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Saviour of humanity or war criminal? A new play about Dr Fritz Haber

BREAD FROM AIR – the strange case of Dr Fritz Haber

This is the title of my fifth play about the extraordinary Nobel Prize Laureate German scientist who, more than anybody else, is the most emblematic and controversial  figure of the Janus face of science  in the modern age. It was he who produced ‘bread from air’ by discovering the procedure of making ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen. His genius thus saved billions of lives, for ammonia is the basic substance of fertilisers. During World War One he experimented with and introduced poisonous gases in the battlefield and in doing so, opened a new devastating chapter in warfare: the use of weapons of mass destruction. He was immensely successful and at one stage he was one of the most powerful men in Germany at the heart of the country’s war effort.

His personal life was equally controversial and strewn with personal tragedies. His first wife, Clara Immerwahr, a doctor of chemistry herself committed suicide on the night of a party celebrating the successful use of chlorine, a toxic gas, released in the trenches of Ypres. His second marriage to Charlotte Nathan, the manager of his Berlin club also ended in divorce. Being a Jew  he converted to Protestantism but this did not prevent his fall when the Nazis came to power in 1933.

The play follows Haber’s rise from being a little known chemist in a provincial university to the pinnacle of German academic life. It was the arrival of a young English scientist, Robert Le Rossignol from University College London which accelerated Haber’s career on the way to the Nobel Prize and is the starting point of the play.

Honours for Holocaust education


In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List Peter was awarded a British Empire Medal ‘for services to Holocaust education and awareness.’ The Investiture had been postponed more than once, but finally it took place on 27 September 2021 in Westminster Abbey. That some restrictions had to be observed, as a result of the pandemic, made the occasion even more moving to the occasion

Tissot Play Goes to Tate Britain

On Monday 5 March 2018 a rather unusual event happened at Tate Britain. After the venerable museum closed its doors to the public, and reopened to a group of special friends, a rehearsed reading of Peter Lantos’s fourth play, Light and Shadow took place in the Tissot Room of the exhibition of Impressionists in London.

This play was written well before the exhibition was even conceived, but its presentation in a room full of Tissot’s pictures was an extraordinarily happy coincidence. The play is the story of Tissot’s extraordinary love affair with Kate Newton – the muse of many of his paintings – a beautiful, divorced, Irish Catholic with an illegitimate child. Their love survived the official prejudices of the puritanical Victorian era and only ended with Kate’s premature death. Tissot, the most successful chronicler of London’s social life left for Paris after three days of mourning, never to return.

The play was directed by Sarah Berger in the production of the So and So Arts Club. Ben Porter played Tissot, and Georgie Oulton was Kate. Other actors included Jessica Claire, Nigel Fairs, Sian E Green and George Potts.


Rehearsed reading Peter’s third play, Stolen Years

Despite the inclement weather of freezing cold and icy snow on 1 March 2018, The Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden, London was full for the first rehearsed reading of Stolen Years. The play reflects the febrile times of 1989 on the eve of the collapse of Communism in Hungary. Four friends meet in an apartment in Budapest after thirty years. One of them, Robi has returned from New York where he fled after the failed Revolution of 1956. His arrival revives painful memories of deceit, torture and lies, and triggers the uncertainties of the future.

The play was directed by Dave Spencer in the production of the So and So Arts Club. The cast included Kate Harper, Keith Hill, Tony Keetch and Louise Templeton.

Article in the Guardian about a remarkable book SURVIVOR

The Weekend Magazine of the Guardian’s 14 January 2017 issue had an interview with six Holocaust survivors, including Peter Lantos; each accompanied by portraits from Harry Boden’s book, Survivor published by Cassell. The beautifully produced book, with a forward by Howard Jacobson is a collection of 102 portraits, each accompanied by a few sentences written by the subject in their own handwriting and complemented by brief biographies at the end. Harry is an internationally known portrait photographer who worked on this project for years and the result is moving; uplifting rather than depressing. The Guardian