Henry Kissinger

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Henry Kissinger

In office
September 22, 1973 – January 20, 1977
Preceded by William Rogers
Succeeded by Cyrus Vance

In office
January 20, 1969 – November 3, 1975
  • Richard Nixon
  • Gerald Ford
Preceded by Walt Rostow
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft

In office
July 1, 2000 – October 1, 2005
Preceded by Margaret Thatcher
Succeeded by Sandra Day O'Connor

Chair of the 9/11 Commission
In office
November 27, 2002 – December 14, 2002
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Kean

Born 27 May 1923 (1923-05-27) (age 101)
Fürth, Bavaria, German Reich
Died 29 November 2023 (aged 100)
Kent, Connecticut, United States
  • Germany (1923–1935)
  • United States (1943–2023)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Fleischer (m. 1949; div. 1964); two children​
Nancy Maginnes (m. 1974)
Children 2
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Sergeant
  • 84th Infantry Division[1]
  • 970th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment[2]
Awards Nobel Peace Prize

Henry Alfred Kissinger (27 May 1923 – 29 November 2023), born Heinz Alfred Kissinger, was a Jewish American politician, diplomat, geopolitical consultant, and Zionist, who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.


Kissinger (left) and Klaus Schwab (center)

Kissinger was born in Fürth, Germany, emigrated to the United States in 1938, and was naturalized in 1943. He served in the US Army from February 1943 to July 1946. He graduated summa cum laude in 1950 and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1952 and 1954. From 1954 until 1969 he was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, in both the Department of Government and the Centre for International Affairs. He was Director of the Harvard International Seminar from 1952 to 1969.

For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in the Vietnam War, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under unusually controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. He has also been influential in various later presidential administrations, as a more unofficial adviser. Kissinger has been involved in numerous controversies, with leftist sources such as Wikipedia describing selected (leftist) criticisms. Kissinger was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977), the United States’ highest civilian honour, and the Medal of Liberty (1986), which was given to 10 of America’s most important foreign-born leaders.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Kissinger’s family immigrated to the United States in 1938 [...]. He became a naturalized citizen in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and in the postwar U.S. military government of Germany. After leaving the service, he entered Harvard University, where he received a B.A. (1950) and a Ph.D. (1954). In 1954 he joined the faculty as an instructor, becoming professor of government in 1962 and director of the Defense Studies Program from 1959 to 1969. He also served as a consultant on security matters to various U.S. agencies from 1955 to 1968, spanning the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Kissinger’s Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957) established him as an authority on U.S. strategic policy. He opposed Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s policy of planning nuclear “massive retaliation” to Soviet attack, advocating instead a “flexible response” combining the use of tactical nuclear weapons and conventional forces, as well as the development of weapons technology in accordance with strategic requirements. That book and The Necessity for Choice (1960), in which Kissinger limited his concept of flexible response to conventional forces and warned of a “missile gap” between the Soviet Union and the United States, had a significant impact on the activities of the Kennedy administration. Kissinger’s reputation as a political scientist led to his role as an adviser to New York governor and Republican presidential aspirant Nelson Rockefeller. In December 1968 Kissinger was appointed by President Nixon as assistant for national security affairs. He eventually came to serve as head of the National Security Council (1969–75) and as secretary of state (September 1973–January 20, 1977). Kissinger soon emerged as an influential figure in the Nixon administration. His major diplomatic achievements involved China, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, and the Middle East. He developed a policy of warmer U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, détente, which led to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in 1969. He established the pro-Pakistan policy in the India-Pakistan war of late 1971, helped negotiate the SALT I arms agreement with the Soviet Union (signed 1972), and developed a rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (1972), the first official U.S. contact with that nation since the Chinese Communists had come to power. Although he originally advocated a hard-line policy in Vietnam and helped engineer the U.S. bombing of Cambodia (1969–70), Kissinger later played a major role in Nixon’s Vietnamization policy—the disengagement of U.S. troops from South Vietnam and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces.
In 1972 Kissinger engaged in peace negotiations with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam. Believing that these negotiations had reached a successful conclusion, on October 26 Kissinger announced that “peace was at hand.” It turned out, however, that the bilateral agreement had not been approved by the South Vietnamese government, and the peace efforts once more reached a stalemate. In mid-December Nixon authorized saturation bombing of North Vietnam, but by the end of the month he had halted it, and, with progress being made in the talks with North Vietnam in Paris, on January 15, 1973, Nixon ceased all military action against North Vietnam. Just over a week later, on January 23 in Paris, Kissinger initialed a cease-fire agreement that provided for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and outlined the machinery for a permanent peace settlement between the two Vietnams. In a news conference on January 24, which clarified the main points of the agreement, Kissinger said: "The United States is seeking a peace that heals. We have had many armistices in Indochina. We want a peace that will last...therefore it is our firm intention in our relationship to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to move from hostility to normalization, and from normalization to conciliation and cooperation. And we believe that under conditions of peace we can contribute throughout Indochina to a realization of the humane aspirations of all the people of Indochina. And we will, in that spirit, perform our traditional role of helping people realize these aspirations in peace." After the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 (see Yom Kippur War), Kissinger used what came to be called shuttle diplomacy in disengaging the opposing armies and promoting a truce between the belligerents. He was responsible for the resumption of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the United States, severed since 1967. He remained in office after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, directing the conduct of foreign affairs under President Ford. After leaving office in 1977, Kissinger became an international consultant, writer, and lecturer. In 1983 U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan appointed him to head a national commission on Central America. In the 1980s he also served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy. Kissinger’s later books included American Foreign Policy (1969), The White House Years (1979), For the Record (1981), Years of Upheaval (1982), Diplomacy (1994), Years of Renewal (1999), Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century (2001), Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America’s Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War (2003), Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises (2003), On China (2011), and World Order (2014). With Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher, he published The Age of AI: And Our Human Future (2021).[3]

