1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German family affairs minister accused of plagiarism

May 3, 2019

Franziska Giffey, a Social Democrat, allegedly used other people's work in her doctoral dissertation without adequate attribution. Plagiarism led to the downfall of two prominent ministers in 2011 and 2013.

Franziska Giffey
Image: Imago Images/photothek/T. Imo

An online platform dedicated to uncovering plagiarism has accused German Family Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey of appropriating other people's work in her doctoral dissertation, Der Spiegel magazine reported Friday.

More than a third of the 205-page thesis included plagiarized material, according to the VroniPlag blog. Problems included "careless" referencing and misquoting, said VroniPlag activist Gerhard Dannemann, who is also a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

"This type of misquoting is particularly dangerous because errors perpetuate themselves in this way," he said.

Read more: German defense minister cleared of wrongdoing by medical school

The Free University of Berlin (FU), where Giffey wrote the dissertation from 2005 to 2009, is also examining the work for plagiarism.

Giffey, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), asked FU to look into the matter in February after VroniPlag said it had found multiple instances of appropriated text.

She said she wrote the dissertation — "The European Commission's policy on civil society participation" — at the university's political science institute in "good faith."

Read more: German university rejects plagiarism allegations against Steinmeier

Accusations of plagiarism have dogged German politicians in recent years. Former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and former Education Minister Annette Schavan resigned their posts in 2011 and 2013 after their doctoral dissertations were found to contain appropriated text.

amp/sms (dpa, AFP)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.