The man who would go down in history as Henry Kissinger was born on May 27, 1923, in the German Bavarian city of Furth. His original name was Heinz Alfred Kissinger, and he came from a very well-to-do middle-class family. His father, Louis Kissinger, was a public school naturalist, and his mother, Paola Stern, was a homemaker from a wealthy farming and commercial family.
Two years after Henry’s birth, Valta, or Walter, was Henry’s younger brother. Henry and Valta, their boys, benefited from their parents’ academic and cultural endeavors. Louis and Paola, their parents, both have advanced degrees. Philosophical, historical, literary, and musical elements of high culture were all highly valued at the Kissinger residence.
The family, being middle-class, possessed a decent-sized library and encouraged Henry and Walter to hone their piano skills in the parlour in order to further their musical knowledge. Several of Kissinger’s biographers point to his forefathers’ literary and artistic endeavors as evidence of their feeling of German identity and nationalism.
But in the 1920s and 1930s, they were often the target of antisemitism despite having full civil rights as German Jews. Therefore, in this setting, families like the Kissingers could often not afford to take the chance of being openly political. Instead, they used their identification with the artistic and intellectual culture of the country as a way to celebrate their German heritage.
German Jews in Furth proceeded to live largely separate from German Christians, with Jewish groups acting as the hub of their religious, familial, and communal lives. German Jews’ quality of life improved as a result of the professional and recreational spaces’ increased integration with German society by the early 20th century. But as more Jewish families prospered and achieved professional achievement, antisemitic sentiment increased. At first, they were carried out by aggressive street gangs, but later, more structured civilian paramilitary groups—like those connected to the Nazi Party—took over.
Though Henry Kissinger has not exactly been shy when it comes to discussing his experiences growing up during the dissolution of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler’s brutal regime, he has never publicly acknowledged the influence of his early years on his later attitudes and approaches to politics or diplomacy. His early exposure to the fallacy and defeat of democratic ideals, as well as the growth of fascism and fanaticism that followed, must have had a profound effect on his future political and global outlook, according to several biographers and other historians.
Henry and Walter Kissinger attended a secular public school and did exceptionally well academically, despite the Kissinger family’s strong ties to Furth’s Jewish community. Though nothing he appreciated more, Henry’s favorite past time is watching a good football or soccer match. from a courteous, informed, and cultural standpoint.
The Kissinger family was a devout German family, yet because of their faith, they were singled out for destruction. This occurred in 1933, the year Louis Kissinger was fired from his teaching post and the Nazis took control of Germany. When the Nuremberg Laws were put into effect in 1935 and the German Jews began to face institutionalized discrimination at the hands of the state machinery, Louis’s artistic output was gone forever.
The economic boycott of the German Jewish community by the Nazis caused suffering for a number of families, including the Kissinger family. Paola Kissinger recalled the suffering twelve-year-old Henry had endured as a result of combined sports, recreation, and education being outlawed, now that educational and recreational spaces were segregated once more.
He was compelled to attend a segregated school and join a recreational sports league just for young Jewish people in order to play his beloved football. Henry later wrote off the street beatings he had received at the hands of anti-Semitic thugs as he approached puberty.
Though Sert had far less violence than any of the surrounding cities, Henry’s maternal grandparents were attacked and their home and farm vandalized as part of a massive, publicly planned pogrom in the nearby town of Leuttershausen, for example. Falkstein, Henry’s grandfather, died in Thurt after their escape.
Within seven months, his grandmother Fannishdan was brought to a temporary holding facility for the nearby Beltsek extermination camp in Izbitza, Poland, and she was never heard from again. Shortly before this incident, in August 1938, Louis and Paola Kissinger fled Germany with their 15-year-old son Henry and 13-year-old son Valter.
They fled to London, England, just three months before the horrible events of Kristalnacht, which resulted in the mass evacuation and imprisonment of Jews in camps and ghettos. By September 1938, the Kissinger family had moved to New York City after coming to the United States. Life remained difficult for them, as it was for many other recently arrived immigrant families.
Being an educated and experienced teacher and a well-liked member of a close-knit Jewish community in New York, Louis had some social capital in Germany, where employment was more readily available. But he did experience occasional unemployment in his early years. The Kissinger family had moved to a German Jewish community, but their old social support system was no longer available.
