New round Guttenberg scandal

Will Guttenberg use this kind of machines ever again? (2010 in Kunduz; US Gov. PD)

The prosecuting attorney of Hof (Bavaria) made public today that it will drop the charges against Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the former German minister of defense. Guttenberg had to step down from his office in March 2011, after massive plagiarism had been discovered in his PhD thesis. GuttenplagWiki found out that more than 63% of all lines were taken from various sources.

From 199 complains that came in only one was issued by a person whose texts had been plagiarized by Guttenberg. The prosecuting attorney says now that

  • ‘only’ 23 text passages can be considered plagiarism in the strict sence of the law
  • taking over parts of texts provided by the scientific service of the parliament is no embezzlement or fraud to the detriment of the Federal Republic
  • copyright is primarily protecting economic rights, and the economic damage to the plaintiff is minimal
  • the title PhD did not provide essential benefits to Guttenberg

Guttenberg got the complaints cancelled by paying € 20,000 to a charity. Even a party comrade of Guttenberg calls this a second class cessation. After more than seven months we came to know that plagiarism is less than you think, that it causes no damage and that a PhD title isn’t worth anything anyway.

The ex-minister is already busy with his political comeback. Recently he appeared in Canada at a conference on security issues, where he offered abrasive criticism against European politicians. For November 29th he announced his new book ‘Failed for the moment’.


The borrowings of Freiherr von und zu Googleberg


The German minister of (self) defense (Bundeswehr-Fotos, CC-BY-SA)

Germany’s minister of defense, Karl-Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, is under actual fire: Of course the political opposition has already considered to call for his resignation, although the opposition leaders are relatively quiet. They suppose that the plagiarism case will go on without their help. His liberal minister colleagues refused to comment. The university of Bayreuth gives Dr. ctrl-c two weeks to explain the verbatim ‘borrowings’. According to GuttenPlag Wiki they are more than 80, from 15 different authors.


GuttenPlag Wiki brought forward a list of arguments whether zu Guttenberg could have used the services of a ghostwriter. The main argument is the enormously stupid way parts of other works were taken over, even the first sentences of the introduction (!) – which is starting with the American state dictum E pluribus unum (sounds like an ironic hint how the thesis was written).  The true author of the lines is Professor Barbara Zehnpfennig writing for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Freiherr von Copy zu Paste on Friday declared that he made ‘mistakes’ and that he will ‘temporarily’ not use his PhD degree until the university delivers judgement. He refused to resign as minister and repeated that the thesis was written by nobody else but him. The allegations are particularly unpleasant for zu Guttenberg now because he recently suspendend the Gorch Fock commander from office not waiting for the final conclusions of a commission of inquiry.

Some reactions:

Frankfurter Rundschau collected some jokes:

  • Minister of employment Ursula von der Leyen wants no longer to sit next to zu Guttenberg in the cabinet because he cribs all the time.
  • Question in the ministry of defense: ‘Where is the photocopier?’ Answer: ‘Oh sorry, the minister is in Afghanistan at the moment.’

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of zu Guttenberg’s victims, is cool enough to advertise now with the ‘summa cum laude’ of the university of Bayreuth. The university itself may no longer want to use zu Guttenberg’s testimony in a video clip. Zu Guttenberg answers two questions to young people: What to study? Law, ‘it pays off’. And where? No question, in Bayreuth of course.