On December 12, 2011, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle awarded the inaugural Moses Mendelssohn Award for Critical Thinking to former Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger during the annual Leo Baeck Institute Gala Award Diner at the Waldorf≈Astoria in New York.
Westerwelle lauded Kissinger as an “indispensable pillar of the transatlantic friendship.” “Henry Kissinger never turned his back on Germany. From very early on, he thought that the partition of Germany was morally wrong. In 1990, he argued in favor of German unity. [...] [He] continues to do his part even though he had all the reasons to never talk to any German again,” said the Foreign Minister.
James Wolfensohn offered an overview of Kissinger’s career, noting his role in the opening of relations with China in the 1960’s and his continued contribution as an adviser to leaders of business and government.
Kissinger also addressed the transatlantic relationship in his acceptance speech: “We read that this is an Asian century, and certainly some of the center of gravity of the world has moved to the Pacific. But it is also true that those of us who believe in a Western civilization, in the values of human dignity and of constitutional government, need to work together across the Atlantic so that we can build an even better world across the Pacific.”
Born in Fuerth, Germany, Dr. Kissinger came to the United States in 1938 and was naturalized a United States citizen in 1943. He served in the Army from 1943 to 1946. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1950 and went on to receive MA. and PhD. degrees from Harvard University.
Dr. Kissinger was sworn in on September 22, 1973, as the 56th Secretary of State, a position he held until ]anuary 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from Ianuary 20, 1969, until November 3, 1975. From 1983-1985, he chaired President Reagan‘s National Bipartisan Commission on Central America. From 1984-1990 he served as a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He is currently a member of the Defense Policy Board.
At present, Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of Kissinger Associates, lnc., an international consulting firm. He is also a member of the International Council of Morgan Chase & Co.; a Counselor to and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and Intemational Studies; an Honorary Governor of the Foreign Policy Association; and an Honor Member of the Intemational Olympic Committee. Among his other activities, Dr. Kissinger is a member of the Board of Directors of ContiGroup Companies, Inc. and an Advisor to the Board of Directors of American Express Company. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Forstmann Little and Co.; a Trustee Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; a Director Emeritus of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc.; and a Director of the lntemational Rescue Committee.
Among the awards Dr. Kissinger has received have been the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973; the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award) in 1977; and the Medal of Liberty (given one time to ten foreign-born American leaders) in 1986.