The family rented a modest apartment in the Washington Heights neighborhood, and Henry later recalled the difficulties caused by the lack of privacy in that little space. Upon visiting the family’s previous apartment decades later, he remarked, “I couldn’t believe I ever lived there.” Each Kissinger was required to work in order to support the family.
Powella sent her sons to George Washington High School, where she worked as a housekeeper and caterer. And Henry himself began working throughout the day in a factory that created shaving brushes by his sophomore year at Washington High, all the while attending classes at night. After graduating, he continued working during the day and went to City College of New York’s evening accounting studies.
Kissinger has previously broken with several of his biographers, who have highlighted his supposedly difficult and traumatic beginnings. He has repeatedly insisted that he never experienced a particularly tough or unfavorable upbringing or youth and that his parents endured far greater hardships from the family’s experiences in Germany and later in New York than he did.
He mentioned his past life under Nazi rule when he said, “I wasn’t consciously unhappy.” I wasn’t so vividly aware of what was happening. For children, those matters are not so severe. Psychoanalysis is the go-to explanation for everything these days, but I can promise you that my life is not governed by the political persecutions I endured as a child.
The family found it easier to adjust to life in New York after they joined an Orthodox Jewish synagogue nearby. With their almost exclusive housing and social life among other German Jews, most of whom still spoke and wrote mostly in German, their lives were really not that different from those of the German Jews they had left behind.
Even while anti-Semitism was widespread in American culture, compared to Nazi Germany, American society witnessed a great deal less violence against Jews. Jewish communities were consequently compelled to become more autonomous and self-sufficient. As a result, a number of biographers note that the Kissinger family never quite fit into the melting pot of American culture that Henry has frequently linked himself to.
with honor for one’s nation. He was a quiet, introverted young man who had to gradually acquire English since he didn’t know it when he got to New York. He maintained his distinct and unforgettable demeanor by never losing his strong German accent, which went hand in hand with his later development of legendary eloquence.
In the US army, Kissinger says he found a real sense of American identity. In 1943, Henry was drafted into the army while still attending college. Shortly after turning twenty, he departed for basic training at Camp Croft in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Throughout their service, Henry and his brother Walter, who was also in the Second World War, grew to have a strong feeling of patriotism and American identity. Henry’s first thorough introduction to a broader American population occurred during boot camp.
This effort was influenced by rhetorical and political moves meant to strengthen US transatlantic intelligence capabilities. Numerous Europeans, especially a sizable influx of German immigrants and refugees, turned out to be almost necessary to maintain the American army’s intelligence advantages. They were the best spies and operations because they were fluent in the languages of Europe and had a thorough understanding of politics, society, and the infrastructure.
Over half a million Jewish Americans, many of them were refugees from Germany, served in the armed forces during World War II. German Jews were serving in an integrated environment for the first time, a sign that they were considered white by the US government and military. Black soldiers who had fought with equal bravery would nevertheless have to fight in segregated formations with significantly fewer opportunities for advancement or specialized training. The American military did not fully desegregate until the end of the war.
But by the early 1940s, the US army was treating Jewish American troops far more kindly than they had ever been treated before, and the country’s political establishment was praising the Judeo-Christian values for being the cornerstone of American society and one of the most important defenses against despotism. Jewish American soldiers now had access to a rabbinical chaplain and could attend services on the major Jewish holidays.
This is not to argue that American Jews, such as Kissinger, were free from anti-Semitism in the army. For instance, kosher dietary needs were rarely considered when the integration was first implemented. Moreover, anti-Semitic sentiments remained widespread, and even those who did not have animosity toward Jews were seldom moved to stand up for them in the face of discrimination or injustice.
Kissinger, however, provided a favorable narrative about his time in the US military. He seldom discussed any bullying or teasing he might have encountered, wishing instead to highlight the relationships he formed with young men from all across the country and the vast amount of knowledge he gained about his new home.
Henry’s military career began with his service and continued to grow throughout his career. What he remembers most is the feeling of happiness and acceptance he felt soon after arriving at Camp Croft and Henry’s ultimate naturalization as a citizen of the United States. For his new country, Kissinger courageously fought in the Second World War.
The 84th Infantry Division hired him after his training. His linguistic skills were excellent, and his knowledge of European institutions and customs made him an ideal choice for intelligence work. When the US invaded Europe in 1944, Private Henry Kissinger did, however, have some combat experience. Kissinger courageously broke over enemy lines during the tumultuous and dangerous Battle of the Bulge to try and track down potential German spies. His ability to conduct research, plan ahead, and negotiate proved particularly helpful to US efforts on behalf of the Allies.
