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World Bank Economist Hans Adler, 83

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 12, 2005; Page B06

Hans A. Adler, 83, a senior economist at the World Bank, died Jan. 29 of pneumonia while on vacation in Captiva, Fla. He also had dementia. He was a resident of McLean.

A refugee from Nazi Germany, Mr. Adler came to Washington in 1951 to join the Office of Management and Budget as an economist. He briefly worked in the Kennedy administration as an assistant to Theodore C. Sorenson, special counsel to the president, on tariff and trade policy.


Hans A. Adler, shown about 1987, was a World Bank expert on the economics of transportation projects. (Family Photo)

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In 1961, Mr. Adler joined the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, one of five constituent bodies of the World Bank. He became an authority on transportation projects and, for a time, was the bank's chief transport economist. He later directed the Eastern Africa Projects department.

A tireless traveler, Mr. Adler took a two-year leave of absence from the World Bank in the late 1960s and moved his family to Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to expose his children to another culture. While there, he worked for the Harvard Advisory Group to Pakistan, assisting the Pakistani government in transportation planning.

After retiring from the World Bank in 1986, he served as a consultant, including advising the Ministry of Finance in Poland. He taught economics at George Mason University from 1987 to 1989.

The son of two doctors, Mr. Adler was born in Mayen, Germany, and moved as a boy to Cologne. To avoid growing anti-Semitism in Germany, his parents sent the young Mr. Adler to boarding schools in England and Belgium.

The rest of his family was able to escape the Nazi regime because of an agreement Mr. Adler's father had with a Gestapo colonel. The doctor would not tell the colonel's wife that he was treating the couple for syphilis if the colonel would give the Adler family enough warning to leave Germany in safety. They fled in 1937 and moved to New York.

Mr. Adler graduated from Cornell University in 1941, received a PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1944 and was granted U.S. citizenship. He was an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and also worked under economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1945 with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, studying the effect of Allied bombing on the German aircraft industry.

He served in the Army Air Forces from 1946 to 1948, working in Berlin to help reorganize Germany's banking system.

In 1951, Mr. Adler graduated from Harvard Law School and moved to Washington. He and his wife lived in the District for two years before moving to McLean, where they lived in a house whose modern design was featured in newspaper articles.

Mr. Adler wrote two books, "Sector and Project Planning in Transportation" (1967) and "Economic Appraisal of Transport Projects" (1971).

He enjoyed travel, reading and languages. In 1960, he taught himself Russian and moved to the Soviet Union for several months to mingle with the people. On his return, he wrote an article for U.S. News & World Report titled "How to Talk to the Russians." Besides Russian, he spoke German, French, Spanish and English.

A son, Michael Adler, died in 1996 while playing tennis with Mr. Adler at the home in McLean.

Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Mary Jo Rice Adler of McLean; three children, Joan Adler of Greenfield, Mass., Tina Adler of Cabin John and Ken Adler of Falls Church; a sister; and five grandchildren.


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