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Schavan 'embarrassed' by Guttenberg
Schavan and Guttenberg in 2009. Photo: DPA

Schavan 'embarrassed' by Guttenberg

Published: 28 Feb 2011 15:12 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Feb 2011 15:12 GMT+01:00

Members of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s fellow conservatives criticized him for plagiarizing his doctoral on Monday, calling him an embarrassment and labelling his handling of the matter a “nail in the coffin for” Germany's democracy.

In an interview with daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Christian Democrat (CDU) and minister for education and research Annette Schavan was asked whether she was ashamed of Guttenberg for plagiarizing large portions of his doctoral thesis in law.

“As someone who earned my doctorate 31 years ago and has worked with many doctoral candidates during my career, I’m embarrassed, and not just privately,” she told the paper.

“Scholarship has to do with trust. A thesis advisor must be able to believe the statement that work has been completed to the best of one’s knowledge and belief.”

No one should come to the conclusion that Schavan considers plagiarism a “trifle,” she said.

When news of Guttenberg’s plagiarism broke nearly two weeks ago, the Defence Minister claimed he had done just that, and calling the allegations “abstruse.” But just days later he dropped his Dr. title, admitting that he made “serious errors,” though unintentionally.

His alma mater, the University of Bayreuth, later officially stripped Guttenberg of the title.

Still, Schavan told Süddeutsche Zeitung that her fellow cabinet member deserved a second chance, “particularly because everyone knows he is a great political talent.”

“We also know that this is not the first instance in which someone has done good political work while at the same time taken on fault in their personal life.”

However, in an interview with Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, the conservative state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, Wolfgang Böhmer, said he was uncertain Guttenberg could overcome the crisis of credibility.

“I’m not sure how long he can endure it and hold out,” he said.

Speaker of parliament and CDU member Norbert Lammert also weighed in on the matter, calling the situation a “nail in the coffin for trust in our democracy” in meeting with a group of Social Democrats, according to daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

But Horst Seehofer, leader of Guttenberg’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), said Lammert’s reaction was “inappropriate.”

“There is not the slightest doubt that the party stands together with their minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg,” he told the paper. The CSU is the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Meanwhile German military leaders are becoming concerned about how the scandal will affect Guttenberg’s leadership and reform of the Bundeswehr.

“I could not have imagined that the Bundeswehr reforms would take place under such uncertain circumstances,” head of the DBwV military association Ulrich Kirsch told daily Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. “And I find it extraordinarily burdensome.”

An open letter signed by some 25,000 PhDs was sent to the Chancellery on Monday, accusing Merkel of making a “mockery” of their scholarly work through supporting Guttenberg.

Merkel last week said she still had complete confidence in Guttenberg, because she had appointed him defence minister and not hired him as a research assistant.

DPA/The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:11 February 28, 2011 by munchingmuschiinmünchen
Okay...Move along Sir, nothing to see here!!
16:53 February 28, 2011 by derExDeutsche
that's trivial,

Our Obama was made a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for doing; Absolutely Nothing. Try doing THAT with a Bayreuth Doctorate !

Academia and the Sciences have succumb to elitism and political affiliation. Thanks, Socialists!
17:21 February 28, 2011 by peter douglas
what is the obsession in germany with academic titles?
17:29 February 28, 2011 by derExDeutsche
same as in 'mother russia' or Cuba, its the social order.

its rare that I come across a Russian or Cuban Immigrant who isn't a Doctor or an Esquire back in good ol' Россия.

The Russian/Cuban Doctorate might be about as good as the piece printed on. But, hey, its a Doctorate;)
18:02 February 28, 2011 by sunsolar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:18 February 28, 2011 by derExDeutsche
so let me get this straight;

This Guttenberg-typ screws the Pooch, foibles just about every political maneuvering possible. I mean, his PR is just in the gutter.

Yet, he'll come out of this Outhouse smelling of Daisys' ... Why?

