The Introduction from The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman

An excerpt from Jeremy Adelman's biography of Hirschman, over at Princeton University Press:

In early April 1933, a spasm of anti-Semitic violence rocked Berlin. Thugs beat Jews in the streets. Shops owned by Jews were looted and burned. Hitler slapped restrictions on Jewish doctors, merchants, and lawyers. For the Hirschmann family, well-to-do assimilated Jewish Berliners, the distress paled beside a more immediate shock. The family huddled in a cemetery as a coffin bearing Carl Hirschmann was lowered into his grave. His wife wept. His children did too. Except one. Otto Albert, known to us by a different name, Albert O. Hirschman, concealed his grief as the family bid their farewells to a father and husband.

This was not the only adieu of the day. Otto Albert, a law student at the University of Berlin and a militant anti-Nazi, was in danger. His friends were being arrested; the university was quickly becoming a hive of intolerance. So he decided to go clandestine and then leave for France. When the funeral was over, the seventeen-year-old Hirschmann announced to his anguished family that he was leaving Germany, promising to return after the passing of the storm surrounding Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power. Decades would pass before he did. Thus began an odyssey in the making of a pragmatic idealist that would send our subject across continents and languages on a journey over the frontiers ofa century’s social science.