Along with the Bronze Star for heroism, Kissinger was also a counterintelligence officer. He attained the rank of sergeant and was instrumental in the fall of Nazi Germany, aiding in the capture of Nazi leaders, some of whom would later be tried at the Nuremberg trials. Henry was rather happy with his methods.
He used local social media and personal diplomacy to identify former Nazis instead of the more traditional military method of searching for and apprehending individuals. Additionally, he regularly employed deceptive methods. Once upon a time, he posted employment advertising across the community, seeking males with prior police enforcement experience. This is the kind of background that his first applicant claimed to have.
The Gestapo, huh? When he inquired, Kissinger laughed. Later on, Henry remembered that the applicant had said, “Yes,” much to his surprise and happiness, so he had locked him up. He then used the prisoned former Gestapo officer as a guide to find other Nazi officers who could be hiding. Furthermore, Kissinger managed the American occupation of Klefeld, Bensheim, and Hanover in Germany with skill and contributed to the installation of trustworthy civilian governments in those towns.
The local German population was praised by commentators for receiving good treatment and care from him. This made them much more susceptible to pressure from occupation officials to turn over former Nazis to the Allied forces—a task that Kissinger was able to persuade a significant number of civilians to complete.
But the relief of an Allied victory would be outweighed by the agony of trauma and loss. In 1945, Henry returned to Firth, where he had grown up, to check on the welfare of his friends and family. He was shocked to learn that only one of his schoolfriends had made it out alive.
He returned to the United States with a broken heart, even more committed to the country’s cause than before, as it had given his family freedom and security and helped overthrow those who had nearly succeeded in destroying his cherished birthplace.
Kissinger had a busy, happy, and successful post-war and early Cold War era. Upon his return to the US, he was assigned the duty of training new recruits for foreign intelligence, a position he truly loved and completed until his official release from the army. In 1947, he was accepted to Harvard University to complete his undergraduate studies in political science.
In 1950, Henry also achieved a remarkable achievement by earning a bachelor’s degree in summer cumlaude. Furthermore, he completed his master’s degree at Harvard in 1951 and went on to get his PhD in 1954. Additionally, Kissinger was given the chance to become a faculty member at Harvard University upon his graduation from graduate school. He continued to serve in some capacity at the esteemed university until 1971.
Henry was an extremely driven student at Harvard who, although doing some incredible things there—or perhaps even more so as a result of them—was largely an outcast in society. His classmates described him as a serious, reticent kid who didn’t seem to want to make friends. True, there were others who felt he had a cold personality.
Henry’s biographers speculate that this mannerism may have been used to mask some significant issues. Kissinger had not yet developed the razor-sharp wit and self-deprecating humor that made him famous in his middle age.
Moreover, Harvard, the most esteemed university in the United States, continued to socially reject Jewish students, even in spite of its recent acceptance of young Jewish immigrants and veterans, much like the US army.
The transnational and geopolitical expertise of European Jews became as vital in university hallways as it had been in the armed forces during World War II, as Harvard emerged as a preeminent Cold War think tank for policy formation. This was especially true in the early to mid-1900s, when officials from the government and military began to collaborate closely with elite American universities in order to influence policy and draw in future leaders.
Even after Jewish academics made significant contributions, they were still not permitted to join university organizations or fraternities that were mostly run by rich white Christians in the Ivy League and lived in segregated housing on campus. His extremely busy schedule could be one reason for Henry’s seeming lack of interest in making friends at Harvard.
He not only put his all into his studies, but he also got married before finishing college. While finishing his undergraduate degree, Henry met Anne Fleischer, who had also relocated from Germany with her family, a year before his bachelor’s degree was conferred in 1949.
Maybe his advanced age had something to do with Henry’s extreme sincerity. The war prevented him from finishing his undergraduate degree for four years while he was fighting overseas. At eighteen, the majority of college students during his time were primarily preoccupied with their studies and social lives.
At the age of 26, Kissinger married Anne after having previously thought about starting a family. The couple went on to have two more children in the years that followed: a girl named Elizabeth in 1959 and a son named David in 1962. 1964 saw the dissolution of Kissinger and Anne’s 15-year marriage. After a while, they both remarried, but they shared custody and parenting up to Kissinger’s death in November 2023.
