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Through circumstances beyond his control, the young Daniel was forced to leave his land and go to Babylon, the most powerful country of that day. It wasn’t long before Daniel found himself being an advisor to the new king, Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel told him some unpleasant things, but “the king made Daniel a great man” (Dan. 2:48).
Many years later, Daniel returned to his homeland.
A similar thing took place a number of years ago. President elect Nixon, whom Henry Kissinger had cursed and called “unfit” to be president, called Kissinger to be his National Security Advisor. Before Kissinger left office, he won the Nobel Peace Prize and the whole world stood in awe of his exploits.
Albert Einstein is another famous German-Jew who came to America. He came in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. He had given the world the famous equation E=mc2, which became the foundation in the development of the atom bomb. Had Hitler understood what E=mc2 meant and kept Einstein and other scientists in Germany, he would have had the power to rule the world.
In the ironic twist of history, it was Einstein’s equation that was responsible for ending the Second World War, the war Hitler started. Another twist: Some feared Kissinger might betray America’s interest for his own, and his policies might lead to World War III.
Einstein was famous, but “what sets Kissinger apart,” says Ralph Blumenfeld, “is the turbulence of his background and the unlikely chain of circumstances that have led him—a German-Jewish refugee professor with no political base—to a place in the pages of history as America’s fifty-sixth Secretary of State.”
In 1974, thirteen members of the editorial staff of the New York Post conducted nearly 400 interviews with various people around the world who knew Dr. Kissinger. Ralph Blumenfeld used this in his book Henry Kissinger: The Private and Public Story. One of those interviewed summed up what many thought: “Kissinger is an elitists, and he’s evil.”
In their book Kissinger, Marvin and Bernard Kalb quote Dr. Kissinger as saying, “I’d like to leave behind a world that seemed to be more peaceful than the one we entered. . . . I have my vanity and ego and everything else that people allege, and I’m sure it’s true.” Dr. Kissinger then said that his policy is more geared to what people will think in the years to come than what “the newspapers say tomorrow.”
In his book Kissinger: The Uses of Power, David Landau says, “Kissinger . . . even before his arrival in government, was obsessed with making his mark on history. . . . How great a historical figure Kissinger is must, of course, be left to the historians of the future to determine.”
Alfred Heinz (Henry) Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, the same year Hitler tried to take over the German government with his “putsch” for power in Munich.
Hitler failed in 1923 but succeeded ten year years later. Henry grew up under the German madness and barely escaped the extermination camps of Hitler when he and his family came to the Land of Liberty on the ship Liberty in 1938. They fled shortly before Hitler signed the Munich Agreement and the rampage of Kristallnacht, the night Germans burned synagogues all over Germany. Little did he realize when he arrived in New York City as a poor Jewish refugee, he would one day be instrumental in having New York’s wealthy John D. Rockefeller’s grandson appointed as Vice-President, and would be voted America’s Most Admired Man.
The Kissinger family lost everything in Germany, and when they arrived in New York, times were hard. But they were not bitter and carved out a living in their new land. Henry attended high school at night and had a full time job during the day at a shaving-brush factory for $11 a week. Kissinger has said his highest “ambition” was to become “an accountant.” Henry’s mother, speaking of his childhood in Germany, said, “Henry was sentimental and had no ambition. He read fairytales, and did average work.”
A Jewish-German refugee in anti-Semitic New York City during the Depression of 1938 was not the best of all worlds to carve out a success story. Many did, but Henry’s was the greatest.
Henry came to live in New York City, where Washington was inaugurated, and he attended George Washington High School. It was there he studied about Washington and his brilliant young friend, Lafayette. Anne Sindeband, a retired math teacher, says Henry “was the most serious and mature of the German refugee students.”
It seems almost fitting that Henry would live on Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights and attend Washington High, for he would be the first Jew to rise to the second highest position in Washington, D.C.
Washington was a great man who made history. Valley Forge was a low point in Washington’s life, and one of his darkest hours was when he was betrayed by another brilliant friend, Benedict Arnold. Like Judas, Arnold was paid for his treachery—with sterling pounds.
After high school Henry enrolled in the Business School of City College of New York. He still worked at the brush factory and helped his parents with expenses. Like many other refugees, he was pursuing the American dream. But the war in Germany changed everything. On December 7, 1941, Frank Harris and some others who had left Germany were celebrating his nineteenth birthday. “About two or three in the afternoon,” says Harris, “the announcement came over the radio about Pearl Harbor. It put a damper on the whole thing.”
Kurt Silbermann says, “We had a meeting that night, our group. We discussed how it would affect our lives.” Henry Gitterman says, “We thought we would lose the war because we remembered times in Germany when you couldn’t cross the street for six days, there were so many tanks rolling by.”
John Sachs says, “We had felt the freedom in this new country, and all of a sudden something fearful was on the horizon again. We felt we had a big part in sharing in this war. It had started with us and we felt we had a responsibility.”
They had not long left the nightmare of Hitler’s Germany, now they faced the prospect of returning to their death. Henry entered the army in February of 1943 and began basic training near Spartanburg, South Carolina, the city named after the Spartan Regiment which fought in the Revolutionary War. He became an American citizen at Spartanburg in 1943.
After basic training Henry took a battery of IQ and aptitude tests that qualified him for the controversial Army Special Training Program. He would go to school instead of war. He was sent to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania to study engineering. He was the only one of his group to make straight “A’s.”
