A desire to be accepted, a tendency to be distrustful and insecure; these were understandable reactions to a childhood upended by one of the most gruesome chapters in human history. Kissinger's desire for social and political acceptance--and his yearnings to be liked--was unusually ardent, so much so that it led him to compromise his beliefs at times.
One of Kissinger's insecurities as an adult was his feeling, sometimes half confessed through mordant humor, that he would not fit in if he was too closely identified with his religion. Only partly in jest, he grumbled that too much reporting about his family background could "bring every anti-Semite out of the woodwork" to attack him.
For Kissinger, the holocaust destroyed the connection between God's will and the progress of history--a tenet that is at the heart of the Jewish faith and is one of the religion's most important contributions to Western philosophy. For faithful Jews, the meaning of history is understood by its link to God's will and divine justice. After witnessing the Nazi horror, Kissinger would abandon the practice of Judaism, and as a young student at Harvard he would embark on an intellectual search for an alternative way to find the meaning of history.