Childhood, Education & Early Career
Henry Kissinger was born on 27 May 1923 in Furth Bavaria, Germany to Jewish parents Louis Kissinger; who was a school teacher, and Paula Stern. Hennery Kissinger has a younger brother Walter. Following the mass killing of Jewish community in Germany by Nazis, Kissinger’s family moved to New York in 1938, where his original name Heinz Alfred Kissinger was changed to Henry Kissinger and was granted the U.S. citizenship on 19 June 1943.
Kissinger received his primary education from the George Washington High School which he attended during night while working in a factory during the day time; and later enrolled in the City College of New York and Harvard College in 1950, where he was awarded an A. B. degree in 1950. He joined the U.S. army in South Carolina in 1943; while still in the City College of New York, and was made a German interpreter for the Counter Intelligence Corps. He received two more degrees in future from the Harvard University; A.M. in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1954.
While in Harvard, Kissinger held numerous key positions in the management and security department; that include the position of Associate Director of the Center for International Affairs in 1957 and prior to that, a consultant to the National Security Council’s Operations Coordinating Board in 1955. He became study director in Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy and served until he was appointed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as its director in 1958. During 1958 and 1971, Kissinger served as a Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program and meanwhile remained the Director of Harvard International Seminar, the position he was appointed to in 1951.
Marriages, Children & Personal Life
Kissinger's first wife was Ann Fleischer with whom; he had two children - daughter Elizabeth and son David. The couple divorced in 1964 and he married his second wife Nancy Maginnes in 1973. Meanwhile, Kissinger became the head of the Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm and the couple began living in Kent Connecticut. His second marriage at least put an end to the endless link-ups with several high profile women.
Throughout his college days and youth, Henry remained an ardent fan of Soccer, and is now a member of the German soccer club Spielvereinigung Greuther Furth. He was honored as Harlem Globetrotter in 1976. In 1982, a triple coronary bypass surgery was performed on him following severe heart problems.
Kissinger as the Secretary of State
Between 1969 and 1977, Kissinger largely influenced the American foreign policy as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State and employed a policy of détente to normalize relations with the Soviet Union and China. The policy led a key role in slackening the strained relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and also paved the way to open a dialogue with China, culminating in cordial relations with the both superpowers of the world. Under his guidance, the United States maintained a balanced and cordial relation with anti-communist and non-communist groups, democracy and authoritarian groups in a similar way, which can be viewed as an attempt to consolidate good friendship with powerful nations. With his constant efforts, he succeeded in establishing a ceasefire between Vietnam and the United States for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.
Richard Nixon came in power with his promise to end the ongoing war with Vietnam, and soon after his election in 1968, he embarked on a policy of Vietnamization with a view to evacuate Vietnam while defending South Vietnam, which was under the threat of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and Vietnamese Army. Kissinger contributed to the mission by instigating a series of bombing on Cambodia and successfully negotiated a ceasefire between America and Vietnam. Though North Vietnam violated the terms of the ceasefire by invading and capturing South Vietnam in 1975, Kissinger was awarded Nobel Prize for his efforts and contribution towards restoring peace in Vietnam.
U.S. Intervention In Chile
Kissinger has been in constant controversy for his alleged involvement in the failed attempt to prevent the Chilean socialist presidential candidate Salvador Allende from coming to power, who had certainly become a threat to the U.S. with his Marxist and pro-Cuban politics. The then U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered to set off a military coup to organize anti- government strikes and declared Allende a communist. Though the plan was not successful and Allende assumed the power; both Chile and the U.S. continued the hostility towards each other until 1973, when Allende was killed in a military coup launched by Commander-In-Chief, Augusto Pinochet.
Later Role in U.S. Politics
Kissinger had a dominant role in the decision making process throughout the Richard Nixon’s presidency in America which began to decline with Ronald Regan coming to power during 1980’s, though he continued political speaking and writing as a foreign-policy commentator. He held an important position under the George Bush led government and was appointed to chairmanship to a committee investigating the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001; however several political reasons combined made him resign on 13 December 2002. During last recent years, he has remained active and actively participated in the strategy making of the America-Iraq War.
Accusations & Criticism
Kissinger’s foreign policy in Vietnam and Asian countries — Cambodia and Chile — caused global controversy and evoked opposition from journalists and human rights NGOs. He has been criticized for ignoring atrocities committed by the ally countries that are seemingly powerful and have geographical advantage, especially countries like Turkey and East Pakistan. During Indo-Pakistan War, President Nixon had supported Pakistan fearing the Soviet Union’s expansion in India as a result of treaty signed by them.
Henry Kissinger was charged with his alleged role in the murder campaign of intelligence and security officers in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Chile. The campaign, known as the Operation Condor, killed five French nationals in Chile. In addition to that, on 10 September 2001, a civil suit was filed against Henry Kissinger charging him with the murder of Chilean Commander-In Chief, Rene Schneider, who had opposed Kissinger’s plans for a military coup. On 11 September 2001, Chilean human rights lawyers filed a case against him along with Augusto Pinochet and several others for their suspected role in the Operation.
In his later life during 1970’s, Kissinger was elected to Georgetown University’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies before founding a consulting firm, Kissinger Associates in 1989 and served on the board of directors in a Chicago newspaper, Hollinger International. Despite a number of impeachments and indictments, Henry Kissinger continued to hold prestigious positions in various organizations and departments; Chancellor of William and Mary and Political Advisor to the Indonesian President are to name a few. Kissinger was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in April 2006, and before that he had received the citizenship of his birthplace Furth, Germany, in 1998. In addition to the Wilson Award, he received the Hopkins-Nanjing Award in June 2007, which was presented by the Presidents of Nanjing University and Johns Hopkins University together.