Born and grew up in Koningsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Forced out of his hometown by 1944 wartime bombing, his family managed to take refugee ships and trains to Rostock, Germany. He went to a boarding school in nearby Ludwigslust and soon learned that his parents had fled Rostock without him. Attempting to join them in the west, he was turned back by the Russians and went to Berlin instead. There, he lied to the American occupying army that his grandfather was American and that therefore he, Eugen, claimed American citizenship. This got him through the lines and he eventually rejoined his family in the little town of Gross Offenseth.