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Guttenberg drops Dr. title

The Local · 18 Feb 2011, 17:12

Published: 18 Feb 2011 08:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Feb 2011 17:12 GMT+01:00

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Speaking to reporters in Berlin, the conservative politician said he was "extremely sorry" for failing to properly cite copied sections of his thesis, but denied being wilfully deceitful.

"My dissertation is not plagiarized," he said, explaining he wrote it over seven years while juggling the demands of being a politician and a young father.

But he admitted the work on constitutional law "unquestionably contains mistakes."

Guttenberg said he would not call himself a doctor until the accusations of plagiarism had been cleared up.

"I do not want myself to be subject to different standards than anyone else," said the 39-year-old, who has been mentioned as a possible future chancellor after high-profile stints as minister of economy and defence.

But the opposition centre-left Social Democrats said if the allegations prove true, Guttenberg should step down.

"If his doctoral degree is revoked, he should leave office," said Dieter Wiefelspütz, the domestic affairs expert of the Social Democratic Party's parliamentary group. "With a stain like that, he can't remain minister. That would apply to anyone else."

On Wednesday, Guttenberg was accused of plagiarizing portions of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Bayreuth. The number of authors that the popular politician and member of the Christian Social Union allegedly copied from has risen to 15. The university has demanded that Guttenberg respond to the allegations within two weeks.

On Thursday night, Guttenberg met Chancellor Angela Merkel, who according to German public television, demanded an explanation of the matter. Guttenberg also cancelled a scheduled appearance at a campaign event in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

But the minister did receive backing from conservative cabinet colleagues. Education Minister Annette Schavan from the Christian Democrats warned about reaching a hasty judgement.

"I think that even ministers have the right not to be prejudged," she said in the Friday edition of the Rheinische Post, adding that the public should wait until the accusations have been fully investigated.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble also came to Guttenberg's defence.

"Anyone can make a mistake," he said on Friday in an interview with German public radio.

When asked if Guttenberg should resign, Schäuble said after a short pause that the defence minister was a strong politician from the younger generation.

"We have to wait and see what the facts tell us," he said.

Story continues below…

But the scandal appeared unlikely to die down soon, with Thomas Janovsky, a spokesman for prosecutors in Bayreuth, saying on Friday that two criminal complaints had been lodged against Guttenberg.

And the minister will be bracing for more bad press on Saturday after he outraged the German media corps by giving his statement only to selected reporters.

This prompted several dozen journalists to walk out in protest of a regular government news conference given by Merkel's spokesman.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:12 February 18, 2011 by catjones
It's about character. When you copy others' work, it's just that simple....the other person did the work, not you.

A stenographer does not get the credit for recording any more than a cover band getting credit for a song.

Guttenberg took credit for work he did not perform. If Merkel wants someone like Guttenberg on her staff, that's up to her.
09:30 February 18, 2011 by Landmine
If he is seen as a popular and effective leader, then the ones who would stand the most to loose if he is forced to step down would be the Germans. This is a piddly accusation which many commit in their younger years. I think that Germany stands nothing to gain but much to loose in the form of a good leader.
09:47 February 18, 2011 by idiot
Yes, drop him because of this depeches and convoke some strong character like Ferkel or Schwesterwelle, who goes like a willow through the wind.

Germany need definitely more of these gummy politicans and lobbyists. To prove its sovereignty.

Let me kiss your feets and take my money mr. Locke ! Uh hell yeah !
10:00 February 18, 2011 by freechoice
yeah right, let schwesterwelle become the PM, and let God punish Deutschland by raining brimestones and fire, for all I care.
11:11 February 18, 2011 by thedeliver
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:20 February 18, 2011 by smaky
PhD thesis is indeed not a prerequisite for his job. Nevertheless, him not being a fraudster is.
12:27 February 18, 2011 by pepsionice
I'm afraid that the door has been opened now. Every single political figure in Germany needs to produce his thesis and show whether he is true or not. In the end....the nation will end up with mostly political figures who are carpenters or plumbers....which for the German people....might not be such a bad thing.
12:34 February 18, 2011 by Kayak
Now look here! All this talk over what?? So he's dishonest. So what!?

This is Germany and German rules apply. No one needs to worry because he's one of us and we'll look after him.

It'll be good in the end like it always was. We've covered-over worse things than plagerism in the past.

(Haven't I learnt well in the three years that I've lived here? I'm almost fully integrated!)
12:51 February 18, 2011 by thedeliver
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:14 February 18, 2011 by catjones
The comments defending this guy seem to be:

1. It's ok, everybody does it.

2. It's ok, it was a long time ago.

3. It's ok, he doesn't need to be a Doctor for his job.

4. It's ok, it was just a mistake.

5. It's ok, cheating is not a big deal.
13:19 February 18, 2011 by smaky
You call this "a mistake"? Interesting.

- http://de.guttenplag.wikia.com/wiki/Plagiate

- http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/plagiatsvorwurf-gegen-verteidigungsminister-guttenberg-soll-bei-doktorarbeit-abgeschrieben-haben-1.1060774
14:28 February 18, 2011 by tallady
It will be nice not to see this persons face in the news anymore,,"The Gutennberg's"

What next?
14:32 February 18, 2011 by Krim
Von Guttenberg and Dr Merckel and others have been working hard the last night for an exit . They are playing down a very serious issue. This is not as he mention a small mistake as he is trying to sell to the German public. How about his PhD supervisor and the committee who did let this happen. We do have about 82 parts copy/pasted in this thesis. This is a systematic sheeting.

