Ursula von der Leyen

German Defense Chief Denies Plagiarism Charges

Ursula von der Leyen, the German defense minister, has been accused of plagarizing parts of her doctoral dissertation a quarter century ago. She denied the charges on Monday.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party could suffer in popularity and defense minister Urusula von der Leyen could lose her job if she is found guilty of plagiarism.

  • Facts


    • Ursula von der Leyen is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party.
    • She has been defense minister since 2013, and has held minister posts in Ms. Merkel’s previous governments since 2005.
    • Ex-Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and former Education Minister Annette Schavan resigned in 2011 and 2013 respectively amid accusations of plagiarism.
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The German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday denied a report that she had plagiarized parts of her doctoral dissertation 25 years ago, a charge that four years ago brought down one of her predecessors.

But Ms. von der Leyen’s university, Hannover Medical School, said on Monday that it had opened a formal investigation by a five-member committee into the matter after receiving a recommendation from the university’s ombudsman.

Ms. von der Leyen, a physician and mother of seven who is often handled as a potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, has denied the allegations made by a German online platform called Vroniplag Wiki.

The Internet platform on Saturday said Ms. Von der Leyen’s thesis contained “many literal and similar text usages, which are not identified as such.”

Plagiariasm accusations have forced several German politicians in recent years to resign or make mea culpas.

A former German defense minister and rising political star from Bavaria, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg, stepped down in 2011 after another German research group showed that his dissertation had been largely copied from others.

In 2013, Annette Schavan, the German minister of education, resigned amid similar accusations. The charges made against Ms. von der Leyen were prepared by several of the researchers who worked on Ms. Schavan’s thesis.

”I can reject the accusations of plagiarism,” Ms. von der Leyen told German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost. “It is not a new thing that Internet activists try to discredit politicians’ theses.”

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