Up to this point Henry had been just one of the crowd, but at Lafayette he began to stand out as an exceptionally gifted student. Charles Coyle, one of Henry’s roommates at Lafayette, says “learning was exciting to Henry.” He didn’t just read books, “He ate them.” Coyle says Henry helped the others with hard subjects like calculus and physics, and was patient.
The program at Lafayette folded and Henry was send to Camp Claiborne near Homer, Louisiana, where he trained for combat. Kissinger is an avid student of history and of all the late greats who shaped it. Kissinger has said, “My teacher has always been history; that’s what taught me to use power.”
The stops along the way back to Germany almost seem predestined for what was to come. Washington was a leader; the Spartans of ancient Greece were noble warriors known for their ingenious use of military power; Lafayette was a famous French soldier and statesman who came to America and fought in the American Revolution; and Homer is known as the first known European writer, and one of the greatest. The characters he wrote about were also noble warriors.
Years later, Cindy Franklin met Henry and discerned a “poetic” quality in him. “We were talking about Greece one day and he said something about the light in Greece and that you get such a sense that this is the land of heroes.”
It was near Homer, midway through his infantry training, that Henry first heard the man who would help shape the rest of his life; a real live hero from “noble” Prussian stock, the “swaggering” and “flamboyant,” Fritz Kraemer.
Kraemer has been called “the man who discovered Kissinger,” and it seems he was a character right out of an old World War II movie. It is said he was a treat to hear, especially in bull sessions, and was regarded as “an awe-inspiring figure.” Another has said, “He was slightly mad and absolutely wonderful.”
Kraemer was a “devout Christian” who had been a young leader in the German National Party, which opposed both the Nazis and the Communists. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he wisely decided it was time to leave. He went to Rome and earned two PhDs in international law. He liked to be addressed as Dr. Kraemer.
He didn’t care for Mussolini either, so he came to America and joined the Army in 1943. Henry heard him lecture about the war in Germany and wrote him a note: “Dear Private Kraemer: I heard you speak yesterday. This is how it should be done. Can I help you somehow?”
On an impulse, Private Kraemer decided to pay Private Kissinger a visit. They talked for twenty minutes, and “from that moment on,” Kraemer said, “I sort of put the finger on him. I went back to my unit and told someone there: ‘I have just met a man who as yet knows nothing but understands everything.’ ”
At Camp Claiborne it was not known whether Henry would be fighting Japanese or Germans. Kraemer had Henry’s name put on a special list for Germany.
Henry had come to America on the ship Liberty. He left on another ship called the Stirling Castle. Before long he would be living in one and feasting with sterling silver—ruling and arresting the very people he fled from.
In the ironic turn of events, Kissinger and Kraemer returned to Germany at the close of World War II and served with distinction. They both won the Bronze Star.
Henry’s regiment crossed the English Channel and landed at Omaha Beach on November 2. A few days later he was unexpectedly reassigned to Division Intelligence and became a G-2 agent. It was Kraemer who recommended him.
Kraemer says Henry went out on patrols in enemy territory and “didn’t fear such assignments, though the danger was always there.” Some of the things Henry did were especially dangerous, considering he was Jewish. Dieter Hammerschlag says, “Some of them were captured in the Battle of the Bulge and were immediately shot.” Hammerschlag remembers Henry during this time as “extremely quiet, and extremely modest.” Henry even volunteered for what “was considered a suicide mission.”
During the Battle of the Bulge, Henry and Tony Mudarri, a student at Beirut and of Syrian decent, found themselves in a frozen foxhole. Later, they got into a discussion about the Arab-Israeli conflict, which was raging even at that time. “He was very broadminded,” says Mudarri. “Henry’s viewpoint was that there were extremists on both sides, but that young people would take over who could see eye to eye and live in peace.”
* * * *
World War I destroyed the peace and set the stage for Adolf Hitler. He restored order with his “New Order” and was given absolute power. It has been said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
At the close of World War II the German Army was in retreat and the land was in chaos again. Order had to be restored. Kraemer was given the job of restoring order in Krefeld, a German city of 180,000. He said he had rather fight the Germans than rule them. “I am a soldier,” said Kraemer. “I only fight. I have this extraordinarily brilliant young man. Why don’t you take him?”
Of course, the “brilliant young man” was Henry Kissinger.
Henry got his first taste of power when he was made military administrator of Krefeld. He restored order in a crisis situation. Kraemer says, “This young soldier reconstructed the city government in five, six days. There was nothing—no telephone, no food, nothing.”
Henry did such a good job at Krefeld that he was given command over the city of Bensheim and the surrounding district. Kraemer says, “He was the absolute ruler of Bensheim. As a CIC agent he was really the only authority. He had the absolute power of arrest, and the power to search without a warrant.”
For his CIC headquarters Henry took the top floor of the local tax office in Bensheim. He walked in and said, “I’m Mister Henry. . . . And I’m taking over this floor.”
Henry then appropriated a villa for his living quarters, “the most luxurious dwelling in sight,” which was common for unit commanders. Jerry Bechhofer wrote in his diary on October 21, 1945, “What a setup! Like a castle!”
Years later, reflecting back to 1945, Bechhofer said, “He gave a terrific party, a fabulous feast. I remember how beautiful his girl friend was. It was totally in character with the way Henry is today. He really enjoyed the trappings of authority.” Henry was called, “Mr. Henry” the “Master of Bensheim.”
