back to article Half a million Germans rally in support of 'Baron von Googleberg'

A huge online campaign has rallied in support of former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned on Tuesday after being stripped of his PhD for plagiarising large sections of his thesis. At the time of writing, more than 545,000 people had endorsed the Facebook page "Wir wollen Guttenberg zurück" (we …


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  1. Sabine Miehlbradt

    Funny thing

    as an ordinary German I have not yet met any ordinary German supporting zu Guttenberg either before nor after his Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v episode. He seems to be a typical self-displaying politician with no idea how to lead his ministries but very quick on the CYA.

    Exactly the kind drawn to public office who shouldn't be allowed near one.

    His wife is very vocal in the "TOFTC - filter all web access" crowd and he is supporting her openly.

    1. Thorsten
      Paris Hilton


      That would be "TofTC - Think of the children", not "TOFTC - Take one for the country", I presume?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      He is not a typical selfdisplay

      He is a well organised and maintained display which is groomed to be the "favorite" of a particular part of the population. The one that reads "Bild". Both him and the wife actually.

      The UK has not quite grown up to this phenomenon yet. And frankly, pray that it does not because it has none of the German and French safeguards.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Some sanity, shurely?

    Praise be!

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Why do so many Germans seem to struggle with the what qualities are necessary when having political power?

    1. Noons


      One thing is knowing that many politicians are dodgy, quite another is accepting them to be openly so. I mean, would you really take your children to the nearest catholic priest and say "alright, alright, just fuck them, I guess that's life..."? I don't think you would, and you also shouldn't just accept politicians to be shameless liars and cheaters.

      On the other hand, this guy obviously isn't all that good as a politician either. If he really had those "necessary" qualities, nobody would have ever heard of his cheating. That we all have, only shows he doesn't really know how to play the game*. Good riddance!

      * unlike say, Kohl, who made all copies of his own PhD thesis disappear, or Stalin, who perfected the art of wiping out documentary evidence of disgraced former allies.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two thoughts

    He's not by any chance related to the other Gutenberg, of printing press fame, who first put the tools for mass plagiarism into the hands of the people?

    Guttenberg stripped of his PhD. I bet the someone in the LSE is thinking "Hmmm, I wonder if that would work for us... "

  5. jake Silver badge

    Ah. The "R" word.

    "The disgraced toff also had outwardly firm backing from most of his fellow Christian Democrat politicoes"

    Religion-backed politicoes rarely, if ever, learn to think for themselves ... Copy, Paste, "Ditto", "Not In My Back Yard", that bint Palin, most of the mid-east, & etc.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Calling him a freetard is an understatement

    Correct me if I am wrong but freetards take other people's work mostly for their own gratification - music, movies, games, software, ebooks etc.

    Most save money using this activity. Some will even make some money off of this activity (say a graphic designer who uses a pirated version of Photoshop). But none of them try and pass this work as their own product.

    This guy tried to pass other person's work as his own and that puts him in a different league IMHO.

  7. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    But shirley

    I didn't think that "original thinking" was high on the job qualifications for politicians whereas the ability to do a little research and copy and paste the results seems to be a real qualification - just saying, going by what sort of people we seem to elect these days.

    If he'd chosen if selected texts in English and run it through Google Translate a couple of times he'd have probably gotten away with it as the resulting text would have looked nothing like the offending original paragraphs.

    "English was chosen if the selected text using Google Translate, and probably had got away because the text has nothing to look at the original point question."

    Give the man his PhD back - I'd be willing to bet that his thesis was just as valid, and possible more so than a good number of submissions.

    1. Liam Johnson

      Give the man his PhD back

      Why? It doesn't matter how good the thesis is, it is not his.

  8. ZimboKraut

    Being a Kraut myself...

    It is very interesting with Guttenberg...

    I personally feel, that the press went way over board, and knowing the "higher circles" reasonably well in Germany and some other countries, it would not surprise me, if someone (i.e. opposition) navigated the media a little bit against him (I am not talking about a right out conspiracy).

    I do by no means condone what he did, but I don't think that he deserved this.

    Actually I think it was wrong for him to step down, allthough I do understand it, as this sort of pressure is very difficult to withstand. I don't really blame him for it.

    I for once agree with Angela Merkel, who actually said very direct, that she was disgusted with the hypocrits who kept on hammering him, targetting the opposition as well es critics in her own ranks.

    Politicians are con-artists and frauds by nature, so in real terms each and every single politician should be fired.

    Again, I do believe it was utterly wrong what he did, and yet in his work as a politician, he did his job amazingly well!!!

    I may not agree with everything he thinks and says, (refering to Sabines comment), but he has mostly been (apart from the PhD story) straight forward, at least more than most other politicians.

    I know that he comes across on TV as quite arrogant, but having met him in private some time ago, I can say, that he is actually a quite pleasent chap. Even his wife (according to my sister) is a reasonable person. And to get back to Sabines comment:

    I completely agree with you, that web-filters are total non-sense, but we also have to keep in mind, that everyone has a right to their own oppinion, that's what we have the (sort-of) democracy for.

    Best regards frofm (at the moment) Espoo, Finland

    1. ZimboKraut

      Before I forget....

      I also wanted to mention:

      I don;t know him very well, but... when I met him, I did by no means have the impression, that he needs or wants to prove himself... which ist - with an estimated capital of around €600,000,000 - quite understandable.

      And again:

      Best regards from Espoo, Finland

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Deal with the devil

      He's handled the media brilliantly until he tripped over this. Now he's spat out his dummy and resigned from parliament. Whether this was out of pique or before he faces any criminal charges is not known at the moment. Personally, I think resigning your seat at parliament a gross abdication of responsibility to your constituents.

