Dr. Merkel Dissertation

Ms. Merkel backed him up, even as German graduate students and others, by the tens of thousands, began to organize, signing an open letter of protest that heaped scorn on her. Several hundred protesters hung their shoes on the iron fence outside the Defense Ministry in Berlin in a sly (again, typically German) multivalent allusion both to the now familiar Arab insult of displaying the soles of one’s shoes and also to the missing footnotes in Mr. Guttenberg’s dissertation. Yet more outraged detractors organized rallies and brandished placards with wry slogans like “No More Playing Doctor” and “Hair Gel Is Not a Crime!”

Ms. Merkel, a former academic married to a professor, was being accused of belittling intellectual property theft and, by implication, the value of an advanced degree, which is not a purely academic matter in this country. Many jobs require such degrees in Germany, where, as is not the case in America, calling oneself doctor for having completed a thesis in, say, political science or art history, is not embarrassing but normal, even when filling out Lufthansa’s online booking forms. (The airline generously provides three levels of academic achievement for its overachieving countrymen: doctor, professor and professor doctor, skipping the extremely rare but not unheard-of German mouthful Herr Professor Doctor Doctor).

At the same time, however, Mr. Guttenberg’s troubles thrust into embarrassing national relief the dirty secret that to gain such credentials, many Germans, well-connected ones anyway, apparently cut corners or worse, and universities often look the other way. The minister couldn’t admit to having farmed out his dissertation, because that’s literally a crime here, but he was generally suspected of having hired someone to write the work for him (how else to explain why he seemed so blithely oblivious to the contents of his own thesis?). And to add insult to injury, his advisers had even awarded him a rank of “summa cum laude” (“Summa cum fraude” was another of those protesters’ placards), notwithstanding that the thesis seems to have poached material from one of those very advisers.

Eventually, Mr. Guttenberg had no choice. He admitted to “grave mistakes,” whatever that meant, and on March 1 resigned. “I was appointed not to be self-defense minister but defense minister,” he said, as he tried to finesse the crisis. As a dashing stroke of noblesse oblige before retreating, not to his castle in Franconia, but to his apartment in Berlin, he then promised to donate salary still owed to him in office to families of German soldiers fallen in Afghanistan.

Academic protesters and many on the left declared the resignation a victory for people power, intellectual standards and national honor. The Peter Lorre-like smile that video cameras captured on Ms. Merkel’s face when she got the news suggested more than relief. With significant state elections coming up, the flap gave her an occasion to appear both loyal to an ally more popular than herself with many conservatives and at the same time to get rid of the various political challenges the glamorous Mr. Guttenberg posed. But that was when the scandal really blew up.

The resignation became an excuse for daily installments of distinctly German navel-gazing, exposing social rifts not just between left and right and young and old, but also between the buttoned-down old-school German culture of probity and prideful integrity on the one hand, and a dawning celebrity culture, laced with irony and skepticism, on the other.

Many young Germans, it turns out, revere Mr. Guttenberg, partly, perhaps, because he pushed for a major overhaul of the military that would swap obligatory service for a volunteer force. But more, it seems, because, at a time when popular television shows like “Germany’s Next Top Model” and “Germany’s Search for a Superstar” have spread “American Idol”-style hunger for fame to a country previously allergic to such things, he is a politician who has embraced the limelight.

That he is a rich aristocrat who dresses in jeans and says he rocks to AC/DC has only enhanced his youthful popularity. Germans are endearingly diehard democrats, egalitarians to a fault, but, like the rest of Europe, they take guilty pleasure in devouring gossip magazines about dissolute nobles and philandering princes.

Besides, Mr. Guttenberg’s crime doesn’t seem so bad to many in a generation of samplers and aggregators. Last year a teenage German author, Helene Hegemann, published a novel that became a finalist for the Leipzig Book Fair prize, despite plagiarism charges against her. The old German literary establishment, steeped in Goethe and Schiller, was appalled, but the book was about Berlin youth culture, where D.J.’s and artists sample all the time.

Ulf Poschardt, the editor of the German edition of Rolling Stone and one of the country’s most contentious columnists, for the conservative Welt am Sonntag newspaper, finds the ouster of Mr. Guttenberg a classic and “ridiculous example of German hypocrisy and ultra-moralistic Protestantism.”

“It’s a sad thing,” he lamented on the phone the other day. “The worst thing you can say about him is that he was desperate to be a superstar, which was not very clever, but he also created an exciting atmosphere. He said no state money for General Motors and Opel if the market couldn’t solve their economic problems, which was the opposite of what the German system has always said, and he called the war in Afghanistan a war, not a social engagement, like other politicians.”

Mr. Poschardt fumed in Welt Online recently that when news broke some years ago about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s plagiarizing parts of his dissertation, Americans hardly reacted. For Germans the nonchalance may seem as odd as it is for many Americans to hear that Horst Seehofer, the married chairman of Mr. Guttenberg’s Christian Social Union, the Bavarian partner to Ms. Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, was elected to his post after it was reported that his mistress had given birth to a child. Germans debated his improprieties, but in the end overlooked them.

