Erich Karl Wilhelm Schoenberg (27 December 1882 Warsaw – 25 January 1965 Brannenburg) Acting Director in 1915-1918

Schoenberg was born in Warsaw to the family of a high school teacher of Latin and Greek as the sixth child of seven children. He graduated from high school in the year 1900 and entered the School for Naval Engineers, working at the same time in a ship-building company in Riga. In 1902-05 he studied mathematics at Warsaw University until 1905 when the university was closed because of the student unrest. Schoenberg continued to study mathematics in Strasbourg and Tartu graduating in 1907.

In 1907-13 he worked as an assistant at the Tartu Observatory. In 1912 he defended his Doctoral thesis on the orbits of binary stars. Then in 1913-1915 he worked as an observer in Tartu and in 1915-1918 had the responsibilities of the director.

Schoenberg’s scientific activities in Tartu were connected with the research devoted to the changes of geographical degrees of latitudes (with the help of the Repsold zenith telescope), the expedition to Riga for observing the full solar eclipse in August 1914, the microphotometric works for measuring the distribution of brightness of planets (with the help of the Zeiss telescope). On the same theme he published his research paper in Finland.

Schoenberg succeeded in getting the post of an astronomer-geodesist in the department of topography of the General Headquarters of the Estonian Army. In May 1919 the Maritime Observatory of Tallinn headed by Schoenberg started its work. The task of the observatory was to forecast weather for seafarers and keep up the time service. When in December 1919 the national Estonian Tartu University had started its work, it was found that the Maritime Observatory was a luxury for the young Estonian state and it was closed. The time service and weather forecasts had to be given to the Tartu Observatory. The transfer of properties came to an end on 28 August 1920, most of it was given to the Tartu Observatory and a smaller part to the Hydrography Board. In the summer of 1919 Schoenberg together with Hjalmar Mäe made a proposal to the municipal government of Nõmme (near Tallinn) to establish an observatory in the Glehn park but it was not approved.

In 1920 Schoenberg left Estonia for Finland and supervised geodetic work there for four years. In the years 1925-26 he was the head of the Greifswald Observatory and in 1926 he was appointed to the post of the director of the Breslau Observatory (now Wroclaw). After World War 2 the area of Breslau went to Poland and the local German population was moved over to the territories in the hands of the Allies. Schoenberg received the post of the director of the Munich Observatory which was under the control of Americans. Schoenberg worked there until 1955. During the years of retirement he published the correspondence between director Boguslavski of the Breslau Observatory and Gauss which he had saved from the archives of the Breslau Observatory.