Table of Contents
Years following US Citizenship
Awards, Honors, Associations and Memoirs
Henry Kissinger was born as Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Fürth, Germany. Kissinger's mother, Paula Stern, came from a relatively wealthy and prominent family, and his father, Louis Kissinger, was a teacher. Kissinger grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household, and during his youth he spent two hours each day diligently studying the Bible and the Talmud. As a child, Kissinger encountered anti-Semitism on a daily. Being an avid soccer fan, he always defied laws banning Jews from professional sporting events to attend matches, receiving several beatings at the hands of the stadium guards. Kissinger along with his friends were also regularly abused by local gangs of Nazi youth. These experiences in return made a lasting impression on Kissinger and possibly lead to what he became in years to come.
In his early years, Kissinger was a shy and introverted child. He loved reading books and was usually lost in them. In 1938, when Kissinger was 15 years old, his family began to sense the impending tragedy of holocaust and decided to leave Germany and move to United States. His family was extremely poor upon arrival in the United States, and Kissinger immediately went to work in a shaving brush factory to supplement his family's income. At this very time, Kissinger enrolled at New York's George Washington High School, where he learned English. He was a smart kid and was able to excel in all his classes remarkably. He graduated from high school in 1940 and continued on to the City College of New York, where he studied to become an accountant.
Years following US Citizenship
In 1943,he became a naturalized American citizen. This is when he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II. Sadly just five years after he left Germany, he found himself back in his homeland 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 abandoned his plan to become an accountant and instead decided that he wanted to become an academic with a focus on political history. In 1947, when he returned to United States, he was admitted to Harvard University to complete his undergraduate coursework. After his graduation in 1950, he decided to remain at Harvard to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Government. He received his doctorate in 1954, and accepted an offer to stay at Harvard as a member of the faculty in the Department of Government.
Kissinger first achieved widespread fame in academic circles with his 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. In this book he opposed 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 served as a member of the Harvard faculty from 1954-69, earning tenure in 1959. While Kissinger was teaching at Harvard, he also served as a special advisor to President Kennedy and Johnson on matters of foreign policy starting from 1961 till 1968. In 1969 Kissinger decided to leave Harvard as President Richard Nixon appointed him to serve as his National Security Advisor. He therefore ended up serving as National Security Advisor from 1969 till 1975, and then as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977. This is when Kissinger proved to be one of the most dominant, influential and controversial statesmen in American history.
By the time Kissinger became National Security Advisor in 1969, the...
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