In his book Kissinger: The Adventures of Super-Kraut, Charles Ashman says, “This was a weird kind of power to thrust upon a draftee whose only apparent firsthand awareness of power had been gained watching the Nazi takeover in his native land when he was a youngster.”
“War,” says Blumenfeld, “is the catalytic agent in many success stories. In Kissinger’s case, the ending of World War II was his beginning.”
Henry was also given the task of hunting down Nazis. It’s said he was the first to “de-Nazify” his territory. The hunted became the hunter, and it has been said, “He was a hunter without hatred.”
As a youth Henry was often chased through the streets and beaten up by Hitler’s Youth. Considering his age of 21 when he returned to his land, and the fact he and his family suffered grave injustice, it seems young Kissinger handled his power and authority in a fair way. The people didn’t want him to leave.
Ralph Farris, a boyhood friend, who returned to Germany also, says Henry never showed bitterness toward ordinary Germans and was “always a very even-handed gentleman. . . . His only apparent resentments were directed against his fellow Jewish refugees in G-2 who could not contain their hatred.” Kraemer says, “The most astounding thing was his objectivity. He is Jewish, after all. Most German refugees were full of vengeance and hatred.”
Henry had encountered some anti-Semitism at Lafayette. Coyle says, “Henry would just be patient with the kids from the hills, and they ended up liking him. He was more mature than any of us.” Years later, Danielle Hunebelle read one of the letters Henry wrote to his parents during the war. She says it reflected a “mature” young man with “big” ideas.
Henry returned to Fuerth and found most of his boyhood acquaintances had either “gone to Israel or England, or stayed behind and got killed.”
He found one boyhood friend, Harold Reissner, who had spent nearly four years at Buchenwald concentration camp. In 1941, he and his family were packed on a train and became separated. All were exterminated but Harold. When Henry found him, Reissner says, “He was very natural, warm, and had a lot of compassion and understanding.”
Henry notified Reissner’s relatives in the states that he had survived. Harold came to America and he and Henry double-dated after Henry returned in 1947. Henry’s date was the “beautiful” and “very sensitive,” Anneliese Fleischer.
Ann was also a German-Jewish refugee from Nuremberg. They had met before the war and she waited seven years before he proposed. They were married in 1949 and had two children. In 1959 Elizabeth was born. In 1961 they had a son and named him after Henry’s grandfather, David Kissinger, who was a seminary teacher in Wurzburg.
* * * *
Kissinger’s family was devoutly Orthodox Jews and had been for generations. His family originated in Bad Kissingen, Germany—the source of the family name. According to an article by Shamlom Ben Chorin in the Frankfurther Allgemeine, the first Kissinger had been an orphan boy who settled in Bad Kissingen over 300 years ago during the Thirty Years War.
Concerning Henry’s faith, Leo Hexter, Kissinger’s former youth group leader in Fuerth, says, “He had a thirst for religious knowledge. . . . Until he went into the Army, Henry was very religious. He put on the tfillin [phylacteries for morning prayers] and went to synagogue regularly.”
It seems Henry’s religion was about normal for a person growing up in the very religious Jewish community of Fureth, and out of regard for his father’s faith, he observed the ordinances. John Sacks, one of Kissinger’s closest boyhood friends, says, “He was very knowledgeable about religion but he did not have the same conviction as others. He was observant more for his parents’ sake than for his own.”
Henry had good parents who taught him right from wrong, and it seems he has kept one commandment, and God has kept His promise: “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long” (Ex. 20:12).
Even after Henry became an agnostic and famous, he still showed respect for his parents, and their love for him was as great as ever. His father said, “He’s a success, but he has remained a loyal son and a faithful friend.”
It is said Henry is proud of his humble parents. They were with him when he was sworn in as Secretary of State. A rare Old Testament which had been published in Fuerth was located for the occasion. But Henry’s mother was given a New Testament, and it was used instead. “Some old friends wondered about that,” says Blumenfeld.
After he was sworn in a toast was given. Then Henry said, “There is no country in the world where it is conceivable that a man of my origin could be standing here next to the President of the United States.” Kraemer was also present; no doubt grinning from ear to ear.
In the army, it is said, is where Henry began to question the existence of God. Coyle says, “I think he was more concerned with actual knowledge, and with the pursuit of knowledge, than he was to accept a normal prosaic definition of God. I don’t think he had a specific view [of God]. With him, it was more of a process. I can still see his intellectual curiosity about this, about a divine being, whatever it’s called.”
* * * *
Over the years it seems Kissinger’s personality changed, which is not unusual for someone on the way up the rungs of power. Blumenfeld says, “Kissinger is skillful and awkward, charming and brutal, secretive and candid, belligerent and peaceful, anxious and arrogant. A paradox, perhaps, but one also sees Kissinger as a sort of psychic acrobat. On the way up he has refined or suppressed some traits, acquired and discarded others, the pattern of many ambitious men.”
It is quite common to blame something in early life for whatever one does later. Much has been said about Kissinger’s life in Hitler’s Germany. Some believe this is the key to his personality and see him as a “tormented character.” But Henry has said, “That part of my childhood is not a key to anything. I was not consciously unhappy. I was not so acutely aware of what was going on. For children, those things are not that serious. It is fashionable now to explain everything psychoanalytically, but let me tell you the political persecutions of my childhood are not what control my life.”
