Henry Kissinger life and biography

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Henry Kissinger biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Fürth, Germany
Nationality : German-American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-05-12
Credited as : Political scientist and diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State, Nobel Peace Prize

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Henry Alfred Kissinger (born May 27, 1923), is a German-born American political scientist, diplomat, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After his term, his opinion was still sought out by many following presidents.

A proponent of Realpolitik, Kissinger played a dominant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977. During this period, he pioneered the policy of détente with the Soviet Union, orchestrated the opening of relations with China, and negotiated the Paris Peace Accords, ending American involvement in the Vietnam War. His role in the bombing of Cambodia and other American interventions abroad during this period remains controversial.

Kissinger is still a controversial figure today. He was honored as the first recipient of the Ewald von Kleist Award of the Munich Conference on Security Policy and currently serves as the chairman of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting firm. Kissinger was the "most frequent visitor" to the George W. Bush White House as an unofficial political adviser on Israel and the Middle East—including the Iraq War.


Although he had been a professor of Government at Harvard, Henry Kissinger would become internationally recognized for his efforts in multifarious international plans that most often led to open communication and peace between the United States and other countries. His career spanned several presidential elects and his goals, no matter the conflict, all had the thread of careful reaction and interaction that would allow a compromise and not war to be the new end goal.


Young Henry came to the United States from Germany as a teenager when his family feared they would be persecuted under the Nazi regime. Within a few years, he became a citizen and studied business and accounting at the City College of New York. In World War II, he served in the U.S. Army and helped put together the post-war military government in Germany. He returned to the United States to attend Harvard where he received his Ph.D. and thereafter became an instructor.


While at Harvard, he worked with the Defense Studies Program and served as a consultant with several U.S. Agencies. In 1957, his Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy won him recognition because through academics he proved why Secretary of State John Dulles and his proposal of a strong nuclear attack on the Soviet Union was not a tactical or sound idea. He believed in weapons development, but that it should be limited with other requirements. His 1960 book entitled The Necessity of Choice talked of a missile gap between the two super powers if it wasn’t carefully controlled.


Under President Nixon, Henry Kissinger was put as the head of the National Security Council and was later made the Secretary of State in 1973. Through the Nixon administration and others that followed, he was directly involved in associations with China, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and the Middle East. He helped to establish an agreement between Pakistan and India, and would play a key role in the settling of Vietnam. Kissinger helped negotiate a cease-fire between the two sides, in which he was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the Vietnamese negotiator, who declined the honor. Kissinger went on to serve under President Ford and later became a consultant and writer. His latter books are American Foreign Policy and For the Record, both bestsellers in their own right.



Public perception

Kissinger, like the rest of the Nixon administration, was unpopular with the anti-war political left, especially after his central role in the US bombing of neutral Cambodia was revealed.

However, few doubted his intellect and diplomatic skill, and he became one of the better-liked members of the Nixon administration, though many Americans came to view Kissinger's talents as increasingly cynical and self-serving. Kissinger was not connected with the Watergate scandal that would eventually ruin Nixon and many of his closest aides, and this greatly improved Kissinger's reputation as he became known as the "clean man" of the bunch.

At the height of Kissinger's prominence, he was even regarded as something of a sex symbol due to his prominent dating life. He was quoted as saying "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac".

Subsequent to leaving office, numerous efforts have been made to charge Kissinger personally for the perceived injustices of American foreign policy during his tenure in office. These charges have at times inconvenienced his travels.

In film & television

Kissinger has shied away from mainstream media and cable talk shows. Recently, he granted a rare interview to the producers of a documentary examining the underpinnings of the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt entitled "Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace". In the film, a candid Kissinger reveals how close he felt the world was to nuclear war during the 1973 Yom Kippur War launched by Egypt and Syria against Israeli forces in the territories Israel occupied from them as a result of the 1967 War.

Awards, Honors, and Associations

In 1973, Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, "intended to bring about a cease-fire in the Vietnam war and a withdrawal of the American forces," while serving as the United States Secretary of State. Unlike Tho. who refused it because Vietnam was still at war, Kissinger accepted it.

On January 13, 1977, Kissinger was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford.

In 1995, he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1998, Kissinger became an honorary citizen of Fürth, Germany, his hometown. He has been a life-long supporter of the Spielvereinigung Greuther Fürth football club and is now an honorary member. He served as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary from February 10, 2001 to the Summer of 2005.

In April 2006, Kissinger received the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Center of the Smithsonian Institution.

In June 2007, Kissinger received the Hopkins-Nanjing Award for his contributions to reestablishing Sino–American relations. This award was presented by the presidents of Nanjing University, Chen Jun, and of Johns Hopkins University, William Brody, during the 20th anniversary celebration of The Johns Hopkins University—Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies also known as the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

In September 2007, Kissinger was honored as Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City. He was celebrated by tens of thousands of spectators on Fifth Avenue. Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl was supposed to be a co-Grand Marshal but had to cancel due to health problems. Kohl was represented by Klaus Scharioth, German Ambassador in Washington, who led the Steuben Parade with Kissinger.

Kissinger is known to be a member of the following groups:

- Bohemian Grove
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Aspen Institute
- Bilderberg Group

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