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Student, 88, Wins Berlin Doctorate Denied by Nazis

DPA news agency (nda)November 20, 2008

Berlin Technical University has awarded a doctorate to an 88-year-old man whose studies were obstructed by the Nazis, the weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported Wednesday, Nov. 19.

A 1939 photo of German Jewish refugees aboard the German liner Saint Louis
Dimitri Stein left Germany for the US after hiding from the NazisImage: AP

Dimitri Stein submitted his thesis on electrical engineering in 1943 but university authorities refused him an oral examination because he had Jewish ancestry.

His professor arranged a hiding place for him and he survived World War II by emigrating to the United States where he worked as an academic and engineer before going into business.

Stein said he asked if he could take the examination in the 1950s but received a rude rejection from the university. When he asked again in 2006, professors admitted they were ashamed of the long-running episode and set to work to right the old wrong before it was too late.

Earlier this month Stein answered probing questions about his thesis with the examiners assessing his work in the context of state-of-the-art engineering knowledge from the 1940s. Stein passed.

The university's chief, Kurt Kutzler, presented the doctorate in person.