Kraemer, a Pentagon political adviser in 1973, says he doubts that any victim of Hitler’s racial terror can be undamaged. “What the Nazis did to those people is unspeakable.” Kraemer said. “For five years, the most formative years (10 to 15), Henry had to undergo this horror.”
Blumenfeld says, “Kraemer, who is still close to Kissinger, says the Nazi experience was so traumatic that Kissinger can’t talk about it. For outsiders, Kissinger’s silence can only be measured when it is broken. And just twice since he rose to world prominence in 1969 has Kissinger openly vented any emotion about Hitler’s destruction of 6,000,000 Jews.”
It has been said there are “two Kissingers” and the private one remains a mystery, even to those who have known him for years.
Oriana Fallaci interviewed Henry and asked, “Are you shy, by any chance, Dr. Kissinger?” He replied, “Yes, I am, rather. On the other hand, however, I believe I’m fairly well balanced. You see, there are those who describe me as a serious, tormented character, and others who see me as a merry guy, always smiling, always laughing. Both these images are untrue. I’m neither the one nor the other. I’m . . . no, I won’t tell you what I am. I’ll never tell anyone.”
Henry stayed in Europe after the war and taught a course at the European Command Intelligence School at Oberammergau. It was Kraemer who got Henry the job, but not without difficulty. Kraemer says, “My commandant almost flipped out backwards when I asked him to take a man who had nothing but a high school diploma and some work in a brush factory.”
The major problem was: Henry was only a sergeant and would be teaching “majors and colonels.” The school solved the problem by making Henry a civilian. He taught a course on “the structure of the Nazi state.”
For the first time in his life, Henry was making a little money, $10,000 a year. But he decided to return to America and further his education. “But this time it was Kraemer sending him off,” says Blumenfeld, “not Hitler. And Fritz, as always, had a few words of advice. ‘A gentleman doesn’t go to the City College of New York.’ ”
Henry returned to America in 1947 and won a scholarship to Harvard, one of two awarded in the state of New York. He studied political science instead of business. Blumenfeld says, “He no longer dreamed of a secure career as an accountant. He wanted more.”
Henry came to Harvard with a cocker spaniel and an armful of “mysterious typewritten reports.” Edward Hendel, Henry’s roommate, says, “I assumed they were about international relations, because Henry knew his course and goals when he arrived at Harvard.” To study under, Kissinger picked the controversial and flamboyant William Yandell Elliot. Elliot gave Henry a list of 25 books to read on Immanuel Kant and told him to write a paper. An old grad says, “He read every . . . book. Elliot was impressed to the gills” with Kissinger’s work. Elliot was considered the high priest of Harvard’s Government Department and liked to be referred to as “Wild Bill.” Elliot also had another nickname, “Mr. Missileman.”Some called him “a sack of wind.”
It is said that Kraemer and Elloit played a major role in shaping Henry’s life. Kissinger has said they both had “similar characteristics,” and spoke of “excellence” as though it were still attainable. Henry has said he owes more to Elliot, “both intellectually and humanly,” than he could ever repay.
Henry’s thirst for knowledge continued to grow, and he consumed the works of many authors while he was a student at Harvard. One old anonymous grad says, “He sat in that overstuffed chair—the kind Harvard rooms were full of—studying from morning till night and biting his nails to the quick, till there was blood.” He says Henry would conceptualize about the phenomenon of power in an occupied country like Germany. “He loved to talk about arresting Nazis, frightening Germans—men and women—into submission. . . . Henry had a great capacity to deal with revenge, to glory in revenge.”
“Was Kissinger changing?” writes Blumenfeld, “Or was he just telling some immature boys what he thought they wanted to hear?”
The signs had been showing, but it seems it was at Harvard that Henry became arrogant, abrasive, an argumentative know-it-all, and developed a “towering ego.” One of Henry’s neighbors says, “I always thought he was rather full of himself.”
In his senior honors thesis, Henry used the works of Immanuel Kant, Oswald Spengler, and Arnold Toynbee. He treated the threesome as a unit and entitled his work, “The Meaning of History.” Apparently it didn’t mean that much for some professors, who refused to read it all. It set an all-time record for length, which resulted in “the Kissinger Rule.” Nothing over 40,000 words.
After Henry graduated, he enrolled in Harvard’s graduate school and did a study on statesmen Count Metternich of Austria and Lord Castlereagh of Great Britain, which he later had published and called, A World Restored. Stephen Graubard, also a refugee from the Nazis and a close friend of Kissinger, says Henry chose Metternich and Castlereagh “because they created a peace that lasted for a century, and how the world needed a formula for peace.”
The charming and deceptive Metternich assured Napoleon that Austria would remain neutral. But Austria joined Prussia and Russia against Napoleon, which lead to his defeat in the Battle of the Nations in October 1813. Then he met his final “Waterloo” in 1815.
Napoleon said of Metternich, “He lies well.”
Metternich’s policies dominated Europe from 1814 to 1848, and the period is often called, “The Age of Metternich.” Some historians credit him for “one hundred years of peace.” The nations of the world had been battling each other for years, and Waterloo was the last major conflict among alliances until World War I broke out in 1914. Whether Metternich’s diplomacy is responsible for this “century” of “peace,” is open to question—and it wasn’t all that peaceful.