It was an interesting time to be single during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, especially for a relatively traditional man like Kissinger. A few years after he separated from Anne Fleischer in 1964, Kissinger’s name began to frequently surface in the gossip sections as his increasingly well-known face emerged on the New York dating scene.
On the contrary, he started acting more like a playboy, which went against his otherwise serious and professional demeanor. It amused Henry that people thought he was an old-fashioned swinger, but he was more than happy to exploit this perception if it led to positive press attention.
Henry was 51 years old when he wed Nancy McGinnis, his second and current wife, whom he had met while working for Nelson Rockefeller. After being married in the summer of 1974, they were well-known figures in the New York social scene. Before Kissinger died away, Nancy and Henry were a couple.
Kissinger had all the makings of a future great politician, diplomat, and strategist during his early academic years. His work combined a strong foundation in philosophy and history with the knowledge of geopolitics gained from his numerous transatlantic trips, as well as the comprehension of human behavior that comes from being a social scientist. Thus, throughout the Cold War, few people were in a better position to be selected for significant political or diplomatic roles than Kissinger.
Even before he had finished his last year of graduate school, he received a request to help the Psychological Strategy Board, a former US military group entrusted with producing propaganda to foster democracy and destroy popular belief in communism. Additionally, he was instrumental in the global founding of Harvard’s annual international seminar.
This summer conference offered a forum for global policy ideas and initiatives founded in democratic principles, liberal capitalism, and moral leadership to be discussed and established. This fascinating journey into global politics drew in a large number of influential elites, and the impression left on them by the young Henry Kissinger was enduring.
Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, his debut book, was published in 1957. This book introduced Kissinger to a lot of prominent military and political individuals, and it was a highly significant work even though it echoed the opinions of many other military researchers in recent years. The primary problem with US nuclear policy at the time, according to Henry, was that it was failing to prevent Soviet expansionism, which was the primary goal of US foreign policy throughout the Cold War.
America’s nuclear foes could almost surely be guaranteed that assured mutual destruction would never be used since it was such an impossibly severe response. This may result in a nuclear standoff that could encourage the Soviet Union to undertake more daring expansionism. To really put adversaries under duress, nuclear threats had to be physical. As a result, Kissinger proposed developing far smaller and more portable weapons capable of carrying out extraordinarily powerful attacks on relatively small areas.
Many of the weapons developed over the 10 years prior had been enormous, unwieldy, and uncontrollable, with a considerably higher potential for destruction than the arsenal proposed by Kissinger and other like-minded experts and academicians. This does not mean that Kissinger was in favor of more nuclear weapons being deployed directly, but he was in favor of leaders like John F. Kennedy thought that more adaptability was necessary for the US military to be able to respond to external challenges. In order to afford American officials and diplomats greater negotiating power overseas, Kissinger was also in favor of assembling such an arsenal. Kissinger’s foreign policy approach has consistently reflected his belief that dialogue and diplomacy are more significant than hostility.
He seemed to view life and human progress as a wide gray area, as evidenced by his willingness to have a positive conversation and come to a mutually beneficial agreement with practically everybody. Whether it was by forming alliances with people he knew would commit humanitarian crimes against their own people or by working with former Gestapo officials to capture Nazis much higher up the chain of command, Kissinger demonstrated his belief and understanding that few, if any, statesmen can avoid getting their hands dirty.
That Kissinger would grow to prominence as a strong opponent of communism should come as no surprise. After all, a significant portion of the Western world had reached complete consensus by the late 1940s. Kissinger and other liberal capitalist supporters of democracy shared the view that the Soviet Union was just as terrifying as the Nazis because of their expansionist goals and purported radical ideologies.
Thus, a key element of Kissinger’s foreign agenda was his anti-communist position. What would startle people, according to several of his biographers, is Kissinger’s extremely brittle trust in democracy in general. Even so, he firmly believes that it must be preserved and survived. However, this was not an unusual opinion among the World War II generation, particularly among those who had grown up in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, when political parties had proliferated widely and violent, hateful propaganda was tolerated under the guise of free speech.
Hitler was placated by the democracies in Europe, which led to the spread of Nazi violence and extremism. Additionally, Jews and other groups that were being singled out by a significant portion of the German populace that was increasingly being influenced by Nazi propaganda were not protected by the Weimar democracy.
