fuse Germany's six largest chemical firms. Fol-lowing protracted discussions between the six companies, Bosch became man-aging-board chairman in December 1925 of the newly incorporated IG Farben.
   During the war Friedrich Bergius had contrived a process for converting coal into synthetic gasoline. The discovery so captivated Bosch that in the late 1920s he perilously strained the resources of IG Farben by investing millions in a huge synthetic-gas plant in Leuna. Although he eventually mass-produced gasoline, thereby helping convince the Nobel Committee to award him the chemistry prize, the coincidental discovery of vast oil reserves in the Middle East turned his factory into Europe s largest white elephant.
   While Standard Oil of New Jersey eased his predicament by purchasing patent rights to Farben s synthetic-fuel research, Bosch s error had important political consequences. Counted among industry s most vocal anti-Nazis, he supplied the NSDAP with five hundred thousand marks once Hitler* came to power—more than any other German industrialist. It seems that he closed a Faustian bargain with Hitler that allowed him to salvage the biggest venture of his tenure with IG Farben, the Leuna gasoline plant. Yet he struggled to keep his distance from Nazi racial policies. In 1938 he succeeded Max Planck* as president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society.*
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Borkin, Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben; Mann and Plummer, Aspirin Wars.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Bosch, Carl — SUBJECT AREA: Chemical technology [br] b. 27 August 1874 Cologne, Germany d. 26 April 1940 Heidelberg, Germany [br] German industrial chemist who developed the industrial synthesis of ammonia. [br] Bosch spent a year as a metalworker before… …   Biographical history of technology

  • Bosch, Carl — ▪ German chemist born Aug. 27, 1874, Cologne, Germany died April 26, 1940, Heidelberg  German industrial chemist who developed the Haber Bosch process for high pressure synthesis of ammonia and received, with Friedrich Bergius (Bergius,… …   Universalium

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