The American Council on Germany mourns the passing of longtime Board member Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, a towering figure on the global stage whose statesmanship shaped history and who worked tirelessly to promote peace, understanding, and collaboration between nations – including his adopted and native countries. He was 100 years old, a milestone he had recently marked by visiting his place of birth, Fuerth, Germany.
At its 2011 McCloy Awards Dinner, the American Council on Germany honored former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Kissinger with a McCloy Lifetime Achievement Award. In presenting him with the award, ACG Honorary Vice Chairman Paul A. Volcker said that “we are honoring you this evening for your loyalty to your adopted country, your ability to heal wounds among old enemies, your strategic vision, your persistent effort to seek stable and peaceful relations in an increasingly turbulent world, and for encouraging those of us who share those values.” Mr. Volcker also noted on that occasion that “The fact is, most of us don’t really know how to think about foreign policy anywhere in the world until Henry opines.”
The American Council on Germany honored Dr. Kissinger on two other prior occasions as well, including in connection with his 90th birthday, when the Council launched the Henry A. Kissinger Transatlantic Speaker Series. The series brought prominent Germans to the United States for policy discussions at the ACG’s Eric M. Warburg Chapters across the country looking at key topics on the German-American agenda. And in 1996, the ACG honored Dr. Kissinger at a gala dinner. Special guests included former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Die Zeit Editor Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, Maestro Kurt Masur, and ACG member and New York Yankees Principal Owner George M. Steinbrenner III. In response to tributes paid to him, Dr. Kissinger spoke movingly of the pride he felt in his German heritage and his confidence in the future of the land of his birth.
The American Council on Germany was fortunate to have Dr. Kissinger on its Board for more than 25 years, during which time he shared his guidance, his unwavering commitment to transatlantic cooperation, and his invaluable insights with members and friends of the ACG. He was a close confidant of founding ACG Chairman John J. McCloy, and his engagement in ACG programs spanned more than six decades.
Dr. Kissinger’s involvement in the ACG extended back to 1959, when he took part in a high-level conference of key American and German government officials, military officers, business executives, academics, and journalists in Bad Godesberg, Germany. U.S. delegate Lucius Clay, a founding member of the ACG, defined the purpose as trying “to develop between people of goodwill an understanding of each other’s problems, an understanding of the differences which are in our national aspirations, as we look at specific problems. If we can achieve that and can better understand why each one thinks as he does, we will have gone a long way to resolving the differences between us.” Among the other participants were Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard, and Dean Acheson. Dr. Kissinger brought to the table a keen intellect and a firm grasp of history and its implications.
Our thoughts are with Dr. Kissinger’s family at this difficult time. Dr. Kissinger will continue to be an inspiration to individuals across generations who are passionate about bridging divides and working toward a more interconnected world.