Nevertheless, how could any of the western institutions and civil, legal, or political rights survive in the absence of democracy? Kissinger said that strong defenses are necessary for democracies to withstand external threats from political extremism and intellectual fanaticism. Above all, Henry saw himself as a realist. in a philosophical sense. He was in favor of an approach that acknowledged the facts and tried to effectively deal with the situation as it was.
Those who were extremely ideological and attempted to distort reality to suit their own beliefs were seen as dangerous by Henry. And considering his early environment, it made sense. He thought that one of the best defenses against democracy was great statesmanship. Realistic and astute statesmen may accomplish a great deal to safeguard democratic institutions by leading with firmness and decisiveness and, where necessary, working diplomatically.
Kissinger admitted that leaders are often inherently flawed and unsuitable for their goals for personal reasons. When they come to power, their experiences, convictions, and biases are already deeply embedded in them, making adaptation inevitable. Moreover, individuals are often forced to participate in business transactions and agreements that make them question their own morals.
Kissinger came to see that leaders’ decision-making and strategies were always about choose between two undesirable possibilities. Because of his personal experience and expertise in these kinds of debates and decision-making, Henry Kissinger was one of the most influential. The American statesman, one of the most controversial political and international figures of the last half of the 20th century, was never elected to any official position.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Kissinger continued to encourage the growth of cooperation between elite universities and government decision-makers by launching new programs like Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. For nearly a decade, he served as the director of the university’s Defense Studies program. He also authored and published three additional books about US foreign policy in the 1960s.
During this time, Henry remained in high demand among the military and political elites, consulting on foreign policy and nuclear strategy for government agencies and think tanks. Though he was politically and ideologically a Republican, he was also called to provide advice to a number of well-known Democratic Party individuals.
Six US presidents—Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan—were invited to seek Kissinger’s counsel during the Cold War. However, neither Kissinger’s initial choice for president in the 1960s, Richard Nixon, nor the Republican nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964 received his support. Instead, he fervently backed New York governor and Republican presidential candidate Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960, 1964, and 1968 elections.
His foreign policy advisor, Rockefeller, was unsuccessful in his bid to be nominated thrice. Despite being mostly associated with Nixon’s administration as a statesman, it’s noteworthy to observe that Kissinger originally disapproved of Richard Nixon as a presidential candidate. Before they had even met, Henry had actually thought he was dangerous and not the right person to be president.
Kissinger was definitely a realist, though. As a result, in 1968, Nelson Rockefeller had lost the Republican primary for the third time in a row, while Richard Nixon had made an incredible comeback to politics after losing to Kennedy in 1960. Henry came to the conclusion that it would be beneficial to finally meet Nixon.
He later remarked that Nixon had taken him by surprise by being more considerate than he had assumed. Both guys were obviously very ambitious and knew that they could complement one another’s skills and traits to assist them accomplish their goals. Kissinger supported Nixon when he was a Republican candidate for president. Kissinger was the first member of the cabinet to hold the role of national security advisor when Nixon was elected president.
In the end, he would become Secretary of State. Furthermore, Kissinger was as actively involved in the creation and execution of foreign policy agendas as any of these presidents, especially those of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, in the early 1970s—the decade that was both the busiest and one of the most contentious of his professional life.
A tendency toward secrecy and backchannel diplomacy characterized the Nixon White House’s foreign policy throughout President Nixon’s first term, adding to the climate of controversy. Kissinger’s plate was full. As early as 1969, he was clandestinely negotiating with revolutionary officer and diplomat Le Doctor to put a stop to hostilities in Vietnam.
He also gave Nixon’s détente theory with the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union a lot of thought. Nixon ordered Kissinger to negotiate a detente with the Chinese and Russians in private without informing the Secretary of State, a position that Kissinger later took on. Some have referred to Nixon’s preference for secrecy as “paranoid.”
It’s interesting to note that, despite the Soviet Union being America’s greatest enemy, Kissinger developed what may have been his closest and nicest diplomatic relationship with Russian envoy Anatoly Dobrinin. The two guys would often converse and drink into the wee hours of the morning, and on special occasions, they would trade gifts. Kissinger and Dobrinin’s special relationship made possible President Nixon’s much praised salt accords, which marked the first productive moves toward nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament between the US and the Soviet Union in 20 years.
