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Academics attack Guttenberg over plagiarized thesis

The Local · 26 Feb 2011, 12:52

Published: 26 Feb 2011 12:52 GMT+01:00

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“The minister has lost his connection to reality,” said Oliver Lepsius, the successor to his professor at Bayreuth University.

“We have been taken in by a con artist. It is a unique audacity with which he hoodwinked honoured people of the university.”

He said Guttenberg had “systematically and methodically” pulled together scientific sources to plagiarize, and then said he did not know what he was doing.

“This is where the political dimension of the scandal lies,” said Lepsius.

Guttenberg admitted having made grave mistakes in his dissertation, saying he was under enormous pressure as a father and member of parliament during the years he was working for it. Yet he maintains he did not deliberately copy anything.

He has stopped using his Dr. title, and the university has stripped him of it.

Also at the weekend, the former president of the German Research Society, Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker warned against dismissing the affair as unimportant.

“We academics cannot lock anyone up, only a judge can do that. But the punishment of academia is that one stands in the pillory forever,” he told Der Spiegel magazine.

“People who do this are done for in academia,” he said, suggesting that the minister should consider “whether he can still stand in front of his soldiers or in front of students of the Bundeswehr schools and talk of values.”

Several respected lawyers have expressed their doubts that Guttenberg could have accidentally copied as much of his thesis as he claims.

“I would not believe a candidate who, in such a case, claimed it was just negligence,” Cologne law professor Thomas Weigend told Der Spiegel.

“No judge would believe a candidate who had copied more than a hundred pages of his doctorate and then claimed he had done so by mistake,” said fellow layer Michael Hofferbert, who specializes in conflicts over examination papers.

Although Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far stood by Guttenberg, Saxony-Anhalt state premier Wolfgang Böhmer became one of the most senior conservatives to doubt whether he could stay in office.

He wondered how long Guttenberg, who is a member of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, would be able to take the pressure.

“There will always be people who will enjoy making allegations about the mistakes in his doctorate in public,” he told the Berlin paper Tagesspiegel am Sonntag.

Story continues below…

“I don’t know how long he will be able to take this.”

Guttenberg’s star with Merkel could more likely be tarnished by what a report said she regarded as an “only very rudimentary and poorly-considered basis for decisions about reform of the Bundeswehr.”

Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that criticism of his work at the Defence Ministry from the Chancellery was much harsher than previously thought.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:37 February 26, 2011 by DrStrangelove
Der Spiegel seems determined to stick with this story. Good on them - at least someone is standing up to the Springer press steamroller.

Boehmer is the first - nay, second, but Lammert's opinion was expressed more between the lines - CDU member who currently holds a senior a to publicly break the ranks over this.

All that's missing now is that someone, for example one of the numerous authors plagiarized by KT, takes him to court. Looks like indeed his days in office are numbered.
21:28 February 26, 2011 by Beca
We cannot deny that Googleberg is an expert media charming manipulator, that easily can twist the reality on his benefit . Amazing me that he has not scroupulous or remorse at all !! And no matter how many efforts he does, he lost his credibility as a professional, and worst as a person. (Who can believe two times in Santa Claus??) Once the mystic is lost ... is lost for good...

He methodically used the effort, work and research of others and plagiarize them, with not remorse and now he wants to excuse himself saying that he did not know what he was doing and excusing himself saying that he was under enormous pressure as a father and member of parliament during the years he was working on his thesis?? Please give me a break... WHAT work he made... , the effort of copying ??!!!!!

He has not values, the man is just an empty vase.... not matter how much investment is doing the CDU through the Bild Zeitung to save his image in the medias.... manipulating the public opinion, make them believe that the guy is" strong over the adversity" ... It is so obvious this maneuvers make me sick... And I wonder myself, how he became German Minister of Defense???? Just connections??.. He is an investment of the CDU..that´s clear but he prooved not be able to prepare an adecuate research and thesis and worst he cant stand properly under stress. And what he is thinking... that as a Minister of Defense he will not have pressure or stress???

May be the next time as he cant stand on masive pressure he will make the same like the americans did in middle east ( downloading from internet a report of massive destruction weapons thesis from a student and start a conflict somewhere over there????).

