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Otto Albert Hirschmann was born to a prosperous German Jewish family in Berlin. His father was a surgeon. He later changed the order of his given names and dropped the final "n" from his surname. He studied at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, the Sorbonne, the London School of Economics, and the University of Trieste, where he received his doctorate in economics in 1938. Shortly afterwards, at age 21, he volunteered to fight for the anti-fascist Republic in the Spanish Civil War. When France was occupied by Nazi Germany at the start of World War II, he joined a rescue operation in Marseilles led by Varian Fry that helped more than 2,000 Jews and other refugees escape to Spain over the Pyrenees, among them Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, and Hannah Arendt. He also fought with the French Resistance. He went to the USA in 1941 as a Rockefeller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, where he met and married his wife, Sarah Chapiro, another émigré. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, which sent him back to Europe as a translator. After the war, he worked with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC, focusing on European reconstruction under the Marshall Plan. He became a private financial advisor to the nation of Colombia in 1954-1956. On his return to the USA, he began a 30-year career as an academic, holding a series of appointments that blended economics, politics, and culture at Yale, Columbia, Harvard, and the Institute for Advanced Study. Prof. Hirschman was highly influential in many fields. His writings ranged from geographically specific studies on economic development, such as Journeys Toward Progress: Studies of Economic Policy-Making in Latin America (1963) to broader works such as Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States (1970).
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