In an attempt to create the conditions for a US-China rapprochement, Kissinger made two covert trips to China in 1971 to meet with Premier Joan Lai. Many Americans praised Nixon for his diplomatic visits to Beijing and Moscow the next year, as many were growing weary of the seemingly never-ending Vietnam War, the hefty yearly military budget, and Cold War tensions.
Many commentators on politics were pleased that Kissinger had managed to ease Cold War tensions and take advantage of the diplomatic rift between the Soviet Union and China, leading to a more open and friendly relationship between the two nations than America had experienced since the 1940s. Opponents of President Nixon’s first term’s foreign policy initiatives, however, criticized the extension of Deton to the Russians, comparing it to Hitler’s pre-World War II appeasement and arguing that efforts to improve relations with the Chinese and Russians had not stopped their ambitions to continue exporting communism around the world.
The United States’ support for Taiwan had eroded as a result of the more open engagement with China, even if Taiwan’s seat on the UN Security Council was extended to the People’s Republic of China by 1972. Henry Kissinger promoted what he referred to as “Realpolitik.”
This strategy differs from the more traditional American policy position of exceptionalism in that it doesn’t give a damn about the moral or intellectual underpinnings of foreign political relationships as long as they serve a useful purpose. It was this tactic that Nixon and Kissinger both condemned. Both seemed to see no reason why they shouldn’t support anti-communist movements, even if those forces supported strict dictatorship, around the globe. This was particularly true if those forces supported US economic objectives, thwarted the Soviet Union’s ascent, or supported the communist movement in China.
Those who criticized US imperialism argued that attempts to slow down or halt the spread of communism had turned into a cover for elevating pro-US individuals to positions of power. Kissinger has also come under fire from historians for having a limited perspective, which was, to be honest, a criticism leveled at most of the politicians of his era.
Most American officials thought that the Soviet Union was the main foreign policy partner of their dictatorship. Save for a nuclear holocaust, they were unable to foresee the events of the late 1980s and early 1990s or envision the end of the Cold War. In hindsight, Kissinger has drawn criticism for not approaching other foreign policy encounters with the same gravity as the Russians and for not placing other countries’ concerns on par with those of the Soviet Union.
Because they killed so many civilians, the bombs that targeted the communist forces in Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia were denounced. The Nixon administration has come under fire from human rights advocates and lawyers for arming Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Bengalis. Many people have also criticized Nixon and Kissinger’s Latin American policies. One such measure was the removal of socialist President Ayende of Chile, who was elected by popular vote; after Gerald Ford assumed office, Pinocchet’s military dictatorship took over.
Geopolitical controversy has resulted from the State Department’s participation in the well-known “Dirty War” in Argentina as well as Kissinger and Ford’s support of Indonesia’s genocide in East Timor. It’s possible that Kissinger’s actions during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war are what have caused the most division in opinion.
His months of shuttle diplomacy, which saw him move between Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Damascus, have earned him praise for his conscientiousness and upbeat attitude. Though the Watergate scandal had clearly distracted Nixon, Kissinger handled most of the Arab-Israeli conflict on his own. Kissinger’s supporters celebrated his role in mending Egypt’s relationship to the Soviet Union, bringing back US-Egyptian relations, and convincing Israel to cede some of the territory it had captured in 1967.
Newsweek featured an illustration depicting Henry Kissinger as Superman flying over the planet on June 10, 1974, with the phrase, “It’s Super K.” Nevertheless, critics of Kissinger’s handling of the issue highlighted his early lack of objectivity by showing a glaring support for Israel.
Indeed, without informing Nixon, Kissinger prolonged the battles in the Middle East for several hours, allowing Israel ample time to achieve its military objectives. The Israeli prime minister’s affinity for Israel became even more clear to the Egyptians, Syrians, and Saudis when it was discovered that his government had received $2 billion in munitions from the Nixon administration.
A six-month oil embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal in retaliation had a severe detrimental impact on the nation’s economy. In October 1973, the Nobel Committee in Stockholm, Sweden awarded Le Docto and Henry Kissinger a joint Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their work in negotiating the conclusion of the Vietnam War.
General of the Vietnamese Revolution, politician, and diplomat Le Dokto graciously thanked the Nobel Academy but declined to accept the medal because he thought the peace process was not yet finished. He expressed his dismay and indignation, saying that American forces remained in South Vietnam were already violating the signing pact’s stipulations. Le Ducto wasn’t the first Nobel laureate to turn down the prize.
