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'Fake teacher' admits to fraud in northern Germany

A woman accused of falsely posing as a teacher for 20 years has confessed to fraud in her trial in Kiel, northern Germany. Maud M. allegedly faked her teaching credentials during German reunification in the early 1990s.

According to investigations by the prosecutor's office, the defendant, who was born in the former East German town of Wismar in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), managed to secure several teaching posts using completely fake documents.

Appearing at a Kiel court on Wednesday, Maude M. said that as a propaganda specialist in the former Communist East German DDR, her employment prospects were limited after reunification.

"It was a time in which the past was forgotten," the defendant told the court. "That was also the case with me."

'Unusual teaching style'

As early as 1991, the 50-year-old, who has neither a university degree nor qualifications to teach in Germany, was able to secure a job in Wolgast where colleagues quickly noticed her "unusual teaching style." The matter however was swept under the carpet by school authorities, enabling her to secure further jobs in Brandenburg and then Berlin.

It wasn't until she began teaching at a high school in Mölln in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein in 2008 that Maud M. was first brought to the attention of authorities. Four years later, she was suspended by the state's education ministry in Kiel. By early 2013, with public prosecutors already investigating, her official civil servant status was revoked.

Pupils' grades remain uncertain

Despite the launch of investigations and reports, Maud M. still managed to land another job in March 2013 at Lübstorf regional school, as well as a position as a substitute teacher in Bad Kleinen. She told the court on Tuesday that she used forged papers to apply.

The state of Schleswig-Holstein have demanded roughly 133,000 euros ($150,000) back from the defendant; other former employers are also seeking compensation.

According to reports by German broadcaster NDR, it remains unclear whether grades awarded to school pupils will remain valid if they are found to have been issued unlawfully.

ksb/msh (dpa)

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