In 1952 Henry organized the Harvard International Seminar and invited many promising young people from around the world. The Seminar lasted until Henry left Harvard in 1969. James Munro, a former Seminar colleague, says, “It seemed to me that Henry was establishing a network of contacts. He may not have realized it at the time but here he was attracting these very ambitious, very intense people from throughout the world who someday he could call by picking up the phone and be speaking to the leader of a government.”
In 1955 Henry was giving a lecture for an arms control conference at Quantico Marine Base near Washington. Blumenfeld says, “In that audience was Nelson A. Rockefeller, the third important figure in Kissinger’s life after Kraemer and Elliot.”
Years later in an interview, Rockefeller told Blumenfeld, “That’s where I was first aware of him. I was tremendously impressed. He had the capacity to mobilize all the facts and arguments and to give both sides. And he was a conceptual thinker—he thought in broad terms.”
Later, Rockefeller said, “This man is phenomenal.”
The name Rockefeller is synonymous with New York and wealth, and this was Henry’s first association with those who had it. It is said that when Henry would be around Rockefeller and pictures were being taken, Henry would “sort of inch his way closer to Nelson.” When asked what he “admired” in Rockefeller, Henry said, “His artistic intuition, his assurance, the way he fends off people he doesn’t really need.”
The talk at Quantico resulted in Henry writing a book for the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. Nelson’s brother, David, was a member of the council. The book would be called, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. It was published in 1957 and suggested the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional war “to head off an all-out holocaust,” a policy that many feared would lead to one. He later changed his thinking somewhat and went back to the more traditional MAD way of thinking: Mutual Assured Destruction.
Henry’s writing style was called “soggy.” A Wall Street Journal reviewer said, “I don’t know if Mr. Kissinger is a great writer, but anyone finishing his book is a great reader.” Blumenfeld says, “The book urged an increase of $30 billion a year in defense spending. For two or three years the book was the Pentagon’s bible, and thus required reading for government leaders all over the world.” Most of the world, however, still knew little about Henry. He was still a nobody who was somebody with only a few people in high places—but not high enough.
Because of the book’s success, there was a lot of jealousy. He was accused of borrowing “nuclear—policy ideas hatched by others,” two of whom were Herman Kahn, the “missile-enthusiast,” and Edward Teller, “the father of the hydrogen bomb” and an advocate in the use of it. Teller actually proofread and approved the book and made a statement which has been fulfilled in the eyes of many: “I suspect that sometime people will come to the realization that he is a great man.”
Henry’s books brought him a measure of success and fame among his peers and those who read such books, but he still remained an obscure professor from Harvard. He had no position of power so he could put his policies into practice. The world would have to wait awhile to see his greatness. He may have thought his time had come in late 1960 when John F. Kennedy was elected President. Henry left Rockefeller and the Republican Party and supported the Kennedy campaign against Nixon. After Kennedy won, Henry was rewarded with a part-time consultant job in foreign affairs. But the Kennedy Administration consulted him very little, and when they did, they rejected his advice.
Henry left the Kennedy Administration and became harder than ever to get along with. A fellow professor says, “Henry used to joke a lot about his paranoia but in fact he was somewhat ruled by it. I felt certain that if a proper mental diagnosis had been made in 1962 he would have been declared sick.”
He was nearing forty and still had not made it big in power politics. Then a big change took place. He lost weight, bought a new wardrobe, a sunlamp, and a white Mercedes-Benz. He suddenly became “very cheerful,” says Hugh Morrow. “Almost two different personalities.”
In 1963 Henry left his wife, and in 1964 began supporting Rockefeller for President. But Rockefeller lost the Republican nomination and Goldwater was beaten by the Democrat, Lyndon Johnson. Henry’s hopes were dashed again.
In 1967 Henry got involved in secret peace talks in Paris, trying to end the Vietnam conflict. The talks became public and Henry gained a little fame as a “mystery man” in high-level secret diplomacy. But Johnson surprised the nation by choosing not to run again and Henry was again on the outside looking in.
Henry began supporting Rockefeller again. In 1968 he worked “day and night” trying to get Rockefeller elected. When Rockefeller lost the Republican nomination to Nixon, “Kissinger was distraught,” says Blumenfeld, “cursing Nixon’s name to all who would listen.” Henry said Nixon was “unfit to be President.”
It is said that Kissinger never drank, or drank enough to get drunk. But “the day after Nixon was nominated at Miami Beach,” says Thomas Hargadon, “he flew back to Cambridge drunk out of his mind and yelling . . .” Emmett Hughes says: Kissinger “distinguished himself among all Rockefeller advisers as the one most pithy and scathing in his personal contempt for the Republican nominee. . . . ‘The man is, of course, a disaster [said Kissinger]. Now the Republican Party is a disaster. Fortunately, he can’t be elected—or the whole country would be a disaster . . .’ ”
But not all hope was lost. Henry thought Vice-President Humphrey would beat Nixon, and Humphrey might name him as his advisor. Blumenfeld says, “Humphrey has since made it a point to say that if he had been elected he would indeed have made Kissinger his national security adviser.”
When Nixon beat Humphrey, Henry thought it was over and didn’t know what he was going to do. His kid brother Walter had become a “rip-roaring” successful millionaire and Henry thought it was back to Harvard as a “professor at $l95 a week.” But to the surprise of everyone, especially Henry, Nixon called him.
