Key facts about Henry Kissinger, US diplomat and presidential adviser

As an Orthodox Jew, he was bullied by anti-Semites and in 1938 his family joined the exodus from Nazi Germany by moving to New York

Reuters
Published : 30 Nov 2023, 08:29 AM
Updated : 30 Nov 2023, 08:29 AM

Here are some facts on American diplomat Henry Kissinger, who died at age 100 on Wednesday:

* He was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Furth, a city in Germany's Bavarian region, on May 27, 1923. As an Orthodox Jew, he was bullied by anti-Semites and in 1938 his family joined the exodus from Nazi Germany by moving to New York. He became a naturalised American in 1943.

* Kissinger returned to his homeland during World War Two as a member of the US Army's 84th Infantry Division. He worked as a translator in intelligence operations and helped round up Gestapo members. He was awarded a Bronze Star.

* After a standout career on the Harvard University faculty, Kissinger joined Richard Nixon's administration as national security adviser in 1969, a job he kept after Nixon resigned and was succeeded as president by Gerald Ford. He also served as secretary of state under Nixon and Ford.

* Kissinger had a hand in many epoch-changing global events of the 1970s, including the Vietnam War, the diplomatic opening of China, landmark US-Soviet arms control talks and expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

* The 1973 Nobel Peace Prize that went to Kissinger and North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho was one of the most controversial in the award's history. They were selected for their work on the Paris peace talks, which were to have arranged the withdrawal of US troops, a ceasefire, and preservation of the South Vietnamese government. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned over the choice and Tho declined the prize on the grounds their work had not yet brought peace.

* During his bachelor days Kissinger was seen with actresses Candice Bergen, Shirley MacLaine, Jill St John, Marlo Thomas, Liv Ullman and Samantha Eggar, as well as Diane Sawyer, then a White House staffer and later an ABC News anchor. Those who knew him, however, said the playboy image was mostly a media creation.

* Kissinger last worked in a presidential administration in 1977 but he maintained a relationship with George W Bush. The then-president chose Kissinger to head a commission investigating the Sept 11, 2001, attacks but he stepped down because he did not want to reveal the names of the clients of his consulting business.

* The Argentine military believed that Kissinger had given them the go-ahead to conduct their "dirty war" against leftist dissidents, later declassifed documents showed. He said the military should be encouraged at the time of the 1976 coup and later praised them for wiping out "terrorist forces."

* Musician Tom Lehrer famously said: "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."