Born in Potsdam, German Empire, he had a strong family background of astrophysicists and astronomers.
He taught a wide variety of courses specializing in the societies and popular cultures of Western, Central and Eastern Asia. He was especially interested in Chinese folklore, popular literature, Turkish history, minorities and local cultures in China and the relations between the Chinese and the peoples of Central Asia. Eberhard entered Berlin University in 1927 where he focused his attention to classical Chinese and Social Anthropology. Because Berlin University, where Eberhard studied, did not offer instructions on colloquial Chinese, Eberhard enrolled secretly and simultaneously at the Seminar for Oriental Languages.