Connect to share and comment

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, German defense minister, resigns over plagiarism row

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, once considered a likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, has resigned after being revealed as a plagiarist.

Germany guttenbergEnlarge
German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg gives a statement to announce his resignation on March 1, 2011 at his ministry in Berlin. Guttenberg, stripped last month of his doctoral title after accusations of plagiarism, came under pressure to quit since the scandal broke. The 39-year-old aristocrat has been dubbed "Baron Cut-And-Paste" and "Zu Googleberg." (John MacDougall/Getty Images)

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, once considered a likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, has resigned after being revealed as a plagiarist.

Last week, the University of Bayreuth stripped Guttenberg of his doctorate after he admitted copying substantially from other sources, according to the Guardian.

He said the errors arose because he was busy juggling the demands of parliament and of raising two daughters with his wife, Countess Stephanie of Bismarck, a TV presenter.

Guttenberg, 39, considered Germany's most popular politician, temporarily renounced his PhD two weeks ago after being summoned by Merkel to discuss charges that he copied "complete and numerous" passages in his dissertation.

At the time, Guttenberg said the work "no doubt contains mistakes," but he strongly rejected all plagiarism accusations.

“I'm going in order to leave behind at least a reasonably well organized house [ministry].”
~Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

But he resigned Tuesday, telling N-TV: "I'm not going just because of the debate over my thesis, but also because of the question of whether I can still fulfill the demands I put on myself."

He added: "Some might ask why I am taking this step now. No one wants to voluntarily give up a job which is so close to their heart. I'm going in order to leave behind at least a reasonably well organized house [ministry]."

The move caught Merkel off guard, according to Reuters, as she had ardently defended Guttenberg in the face of the plagiarism charge.

Although Merkel and her conservative CDU party were initially supportive of Guttenberg, an increasing number of politicians had broken ranks to suggest his position was untenable.

Guttenberg did his dissertation on the development of constitution law in the European Union and United States and held a doctorate in law.

But the admission has led to him being dubbed the "minister for cut-and-paste" and Baron zu Googleberg, according to the Guardian.

Guttenberg is considered aristocracy in Germany, according to the BBC: His home is a castle in Bavaria, which has been in the family since 1482; he is considered good-looking; his wife is a glamorous chat-show host and a great-great-granddaughter of "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck.

His full name is Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jakob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. The "von und zu" reveals his lineage, while Freiherr means "baron."

The plagiarism claims are the latest in a string of scandals that have prompted accusations that the young politician, seen as a possible successor to Germany's chancellorship, is not fully in control of his department.

The most recent case surrounded events on a military training ship: cadets refused to climb rigging from which another cadet had fallen to her death, amounting to a mutiny. Lurid tales of sexual goings-on later emerged.

His ministry was also criticized when it announced that a German soldier had shot himself in Afghanistan — it then emerged that he had been shot accidentally by another soldier.

Guttenberg rejected as "absurd" reports in the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung that one passage in his dissertation was copied word for word from a newspaper article without attribution. It also said he used words from a public lecture without attribution.

"The writing of the dissertation was my own work," Guttenberg said.

He told reporters inquiring about the plagiarism allegations swirling around him: "I will temporarily — I repeat temporarily — give up my doctoral title."

— Freya Petersen

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/110301/germany-karl-theodor-zu-guttenberg-defence-minister-plagiarism