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Henry Kissinger dies at 100: Ten facts about former US Secretary of State

Kissinger's power grew during the turmoil of Watergate, when the politically attuned diplomat assumed a role akin to co-president to the weakened Nixon.

Arushi Jaiswal Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi Washington Updated on: November 30, 2023 8:39 IST
Henry Kissinger
Image Source : AP Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Washington: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday (local time) aged 100, according to a statement from his consulting firm, Kissinger Associates. Kissinger is a prominent American diplomat, political scientist, and statesman who played a key role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War era. 

He was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and also served under two US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, as the secretary of state. Kissinger, the diplomat known for his thick glasses and distinctive voice, was a key figure in shaping US foreign policy during the withdrawal from Vietnam and the initiation of diplomatic relations with China.

Kissinger's influence expanded during the upheaval of Watergate, as the politically astute diplomat took on a role resembling that of a co-president alongside the weakened Nixon. "No doubt my vanity was piqued," Kissinger later wrote of his expanding influence. "But the dominant emotion was a premonition of catastrophe."

A Jewish, who escaped Nazi Germany with his family during his adolescence, Kissinger, in his later years, crafted the image of a revered statesman. He delivered speeches, provided counsel to both Republicans and Democrats and ran a global consulting business. He made appearances in President Donald Trump's White House on several occasions. However, Nixon-era documents and tapes, as they trickled out over the years, brought revelations — many in Kissinger's own words — that sometimes cast him in a harsh light.

Some facts about former US Secretary of State

  1. Born in Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Furth, a city in Germany's Bavarian region in 1923. He first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps.
  2. Kissinger returned to his homeland during World War Two as a member of the U.S. 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.
  3. Kissinger earned his Bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1950 and a Ph.D. in political science in 1954. He became a professor at Harvard and gained recognition for his expertise in international relations.
  4. He served as National Security Advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from 1969 to 1975. Kissinger concurrently served as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977.
  5. Kissinger played a crucial role in the historic opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1971. This was a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War.
  6. He helped to negotiate an end to the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and its neighbours, culminating in the Paris Peace Accords of 1973. Henry Kissinger, along with Le Duc Tho of North Vietnam, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for their efforts to negotiate a ceasefire in Vietnam.  The controversial award led to two members of the Nobel committee resigning.
  7. Kissinger was a very demanding Secretary of State; he was hard on his staff and hard on himself. He worked a brutal number of hours seven days a week, and he expected his aides to do the same.
  8. After Kissinger stepped down as Secretary of State, he remained an advisor and voice on matters of foreign policy. He later served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under former Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. 
  9. Kissinger is known for his realpolitik approach to foreign policy, emphasizing practical and realistic considerations over ideological or moral concerns. He often sought to maintain a balance of power in international relations.
  10. In the course of his tenure as Secretary of State, he flew 565,000 miles, making 213 visits to foreign countries. He once visited 17 countries in 18 days, and after the October 1973 war, Kissinger spent 33 consecutive days in the Middle East negotiating disengagement between Israel and Syria. 

(With AP inputs) 



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