Henry Kissinger Has Died at the Age of 100

Mr. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut.
Henry Kissinger Has Died at the Age of 100
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attends a luncheon at the State Department in Washington on Dec.1, 2022. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a key figure in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the late 20th century, has died at the age of 100.

Mr. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut on Nov. 29, according to Kissinger Associates, Inc.

A German-born American diplomat, he served as secretary of state for two presidents. While serving under Republican President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, Mr. Kissinger played a key role in many significant global events.

Mr. Kissinger, who met with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping during a surprise visit to Beijing on July 20, was instrumental in engineering the opening of relations between the CCP and Washington under President Nixon during the Cold War in the early 1970s.

His efforts also led to U.S.–Soviet arms control talks, expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, leading to the end of the Vietnam War and ultimately the communist takeover two years later.

President Nixon brought Mr. Kissinger to the White House as national security adviser after winning the 1968 presidential election on the promise of ending the Vietnam War. That process was long and bloody.

Although many praised Mr. Kissinger, others labeled him a war criminal because of his realpolitik support for authoritarian regimes, particularly in Latin America. Debate remains around the extent of direct U.S. support for the 1973 Chilean coup that ousted socialist President Salvador Allende and led to the establishment of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. A 1975 Senate committee investigation confirmed U.S. covert involvement in Chile during the 1960s and 1970s but found limited evidence linking the U.S. government to support of Pinochet’s coup.

Mr. Kissinger’s prominence as the prime architect of U.S. foreign policy diminished with President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Despite this, he remained a diplomatic force under President Gerald Ford and continued to express strong opinions until his recent passing.

Mr. Kissinger remained active well beyond his centenary in May, participating in White House meetings, publishing a book on leadership styles, testifying before a Senate committee on the nuclear threat from North Korea, and visiting CCP leaders in Beijing in July.

In his later years, the former U.S. diplomat faced restrictions on his travels as other nations sought to question or arrest him regarding past U.S. foreign policy decisions.

President Gerald Ford, who referred to Mr. Kissinger as a “super secretary of state,” also acknowledged his prickly demeanor and self-assurance, which critics called paranoia and egotism. President Ford once remarked that Mr. Kissinger “had the thinnest skin of any public figure” he ever knew.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served under former President Donald Trump, paid his respects to Mr. Kissinger on Nov. 29.

“From the day he came to the United States as a teenager fleeing Nazi Germany, Dr. Kissinger dedicated his life to serving this great country and keeping America safe,” Mr. Pompeo said.

“He left an indelible mark on America’s history and the world. I will always be grateful for his gracious advice and help during my own time as secretary. Always supportive and always informed, his wisdom made me better and more prepared after every one of our conversations.”

Born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923, in Furth near Nuremberg, Germany, Mr. Kissinger relocated to the United States with his family in 1938 to escape the Nazi campaign targeting European Jews for extermination.

He anglicized his name to Henry and obtained U.S. citizenship in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II and later attended Harvard University on a scholarship. He earned a master’s degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954, subsequently joining Harvard’s faculty, where he remained for the next 17 years.

Reuters contributed to this report.