Those speaking in favor of Von Guttenberg are trying to protect a system.

In Wissenschaft-Politik-Kulture the overlap is subtlety used to enginneer many CVs in order to give birth to famous professors and leaders. If you look deeply like this professor from Bremen or you talk to insiders you will discover a lot of fake.

There is a kind of tyranny and people are scared to talk in public. .....Some start talking just before or after retirement.

By the way, the professor from Bremen who had the courage to address the plagiarism case will pay a heavy price. Wait and see.
14:47 February 18, 2011 by wenddiver
Yawn, who cares, I judge people. Titles are worthless. Behind every title is ussually an idiot, a pretender or a fake.
14:53 February 18, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Wow, Its been a great week.

First, Maggie Kendall Zimmerman gets her Masters Thesis from the U of Ill. Discredited.

and now Theo?

If this keeps up, I may begin to have faith in the sciences again...
15:14 February 18, 2011 by booker
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:17 February 18, 2011 by minga
This should have been expected. When he was the Minister of Economics, he outsourced the drafting of key legislation to a private law firm.
19:59 February 18, 2011 by Talonx
This happened in 2006/ 07 from what I understand.
22:44 February 18, 2011 by DrGideonPolya
Plagiarism is the very least of the crimes of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who is in charge of Germany's disgraceful, war criminal participation in the ongoing Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide.

In US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan post-invasion violent deaths and non-violent avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation now total 4.9 million. and refugees total 3-4 million, an Afghan Genocide as defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention and an Afghan Holocaust commensurate in magnitude with the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation).

Consult UNICEF and discover that 311,000 under-5 year old infants die each year in US Alliance- and Germany-occupied Afghanistan. Consult the UN Population Division and discover that post-invasion under-5 year old infant deaths in Occupied Afghanistan total 2.6 million (the Nazis killed 1.5 million Jewish children in World War 2). The annual death rate is 7% for under-5 year old infants in US Alliance-, Germany- and Apartheid Australia-occupied Afghanistan as compared to 4% for Poles in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland and 5% for French Jews in Nazi Germany-occupied France (Google Polish Holocaust, Afghan Holocaust).

The ultimate punishment for plagiarizing is public humiliation. The response of decent Germans to German active and passive mass murder of Afghan children should be arraignment, trial and punishment of the mass paedocidal, mass infanticidal war criminals - failure to do so means that Germans today are being hypocritical, cowardly and disingenuous when they protest that they weren't even born or were just infants during the World War 2 Holocaust that killed 30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies.

Guttenberg is encouraged to plead guilty and seek forgiveness for his part in the Afghan Genocide as well as for his plagiarism (a very minor crime in comparison) - he is also welcome to plagiarize something for which an Australian agnostic, humanist scientist, Dr Gideon Polya, is #1 in the world for stating, specifically: "thou shalt not kill children" (Google the phrase).
23:37 February 18, 2011 by n4wsu
Why should this fellow Guttenberg lose his job or Dr. title. I can't recall that Einstein lost his Nobel Price even though he was master in plagiarizing other peoples work!
23:51 February 18, 2011 by A South African Lady
Germany is very fortunate to have a strong, honest and upstanding leader in Guttenberg (title or no).

As I see it he has the welfare of German people and Germany at heart.

I hope for Germany's sake he is voted in as Chancellor, as he is capable of leading Germany to great heights, which can NEVER happen under the rule of the Social Democrats.
00:05 February 19, 2011 by Fatz Lewinski
I really wasn't toobothered about this until now. Go out drinking with enough colleagues / customers and it'll not take long before you realise that everyone has a skeleton somewhere. Those that don't are generally low level, life long "Beamter".

What annoys me most is that he has now dropped the Dr. title. An academic title carries no weight for me but this caving into a perceived public opinion is so weak that it earns my instant disrespect.

I'm starting to like Berlusconi more each day. At least he'd show you his balls!
01:45 February 19, 2011 by A South African Lady
He has only dropped his title while the matter is being investigated. Many years of hard work has gone into his doctorate, which proves has sincerity, willingness to cooperate and innocence.
09:16 February 19, 2011 by Tom II
If "the work (the dissertation) contains more than 1,000 footnotes and a bibliography nearly 50 pages long" as another report states then it a truly genuine valid Ph.D. dissertation inasmuch as everyone who is honest in academia knows that B.S. Ph.D. actually stands for Bull Sh!t Piled High & Deep & that what everyone won't stand for they will fall for.
12:55 February 19, 2011 by kalyaja
What's a big freaking deal! Failed to cite or credit the sources here and there? A big crime? Come on, give me a break. How many college students do copy stuff from internet pages without putting in footnotes? Only those red green politicians

are only so glad to jump in this opportunity to bash him. Every minor mishap relevant or not that anyone who is part of government has made would be demanded to resign from the post by the opposition. That's ridiculous.
13:43 February 19, 2011 by ovan
This noise about plagiarism strengthens the science part of it. Given the intelligence of the person involved he no doubt factored in the political part.

As an Auslander I value German ehre.
21:09 February 19, 2011 by cobalisk
Plagiarizing the PhD is no big deal...if you have no idea how much work goes into a thesis, then sure, it's not a big deal.

PhD's are just B.S. just higher and deeper...Profoundly ignorant, flies in the face of the last 300 years of Western Education.

G-Berg is the salvation of Germany, G-Berg has the nation's best interests at heart....Seems to me Mubarak is now a member of The Local.

Merkel has a PhD by the way, guess hers is meaningless too right?
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