      I don't think he was forced to resign - his popularity is such that he probably could have survived even being done for plagiarism. Well, except that he's also responsible for the two army universities.

      But he did piss off a seriously large bit of the intelligentsia by trying to relativise his crime. Which is why Schavan said that she would have been "ashamed" and Norbert Lammert is not generally known for being gung-ho but quite early on was against Betrugenberg. There is still the matter of whether parliamentary service was used to write the thesis.

      He flew high so he had harder to fall. His tv appearances and solidarity with the troops on the frontline did not necessarily endear him to the rest of the army and his protests about working so hard on the army reform is a load of shit that de Maiziere is going have to deal with, and put himself in pole position to replace Merkel if he pulls it off.

      But back to the main point of the article the amount of slacktivists signing up to recall the minister. Hopefully this will hope to highlight how little effect such pages have and how little they have to do with democracy.

  9. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!

    Baron Von Googleberg

    Oh love it!

    That name made me laugh so hard and it was also a Friday afternoon laugh just to make it even better.


  10. Patrick R

    Cheating is cheating.

    Some people have good reasons/excuses (sometimes life's a b*tch) some don't. Silver spoon man doesn't. In both cases, sanctions apply anyway.

    1. ZimboKraut

      I agree

      I am not defending his actions! By no means!

      And I also agree, that sanctions have to apply, but when somebody is very good in area and useless in the other, you don't (or at leasst shouldn't) get rid of him all together.

      Best regards

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        But he lied.

        He lied about the fact that it was not his work when handing it in, he then lied that there were only one or two "accidental copies". What he did was very serious, in terms of scientific behaviour, simple ethics, and certainly leadership.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        I beg to differ.

        Constitutional law and national governance is HIS area. That is the area of a minister (especially one that is aiming for the PM and governing party leader post).

        There is nothing more to discuss here - the man has demonstrated that he is not qualified to execute on his career ambitions.

        Case closed. Nuff said. Me coat.

  11. LDS Silver badge

    Are those facebook user real?

    Or he paid one of the whitewashing companies that are popping out here and there to help building your "online reputation" creating "personas", fake users and and posts? For someone whose the only 30% original work was the list of his names should not be an issue...

  12. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Could they instead get

    The bloke or bloke-ess thtat he copied his stuff from, to do the job. Since they evidently understand it and he only understands how to copy it.

  13. bill 36

    is this not proof

    That politicians are all liars anyway?

    Just as an aside, in Germany, having a title and using it is almost mandatory for climbing the greasy pole.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Piracy is not a crime

    It wasn't only about cheating. His professional achievements were pretty bad too. And by plagiarizing his thesis, and how he handled this accusations (denying - playing it down - trying to draw attention to something else) he was acting contrary to the values he claimed he would stand for - honesty, integrity, etc.

    I'm currently preparing a signs saying "Piracy is not a Crime" and "He is simply great! We want to keep him" and similar for the Pro-Guttenberg demonstration tomorrow. This is going to be fun :)

  15. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    It's not a rally if you don't get off the couch.

  16. Shocked Jock

    Bavarian party

    Strictly speaking, this is wrong:

    "The disgraced toff also had outwardly firm backing from most of his fellow Christian Democrat politicoes, though this wasn't universal". Guttenberg is not a Christian Democrat (from the CDU) but a Christian Socialist (CSU), the Bavarian equivalent, which is in a more-or-less permanent coalition with the CDU, known as the "Union".

    Using an aristocratic title in a modern democratic republic should really disqualify you from public office in any case.

  17. Yann BZH

    Defense minister at the age of 39?

    Damn I'm wasting my time in SW engineering!

    1. Gwaptiva

      Late bloomer

      Only at 39? I do believe the German Health Minister is 36

      1. Xelandre

        And don't forget...

        ... the 34 year old minister of family affairs, even though she looks and reasons like someone half her age. Some entertain doubts about her dissertation too.

        (Icon chosen for no other reason than the mortar board)

  18. Martin Howe

    So this guy has been caught red handed, cheating big time...

    and the people want him BACK? Sounds very "Assange". After all Assange hasn't been tried yet, but there seem many people who believe him guilty but still support him as they don't want to admit how serious the alleged offences are. The public love a bad boy :(

  19. bugalugs

    If this chap is a descendant of the ( saynted ) Johannes,

    I'd like a quote from him and his missus for 6 billion ( audited ) legacy impressions of a little pamphlet I'm writing entitled " Alimentary Contributions to AIGW and European Hegemon-gery 101 " *.

    * Sponsored by the Cucurbit Control Commission, NATO, Greenpace and the french ( might have been frensch ? )

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Protesters turned out in their tens/teens

    Thought you might like an update on the power of internet activism in Germany. People turned out literally in their teens, often with their parents, in various places in Germany to demonstrate their support for "K-T-G". In Cologne* alone it was nearly 50, though passers-by weren't sure whether it wasn't just part of carnival. Demos in Bremen, Leipzig and some other places I can't be bothered to look up didn't happen due to staggering levels of disinterest from the internet generation.

    At least in the homely Frankish (not Bavarian, they don't take kindly to be called that) village of Guttenberg around 2000 serfs and peasants came out to cheer their lord and future master.

    And, as is befitting of a non-story, there hasn't been much coverage. Fortunately this leaves the myth of the power of social networks to organise protest safe for the next time the west thinks it important to push for more advertising in emerging economies.

    * Source for all figures

  21. majarambuz

    Childish bootnote

    What do his Christian names have to do with it? We've had this in the tabloids, don't waste space please.

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