It has been said Henry has a memory like an elephant and a head to match, but he can forget anything he doesn’t wish to recall. Kalb says, “Later, after he joined Nixon, Kissinger would say that he could not recall having made such ungracious remarks—but that he could not ‘exclude’ the possibility.”
On January 20, 1969, Henry moved into the White House basement.
Nixon had read Henry’s books and liked what he read. As soon as Henry got in the driver’s seat, he began to steer foreign policy his way. That would normally be a job for the Secretary of State, William Rogers, but Henry and the President decided they would by-pass him. They would take care of foreign policy. Henry was actually thought of as the Secretary of State long before he got the job.
In 1962, Nixon wrote, “Admitting Red China to the United Nations would be a mockery.” He was against any association with China. But on July 9, 1971, Henry left on a secret mission to China. “In two days of meetings between Chou En-lai and Henry Kissinger in Peking,” says Blumenfeld, “twenty-two years of ill-will between their governments was talked away.” This opened the door for a Presidential visit, which resulted in “the week that changed the world,” according to some accounts. Before long China was admitted to the U.N. and the whole world knew about Henry.
But that was only the beginning.
When Henry got in office, he launched what became known as SALT: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. In 1972 he completed the first complex arms-limitation agreement with the Russians. During the SALT talks he was also busy negotiating peace in Paris between the North and South Vietnamese. On October 26, 1972, he called a press conference, televised worldwide, and announced, “Peace is at hand.” It was some three months premature, but Henry was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Vietnam conflict.
In October 1973, war broke out in the Middle East between Jews and Arabs, and it was Henry who came to the rescue. But it was the Egyptian army he rescued, complete with little Nazi type books advocating the extermination of Israel.
The Arabs wouldn’t even talk to Israel before the war, much less talk about peace. But Henry negotiated another peace agreement, right there in the Sinai Desert where Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. It was the first resemblance of peace in the long Israeli-Arab conflict. And what amazed everyone, the Arabs liked him better than the Jews did. Even before the war, a Russian diplomat said of Henry, “More German than Jewish, don’t you think?”
Anwar Sadat of Egypt called him, “My friend Henry.” Israel wondered whether he was “a Churchill disguised as a Chamberlain or a Chamberlain disguised as a Churchill.” Churchill was tough with the Nazis, Chamberlain appeased them. Today he is famous for his 1938 naive statement: “Peace for our time.”
In Cairo the Egyptians were calling Henry, “The snake charmer” and, “The American Magician.” It is said “only one important individual refused to meet with him. That was the Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat.”
On January 18, 1974, Golda Meir, Israel’s Prime Minister, signed a peace agreement with Egypt. Mrs. Meir then turned to Henry and said, “I sincerely and honestly believe that you have made history this week.” Then Henry flew off to Egypt to get Anwar Sadat to sign it.
“Mr. Secretary,” Sadat said slowly, “you are not only my friend; you are also my brother.” Then he kissed Kissinger on both cheeks. That day President Nixon announced, “This is the first significant step towards a permanent peace in the Mideast.”
Later, back in Washington, Henry grinned and said, “Abba Eban never kisses me.” Abba Eban was Israel’s Foreign Minister, and Rabbi Daniel Silver didn’t see the humor. “Kissinger,” he said, “made quite a to-do of the fact that the Israelis hadn’t kissed him on both cheeks, as the Arabs had done.”
During Henry’s peace missions in the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973/1974, the Miami Daily News had a cartoon of Dr. Kissinger descending from Mount Sinai with tablets of stone like Moses, with the inscription, “Let’s everybody make up.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer had a cartoon of him descending from heaven in the mist of the war in a superman suit, with an olive branch in his mouth and a big “K” on his chest. Newsweek had him on the front cover, in the same suit.
It was during this time that the phrase “shuttle diplomacy” became famous. Henry would fly back and forth between the many nations of the Mideast, trying to solve a 4000 year old problem with a peace covenant.
In March 1974, as things were about to be wrapped up in the Middle East, King Hussein of Jordan honored him with a marching band. Someone said, “It’s crazy, isn’t it? An Arab king honoring a Jewish-American official with his British-style band, playing its Scottish bagpipes to a desert background.”
The newsman next to him added, “And to complete the day, in a few hours, Kissinger will be greeted by [Germany] the country which he fled from 36 years ago.”
* * * *
Kissinger has been called, among other things, a skillful flatterer, a man obsessed with what history will think of him. He is known for his diplomacy and “boundless energy.” It is said he needs to be wanted, and he loves to be around important people. Barbara Howar said, “He’s got an autographed picture by everybody but Lassie.” Blumenfeld says, “Not many Kissinger-watchers can resist applying amateur psychology to the Secretary of State. A common diagnosis is that he is ‘paranoid, insecure, neurotic, a typical authoritarian personality.’ ”
Henry is also known to have a certain sense of humor, especially during a crisis or an important event. At his first press conference after being made Secretary of State, a reporter asked how he wished to be addressed. Henry said, “Well, I don’t stand on protocol. If you will just call me Excellency.” At a party in Washington, someone said, “Dr. Kissinger, I want to thank you for saving the world.” Henry replied, “You’re welcome.”
The Gallop Poll in 1974 voted Henry as America’s Most Admired Man. Not only America, but the whole world stood in awe of his accomplishments. A former NSC aide said, “He has a great satisfaction in being the most admired man in the world now.”
