Henry A. Kissinger

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Henry Alfred Kissinger is one of the great diplomats of American history. A gifted, humorous, often devious man, Kissinger has been a controversial figure. But even his critics give him credit for having exerted enormous influence over American foreign policy between 1968-1976.

Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27 1923, came to New York City in 1938, and was naturalized a United States citizen on June 19, 1943.

He spent his high school years in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan, but has never lost his pronounced German accent. Kissinger's brother, once asked why he spoke unaccented English when Henry did not, replied "I listen more than Henry does."

Henry Kissinger received the BA Degree Summa Cum Laude at Harvard College in 1950 and the MA and PhD Degrees at Harvard University in 1952 and 1954 respectively.

He was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam, for his work on the Vietnam peace accords.

Kissinger served as the the U.S. Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 in the Richard Nixon (1973-74) and Gerald Ford administrations.

With his first wife, Ann Fleischer, he had two children, Elizabeth and David. He currently lives with his second wife, the former Nancy Maginnes, in Kent, Connecticut.


His writings include Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957), The Necessity for Choice (1961), The Troubled Partnership (1965), and Diplomacy (1994). Memoirs, The White House Years (1979), Years of Upheaval (1982), and Years of Renewal (1999); biographies by S. R. Graubard (1973) and W. Isaacson (1992); study by B. and M. Kalb (1974).

Christopher Hitchens' attack on Henry Kissinger

The book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens (2001) accuses Kissinger of consipracy to commit murder and war crimes. The February and March 2001 issues of Harper's Magazine feature a series by Christopher Hitchens on the case for charging Kissinger with War Crimes. Hitchens presents an argument that 1) on at least one occasion, Henry Kissinger conspired to commit murder, and 2) that on numerous other occasions, Henry K. was the primary force behind certain acts that could quite plausibly be considered war crimes.

The primary charges against Kissinger:

  • masterminded the murder of an estimated 600,000 peasants in Cambodia
  • President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger gave the go ahead to Suharto's invasion of East Timor and subsequent massive war crimes there
  • helped President Nixon engineer and then protect the Augusto Pinochet coup and regime of torture and murder, and directed the first phase of the holocaust in Cambodia (1969-1975)

Regarding East Timor, previously secret documents released in late 2001 revealed that Kissinger indeed gave Suharto his support for the invasion of East Timor during a visit to Indonesia in 1975, thus refuting his claim in a 1999 interview that he had not discussed the matter in advance and only found out about it as he was leaving the country. As many as 200,000 people may have died as as a result of the invasion. Although it was illegal for the arms that the US supplied to Indonesia to be used for offensive purposes, the documents revealed that Kissinger was unconcerned over the illegality of their use; his primary concern was over manipulating the public perception of what happened. "We would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens, happens after we return", he was quoted as saying.

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