Because the annoying Lefty media vilify this guy, yet has burned just about every bridge of trust it had with the general public? Say it ain't so.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Welcome to the Tea Party, Germans. You're late;)
19:44 February 28, 2011 by William Thirteen
i wonder what else KTzG has stolen...
22:49 February 28, 2011 by Surferjoe
What? He's * still * there!?
23:50 February 28, 2011 by BR549
It seems to me that Germans have a real issue with closure. Let it go and move on!
00:51 March 1, 2011 by fryintl
"Speaker of parliament and CDU member Norbert Lammert also weighed in on the matter, calling the situation a ?"nail in the coffin for trust in our democracy?" in meeting with a group of Social Democrats, according to daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung."

Are you KIDDING ME? there are so many problems around the world that this one is so great? EVen a party member is trying to short shrift the guy? He is popular because every decent German knows the title od Dr. means nothing. Either you can do what you need to or you can't. The degree is just that, a title stating you completed soem sort of training. His reputation is not in the tank, or gutter. He is so well thought of that no one who cares is really of importance. Most people support him. THey know one has to have certain creds to be deemed qualified for a position.

If Helmut Kohl wasn't a PHD, would he have made a lesser leader? I hear Bill Clinton got an honorary PHD. So what of it? Does it mean that he is now an honorable person for having the letters after his name?

Lighten up, give the man his due for doing so well as the Defense Minister and vote him into the next opening, chancellor or not when the opportunity comes. He obviously has the love of the general populace and is deserving in their eyes.
01:42 March 1, 2011 by wood artist
I once heard a business leader say "A degree will help you get a job, but it likely won't help you do the job." I'm guess that logic applies here.

From what I've read, the man seems to be doing a reasonable job in his current position, although it's a given not everyone will agree. Now this comes up, and people are concerned, as well they should be.

However, his rather lame excuses aside, does it truly affect his ability to do his job? If the question is "can you trust him to tell you the truth?" then maybe there are issues. If the question is "can he do the job for Germany?" then maybe this isn't as big a deal.

The question posed by fryintl is valid: Take any leader from the past and decide if they would have been better or worse simply because they had another "qualification." In most cases, I'm betting the answer is no.

Yes, he screwed up, and big time. Does it affect his fitness for the job he's been given? Possibly. Depends upon your point of view.

wa
03:16 March 1, 2011 by Surferjoe
Why don't folks here get it? Its simple enough...

Yes he screwed up big time and it * does * affect his fitness. As a minister Guttenberg is not only responsible for his portfolio but he is just as importantly a representative of the government. And quite simply a government that cannot be trusted does not deserve to be in power. A government that is untrustworthy cannot govern.

To put it even more bluntly if Guttenberg would cheat on his doctoral thesis why wouldn't he cheat on his taxes. If a minister of the government cant be trusted not to cheat on his taxes why should I pay mine? If I might ask why should I pay my taxes why shouldn't everyone question as to whether they should pay their taxes or traffic tickets or Rundfunkgebuehren.

We can't have that so Guttenberg will be history before too long. Its just a question of how the axe will fall.
07:24 March 1, 2011 by TylerBryant
are some people in here joking? ore just plain dumb? sry but seriously: it's not about having a doctor or not, it's about LAYING about it even after the truth came out!
08:29 March 1, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
I agree with with TylerBryant -- having or not having the degree and title shouldn't matter if a person can do the job. But claiming and using the title when you haven't earned it is fraud, and makes the bum a liar and a cheat. If that's what you want in such a prominent office, then you'll be satisfied with Herr Guttenberg.
08:37 March 9, 2011 by gudrun Kyjak-Lane
It is only right that Guttenberg resigns - it is a slap in the face to all Graduates at University to have their hard work stolen by an arrogant selfrighteous phoney - one other thing strikes me - The Guttenberg couple seemed more like chat show hosts on German TV than a serious politician and a serious advocate for abused children. This kind of narcisstic PR does not suit Germany and I am glad the truth was served.
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