Bombs and Cease-Fire in Vietnam

Christmas 1972 saw heavy bombing raids carried out over the North Vietnamese capital Hanoi by American B-52 bombers. All over the world, thousands of people took to the streets in protest. The man who ordered the bombing was at the same time spearheading cease-fire negotiations. The armistice took effect in January 1973, and the same autumn Henry Kissinger was awarded the Peace Prize together with his counterpart Le Duc Tho. The latter refused to accept the Prize, and for the first time in the history of the Peace Prize two members left the Nobel Committee in protest. Henry Kissinger has a German Jewish background. The family moved to the USA after Hitler came to power. Kissinger studied history and political science and was appointed to a chair at Harvard. During the war in Vietnam he prepared the peace negotiations with North Vietnam in Paris for President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, but when the Republican Richard Nixon won the election in 1968, Kissinger changed sides and became Nixon's closest foreign policy adviser. Kissinger went in for negotiations while the USA at the same time was putting North Vietnam under severe military pressure.[4]


It was a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different culture and religion and concepts, because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that.
—Henry Kissinger, 9 October 2023[5]


  • A World Restored: Castlereagh, Metternich and the Restoration of Peace, 1812-1822 (1957)
  • Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957)
  • The Necessity for Choice: Prospects of American Foreign Policy (1961)
  • The Troubled Partnership: A Reappraisal of the Atlantic Alliance (1965)
  • Problems of National Strategy: A Book of Readings (ed.) (1965)
  • American Foreign Policy, Three Essays (1969)
  • White House Years (1979)
  • For the Record: Selected Statements, 1977-1980 (1981)
  • Years of Upheaval (1982)
  • Observations: Selected Speeches and Essays, 1982-1984 (1985);
  • Diplomacy (1994)
  • Years of Renewal (1999)
  • Does America Need a Foreign Policy?: Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st
  • Century (2001)
  • Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America’s Involvement in and
  • Extrication from the Vietnam War (2003)
  • Crisis: The Anatomy of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises (2003)
  • On China (May 2011)
  • World Order (September 2014)
  • The Age of AI: And Our Human Future (2019)
  • Co-authored with Eric Schmidt and Eric Huttenlocher
  • Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy (2022)

External links