The first person to do so was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who did so almost ten years ago. But the 1973 Peace Prize was noteworthy in and of itself. Public disclosure of the Nobel Committee’s deliberations is extremely rare, and every effort is made to suggest that the committee votes unanimously to give the prize.
However, it seems that the final selections for the 1973 Peace Prize were so divisive that two committee members resigned in protest. Naturally, the details are yet unknown. It is conceivable that anti-communist animosity was involved. But there’s also a clear indication that the tensions inside the Nobel Committee may have their roots in the widespread outrage over the conduct of American soldiers in Vietnam.
Unlike his diplomatic counterpart, Kissinger did not attend the Stockholm event, accepted his Nobel Prize, and made philanthropic contributions to groups that assist the families of American military killed in combat. For the fifty-year-old Kissinger, winning the Nobel Prize had to be the best and most pleasant way to cap off a life devoted to serving the public, developing effective military and diplomatic policies, and doing both.
But many who disapproved of his policy record immediately voiced their own disapproval of the 1973 Nobel Committee’s decision. When North Vietnamese Communist forces eventually took control of Saigon in 1975, Kissinger tried to return his Peace Prize, but the Nobel Committee rejected his request. Though Henry Kissinger received his Nobel Prize nearly fifty years ago, opinions on how much of an impact he will ultimately have on global geopolitics are still very much in dispute.
Notwithstanding his justifiable standing as one of the most significant and potent statesmen of the late 20th century. After Jimmy Carter’s election, Kissinger left the White House staff and went on to advise some of the most prominent political and military figures in America. He then started his own consulting firm, Kissinger and Associates.
Henry continued to advise the American political elite, including the Bushes and the Clintons. He has served on numerous government and defense-related boards and committees as chair. He has received numerous awards in appreciation for his contributions to international relations, American defense, and public service.
He also continued to write extensively on global geopolitics and foreign policy, authoring over a dozen books and three memoirs about his career as a diplomat. In addition, Henry Kissinger has remained a very controversial figure due to his current support for the Iraq War. Henry Kissinger overcome great obstacles and achieved great success, mostly due to fortunate circumstances and a willingness to seize opportunities when they came up.
Kissinger has received great recognition for his outstanding knowledge, political acumen, and diplomatic abilities, but he has also come under fire for the detrimental humanitarian consequences of the geopolitical choices he helped the Nixon and Ford administrations make. Some observers, like renowned journalist and scholar Christopher Hitchens, have gone so far as to call Kissinger a war criminal and urge that he be prosecuted.
People from the past rarely spark this much controversy and disagreement. Over the years, Kissinger has been criticized more harshly than the vastly more powerful elected officials he worked for. In this passage, some of his biographers defend him by asserting that presidents are the ultimate decision-makers, not the National Security Advisor or the Secretary of State.
Kissinger, however, was often seen taking the initiative and caving in to pressure to do things like the bombings in Cambodia that he would not have previously approved of. Henry Kissinger’s legacy may have stayed so complicated due to the paradoxical benefits and drawbacks of a long life.
On November 29, 2023, at the age of 100, Kissinger, the only surviving member of the Nixon administration, passed away. Currently, a large portion of the controversial foreign policy choices made by cabinet members, presidents, and government agencies throughout the Cold War have been made public.
Most of his colleagues faced negative publicity for the military and foreign policy decisions they made during the Cold War. But after their deaths, historians labored to return some of them—most notably Richard Nixon—to their previous status. Some people might be curious as to how an employee could be held more accountable than their employer. According to one of Kissinger’s biographers, it is difficult to offer a thorough condemnation of the controversial man, even though nothing can justify the fatalities and geopolitical upheaval that followed his decisions.
If Kissinger was a war criminal, then President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, were as well, having approved of the CIA-backed coups in Guatemala and Iran. Should Kissinger be found guilty of crimes, then perhaps so would be John F. Kennedy about the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara regarding the Gulf of Tonkin events, or the millions of Vietnamese civilians who lost their lives.
The generation that lived through World War II took a specific stand against the Cold War because, above all, they wanted to make sure that their own views won out while simultaneously averting another global catastrophe. As a refugee from Nazi Germany, Kissinger is among the final members of that generation. He came to the US,
embraced freedom and American identity, and was an advocate for democracy and human rights. Nevertheless, he saw that, in a world full of competing interests and ideologies, defending these deeply held beliefs frequently results in contradictory consequences.