Henry described himself at this time as walking on a “highwire.” Could he stay up and not fall? In the closing remarks of the book Kissinger, Kalb wrote, “Kissinger has always said that when he leaves office, he wants to be able to look back and feel that he has ‘made a difference.’ Kissinger is still in mid-career; the Nixon Administration still in mid-crisis; the story is still not complete.”
This was April, 1974, and the story was not over.
Nixon had written a book called Six Crises. His seventh one was about to come. Many thought he would bring Henry down also.
* * * *
When Henry moved in the White House basement in 1969, it didn’t take him long to move up to the first floor, next to the President. But he had a few minor problems along the way, like H. R. Halderman and John D. Ehrlichman.
Halderman and Ehrlichman were also “advisors” to the President and tried to keep Henry out of the limelight and away from Nixon. Henry was not even allowed to talk on T.V., because of his “German accent,” it was said. His name was not even mentioned in news briefings. Kalb says, “Although he was always the ‘background’ briefer on foreign policy issues, he could never be identified as anything other than ‘White House officials’ or ‘a high Administration source.’ ” But the trip to China changed all that.
Kissinger, Halderman, and Ehrlichman were sometimes called “the German Trio.” It reminded some of the time when Hitler’s men aspired to be his No. 1 man. It would not be the last time Dr. Kissinger would be compared to the Nazis.
It has been said that Henry was the “instigator” of some “illegal” activities in which Nixon, Halderman and Ehrlichman became involved. Henry was questioned about this by Congress. Like Napoleon said of Metternich, “He lies well.”
There were strong rumors in Washington of a grand jury indictment against Kissinger and of him being investigated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was suggested he retain a lawyer. “In a wet-eyed rage, his face taut,” says Blumenfeld, “Kissinger called a full press conference in Salzburg and threatened to resign if he was not cleared. . . . The appeal drew the desired response from the prominent committee members who hastily begged Kissinger not to resign.”
I remember seeing this on the nightly news, and it was a good performance. The Times of London said, “His resignation would be far more alarming to the world than that of Mr. Nixon.”
Nixon resigned, Halderman and Ehrlichman went to jail, and Henry was given an overwhelming vote of confidence in a Harris Poll.
It was thought that Nixon’s departure would bring Henry down into the “pit” with all the others. But Nixon’s Waterloo at Watergate didn’t keep Henry from his glory and being able to continue his policies.
Gerald Ford became President on August 9, 1974. On the eve of his succession he said, “We’ve been fortunate in the last five years to have a very great man in Henry Kissinger who has helped to build the blocks of peace under President Nixon. I think those policies should be continued. . . . I want him to be my Secretary of State and I’m glad to announce that he will be the Secretary of State.”
It was thought George Bush or Melvin Laird might be made Vice-President and Kissinger would be “gone.” But Ford surprised everyone by naming Nelson Rockefeller. When asked if he had anything to do with Rockefeller being named Vice-President, Kissinger looked at Rockefeller, grinned, and said, “You can assume that.”
* * * *
What fascinated many about Dr. Kissinger, was not his hopping about the world trying to solve its problems, but his swinger image.
Kissinger left Ann in 1963, but it wasn’t until 1969 that he began to be known as a ladies man. In fact, while campaigning for Rockefeller in 1968, he tried to flirt with some but they wouldn’t give him the time of day. He was a short, middle aged, overweight professor; but he suddenly began dating some of the world’s most beautiful and famous women.
Liv Uilmann said, “Next to Ingmar Bergman he is the most interesting man I have ever met. He is surrounded by a fascinating aura, a strange field of light, and he catches you in some kind of invisible net.” Mamine Van Doren said she didn’t notice the net but was captured by his “fascinating blue eyes” and his “charming” voice.
All the womanizing was thought to be out of character and “image-shaping.” In his book on Kissinger, Walter Isaacson says, “A typical relationship was the one he had with Jan Golding (now Jan Cushing Amory), a smart, attractive, and socially aggressive New Yorker he dated in 1970 and 1971.” Golding summed up what all his other dates said, “I just don’t think Henry was interested in sex. . . . Power for him may have been the aphrodisiac, but it was also the climax.”
In 1974 Henry surprised everyone and married a long time friend, Nancy Maginnes. They had known each other about ten years and had worked together with Rockefeller.
* * * *
It seems everyone has commented on Henry’s most unusual voice. He is said to have “mysterious powers.” He has been compared to Bismark, DeGaulle, Machiavelli, Churchill, Dulles, and other late greats. He has been accused of “Hitlerian diplomacy” and trying to become a “manmade reincarnation” of Metternich. Some saw him as a “Strangelovian character who might embroil the United States in a cataclysmic war.”
Dr. Strangelove was a weird character played by Peter Sellers. The movie ended with mushroom clouds, a nuclear holocaust. Blumenfeld says, “When Dr. Strangelove came out in 1962, Kissinger amused his Harvard colleagues with imitations of the film’s maniacal ex-Nazi scientist. Many thought Kissinger had been the prototype for Strangelove.” A friend of Henry’s first wife said, “It was a rather strange husband she had.”
In 1972, Charles R. Ashman wrote in the Preface of his book, “Henry Kissinger is one of the most fascinating and powerful men on this troubled planet.” In his first chapter, entitled, Dr. Strangelove, he said, “Administration critics sketch him as a power-mad man basking in the limelight that comes of being the second most powerful man in the first most powerful nation.” He concludes the chapter: “This is the Kissinger story—the story of an ordinary-looking genius who is controlling our destiny.”