And from someone that is acostumed to this routine... who knows... Plagiarism can have severe consequences... Right now he is lost reputation and credilbilty, that for a politician is E V E R Y T H I N G !!!

And the CDU must to look for their young people... give them a chance... I know they have invested so much on this guy and that they can not loose him now, and why??? My bet is because He should be the next CDU candidate to become Deutschland Kanzler ! But I guess they are running against time... Hmmm....make me think... .... Oh well... God save Germany, if this guy become Kanzler...
00:26 February 27, 2011 by Surferjoe
Whether Angela will admit it or not Guttenberg has become a huge anchor for the CDU. The fun will be seeing how she throws him overboard.
07:55 February 27, 2011 by hOU
I don't care for the man nor his lunatic, obscene wife.

So I'm just going to sit here like a Shithawk, open my popcorn, and enjoy the show.
08:43 February 27, 2011 by Kayak
I've been wondering for a while how the responsible people at the University of Bayreuth would recover from this. I also wonder how many more academic scandals are yet to surface.

"We have been taken in by a con artist. It is a unique audacity with which he hoodwinked honoured people of the university." said Herr Prof. Dr. Oliver Lepsius (UB)

Now I know - by denial! That is so, so, so German.
11:42 February 27, 2011 by Talonx
@ Kayak

How is denial 'so, so, so German'? Exactly what do you mean by that?
19:17 February 27, 2011 by Kayak
I was referring to the denial of involvement in the many atrocities commited by many Germans in the period from 1933 to 1945.

For example, Germany's Foreign Office admitting and confirming only last year (2010) that the Foreign Office during this period played and active role in the extermination of jews and that many of the Foreign Office personel were confirmed Nazis who kept their posts after the war.

I have other examples. Must I list them for you? Do you want me to apologize for my statement or maybe withdraw the comment?

I was sharing my opinion. Would you like to share yours?
01:54 February 28, 2011 by strahlungsamt
Another one bites the dust.

Andreas Kasper, some CDU guy also plagarized his thesis. (Sorry, it's in German).


Don't you just love those Conservative Values?
09:49 February 28, 2011 by Talonx
@ Kayak

You should apologize what you said was deeply offensive and painted an entire nation with the denial brush. But, the reason you should apologize is not that your statement is offensive, but rather because it is false. You did not express an opinion you posited something that was untrue.

I'm not gonna do your research for you, but let's put it this way, if you take history courses in Germany, in highschool (mittler Reife or Gymnasium) you learn about 'vergangenheitsbewältigung', look that word up.

Just because some office made an official policy of recognizing some atrocity does not mean that they where denying it before.

Finally, IF the German people are deniers, than the rest of the world is quite worse off. No official recognition of the American and Canadian Genocides, no recognition of Israel's extrajudicial rampaging, no recognition of Stalin's atrocities in Russia, no recognition of Cromwell's Genocide in the U.K., No official recognition from the Catholic church concerning the Inquisition or Crusdades . . . I would comfortably state that most of these governing bodies would even go so far, unlike German government, to deny that these things happened.
10:59 February 28, 2011 by Kayak
@Talonx I'm deeply sorry for the offence. I'm clearly wrong. You right. Sorry. Can you return to the discussion please?

My comment was to do with the university's response to cover over (gosh, an unfounded accusation written in The Local's discussion forum by me to encourage more comment) their poor job in assessing the ex-doctor's work because he received the highest grade. I wonder if anyone actually read it?
12:14 February 28, 2011 by phd_student
@Kayak: You are right, they did a bad job. I wondered the same thing. I could never, ever pull such a thing on my supervisor. He knows my writing style, he knows the important research in the field and he would certainly not accept trivia (because let's face it, can you expect science in a newspaper?)... Nevertheless, the blame lays with Guttenberg. He's a fraud, a cheater. His supervisor was gullible and sloppy, but he didn't do anything illigitimate.
16:16 February 28, 2011 by Talonx
@ Kayak

No problem, just keep in mind that if you wish to keep a conversation on track, alluding to completed unrelated incomparable events is probably not gonna help (i.e. arguments ad nazium).

Cheers :)
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