unknown otto


Over the next two decades, Otto, in chronological order, (1) got a business degree in Paris; (2) studied at the London School of Economics; (3) fought for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War; (4) earned a doctorate in economics at the University of Trieste while acting as a courier for the Italian anti-Fascist resistance; (5) served in the French Army during its futile defense against German invasion; (6) biked and walked to the unoccupied Vichy southern France where, under the alias Albert Hermant (and the nickname Beamish, for his ingratiating manner), he helped spirit Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall and thousands of other refugees from Marseille to the United States; (7) made his own way to New Jersey, where he changed his name to Albert O. Hirschman; (8) continued west to the University of California, Berkeley, where he wrote his first book and met his wife-to-be, a beautiful French-Russian refugee who had been a favorite student of Simone de Beauvoir in Paris; (9) volunteered for the American Army, ending up as a translator for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the C.I.A., and serving as interpreter for a German general in the first Allied war-crimes trial; (10) worked for the Federal Reserve in Washington as a top adviser on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe; and, (11) driven from employment in cold war Washington by suspicions about his colorful past, moved with his family to Bogotá in 1952 to advise the Colombian government on behalf of the World Bank.

more from Justin Fox at the NY Times here.