Eric Pachner was born in 1928 in Vienna, Austria. His, mother Elsa, and father, Robert both lacked a high school education, but they had a comfortable, middle class life.
His family was not very religious, and they only attended their Synagogue on high holidays. Eric received his Jewish education from public school. While he enjoyed playing with his schoolmates, he spent a good deal of time with his family. Every Saturday night they would go to his grandmother’s house for dinner and would also frequent sidewalk cafés with his aunt and cousins. Prior to the invasion, Eric did not recall anti-Semitism directed toward him.
In 1938 when the Nazi’s annexed Vienna, Robert immediately lost his job and the family had to give up their home. Strict food rations took effect. Eric’s father narrowly avoided arrest by the SS. After obtaining visas, Eric and Elsa fled Vienna and arrived in New York City in late 1939. They were followed shortly thereafter by Robert in February of 1940. They relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1941 for better employment opportunities.
After graduating high school and becoming fluent in English, Eric worked in journalism. In 1952 he graduated from Marquette University with a business degree, and in 1953 married Patricia Pendergast who passed away 36 years later. He then met Ella, with whom he remained for 22 years until her death in 2013. He wrote an autobiography dedicated to his children and 7 grandchildren.