And this gets back to the author Mr. Schneider and the Clinton impeachment scandal.

Despite the cultural gulf, both incidents, the president’s and the minister’s, which were incited by peripheral, if not actually private, affairs, prompted fits of national anguish: for Americans about sex, for Germans about integrity.

But hypocrisy was the common thread. Rubber-necking was, too, of course, along with that universal German vice, schadenfreude.

The widespread expectation now is that Mr. Guttenberg, whose popularity has not dimmed but increased, according to the latest polls, will retreat for a while, and, like Mr. Clinton, after an obligatory period of remorse, come back. First he will have to contend with prosecutors, who the other day announced they had opened an investigation. Plagiarism entails breach of copyright crimes here. Meanwhile, Mr. Guttenberg formally transferred power to a new defense minister on Thursday evening in a slightly weird torch-lit military ceremony in which the outgoing minister traditionally chooses the music.

Mr. Guttenberg picked AC/DC.

The head conductor of the military band said that request “just totally breaks the mold of our music styles,” and substituted Deep Purple instead.

The song was “Smoke on the Water.”

Continue reading the main story

Freitag, 06.09.2013, 15:34

Angela Merkel glänzte neben ihren politischen Erfolgen auch in ihrer universitären Laufbahn. Mit ihrer Doktorarbeit gelang es der amtierenden Bundeskanzlerin, einen wichtigen Beitrag in der Forschung zu leisten. Ein Rückblick auf Merkels wissenschaftlichen Werdegang.

Für eine angehende Politikerin untypisch, studierte Angela Merkel weder Jura noch etwa Politikwissenschaften, sondern nahm nach ihrem Schulabschluss das Studium der Physik auf. Sie verfolgte ihre Ausbildung an der Karl-Marx-Universität in Leipzig bis zur Promotion und schloss diese im Juni 1978 ab.

Angela Merkel: „Sehr gute“ Doktorarbeit in Physik

Der Titel von Angela Merkels Dissertation lautete: „Untersuchung des Mechanismus von Zerfallsreaktionen mit einfachem Bindungsbruch und Berechnung ihrer Geschwindigkeitskonstanten auf der Grundlage quantenchemischer und statistischer Methoden“. In ihrer Doktorarbeit untersuchte Merkel den Einfluss der räumlichen Korrelation bei bimolekularen Elementarreaktionen in dichten Medien und bekam dafür die Bewertung „sehr gut“.

Mit ihrer Diplomarbeit leistete Merkel einen Beitrag zur Forschung im Bereich Statistische und physikalische Chemie am Zentralinstitut für Isotopen- und Strahlenforschung der Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR. An dieser hatte Merkel 1978 zudem eine Stelle in der Abteilung Theoretische Chemie angenommen.

Angela Merkels Doktorprüfung: “genügend“ im Marxismus-Leninismus

Die damalige Promotionsordnung verlangte zusätzlich zur Doktorarbeit einen beigefügten Nachweis über vertiefte Kenntnisse des Marxismus-Leninismus. Hierbei schnitt die damals 29-jährige Angela Merkel bei weitem nicht so gut ab wie in ihrer fachlichen Arbeit. Die Information über die Abschlussnoten der Bundeskanzlerin wurden 2010 veröffentlicht und sind insofern von Bedeutung, da sie der immer wieder aufkeimenden Debatte über Merkels vermeintliche SED-Vergangenheit keinerlei Rückhalt verleihen: Ihre Ausführungen über die marxistisch-leninistische Ideologie wurden lediglich mit einem „genügend“ benotet.

Angela Merkel und ihr Ehemann tauschen sich in ihrem Privatleben gerne mit Wissenschaftlern aus. Und auch in der Politik macht sich häufig die Wissenschaftlerin in Angela Merkel bemerkbar. Merkel zeigt sich gerne von ihrer abwägenden Seite, analysiert anstehende Probleme gründlich und wertet diese aus, bevor sie sich zu handfesten Entscheidungen durchringt. Kritiker beschreiben Merkel deshalb gerne als Zauderin und bemängeln die zögerliche Haltung der Bundeskanzlerin.

Angela Merkels Doktorarbeit: Frei von Plagiaten

Vor dem Hintergrund der aufgedeckten Plagiatsfälle um Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg und Annette Schavan, werden aktuell die wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten promovierter Politiker, die sich als Kandidaten zur Bundestagswahl 2013 stellen, auf Plagiate geprüft.

Auch Angela Merkels Doktorarbeit wurde von der zu diesem Zweck ins Leben gerufenen Online-Plattform „PolitPlag.de” einer solchen Untersuchung unterzogen, hielt dieser allerdings stand. Ihre Dissertation wurde von der wissenschaftlichen Leiterin der Plattform als „plagiatsgeprüft plagiatsfrei“ befunden.

Die Spuren der Macht im Gesicht der Kanzlerin

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