Dr. Eric Diment, Research Chemist for Verona Dyestuffs, 1967 Photo Taken at Service Awards Dinner Honoring 25 Years of Service
Nazi Germany was a dangerous place for Jewish scientists in the 1930s. The Civil Service Law enacted in 1933 required the dismissal of non-Aryans from public positions. As a consequence, Jewish academics were removed from their positions. The expelling of Jewish intellectuals took place in every country conquered by Hitler. Many Jewish chemists and biochemists emigrated to the United States, including Nobel Prize Laureates such as Konrad Bloch and Otto Meyerhof.
One of the chemists who fled was Dr. Eric Diment who worked for Verona Dyestuffs and its predecessor Pharma Chemical Corporation. Diment was born February 2, 1907. He left Germany in the 1930’s, moving first to Italy and then to Greece, Turkey, Thailand, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He always stayed one step ahead of the Nazis. He worked as a chemist in China, either for a Chinese company or possibly for the U.S. Army at the beginning of World War II.
Diment eventually made his way to the United States, first to the West Coast and then to the East Coast. He changed his name legally in the U.S. to Diamont and then back to Diment. In 1941 he was interviewed for a job by Dr. Eugene A. Markush, head of Pharma Chemical of Bayonne, New Jersey, and his senior chemists Dr. Mark Mayzner and Julius Miller. Diment was hired as a research chemist on September 30, 1941. A colleague recalls that he had a well-tailored wardrobe of shirts and suits custom made while he was in China.
For many years, Diment was head of the Finishing R&D Laboratory located at the Bayonne Plant 2 facility on East 2nd Street. He worked in the area of vat and disperse dyes, developing formulations for easily dispersible powders and pastes. There were several chemists in his group, including Dr. Peter Drenchko who previously worked for General Aniline. Diment spoke with a German accent, which seemed to reinforce his talents and reputation as a skilled dyestuff chemist. He had a formal, quiet type of personality and was very pleasant to work with.
The Veranthrene and Resolin dyes made in Bayonne were transferred to Verona’s new plant in Charleston, South Carolina by the mid-1970’s. Diment retired around that time. He suffered a tragic death on April 30, 1989 at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey. He was making a pot of tea when his bathrobe was ignited by the kitchen stove. Diment was survived by his wife Herta and a son.
1) Yael Epstein, "Jewish Refugee Chemists from the Nazi Regime: Adjustment and Jewish Identity in the United States"; paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Washington, D. C., December 18-20, 2005
ColorantsHistory.Org thanks Vincent Daniel, retired director of personnel for Verona Dyestuffs, for his remembrances of Dr. Eric Diment.