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Henry Kissinger Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.


Birth date: May 27, 1923

Birth place: Furth, Germany

Birth name: Heinz Alfred Kissinger

Father: Louis Kissinger, teacher

Mother: Paula (Stern) Kissinger

Marriages: Nancy (Maginnes) Kissinger (March 30, 1974-present); Ann Fleischer (1949-1964, divorced)

Children: with Ann Fleischer: Elizabeth and David

Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1950; M.A., 1952; Ph.D., 1954

Military: US Army, 1943-1949, Captain

Religion: Jewish

Other Facts

Kissinger’s name was changed to Henry when his family immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis.

Attended high school at night while working at a factory during the day.

First person to serve as both national security adviser and secretary of state.


1938 The Kissinger family immigrates to the United States, settling in New York.

June 19, 1943 Becomes a US citizen.

1954-1971 Harvard University faculty member.

1957-1960 Associate Director of Harvard’s Center for International Affairs.

1956-1960 Consultant, Weapons Systems Evaluation Group of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

1961-1962 Consultant, National Security Council.

1961-1968 Consultant, US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

1965-1968 Consultant, US Department of State.

1969-1974 President Richard Nixon’s assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

1969 – Helps initiate the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with the Soviet Union.

1972 Kissinger and Nixon are named Time Magazine’s Men of the Year.

September 23, 1973-January 20, 1977 – Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford.

1973 – Wins the Nobel Peace Prize, with Le Duc Tho, for negotiating the end of the Vietnam War. Le Duc Tho declines the award.

1974-1975 Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs for President Ford.

1979 – The first volume of his memoir, “White House Years,” is published.

1982 Opens international consulting firm Kissinger Associates, Inc.

1982 Has triple coronary bypass surgery.

1982 – The second volume of his memoir, “Years of Upheaval,” is published.

1999 – The third volume of his memoir, “Years of Renewal,” is published.

November 2002 – Is appointed by President George W. Bush to lead the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission.

December 13, 2002 Resigns as chairman of the 9-11 Commission, citing controversy over possible conflicts of interest with clients of his consulting firm.

March 2005 Undergoes an angioplasty procedure.

May 18, 2006 – Is awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service.

July 15, 2014 – Undergoes heart surgery to replace an aortic valve.

April 30, 2021 – During the annual Sedona Forum at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, Kissinger warns that tensions with China are “the biggest problem for America, the biggest problem for the world” because there is the potential for “a kind of cold war” to develop between the two countries.

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