Concerning Kissinger and the Middle East drama, Walter Boehlich said, “He presumes to be the actor in a comedy which is already written. He didn’t write it—the text is already set down. . . . What is fascinating is that he is of Jewish origin and this does not irritate the Arabs.”
* * * *
Even before all the euphoria about Henry began after his secret mission to China became known in 1971, Henry told the French journalist Danielle Hunebelle, “It’s general ideas that interest me; I know what I’m able to do, I need to do it, and to have an influence on Society. I’ve written five books. My ideas are in those books.”
Ms. Hunebelle had come to America to interview Billy Graham, Ted Kennedy, and Henry Kissinger. Since Kennedy was involved with the Chappaquidick affair, Ms. Hunebelle concentrated her research on the still unknown Dr. Kissinger. She was told he would not give much information, but he liked her and revealed a number of things.
It has been said that Kissinger sees himself as a man of destiny, who would do great things. Ms. Hunebelle seems to have sensed he would, and wrote as though he already had. She returned to France and wrote her article in December of 1969. It was printed in Realites magazine in March 1970. Below is part of the article:
He is the best-informed man in the United States and, probably, in the world....He has seven years (if Nixon is reelected in 1972) in which to lay the groundwork for a new foreign policy and a new world order....He is a man with a fixed idea. He has no hobbies, no interests beyond his ‘historic’ responsibilities....This sort of Messianic complex convinced him that he could become the saviour not only of his adoptive country but of the world, if only he would be listened to.
The word “paradox” is often used to describe Dr. Kissinger. It has been suggested he’s going to save the world, or blow it up. Blumenfeld, after interviewing some ex-NSC aides who use to work under Kissinger, said: “Kissinger’s belief [is] that anything is justified if the thesis demands it, added the aid, who extended the reasoning to conclude that Kissinger would destroy the world if he thought that would save it.” Below are a few more quotes from Blumenfeld’s book:
“He has not the slightest sense of inner guilt,” one source said. Kissinger says: “It is not your morality but my toughness that will save the world.” “Saving the world is the one thing he [Kissinger] talks about with great emotion,” a State Department correspondent said.
“The man is a great power. You can feel it in his quiet, understanding, unflashy way. Power is simply there. You know he is capable of almost anything he wants to do. And that is very fascinating to me.” “Power,” Kissinger assured one and all “is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” “What interests me [says Kissinger] is what one can achieve with power. Splendid things, believe me.”
“He is a manipulator of people; he does use them. . . . He is also a manipulator of nations. . . . He tells people what they want to hear.” “[Kissinger is] a very skillful flatterer, which is part of his success as a negotiator.”
“Jews, particularly in Israel itself, are fearful that Kissinger will betray his own people in his efforts to convince everyone that he is being even-handed.” Zvi Rimon says: “Kissinger doesn’t speak of his Jewishness. In private conversations. . . . he’s in the habit of saying, ‘I was born Jewish, but the truth is that has no significance for me.’ ”
Could Mr. Kissinger see the destruction of Israel? “Yes,” said Rabbi Daniel J. Silver, son of the late Zionist leader Abba Hillel Silver. “Israel’s destruction might give him pause for a night or become a paragraph in a book, but he recognizes that in the real world size counts and power counts and that small nations often are erased.”
Fritz Kraemer: “[Kissinger is] a totally objective man. You can see this in Israel. I don’t think he has any interest in the three million Jews who will be killed if Israel goes back to the 1967 borders.”
In 1974, Kalb wrote: “Kissinger has made his share of mistakes, but he has also produced more that his share of successes. None is more meaningful to him than the launching of SALT—the effort to negotiate limitations on the development and deployment of strategic nuclear weapons.” Kalb concluded his book with Henry quoting Metternich: “Because I know what I want . . . I am completely prepared.”
One of Dr. Kissinger’s favorite words during his reign in Washington was the French word, “detente.” It means the relaxation of tension. We have seen a detente among some nations, more democracy, and a reduction in nuclear weapons. Some may credit all this to all that which happened between 1969 and 1976. Kissinger already thinks this. John Omicinski, writing for Gannett News Service in September of 1992, said:
There remains a grandeur and visionary sweep that invites biographers to compare Kissinger with the 19th Century’s Metternich, Bismark and Castlereagh. . . . Kissinger told a luncheon audience of about 150 at the Freedom Forum foundation in nearby Arlington, Va, last week. . . .“I tell you the truth, that I read my own statements of 22 years ago with astonishment at how bright I was!”
Kissinger is now head of Kissinger Associates and has become very wealthy selling his insight and analysis of foreign affairs. In his book Kissinger: A Biography, Walter Isaacson comments about Kissinger being out of power but still being able to dazzle the world. “As if by magical suspension,” he writes, “his celebrity remained as high as ever, far above that of almost any other world figure.”
On April 1, 2009 the Wikipedia online encyclopedia said, “Kissinger’s political involvement continues—he was the ‘most frequent visitor’ to George W. Bush White House as an unofficial political advisor on Israel and the Middle East, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq.” In a speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy (February 8, 2009) National Security Adviser James L. Jones said, “I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger.”
President Obama surprised many by picking Jones as his NSA. What role Kissinger will play in the Obama administration, if any, remains to be seen.
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