Erwin Tepper was born on November 14, 1931 to Juda Ber Tepper and Schifra (nee Heller) Tepper in Vienna, Austria. His parents were originally from Galicia, his father from Stryj (present-day Stryi, Ukraine), and his mother from Dolina. His parents moved to Vienna so Juda could pursue a university education, but he ended up working in a retail store selling women's lingerie, eventually becoming a manager. Following the German annexation of Austria in 1938, and the imposition of anti-Semitic laws, the Teppers sought to emigrate, as several of Juda's siblings lived in the United States and Argentina. In 1939, when they learned that an American couple, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, were planning to bring 50 Jewish children from Austria to the United States, Juda and Schifra applied to have their son Erwin accepted as one of this group, and he was. Erwin left Germany in May 1939, on the S.S. President Harding, and when the ship stopped in Southampton, England, he was able to meet with his father, who had left for Britain shortly before. Erwin and the other children arrived in New York in June 1939, and spent the summer at the Brith Sholom children's camp near Philadelphia. At the end of the summer, Erwin went to live with the family of his father's sister, Blima Eigenmacht, in the Bronx, New York. Schifra joined her husband in Britain in late 1939, and both of them subsequently arrived in New York by early 1941, reuniting with Erwin. By summer 1941 the family moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Juda obtained a job in a women's coat factory. After completing high school, Erwin went to Yale University, where he obtained a bachelor's in zoology in 1953, and then went to medical school in Switzerland at the University of Basel, from which he obtained a doctor of medicine degree in 1959. He met his future wife, Silvia, while in Basel. They married in New Haven in 1960, and raised three children. After service in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s, Erwin Tepper pursued a career as a radiation oncologist, holding positions at a number of hospitals, including the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he worked from 1970 until his retirement in 1994. He was elected a fellow of the American College of Radiology in 1989.