Kissinger Uses King James Version of Bible at Swearing-in Ceremony
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Kissinger Uses King James Version of Bible at Swearing-in Ceremony

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Dr. Henry Alfred Kissinger declared yesterday on becoming the nation’s Secretary of State that his origin would contribute to helping him in his strivings for “a world at peace with justice, compassion and humanity.” Jewishness was not mentioned in any form either by President Nixon or Dr. Kissinger in the swearing-in ceremony in the White House, but it was implicit in the concluding remarks by the 50-year-old statesman-historian-teacher who fled from Fuerth in Nazi Germany to America with his parents and brother Walter, in 1938.

Dr. Kissinger’s reference to his origin followed his taking of the oath of office with his left hand on a King James version of the Bible held by his mother, Mrs. Louis Kissinger of New York and with his right hand upraised before Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. The Bible had been presented to Dr. Kissinger by Nixon who had inscribed it to him in accordance with the chief executive’s custom of long standing, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed by White House press secretary Gerald Warren.

This has been done a dozen times during oath-taking ceremonies at the White House under Nixon, he reported. The Bible, containing both the old and new testaments, was not opened during the ceremony.

After the ceremony, members of the Kissinger family would not discuss the ceremony or the Bible. The new Secretary’s father, Louis Kissinger, did say that his wife held the Bible because his son does not have a wife (Dr. Kissinger is divorced) and a woman usually holds the Bible. The Secretary’s parents, who are observant Jews spent Friday night at the Hay Adams Hotel near the White House, and walked to the executive mansion for the ceremony. Other family members present were Mr. and Mrs. Walter Kissinger and their four children and the Secretary’s own two children, Elizabeth, 14 and David, 11.


To an ovation from the distinguished audience that included high government dignitaries, members of Congress, and Mrs. Nixon, President Nixon declared that he was “very proud” and it was “very significant” that for the first time a naturalized citizen was Secretary of State. Alluding to this comment afterwards. Dr. Kissinger told the audience:

“Mr. President, you referred to my background, and it is true 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. And if my origin can contribute anything to the formulation of our policy, it is that at an early age I have seen what can happen to a society that is based on hatred and strength and distrust, and that I experienced then what America means to other people, its hope and its idealism.”

Continuing, he said: “Therefore, in achieving a structure of peace under your leadership, Mr. President, we will strive not just for a pragmatic solution to this or that difficulty, but to recognize that America has never been true to itself unless it meant something beyond itself. And as we work for a world at peace with justice, compassion and humanity, we know that America, in fulfilling man’s deepest aspirations, fulfills what is best within it.”

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