Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

German Pediatrician Gets PhD — 77 Years After Denied by Nazis

A German pediatrician has passed her PhD defense exam at the age of 102, after being denied the opportunity by the Nazis.

Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport passed the exam last Wednesday at the University of Hamburg, some 77 years after she completed her thesis on diphtheria.

She had been refused entrance to the oral exam in 1938 by the Nazi authorities because her mother was Jewish.

“This is about principle, not about me,” she told the Daily Tagesspiegel over the weekend. “I did not defend the work for my own sake; that whole situation was not easy for me at 102 years old. I did it for the victims. The university wanted to make amends for wrongs and has shown great patience, for which I am grateful.”

She immigrated to the United States in 1938 and was required to study for two additional years to be certified as a doctor, despite graduating from a German medical school. She married in 1946 and the couple returned to Germany after her husband was persecuted by anti-Communist efforts during the McCarthy era.

She retired in 1973 from Berlin’s renowned Charite Hospital as a full professor of pediatrics and head of the Neonatology Department.

She will receive her doctoral certificate on June 9.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.