Life History

Henry Kissinger: Life HISTORY Henry Kissinger BIOGRAPHY

Henry Kissinger : Henry Kissinger was a Harvard professor before assuming leadership in U.S. foreign policy. He was appointed the secretary of state in 1973 by President Richard Nixon and co-won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the Vietnam War’s Paris accords. Kissinger is also a prolific author.

Life HISTORY Henry Kissinger BIOGRAPHY

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Henry Kissinger : Henry Kissinger was a Harvard professor before assuming leadership in U.S. foreign policy. He was appointed the secretary of state in 1973 by President Richard Nixon and co-won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the Vietnam War’s Paris accords.Kissinger is also a prolific author.

Henry Kissinger was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Fürth, a city in the Bavaria area of Germany. Kissinger grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household.

As a child, Kissinger encountered anti-Semitism daily. He and his friends were also regularly abused by local gangs of Nazi youth. These experiences understandably made a lasting impression on Kissinger.

Kissinger was a shy, introverted and bookish child. Sometimes he wasn’t outgoing enough, because he was lost in his books. Kissinger excelled at the local Jewish school and dreamed of attending the Gymnasium, a prestigious state-run high school.


However, when he was mature enough to apply, the school had quit tolerating Jews. Sensing the impending tragedy of the Holocaust, his family decided to flee Germany for the United States in 1938, when Kissinger was 15 years old.

Henry Kissinger: The Man Who Shaped the World

On August 20, 1938, the Kissingers set sail for New York City by way of London. His family was very poor upon entry in the United States, and Kissinger promptly got down to business in a shaving brush manufacturing plant to enhance his family’s income.

At the same time, Kissinger enrolled at New York’s George Washington High School, where he learned English with remarkable speed and excelled in all of his classes. Kissinger graduated from high school in 1940 and continued on to the City College of New York, where he studied to become an accountant


In 1943, Kissinger became a naturalized American citizen and, soon after, he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II.

Thus, just five years after he left, Kissinger found himself back in his homeland of Germany, fighting the very Nazi regime from which he had once fled.

 He served first as a rifleman in France and then as a G-2 intelligence officer in Germany. Over the course of the war, Kissinger decided that he wanted to become an academic with a focus on political history. In 1947, upon his return to the United States, he was admitted to Harvard University to complete his undergraduate coursework.

Upon graduating summa cum laude in 1950, Kissinger decided to remain at Harvard to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Government.

 After receiving his doctorate in 1954, Kissinger accepted an offer to stay at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government. Kissinger initially accomplished across the board popularity in scholastic circles with his 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, opposing President Dwight Eisenhower’s policy of holding out the threat of massive retaliation to ward off Soviet aggression.

Instead, Kissinger proposed a flexible” response model, arguing that a limited war fought with conventional forces and tactical nuclear weapons was, in fact, winnable. He filled in as an individual from the Harvard workforce from 1954-69, gaining residency in 1959.

However, Kissinger always kept one eye outside academia on policy making in Washington, D.C. From 1961-68, in addition to teaching at Harvard, he served as a special advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson on matters of foreign policy.

Then in 1969, Kissinger finally left Harvard when incoming President Richard Nixon appointed him to serve as his National Security Advisor. As National Security Advisor from 1969-75, and then as Secretary of State from 1973-77, Kissinger would prove one of the most dominant, influential and controversial statesmen in American history.

The great foreign policy trial of Kissinger’s career was the Vietnam War. By the time Kissinger became National Security Advisor in 1969, the Vietnam War had become enormously costly, deadly and unpopular.

Seeking to achieve “peace with honor,” Kissinger combined diplomatic initiatives and troop withdrawals with devastating bombing campaigns on North Vietnam designed to improve the American bargaining position and maintain American credibility with its international allies and enemies.

Henry Kissinger stands out as the dominant American statesman and foreign policymaker of the late 20th century. With his intellectual prowess and tough, skillful negotiating style, Kissinger ended the Vietnam War and greatly improved American relations with its two primary Cold War enemies, China, and the Soviet Union.

Nevertheless, Kissinger’s ruthlessly pragmatic, sometimes Machiavellian tactics have earned him as many critics as admirers. Kissinger is married to Nancy Maginnes. He has two children with his former wife, Ann Fleischer, whom he divorced in 1964.

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