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He studied mathematics and physics in Zurich and Berlin between 1886 and 1890. In 1892, Behn-Eschenburg worked at Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon, where he became chief electrician (1897-1911), director (1911–1913), director General Technical (1913-1928) and Administrative Counselor (1919-1938). Oerlikon was prominent in the construction of single-phase motors with commutators for traction. He died on 18 May 1938 in Küsnacht.
Behn-Eschenburg gave his name to a vector diagram for synchronous reactance.