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Bernard Eckstein Collection Addenda

Identifier: AR 25795

Scope and Content Note

The Bernard Eckstein Addenda Collection holds the papers of the chemist Bernard Eckstein and his family members; while much of the collection focuses on his early life, emigration, and military service, the collection also documents the lives of his family members, including his brother, parents, aunts, and uncles. The collection includes official and personal documents, scrapbooks, family correspondence, biographical and autobiographical narratives, photographs, military documents, newspaper clippings, and other documents.

Documentation about the life of Bernard Eckstein will be found in both of the collection's series. About half of the collection's first series holds papers of his, with documentation of his early life in Ulm; his education in Ulm and at the Bunce Court School (also called New Herrlingen) in Kent, England; his emigration and studies in the United States; and his experiences in the United States Army during World War II. Much of this information will be found in the two scrapbooks of Series I, although also prominent in the series is family correspondence, including letters he sent home while in the army and more recent correspondence with younger family members about his experiences. Photographs and official documents are also part of this series. Series II consists of various narratives about him, including two volumes created by him about his life with narration, documents, and photographs; a very detailed interview of him; and shorter articles written by him about his experiences and his family's history.

Prominent in this collection are also the documentation of Bernard Eckstein's brother, Otto Eckstein, and his parents, Hugo and Hedwig (née Pressburger) Eckstein. This documentation is located in Series I and includes their official documents such as birth, marriage, or death certificates, or passports. Texts of eulogies or memorials for Hedwig and Otto Eckstein are also present, as are a few military documents of Hugo Eckstein and a folder of documentation related to the family's emigration. Photographs of them may be found in the pages of Bernard Eckstein's scrapbooks of Series I and among his biographical volumes of Series II. Information on the lives of his immediate family will also be found in Bernard Eckstein's narratives in Series II.

Other documentation in this collection pertains to more distant family members. Series I includes some documentation on Bernard Eckstein's paternal uncle Albert Eckstein and his wife Erna as well as Bernard Eckstein's maternal uncle Milton Pressburger and aunt Paula Wilson; a smaller amount of material on more extended family is also present in Series I, as are family trees. Bernard Eckstein's narratives in Series II also provide further details on the family members featured in this collection.


  • Creation: 1872-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1938-1946; 1990-2012

Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Reserve" button.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Hans Bernhard Eckstein was born on December 19, 1923 in Ulm, Germany, the eldest son of Hugo Eckstein and his wife Hedwig née Pressburger. Their second son, Otto, was born in 1927. Hugo Eckstein was head of the Malzfabrik Winkler, a factory in Ulm that produced malt and grain products. Hans and Otto Eckstein attended the Realgymnasium Ulm. In 1937 Hans had to leave the school due to being Jewish, as did his brother in 1938.

Hugo Eckstein's sister Fanny had married Max Oettinger, who lived in London (they later changed their surname to Osborne). After Hans and Otto were forced to leave school their parents sent them to their aunt and uncle in England, who enrolled them in the Bunce Court School (also known as New Herrlingen), a school largely attended by German-Jewish refugee children in Kent, England. In Ulm, Hugo Eckstein was forced to sell his factory and applied for American visas for the family. In November 1938 he was arrested; in April 1939 Hugo and Hedwig left Germany to join the family in England to wait for their visas to America, which were sponsored by a cousin of Max Oettinger, with financial assistance sent to them by Hugo's brother Albert Eckstein, a physician who had gone with his wife Erna to Ankara, Turkey.

The Eckstein family left England on December 16, 1939, sailing to New York, and first settled in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, New York, where Hans—now known as Bernard Hans Eckstein—attended Newtown High School. At first the family had a difficult time supporting themselves: Hedwig Eckstein found work cleaning offices and Bernard and Otto sold magazines; eventually Hugo Eckstein found work as an elevator operator. In 1940 the family moved to the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, and Bernard found work after school at a grocery store. In 1941 Bernard graduated from high school and found work as a lab technician. His employer offered to pay for Bernard to study chemistry in evening classes at New York University.

In 1942 Bernard Eckstein volunteered for the military and began active duty on March 20, 1943. The following August he became an American citizen. In the army he became part of the 528th Field Artillery Battalion, arriving in France in February 1945. While in occupied Germany he visited Ulm, which had been heavily damaged during the war. In August 1945 his unit returned home; by February 1946 he was separated from the army. His brother Otto joined the army a few days after Bernard's return home.

After the war Bernard studied chemistry at Princeton University, where he also once had a meeting with Albert Einstein, another former resident of Ulm. He attended graduate studies at Cornell University, receiving his doctorate in chemistry in 1953. In 1957 Bernard joined Union Carbide's research laboratory, Parma Technical Center in Parma, Ohio; he remained with Parma until his retirement in 1986. His work from 1957-1960 was a joint project with the Polaroid Corporation to develop a high intensity bulb for use in automobile headlights, film projectors, and stadium lighting. From 1960-1966 he worked to develop a process for the electrodisposition of refractory metals from molten fluoride baths. Thereafter his work primarily related to aspects of the carbon fibers and composites industry.

In 1958 Bernard Eckstein married Sheila Rubin, who he had met via his brother's fiancée. The couple lived in Cleveland, Ohio.

Like his brother, Otto Eckstein also attended Princeton University after his military service, where he studied economics. He later attended Harvard University, where he became a professor of economics for 33 years. In 1959 he was technical director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress; from 1964-1966 he was a member of President Lyndon Johnson's Council of Economic Advisers. From 1959-1980 he wrote several economic reports for the U.S. Congress on such topics as employment, price levels and inflation, and tax policy. In 1968 he helped found Data Resources, Inc., which became the largest economic consulting firm in the United States.

Bernard Eckstein visited his birthplace of Ulm several times, including at the invitation of the city in 1997 and in 2012, when the city's new synagogue was dedicated.

Bernard Eckstein died in Ohio on November 27, 2017 at the age of 93.


0.75 Linear Feet


The Bernard Eckstein Addenda Collection focuses on providing documentation of the life of the chemist Bernard Eckstein, especially his early life in Ulm, Germany, his education in England and the United States, and his military service during World War II. Documentation of the lives of his parents, brother, and other family members are also present. The collection includes official and personal documents, scrapbooks, family correspondence, biographical and autobiographical narratives, photographs, military documents, newspaper clippings, and other documents.

Related Material

Related is the Bernard Eckstein Collection, AR 25296, also available in the LBI Archives.

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection, the folders of the collection were divided into series based on content. The folders were placed in alphabetical order based on their titles.

Guide to the Bernard Eckstein Addenda 1872-2018 AR 25795
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2019
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Bernard_Eckstein_Addenda.xml

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States