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Tribute to Eric Stein


My first encounter with Eric dates back forty years. In 1971 he taught a course at the Hague Academy of International Law. At that time, I was an assistant lecturer at the University of Innsbruck, had just submitted my Habilitationsschrift to the Law Faculty there, and, while waiting for my venia legendi to come forward, I wanted to spend a few weeks at what was-and probably still is-the most exciting place for young international law scholars to get together with hundreds of like-minded individuals and some of the most inspiring teachers worldwide. Eric certainly lived up to my expectation of what a leading American law professor would be like: His lectures were sharp and challenging, as was the entire man. I remember him as prim in his appearance, crystal clear in the presentation of his subject, but what I also remember (and what in retrospect, having known Eric and his gentle, Old Worldish manners for decades, I find surprising) is that in the afternoon seminars accompanying his lectures he struck me as extremely tough in his attempt to employ what I later got to know as the Socratic method vis-ii-vis an international student population more used to looking up in awe at the great figures in the field and not daring to say a word. Well, I did not let myself be intimidated; I took the floor a couple of times and must at least have made the impression of not being too shy to survive intellectual slugouts at U.S. law schools, because at the end of one session Eric called me to the podium, inquired who I was and where I came from, and then invited me to apply for admission to the LL.M. program at Michigan. I intended to follow this up after completing my Habilitation procedure, but immediately after I had done so I was offered the Chair of International Law at the University of Munich, and so I wrote to Eric begging him to understand my career choice, which he generously did.