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Denied Under Nazis, 102-Year-Old Jewish Woman Gets Doctorate


June 12, 2015
by Suada Kolovic
I'm sure you've heard the age old adage It's never too late to earn your college degree. And for Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport, those words rang true: Nearly eight decades after not being allowed to defend her doctoral thesis under Nazis because she was part-Jewish, the 102-year-old Syllm-Rapoport became Germany's oldest recipient of a doctorate on Tuesday.

I'm sure you've heard the age old adage "It's never too late to earn your college degree." And for Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport, those words rang true: Nearly eight decades after not being allowed to defend her doctoral thesis under Nazis because she was part-Jewish, the 102-year-old Syllm-Rapoport became Germany's oldest recipient of a doctorate on Tuesday.

Syllm-Rapoport, a retired neonatologist, submitted her thesis to the University of Hamburg in 1938, five years after Adolf Hitler took power. When she handed in her doctorate thesis, her supervisor at the time, Rudolf Degkwitz, wrote in a letter in 1938 that he would have accepted her work on diphtheria if it hadn't been for the Nazis' race laws which, he said, "make it impossible to allow Miss Syllm's admission for the doctorate." "For me personally, the degree didn't mean anything, but to support the great goal of coming to terms with history — I wanted to be part of that," Syllm-Rapoport told German public television station NDR. (For more on this story, head over to the Wall Street Journal.)

Share your thoughts on Syllm-Rapoport’s inspiring story below.

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Steve H.  on  7/21/2015 3:17:44 PM commented:

I congratulate and commend Ms. Syllm-Rapoport on her magnificent achievement.

J.Marie B.  on  6/30/2015 4:13:01 PM commented:

Congratulations to Ms. Syllm Rapoport for following through and earning her doctorate. She gives hope and inspiration for everyone currently in school, and to those of us considering returning, whose in the 40+ age range.

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